Features

The Star Wars Holiday Special!
by: -RoG-

Where does one begin when trying to describe the life-changing experience that is the Star Wars Holiday Special? Are there words that exist which can accurately describe the pain I associate with viewing this so-called special? Probably not. The reality is, you can read this entire review and have a rough idea of what goes on in the Star Wars Holiday Special. However, until you've actually watched the special in its entirety, you will never truly know the crushing agony that encompasses a single viewing of this abomination.

That being said, perhaps this review will help ease you into the madness, rather than diving in headfirst into a screening of the special like I had the displeasure of doing. Last December, in my Star Wars Christmas Album review, I said that I would give you guys an in-depth review of the Star Wars Holiday Special if you were really bad all year long. I guess this means you were really bad after all. So here it is... my take on what is the Star Wars Holiday Special from 1978.

Our story begins with two Imperial Star Destroyers (why do I know their names?) chasing down Han Solo and Chewbacca the Wookiee in the Millennium Falcon. Han is ready to turn around when Chewbacca cries out. I never did understand how anybody could understand the Wookiee language since everything that comes out of their mouths sounds exactly the same. It's a good thing Han Solo repeats everything Chewbacca says in English, or we'd all be completely confused. Apparently Chewbacca's family is waiting for him to arrive to celebrate "Life Day," and it's up to Han Solo to make sure that the big Wookiee gets there in one piece. I don't know what Life Day is, but apparently it's important enough to get Han to jump to light speed.

After Han and Chewie blast off, we see the title come up on the screen and are then treated to shots of all the cast members. We'll get to each of those cast members as we make our way through this review, but I do have to mention Mark Hamill. Just look at him! I'm sorry, but Carrie Fisher has NOTHING on Mark Hamill in this special! He's waay prettier than she could ever hope to be. Hell, I bet he'd even pull off that Jabba slave outfit better than she did. Come on Mark, just flutter those long eye-lashes for me just once. Please?

What you're seeing there isn't just an artists rendition of a Wookiee home, it's the actual picture of the Wookiee home that they use in the Holiday Special. Guess they just didn't wanna spend money on building a huge set like that. I'm sure they invested that money into coming up with a great script instead. Bahahahaha!

Alright, so we're now inside the (tree)house of Chewbacca's family and it doesn't look all that different from the kind of place we'd live in. It has a den with an easy chair and a table. It has bookshelves, a kitchen with an oven. I guess the message here is that Wookiees are really just like us... only hairier.

By the way, that's not your computer monitor fucking up, that's the actual quality of the show. I'm guessing that they figured if the special was made blurry enough, most people wouldn't notice just how atrocious it really was. Oh Lucas, you really were a special effects wizard weren't you!

Awww, who's this cute furry fella, hopping down the stairs with glee? Oh it's none other than Chewbacca's son! Say, can you guess his name? Go on, try! Billybacca? No. Zeekbacca? Sorry, guess again. Lumpy? YES! That's it! It's LUMPY THE WOOKIEE! And who's he flying his toy x-wing fighter down to see?

Why it's grandpa, Chewbacca's father, sitting in his Wookiee La-Z-Boy chair! Oh and his name is ITCHY in case you were wondering. Apparently the writers of this story were at such a creative roadblock that they actually had to refer to Snow White and the Seven Dwarves for naming inspiration. Sad, sad, sad. But forget about that, let's take another heartwarming look at grumpy ol' grandpa Itchy!

If that's not something that would've given you nightmares as a child, I don't know what is. Actually, if that's not something that would give you nightmares as an adult, I don't know what is! I mean just look at that twisted, circular jaw-grinding action... and all the while you can't tell whether he's pissed off or happy as can be. It's that huge bloody car wreck with mangled corpses sprawled out all over the road that have been cooking in the hot sun all afternoon because all the phone lines were down and no cops found out about it yet and all the vultures have been pecking away at the flesh and it just burns your eyes as you drive by it but you CAN'T...HELP...BUT...KEEP...LOOKING!

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Last but not least, we have Chewbacca's wife, Sneezy. Just kidding, but with the names of his other two family members, Sneezy wouldn't be much of a stretch would it? Well her name is Malla. She spends most of her time in the kitchen (like all Wookiee women should, am I right guys? (HAR HAR HAR! *CHAUVINISTIC WOOKIEE EGO BOOST* HAR HAR HAR!) and crying about how she wishes her husband would hurry up and get home. Can't say I blame her though... if I lived with her noisy kid and Gramps McGrinderjaw, I'd kill for any other kind of company.

