Posted by William on December 26, 2018 at 02:39 PM CST
I wasn’t around during the golden years of 1977 to 1983, when the Original Trilogy reigned supreme. However, that never stopped me from wondering what fans had during those long waits for the next Star Wars film; to be more specific, I always imagined the wait between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back was painful (I waited ten years in-between Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens, and everyone before me went through 16 years from Return of the Jedi to The Phantom Menace, so I can kind of identify.) I can only assume the thought process back in 1977 was “Whoa, this Star Wars movie is the new hotness, but surely they can’t leave things on such a happy ending! We must have a sequel ASAP that takes all the characters and puts them at their lowest points and have the bad guys win in the end!” Or, something like that.
One of the videos I used to love watching during the early years of YouTube was a stop-motion animation with Hasbro’s Star Wars figures called “Halloween at Palpatine’s” by GnomeFilms. If you’ve haven’t seen it in its glorious 240p quality, the gist of it is that a very affable Emperor Palpatine throws a Halloween party at his Coruscant residence (Count Dooku’s costume is basically his head removed.) There’s a particular scene where Palpatine proceeds to play a scary movie known as “The Star Wars Holiday Special”, and all of the attendees proceed to cry out in terror; Palpatine quickly goes to shut the film off. At the time, I never thought much of it, but having heard what’s been said from the rest of the Star Wars fandom, I now dread it as much as the plastic partygoers did. Now, 20 years of my life has passed. That’s how long I’ve gone without watching the Holiday Special. As I sit here typing this lengthy introduction, I’ve got the special queued up on my browser thanks to the power of the Internet. My Sony headphones are at 56% volume, I’ve closed out my iTunes Star Wars playlist, and I have a very bad feeling about this….
I’m going to be pausing at certain times after segments just to be sure I can collect my thoughts, so please excuse this eccentric way of writing. Here's the version of the special I watched down below.
December 19th, 2018: 9:18pm: Viewing Begins Well, the thoughtful opening crawl that the user made in Windows Movie Maker warns me about seeing “one of the Golden Girls argue with Greedo!” It is here where I realize I may have made a huge mistake.
9:21pm: Han and Chewie opening segment Well, Han and Chewie banter is always a good thing. I doubt we’ll ever see the duo ever again on the big screen so having this intro is nice. Obvious stock footage is obvious, but the music is actually really good. I'm not sure why the Falcon’s cockpit looks like it was made of cardboard. It might be the subpar VHS quality; apparently this thing was never released outside of its TV airing, or rebroadcast for that matter (according to Wikipedia.) Uh-oh.
9:44: Dinner break Had to stop before the credits started rolling to eat dinner. I know, I’m putting this off for way longer than I should.
9:46: Intro is over. Oh. Crap.
Well, I had good spirits seeing that the main cast from A New Hope is here, right up until after James Earl Jones was announced. As soon as they announced Chewbacca’s family, I almost quit after seeing Lumpy’s face. Why is the dad named ITCHY?! I got a laugh when Jefferson Starship was announced, but Harvey Korman was wearing a wig with makeup and I’ve now added 911 on speed dial.
9:50: It actually begins
During the segment • Lumpy flying an X-wing is the most terrifying thing I’ve ever heard. • Aww, they have a picture of Chewie on the mantlepiece. I don’t understand Shyriiwook, but I can tell they miss him. Guess what, I DO TOO. • We got Wookiees, sure, but where’s the rest of the—ahem—STAR WARS?! • And now Lumpy’s watching interpretive dance holograms with…...I can’t describe what’s going on right now. His face is bothering me too much.
