Friday, September 16, 2011


Well, today is the day that the STAR WARS movies are released on Blu-Ray. The films have been tinkered with... again (George Lucas seems addicted to retroactive continuity) and may fans are upset about that.

So, with that in mind and wanting to do something to thumb our noses at the Lucas, my daughter and I sat down and watched the ultimate in Star Wars discontinuity, the STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL.

The Star Wars Holiday special aired in November of 1978. This was before the release of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. The special was produced for CBS and George Lucas did not have the creative control that he has now. It's likely that this is the reason that Lucas demands such strict creative control as he does now. He has said publicly that he would like to smash every single copy of this abomination with a sledgehammer.

This is the internet age, however and you can't keep a bad program down anymore.

The special didn't include Lucas but it did include the cast including Mark Hammil featuring his newly reconstructed face after his car accident, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford, believe it or not. It also includes, naturally, Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO and Artoo-Deetoo. The cast also includes Art Carney as "Mister fix-it" type of character.

Where to begin with this? The show is two hours of glorious '70's cheeziness mixed up with the Star Wars universe. We are introduced to Chewbacca's family -- his wife Mala, his father Itchy and his son Lumpy -- on the Wookie Planet (it's only ever identified as The Wookie Planet). Chewbacca is trying to get back to his family tree house for Life Day, the Wookie's annual celebration of... well, we're not sure.

The drama (?) of Chewbacca's family is interspersed with video clips of comedy and music featuring Harvey Korman, Beatrice Arthur, Diahanne Carrol and Jefferson Starship. (I'm not making this up!)

Included in this madness is an animated Star Wars featurette which is notable for including the very first appearance of Bobba Fett (voiced by Canadian actor Don Francks). Obviously whoever wrote the script for this had been given minimal information about what role Bobba Fett was going to be playing in the sequel and they made up the rest. The other notable fact about this animated short is that it was produced by a Canadian company, Nelvana, who went on to produce the animated feature ROCK AND RULE.

The video we watched was an internet download which included the special as well as all the commercials from 1978 which gave it an added nostalgia bonus for me and a little window into the past for my daughter.

I saw this special when it was originally broadcast and I remember thinking that it was awful at the time. Upon seeing it again, though it wasn't terribly horrible despite the weird contrast of Star Wars and a typical '70's variety special. The pathos of little Lumpy as he cries for his stuffed Bantha destroyed by stormtroopers almost brought a lump to my throat.

On another level it almost works as an allegory of a jewish family trying to have a happy hanukkah despite the presence of Nazis. The Imperial forces are certainly presented as a real threat, with no attempt to "take the Mickey" out of them. In that respect I have to give the producers props.

On the other hand, Grandpa Itchy watching soft-core porn on his virtual player is kind of embarrassing, not to mention Mala's outdated housewife apron. Although the scene where she tries to follow a recipe presented by a TV chef with four arms is kind of amusing.

Naturally all ends happily. Han Solo and Chewbacca make it back in time for Life Day and some mushy dialogue about family.

Luke and Princess Leia show up as well while the Wookies parade around in red robes holding candles and Princess Leia sings (well, Carrie Fisher is Debbie Reynold's daughter, after all) a quasi-holiday song to the tune of the Star Wars theme.
(Honestly, I'm not making' this stuff up!)

You can download the special for yourself from that internet thingy. (I won't say where. but you guys know where to go -- nudge nudge, wink wink).

Or you can just watch it right here (if you dare):

I've been here and there. I've drawn a lot of pictures. I've written a bit, too. I'm not good at this self-promotion thing. Look, you want to know about me? just visit these websites. Okay?

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