Now that we've met Chewie's family, I feel the need to address something. For roughly the first 12 minutes of this special, we hear not a single human voice. Not a single word of English. Instead, our ears are treated to nothing but Wookiee moans, groans, and cries the entire time. Just think about that. They're trying to establish a basic storyline at the beginning of the special with nothing bout Wookiee talk. Are you seeing what I'm getting at here?

I used to love Chewbacca's voice. And that song "Chewbacca" by Supernova? Loved it. Now I can't even hear five measly seconds of that infamous Wookiee vibrato without temporarily losing all motor functions... and bladder control. Lumpy's voice is probably the most grating of them all. The only way I can describe it is if you imagine the sound of Gilbert Gottfried with a kazoo lodged in his throat while getting raped by a sasquatch. Yeah, that's pretty much Lumpy's voice in a nutshell.

Thanks Star Wars Holiday Special!

Anyway, Itchy must be getting tired of all the noise Lumpy is constantly making, so he loads up a program on the hologram table to keep the lil' Wookiee preoccupied. Sadly, the program that loads is not nearly as entertaining as the chess-like hologram program that we saw in the actual Star Wars movie where the pieces actually fought each other (and I still believe it was that holo-game in the movie which was the inspiration for the popular "Battle Chess" game for the PC). No what loads instead is an alien circus show.

The ringmaster isn't your typical guy with an oversized top hat and a megaphone. No, this guy appears to be covered from head to toe in seaweed (ok alien seaweed) and rather than giving us hope that someone is about to speak English for the first time in the show, he just gyrates his body and plays his trumpet (ok alien trumpet) whenever it's time for another act to start. You've got some super-flexible, dancing green trapeze alien girl. You've got a red squad of aliens that do some kind of cheerleading routine which ends in a pyramid of sorts. And what act do they save for last to keep Lumpy amused beyond reason? Jugglers.

So let me ask you something. What's less entertaining: a) watching some people juggle or b) watching a TV show which has a hologram of some people juggling.

If you guessed "b" you're absolutely right! If not, beat yourself with a juggling prop until you're convinced otherwise. You know things aren't going well when a TV special that takes place in outer space, where pretty much anything you can imagine goes, actually resorts to JUGGLING for the entertainment. Seriously, if at any point in the future you're watching a sci-fi show and they bring in some jugglers, turn the goddamned TV off immediately. Somebody needs to put that sagely advice on a fortune cookie NOW.

Next, Malla goes over to her computer and tries to see if the Millennium Falcon is in the area yet. At least, that's what I think she's doing since the screen says there are "No starships in area."

Now wait just a minute. You're telling me that these Wookiees don't speak a word of English, yet they read English? Lemme guess... when they write they use hieroglyphics right? The brilliant writers of this holiday special are shining through yet again! But wait, who's that popping up on the screen now?

Yes! It's Luke! I don't even care about Luke that much, I'm just so fucking happy to see somebody who will surely speak English I can't contain myself anymore! Thank you writers, thank you for introducing someone who can SPEAK into the story!

So anyway, the Wookiees tell Luke how they're worried about Chewbacca and Luke tells them not to worry because he's never missed a Life Day yet. He tried his best, but Malla just isn't feeling reassured enough. "Come on Malla, let's see a little smile." Luke says with a twinkle in his eye. I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry at Luke and Malla's faces in this scene. Actually, I think I will laugh. I mean, just look at them there... how can you NOT laugh at an emotional moment like that between Mark Hamill and a female Wookiee? This must be the kind of special moment that "Life Day" is all about!

I'm sure Luke would love to stay and chat, but he and R2-D2 have to provide some more hilarious comic relief as the engine they were working on breaks down and smoke starts billowing out of it.

Not feeling comforted enough by Luke, despite staring into those big twinkling eyes of his, Malla decides to call up Saundan's Trading Post on her computer to see if he's heard anything. Saundan apparently brings the Wookiee's some goods such as proton packs (I didn't know the Wookiee's were Ghostbusters too) on a regular basis. Malla isn't calling about trading goods though, she wants to know where her husband is. Problem is, there's an off-duty Imperial Guard in the shop and Saundan could get into big trouble if he talked to Malla about the rebels in the Millennium Falcon. So instead, he speaks in code:

"Don't worry Malla. I know just why you're calling. You're wondering when that shaggy carpet you ordered will arrive at your home. Let me assure you madam, it's on its way. It was made specially for you by a little old woman four planets away. She did it all by herself. In fact you might say she did it by HANd. SOLO."

