SUB-GENRES: Variety Show / Garbage
DIRECTED BY: Steve Binder (Dr. Victor Frankenstein, uncredited)
WRITTEN BY: Pat Proft, Leonard Ripps, Bruce Vilanch, Rod Warren, & Mitzie Welch
PEW PEW: The sound a blaster makes when, beyond your capacity to take any more abuse, it is leveled at your TV and fired.
CAT FOOD: The film itself is proof that people will do anything for a buck.
This one will be brief, I promise. The film itself, however, makes no such promises.
After the shocking success of Star Wars in 1977, this holiday special was put together by an aspiring lunatic named Victor Frankenstein, who believed he could take a collection of formerly wonderful things and stitch them together into a living, breathing thing every bit the sum of its formerly amazing parts. What he ended up with was a reanimated monstrosity. Mary Shelley wrote a book about it…
Seriously, though, the Star Wars Holiday special is patently one of the worst things imaginable. This is coming from a Star Wars fan so stubborn that I’ll like just about anything that bears the brand. I was willing to stretch my tolerance of garbage to enjoy the film, but I found my powers finite. Mind you, it’s not zero stars worthy, like Atlas Shrugged, but it’s not much more than that.
The plot involves Chewbacca’s wookiee family (wife, child, and father) who are waiting for the head of their family to arrive in time to celebrate Wookiee Life Day (their equivalent to Christmas). As Chewie and Han are occupied (trying their damnedest not to be a part of this abomination) fleeing Imperial forces in space, it (unfortunately for us) takes them a long time to arrive.
The resulting sensory torment is presented in variety show format, with most of the dialogue in unsubtitled and incredibly aggravating Shyriiwook (Wookiee grunts and bellers). You’ll want to murder Lumpy yourself after a short while. What blessed human interaction occurs happens either through a viewscreen (where we see Luke Skywalker at his absolute cheesiest), or the odd time in person, as when human trader Saun Dann (played by Art Carney) comes to visit or the Imperial forces show up for inspection.
Usually, though, we see everything through painful attempts at variety show entertainment (songs and dance) and comedy (the great Harvey Korman isn’t even funny in this one!). I don’t think Jefferson Starship has any place in a galaxy far, far away either.
The special’s only, and I mean ONLY saving grace is an animated short (made by the incredible Nelvana) featuring a few of our heroes and the enigmatic Boba Fett (his first appearance in the saga). This short isn’t the greatest thing on the planet, but it’s cool and very worth watching. The rest of the program is very not worth watching.
Many times have I seen a starry-eyed Star Wars fan say something along the lines of ‘Alright, the Star Wars Holiday Special! This ought to be hilariously bad!’ They fail to heed the advice that there is nothing hilarious about the bad. It’s just bad.
I watch the thing every Christmas because I hate myself.