• Why are the red dudes juggling bowling pins? • The music is probably the only good thing about this. Oh, thank God it’s over. • Did they just expect everyone watching this in 1977 to be able to translate to Shyriiwook? • Traffic control. No starships in area. My sanity is recovering. • HEY IT’S LUKE AND ARTOO!!!! Wait, what happened to his hair? • Mark Hamill has the uncanny ability to be the highlight of everything he’s in. It’s kind of scary. • “It’s alright, nobody’s perfect.” Why do I get the feeling he's talking to me? • Alright now Mala’s using the computer to connect to something. • Is this the Art Carney fellow I’ve heard about? He just gave a fish tank to an Imperial technician who hates fish. Great. Oh, that’s who Mala was calling. • I had to pause here because that “did it by Hand…...Solo” joke was horrible.
• That Imperial straight-up just shoplifted. • HERE WE GO, IT’S LORD VADER. He wants the Rebels found. Even for 240p quality, James Earl Jones still sounds menacing. After the segment That was only the first 20 minutes or so, but honestly it isn’t that bad. So far. I mean, yeah, the stuff with Chewie’s family sucks, but the stuff with the familiar characters like Vader and Luke is actually pretty good. But again, it’s only the first twenty minutes.
10:12pm: Next segment starts after the commercials.
• Kashyyyk needs to be invaded by the droid army again. • Is this the Star Wars Holiday Special or the…? (here the cooking thing came up and I forgot what I wanted to type) • Now Malla is watching how to prepare Bantha Surprise with a person I can only describe as Gary Oldman from Bram Stoker’s Dracula with a horrible tan and some makeup. Oh, and he’s really getting into cutting the Bantha. Help. • As I stop to open up Snapchat, I’m considering doing Bantha Surprise for Christmas dinner this year, but I don’t want to get kicked out of my house.
• STIR WHIP STIR WHIP WHIP WHIP STIR AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH SHES GOT THREE ARMS ANNNNNND NOW SHE’S GOT FOUR AND HERE I’M LOSING IT • Oh, thank God. Sorry for the mental breakdown, Malla changed the channel. • And now we finally get more stock footage from A New Hope with the TIE Fighters and the Falcon. I’LL TAKE IT • Didn’t they need people to man the Falcon’s turrets? • Aw crap, now we’re back at the family house. • The Empire’s declaring martial law? They can do that? • Somebody’s a-knocking. Aw crap, it’s Art Carney. • Lumpy got a present. I wish I got a present. Of not watching this anymore. • Itchy got the most bizzare Oculus Rift setup I’ve ever seen. • It’s a lightshow with mutant mermaids. Cool. • “I can feel my creation.” Oh my God I’m watching a Wookiee watch VR pornography. • Dave if you’re reading this then I don’t think I can do this anymore • What a voice on Diahann Carroll. Can I ask what this has to do with Star Wars again? • Am I on PCP right now? • Oh, hi Threepio. Wait, don’t call Malla please. • Aww, it’s Carrie. Now I’m sad :( • Gotta appreciate that Mark, Harrison, Peter, Carrie, and Anthony weren’t phoning this in at all. • Did Art Carney just say “Famous Wookiee cookies?” • Stormtroopers at the door. Hopefully to execute Order 66 again. On the Wookiees, not the Jedi.
10:38pm: AFTER THE SEGMENT Okay, I have to take a break right here. This is actually starting to give me a headache. And I’m only 40 minutes into this hour and 56-minute video. I need some deathsticks…. screw it, I’m going to make cookies.
11:22pm: IT TOOK WAY TOO LONG TO MAKE COOKIES • More commercials. • “The Star Wars Holiday Special will continue in a moment!” Hurry up, I want to go to bed. • Imperials are here. Why are they searching a place where the only place of interest is a picture of Chewie? • Art Carney is stalling for something. I’ve run out of things to say at this point. It’s the cookies. • The stormtrooper is holding the E-11 the wrong way.
• And now the Imperial technician sat down to watch Jefferson Starship. I think. • I’m biased because I like Jefferson Starship, so I have to admit that this performance, as out of place as it is, is really good. • I just said something positive about the Holiday Special, feel free to crucify me.