Wow, that was slick. Real slick. Either the off-duty Imperial Guard just doesn't care or he's dumb as dirt, because he continues looking around the shop. It's funny though, no matter what Saundan tries to show him, the Imperial Guard guy always responds in a low monotone voice. You can tell he's trying really hard to be evil, even though he's on a lunch break. I guess working for the dark side can dampen your spirits like that. But the benefit of working for the dark side is you don't have to pay for anything. When he makes a successful sales pitch for a groomer to the Imperial Guard, the guy just takes it without paying for it. I guess he can use it for his big evil moustache. Ah well, Saundan may have lost one of his items, but I guess it's better than losing his life. Can't help but feel sorry for Saundan though and he stands there and pouts.

Remember how they used jugglers a little while ago? Yeah, that was one good sign that there wasn't a big budget for this special. Another sign is that rather than filming a new scene, they used some footage of Darth Vader and an Imperial Officer from the actual movie instead. What's hilarious/sad about it is that the Officer's dialogue doesn't even synch up with the way his lips are moving. It's like they didn't even try. They just overdubbed in some new dialogue and left it at that. Well anyway, basically the two talk about how a rebel ship was spotted and that a curfew has been ordered. Guess the Wookiee's will have to stay in their treehouses tonight. "I want the rebels located and identified if it means searching every household in the system." And that's it for Darth Vader in this special. I love how they announced him at the beginning of the special to make it seem like he'd be one of the big characters in it, but nope, that's it. We never see Darth again. Considering he's many people's favorite Star Wars character, I'd say that's another super-smart move by the writers. Way to go guys!

WILL GRANDPA ITCHY GET PISSED OFF AND KILL
LITTLE ITCHY IN A BRUTAL DISPLAY OF WOOKIEE POWER?

CONTINUE TO PAGE 2 TO SEE! CLICK HERE!

 

Reader Comments

Pickled Patriarch
Dec 7th, 2009, 12:43 PM
As part of our ongoing holiday season, I went ahead and updated my old article about the Star Wars Holiday Special from years ago and put it into the new site template so you guys can finally comment it on here! After all, who wouldn't want to talk about things like "Life Day" and that insanely creepy grandpa Wookie?
Forum Virgin
Dec 7th, 2009, 01:34 PM
I saw the Rifftrax version of this pile. It didn't help.
Is a RoboCop.
Dec 7th, 2009, 01:43 PM
I loved that Hasbro released a Holiday Special version of Boba Fett a couple years ago. It wasn't just a straight up repaint either, they gave him the blaster pistol and vibro rod thing that he had in the cartoon. Sometimes when I'm alone I like to tape him to my back and pretend I'm a happy flipper monster that eats spaceships.
The face of trapped wind.
Dec 7th, 2009, 02:00 PM
I always liked how the list of guest stars was more or less a who's who of who's availiable.
Clap if you love Dynamo
Dec 7th, 2009, 02:31 PM
This special was so bad it became an experience. I made a friend watch it with me when I got my copy, because for something this bad, one must not experience it alone.

And yes, Bea Arthur was probably the only real entertaining part of this special (no disrespect to Harvey Korman, but after Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety, History of the World: Part 1, and The Carol Burnett Show, I expect better from him, and you could tell he had little to work with and did even less with it)

EDIT: Side note, every copy of this I have ever seen has all these cool commercials from the 70s, and it doesn't take long till you look forward to these old commercials :P
Forum Virgin
Dec 7th, 2009, 06:45 PM
I'm trying to picture the Wookie Sears or Home Depot that sells ovens and appliances to Chewbacca's family. Was there a Wookie Ikea to buy the bookshelves?
Deadly Towers Survivor
Dec 7th, 2009, 06:50 PM
To quote River City Ransom: BARF!
Fanboy
Dec 7th, 2009, 11:24 PM
Just gets more unwatchable every year.
As u wish...
Dec 8th, 2009, 01:52 AM
i remember this when it first ran....as a child, this was the best thing ever...there were no vhs tapes, so the only way you could watch Star Wars id if it was re-released in theaters! and this was before Empire Strikes back. so for all the cheese it is NOW, back then it was great! sure its horrid and painful now, but jeeesuhs, what WASNT in the late 70's??
Psychobabble Debate Champ
Dec 8th, 2009, 04:47 AM
Horrible, but it just goes to show you how young television still was at that point. Could you possibly imagine, say, an episode of "Dexter" thrown together with test scenes, totally random clips inserted, a digital still of Michael Hall spouting a catchphrase, then 15 minutes of looping murder scenes??

Lucas tossed this abortion on primetime TV, and they just went "Uh, what?" and moved along. WOW.

