12 Ways of Christmas: #10 ‘The Star Wars Holiday Special’

Star Wars Holiday Special Life Day song number Chewbacca wookiees gathering

Welcome to The Twelve Ways of Christmas, where we discuss holiday films you’ve already seen or never plan on watching. 

Why not, right? Every other damn movie site’s doing it, and since when is giving in to peer pressure a bad thing? With little rhyme or reason, check in every day from now until The Day That Must Not Be Named for a new entry. And Happy Kwanzaa.

Let this be America’s warning against hasty commercial licensing. It’s clear from the get-go that CBS had no idea what it was doing with Star Wars and its blockbuster potential way back in 1978. By the same token, modern pop culture is not above travesties like The Star Wars Holiday Special. Just look at that Scared Shrekless thing two Halloweens ago. Sadly, directors Steve Binder and David Acomba seemed to have little interest in adding to the Star Wars canon, and the areas in which they do contribute are puzzling.

When its not ripping clips and lines wholesale from the original Star Wars, The Holiday Special centers around Chewbacca’s return to his home planet of Kashyyyk, where his family — wife, Malla; son, “Itchy;” and father, “Lumpy” — await an annual “Life Day” celebration, the Wookiee surrogate for Christmas. Shoehorned in next to a tedious Imperial raid of the Wookiees’ tree home and an instructional cooking video led by a four-armed alien transvestite is Art Carney as annoying huckster Saun Dann and Bea Arthur, in a hemhorroidal cabaret number. The latter sequence, which sticks Arthur as the bartender in a space saloon, either shamelessly copies Mos Eisley’s cantina or is a sincere recreation of the classic set piece. The fact that neither is clear says wonders about its production values, which are as top notch as an episode of Zoobilee Zoo.

Star Wars Holiday Special Boba Fett cartoon dinosaur talisman CBS

In the interest of optimism, The Holiday Special does provide the earliest appearance of Boba Fett in an animated sequence where he assists and then betrays the Rebel Alliance in obtaining a magical talisman. The pursuit of the talisman is quickly forgotten and by the time Luke Skywalker discovers Fett’s treachery, he’s already blasted off. But despite its garish, uneven animation and caricature depictions, the segment is the show’s lone bright spot if only because the sight of Boba Fett wielding a electric prod whilst riding on the back of an amphibious brontosaurus is awesome.

I can’t explain what psychedelic performances from Diahann Caroll and Jefferson Starship have to do with “Life Day,” and the recurring presence of dancing gypsy circus gymansts goes unexplained. But The Holiday Special — and a conclusion with Carrie Fisher belting out Life Day’s virtues behind John Williams’ Main Title — is worth tracking down a torrent file, if only because of the awkward retconning it would cause in the future. After all, for adding just a shred of legitimacy to characters named “Lumpy” and “Itchy,” A.C. Crispin is a patron fucking saint of genre fiction.

Way #1: Christmas Carol: The Movie

Way #2: The Santa Clause

Way #3: Die Hard

Way #4: Bad Santa

Way #5: The Family Man

Ways #6 & #7: Home Alone & Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

Way #8: Black Christmas

Way #9: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

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