• There’s some tension between the Wookiees and the Imperials, and I care not one bit. • Oh, and now Lumpy’s watching a cartoon. Dude, this kid is loaded! • Well, the animation is a lot like that Droids cartoon DVD I had as a kid. And Luke’s wearing the yellow jacket! • HOLY CRAP IT’S BOBA FETT! HIS FIRST APPEARANCE! I’M SEEING IT!!! • “No lower lifeform is worth going hungry for.” • Boba keeps calling Luke “friend” and I’m kind of unsettled.
• I see why everyone wanted the rocket-firing Kenner figure. • I knew he was working with Vader. Totally called it. Because they totally didn't have that as a major plot point in the sequel to A New Hope. • WHY WOULD THEY CUT TO COMMERCIALS THERE?! • Whoa, CBS newsbreak about the Soviet Union testing a neutron bomb. Surreal. • Hey Boba, here’s a pro-tip: calling someone “friend” constantly isn’t going to win their trust. • WHAT DID THEY DO TO HARRISON FORD’S FACE?
Animated Harrison Ford face would have gone here, but out of respect to the man himself, we've decided to omit it.
• Well, that animation was short and cool. It's probably the best thing about the special so far. • I paused right here to do some reading and apparently, Malla is Chewie’s wife and Lumpy is his son. You know, perhaps the Disney purchase/retcon was for some good after all… • So, the officers completely trashed Lumpy’s room, then go tell him to clean it up? Monsters, the lot of them. I think I’m going to give things a rest right here; it’s 12am and I’m tired. I need more energy to get through what the plot synopsis is telling me….
December 21st, 2018, 10:02pm Two days. It’s been two days since I first started viewing. Two days to regain whatever sanity I had left. And now I must continue.
• Lumpy still has a terrifying face. • Aww, the Imperials ruined his Bantha toy. Boo-hoo. • And now he’s actually cleaning his room? Oh, wait no, he turned on an instructional cassette for his computer. • The dude in the instructional video just flapped his wings like a chicken. • So, he tells Lumpy to be careful with touching sharp edges, then proceeds to touch said sharp edge. And then he put it to his throat. • I wish I were making all of this up. I need a drink. • The tape keeps freezing; I assume it’s for comedic effect. I can only assume because I’M NOT LAUGHING. • Ah I get it, the reason Lumpy’s playing with this thing is to create a translator. You know, protocol droids are a thing. I’m pretty sure this whole “Holiday Special” would have been shaved in half had the Wookiees had a protocol droid living with them. It’d probably be funnier, for one. And somewhat entertaining. But apparently, that wasn’t what the writers here were going for. • Oh cool, we’re going to Mos Eisley. Remember that from the movie? • There’s Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes. And Greedo just decided to come back to life too. And Ponda Baba still has an arm. Is this Chalmun’s Cantina or the gates of Hell?
• Bea Arthur? Wuher take a day off or something? • Oh, and this dude is trying to win Bea Arthur’s heart, and it’s going just as smooth as the Scarif Heist. Hey, talk about sand! Always works! • While typing that, I missed the part where Bea Arthur pours the drink into the guy’s head. She’s a real golden gal. • A Tatooine curfew. “THE EMPIRE HAS CLOSED US DOWN!” Yes, try getting a wretched hive of scum and villainy to get out the premises based on a curfew. Brilliant idea. • Oh God, not another musical number. • I’ve never seen The Golden Girls so I’m afraid I don’t appeal to Bea Arthur. But oh my God she’s just butchering the Cantina Band theme forever for me. • Yeah, she’s dancing with Greedo. What does this have anything to do with “Holiday” and “Special?” • Aw crap, now all the patrons are singing along and it’s like someone’s sticking a butter knife in my ear.
