Happy Life Day
Imagine a time in 1978. Star Wars is still on everyone’s mind and people are clamoring for more. “We don’t want to wait until 1980 Lucasfilm! Give us more!” they cried.
Lucasfilm smiled, happy that people wanted more of their movie, “How about Splinter of the Mind’s Eye? It’s a novel written by Alan Dean Foster. We also hear people really like that cover.”
“No! We don’t want to read! We like pictures!”
“How about the Marvel comic books then?”
“No, we only like pictures when they move!”
“Ok, well, we are really busy making a movie…How about a Christmas special?”
So, here we are.
In 1978 the infamous Star Wars Holiday special aired. This wasn’t some minor thing; it was a big deal. George Lucas got the whole cast. Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, James Earl Jones, the works! But it also had guest stars like Bea Arthur.
It has garnered a bad reputation over the years. It certainly didn’t help that George Lucas had gone out of his way to make sure that nobody sees it. That led to it being almost of a “holy grail” for some fans to track this down and watch for themselves. This also began the creation of many bootlegs being made for it.
It had been years since I had last seen it. Someone had uploaded it to YouTube back in the day and like many others, I wanted to see how bad this thing actually was. It is still out there if you should choose to watch it this Christmas season. So, to rewatch it again in 2022 after all this time…it was like taking acid.
Kidding of course, but it does have its bizarre moments, though it does add content to the Expanded Universe and the overall Star Wars lore.
The main plot is that Han Solo is trying to get Chewbacca home to Kashyyykk. for the annual Life Day celebration. So, it’s not really a Christmas special. Rather, it’s a generic holiday special. But the Empire won’t have that. So much so that they set up a blockade around the planet. That’s the main plot.
The side plot is cutting to the family of Chewie in their home while they wait for him by making wookie-ookiees. We meet his son Itchy, Mala, his wife, and Lumpy, his other son. They are worried that Chewie might not make it home. So, they contact Luke Skywalker, who confirms everything will be ok.
The special is split up into different segments. The wookies will change their tv channel to different sequences. The one that always make me laugh due to how cheesy it is, is the cooking show by Gormaanda. The way to do this dish is to “Whip Whip! Stir Stir!” It must be seen to be believed.
There are some other moments, such as a freaky dance number on a chess table, like the one seen in A New Hope. There are also a few musical moments with singers singing songs. Perhaps the most famous is the animated segment.
This segment might be what the special is most known for. This special is the introduction of Boba Fett. Yes, prior to The Empire Strikes Back, Boba Fett showed up here. He seemed as if he was allying with the Rebels, when, he was hired by Darth Vader to bring them in all along. This, for me was the standout and only decent section for me. Lucasfilm seems to think so too because this animated section is available on Disney+ under the Vintage Star Wars Line (Along with Droid, Ewoks, the Ewok movies and the excellent Clone Wars Micro series)
Ultimately, this ends happily. Han and Chewie finally make it to Kashyyykk. for Life Day along with Luke, Leia, C-3PO and R2-D2. To celebrate, Leia sings for us a song to the tune of the Star Wars theme…and no offence to Carrie Fisher, but let’s just say she’s a better actor than she is a singer.
Initial reaction was positive.
Critics wrote great reviews for it! Maybe it was because there was so little Star Wars content out at the time? But as the years went by, people were not as kind to it in comparison to those initial reviews. Carrie Fisher apparently is reported saying she wanted a copy from George so she could play it for people who had overstayed their welcome at her home.
While not the best content Star Wars has ever put it out, it is canon in the Star Wars Legends timeline. It introduced a lot of things to the lore and expanded the universe. It was S-canon until later when it was brought into C-canon status. It introduces the holiday Life Day, and it was the first time Kashyyyk was shown. Though Chewbacca’s home was a painting done by Ralph McCaurie. When Lucas in company began working on Revenge of the Sith, they used the Holiday Special to help design the look of Kashyyykk. And am I the only one that C-3PO’s look here is carried over to Droids and Clone Wars?
Of course, one cannot deny the introduction of Boba Fett. Arguably the most overrated Star Wars character ever. That is until the Expanded Universe gave him more of a backstory and character. I remember being blown away when watching the behind the scenes features on my Attack of the Clones DVD that this was Boba Fett’s first appearance and not Empire.
This is goofy, silly, and lame. But like Tommy Wiseau’s the Room, it is one of those so bad, it’s good watches. It really is something to sit down with friends and just roast. While I’ll be honest when I say I don’t watch it every year like other Christmas movies or specials, it is something I’m grateful for as a Star Wars fan. This revealed more details to the Star Wars universe. It answered the question of how do holidays, if any, work in Star Wars. It gave us more wookies and expanded the universe. Which, at the end of the day, is the job of the beloved Expanded Universe.
Merry Christmas! And May the Force Be With You!