December 22, 2011

I watched half of the Star Wars Holiday Special, and I'm not the same.

For years, I've avoided the Star Wars Holiday Special. I'd heard tales about it... and for the most part those tales actually resembled horror stories. I probably would have continued along in my blissful ignorance, but a friend sent out invites for a Wookiee Life Day party and I couldn't say no. If I was going to watch the infamous special, I'd rather do it surrounded by friends. And booze.

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.

15 comments:

  1. A few years back a friend and I watched the entire thing, commercials and all. I don't know how we survived but it was the most painful thing I've ever gone through.

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  2. I couldn't get past Lumpy's toy. God it was bad.

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  4. I finally got my hands on a bootleg from a friend a few years back. I excitedly purchased a blank DVD so I could copy it and finally own this piece of Star Wars ephemera I had heard so much about, yet had never witnessed myself.

    I decided to watch it before burning my own copy; I simply could not wait another minute.

    I did not use my blank DVD that day.

    I could not bring myself to own such a horrid...thing. I'd rather have a copy of 'two girls one cup' in my film collection than this atrocity.

    There is not one single redeeming quality to this special. In fact, I could barely even enjoy Boba Fett's appearance through the shame and embarrassment I felt after witnessing all the crap that led up to that point. And in all honesty, I do not recall if I watched the entire special. My mind will not allow me to unlock that vault, for fear of the madness that is sure to ensue if those memories are revealed.

    If anyone in this world believes pure evil cannot exist, show them this special. Unfortunately they will not be convinced of the existence of pure evil because of how bad this show is, but because you made them watch it; in their eyes you will be forevermore branded as the Master of Darkness.

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  5. "Apparently, he likes his ladies shaved." Don't we all?

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  6. Oh Man! We watch it EVERY year! My kids get all excited and then lose it when Dionne Warwick starts in.... But, then everyone comes back for the ending when Han and Chewie show up for the big finale! It's classic and painful all at the same time!

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  7. Well, I'm not sure what this says about George's love of lucre versus what it says about his self-image. I think he originally saw this as a painless way to reap a little more cash from the franchise without putting in any sort of real work. It was only after he saw what an appalling piece of used food the thing is that he decided to completely divorce himself from it...

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  8. I have to say, though, that the final Carrie-Fisher-as-diva solo is worth the price of admission. Boxcar!

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  9. I am looking forward to seeing Carrier Fisher sing... so I'll watch all of it eventually. ;)

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  10. I've never seen it, but I would imagine that Bea Arthur plays one heck of a wookiee.

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  11. I am so tempted to see this, but also so very afraid. I knew this special existed, but had no idea the actual cast from the movie was in it! Wow! I'm not sure that would ever happen today. I mean, can you see Robert Downey Jr doing an Avengers Holiday special?
    Any way, I think I'll check it out if it's still on YouTube....or I'll just cringe and say I did.

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  12. Don't know how I missed this post earlier, but here's a belated comment:

    "Sure, it was late, but an hour of the Holiday Special was all anyone could take."

    I found this amusing because I was just reading elsewhere that - IIRC - Lucas said he occasionally puts The Holiday Special on at parties - when he wants people to leave. :D

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  13. That's HILARIOUS. And a little sad.

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