• Oh, thank God they’re leaving. Did I mention I have a headache now? I know I didn’t have one before I started watching this. • “Goodnight, Friend.” You know, this is starting to feel like an old Sesame Street episode. On crack. • One of the Stormtroopers has to stay behind in the house! That’s the smartest idea in this bloody Special so far! And he found out Lumpy’s behind the fake “return to base” thing! • The Stormtrooper is chasing Lumpy down the stairs. You know, you have a blaster for a reason, dude. Just set it to stun. They’re Wookiees, they can handle it. • HOLY CRAP IT’S CHEWIE! • AND HAN! • Wow, he really just duped the Stormtrooper into falling off the balcony. That’s the first time I’ve laughed the whole special. Not because it was funny, but because it was stupid. • Han and Chewie are both here, so maybe this special won’t be so terrible after all. • “I think his voice is changing.” Harrison, you and I both know that it was a kid on the soundstage in a Wookiee costume that made no noise, and his voice is just a digitally altered version of Chewbacca’s. • Wait, Han, where you going?! YOU WERE ONLY HERE FOR 5 MINUTES AND YOU CAN’T BE BOTHERED TO SPEND AT LEAST 15 MINUTES OF SOME QUALITY TIME WITH YOUR BEST FRIEND’S FAMILY?! No wonder Ben Solo grew up to be so angsty and emo. • Ugh, I really thought they were gonna make me watch two Wookiees kiss, but they hugged instead, and now I don’t have to vomit. • Oh, for God’s sake, how has Art Carney not been thrown into a Sarlacc pit yet?! • Officer B4-711 was the one who fell off the balcony, right? • And now everyone’s in red robes walking towards the center of the galaxy. Yup, I’m definitely on the drugs.
• Why is Chewie wearing clothes, question mark. • All I can think about is that one Robot Chicken skit where Han meets Chewie’s parents. • Luke, Han and Leia all decided to finally show up? Awesome! • Wow, Carrie’s monologue here is actually the best part so far. • I never knew she could sing so well! • Wait a minute, she’s singing to the tune of the Star Wars main theme, isn’t she? • The Throne Room theme is playing. That must mean it’s finally over. • And now there’s a clip montage of A New Hope because it wasn’t out on home video yet. Ha. • And here’s a commercial for Kenner’s Star Wars toys narrated by Anthony Daniels. Surreal, isn’t it? • Credits are rolling, as is my sanity.
11:47pm: Closing remarks Yes, that was just as bad as everyone says it is. But you know what, I think there’s SOME good out of it. The segments with the characters we know and love from A New Hope are great. Luke’s speaking like he’s got some Jedi training and confidence under his belt, and Leia’s a natural leader. Han bantering with Chewie is sort of forced but I think Harrison sells it well enough to make it work. The cartoon was unique and cool, and, come on, seeing Boba Fett in his first appearance pre-Temuera Morrison voice is basically required for a Star Wars fan. I don’t mean any disrespect to Art Carney and Bea Arthur, but I thought they were both horrible. All they had to do was cut out the variety show nonsense, get rid of all the celebrities, add in some more cartoon intermissions for the kids and make Darth Vader more relevant to the plot (because it’s criminal that James Earl Jones only got two lines of dialogue,) and I think it would have made a rather decent holiday special. I mean, the plot could more or less stay the same except have way more Carrie, Mark and Harrison. As it stands, I see why everyone has bashed this to oblivion. As bad as it may be, this was very early in the life of the franchise, as there was only A New Hope at the time of the Holiday Special’s release. So, it’s good that we got this out of the way nice and early, and Lucas & co. could see what NOT to do with Star Wars. Plus, The Empire Strikes Back came out 3 years after this. Now that’s a great film to watch, regardless of holiday.
Well, this concludes my “retrospective” on the Holiday Special, and the last rebelscum piece I’m writing for the year. I’d like to thank the readers of course, and to the RS team for welcoming me with open arms and allowing my experiences as a Star Wars fan to be shared. I’ll definitely be writing much more in 2019, and I can now cross off “Watch the Holiday Special” off my bucket list. I hope you have/are having a blessed holiday, dear reader, and hopefully your Christmas was filled with love and laughter and not a single cooking video in sight. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go make a Bantha surprise.
Encounter on Panne Prime artwork by Matt Busch. Used with permission. For more of his Star Wars art, head over to MattBusch.com!