And old commercials were just awesome, especially from the 70's. Very strange, but appealing.
Giant guns fix all!!
Dec 8th, 2009, 04:55 AM
Ah the Star Wars Holiday Special was one of the first articles that my husband and I read on I-Mockery. Not long after reading this we went and hunted down a copy of this travesty to see for ourselves. How bad could it be we thought, what could go wrong, its just a movie. By the time we got to grandpa Itchy and his space porn my eyes hurt, as if they wished to rip themselves out of my head and slap me for making them watch something so vile. I couldn't go on after that, my husband tried but he didn't get much farther. We haven't spoken of it since and I'm glad. I'll read about how bad it is all day, but I just can't watch it again. I...I just can't.

Also, am I the only one who hoped that Darth Vader would come in and choke Lumpy or throw him out of the tree house? I hope I'm not.
Magic squirrel
Dec 8th, 2009, 06:31 AM
Actuly Lucas really had nothing to do with this, he was only 1 of 6(!) writers. He also didn't really see anything until the end result and he was disappointed as I quote:

"George Lucas himself has rarely commented on or even acknowledged its existence, except to friends and co-workers. He is thought to hold a low opinion of it. For instance, Tom Burman, one of the costume designers for the holiday special, has said that Lucas once told him that he was very disappointed with the final product."

However this made me laugh:

"At one Australian fan convention he reportedly said "If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it." In an online chat with fans, he reportedly said: "The holiday special does not represent my vision for Star Wars." In an interview with Maxim magazine in May 2002, Maxim asked the question, "Any plans for a Special Edition of the Holiday Special?" Lucas responded with "Right. That's one of those things that happened, and I just have to live with it."

I hear you George (*cough* Re-release of the origonal trilogy with added content anyone)
I am Johnny Luchador
Dec 8th, 2009, 12:12 PM
I think I comment on this every year you post it. I just remember my brother like spending a ton of damn money for this "novelty" star wars item that is really hard to get a copy of on vhs. Then he pretty much forced me to watch this crap. I just remember at the end of it saying to him, " this is the dumbest film I think I've seen since the movie Tale of a Vampire with Julian Sands..." It either really hurt his feelings, or he realized that being a star wars nerd is pretty dumb to constantly obsess a movie that is like 20+ years old. After that my brother decided Star Wars was no longer cool. Glad I stopped his obsession. Anyone else need a star wars bitch slap, just hit up ol Johnny Luchador.
Last of the Time Lords
Dec 8th, 2009, 12:31 PM
I don't get why they couldn't do a real scene with Darth Vader. I mean, no offense to David Prowse, but all you really need to film such a scene is a Vader costume and James Earl Jones to provide the voice.

They had Jones, and that should have been the expensive part, right? I mean, didn't they have any Vader costumes lying around? They had access to the C-3PO and Chewbacca outfits, and even made a few new costumes. It wouldn't be the "proper" Vader without Prowse, but do you really think they would care for a special like this?
Turrican't. :(
Dec 8th, 2009, 01:13 PM
The video quality is bad because TSWHS has been bootlegged to hell and back spanning an entire generation of recordable media. Copies of copies and such. It also doesn't help that the source material is a 70's TV show, probably even Criterion couldn't fix something like that.
'
Battlechess was actually a Commodore Amiga game that was ported to the 3DO, this 3DO version was then ported to PC.


Other than that, you're right on the money, this special is shit.
pickled
Dec 9th, 2009, 06:22 AM
om nom nom nom nom
Riot Control
Dec 9th, 2009, 10:03 PM
Saundan himself looks like a mad toymaker.
Forum Virgin
Nov 12th, 2011, 08:22 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pentegarn View Post
This special was so bad it became an experience. I made a friend watch it with me when I got my copy, because for something this bad, one must not experience it alone.
This has become a tradition with a friend of mine. I introduced him to it, and we now celebrate christmas with a viewing of the Star Wars Holiday Special.

This year I am creating wookie subtitles as a .srt file, which I will distribute when it's finished.
Forum Virgin
Nov 12th, 2011, 08:24 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pentegarn View Post
This special was so bad it became an experience. I made a friend watch it with me when I got my copy, because for something this bad, one must not experience it alone.
I introduced a star wars fan of mine to this, and a viewing of it has since become a traditional part of christmas for us.

This year I am creating wookie subtitles as a .srt file, which I will distribute to everyone when they are finished.
505, Inferno505
Nov 24th, 2011, 11:47 PM

Pain

I watched just someone reviewing this with my dad, and he still doesn't believe it exists.
Forum Virgin
Dec 19th, 2013, 09:59 PM
I saw it, and I couldn't stop laughing. It also turns out that my dad once had the record before selling it. I can't imagine just who would want to buy the record for this atrocity, though.
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