I had low expectations. That's where I went wrong. I shouldn't have had any. I was hoping for camp but of the "it's so bad, it's enjoyable" variety. You know, like a Nicholas Cage movie (I adore Con Air). I mean, I didn't sit down thinking I'd like any part of it, but it was Star Wars and I looked forward to the experience. Let me just say: WOW. I stared at the screen with my mouth open. Nothing made any sense. Granted, the bootleg version (the only kind you can get) was not the best quality and everyone was adding a Rifftrax-style commentary to it but I don't think absolute quiet or HD prints would have helped.
We were on Kashyyyk, but Imperial officers kept calling Chewbacca's home planet Kazook. Chewie's family is scurrying around a treehouse carpeted with astroturf, and his wife is wearing an apron. His kid, Lumpy, plays with a holographic table that shows acrobats in neon, and Chewie's grandpa, Itchy, umm... has a special moment while watching a hologram of an attractive human woman with sparkly hair. Apparently, he likes his ladies shaved. Meanwhile, Chewbacca's wife,, Malla, is prepping for Life Day and she watches a cooking show hosted by Harvey Korman as a four-legged, humanoid alien. Seriously. I couldn't make those things up.
The overriding premise is that Chewbacca and Han are trying to get to Kashyyyk to celebrate Life Day, but the Empire is getting in the way. I thought it would get better when characters from the original trilogy showed up. No. It doesn't always get better. Luke Skywalker was wearing eyeliner, and Princess Leia was obviously high from inhaling uh, Hoth snow. Boba Fett made his grand entrance in animated form, and those scenes were enjoyable. He was sort of pastel and had a Loch Ness monster, but he was still Boba Freaking Fett.
At this point of the night, the viewing party started to disperse. Rapidly. Sure, it was late, but an hour of the Holiday Special was all anyone could take. I have vowed to finish watching it - I mean, I've heard Bea Arthur shows up, that can't be terrible - but I need to stock up on alcohol first. And I should trick a few friends into coming over. I don't think I can do it alone.
I think the Holiday Special demonstrates Lucas is not all about the money. He could release this on DVD, and initially at least, fans who must have a complete collection (which are a large portion of Star Wars fans) would scoop it up. It's never re-aired on television or been made otherwise available. It would make some dollars even though it probably wouldn't be sustainable. Lucas recognizes that this special is not exactly the best foot forward. It's not high quality, it's not good, and he'd rather it didn't exist. He's certainly not putting it out there for the wide audience.
If you'd like to watch it for the first time or experience the bizarre all over again, you can watch the special (the whole darn thing!) on YouTube:
Next on my list: the Ewok movies.