I would consider myself a major Star Wars fan. I’ve see all the films and love them, read the Legends books and all the new canon, follow the TV shows, and attend conventions. The one thing I haven’t done though is watch the infamous 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special. I know of the show and have seen clips, but have never watched it all the way through. Which is odd as it combines two of my most favorite things—Star Wars, of course, and the late, great Bea Arthur.
Since this was the 40th anniversary of the Holiday Special, I thought it was high time I sat down and watched what is probably the bane of Harrison Ford’s existence. And for insights and amusement, I have written this article while watching the show. I have not read anything about the show before hand, thus all of my reactions are real! So, without further ado, here are my reactions to seeing the Star Wars Holiday Special for the very first time!
Han and Chewie Head to Kashyyyk
Alright, it’s starting out very much like Star Wars: A New Hope. Space chase action! Han and Chewbacca are running from the Empire, very plausible. Wait, they’re running from an Imperial Garbage Scout? Seriously? Ok, now it’s time for cast introductions.
What is up with Mark Hamill’s hair?? HIS HAIR IS INSANE. I do love that the main cast all joined up to do the special.
I’m not going to lie, Chewbacca’s father Itchy is super creepy. It seems weird that the show started off with no one speaking English. I wonder if that was off putting to some viewers. It’s a bit hard to follow, especially for a solid 10-15 minutes.
I’ve got to say that Lumpy is very relatable – very much like my 2 1/2 year old kid. Running around, making weird noises.
Now Lumpy is watching something on the Holodeck, and it is weird. I think this is just to show of what kind of TV special effects were capable in 1978. Also, Lumpy creeps me out too.
Hey, the Wookiee’s have a direct comlink line to Luke Skywalker! Mark Hamill’s hair is a perfect coif. Wow. And someone put way too much makeup on him. Fine acting by Mr. Hamill, talking to what would have been blank screen at the time.
At the trading post: This scene is a little bit out there just to let Malla know Chewie and Han are on their way.
Vader’s appearance: Is this just a scene from A New Hope that was sliced into with new lines? It sure seems like it was.
What is the world is this cooking show?? Why did the show writers put this much of a fake cooking show in this plot?
“Stir whip stir whip whip stir!” Everyone together now! Say it with Gormaanda! Poor Harvey Korman.
I’m going to say it again. Itchy really, really creeps me out.
Okay, time for Itchy’s Life Day gift. What IS this? Some kind of Wookiee good-time show? This is not for children. Why was this in a kid’s show? Was there no other way to incorporate Diahann Carroll’s singing? The song itself is lovely, almost like a Bond theme song. And the graphics are Bond-esque too. But–this. is. weird.
Enter Princess Leia
Ah! Carrie Fisher arrives as Princess Leia! It’s interesting that Chewie’s family has direct comlink lines to Luke and Leia. They must be very trustworthy.
Back to Han and Chewie arriving to the planet. More small cuts from A New Hope. Nice use of the original film, really.
Oh no. Imperial trouble now at the Wookiee dwelling. The Imperials and Stormtroopers are quite threatening to the Wookiees and trader. Wow! The trader got Malla a sweet stereo with Jefferson Starship playing…in it. I don’t know what to make of this. It’s like an early odd version of MTV. I am thoroughly enjoying the band’s crazy futuristic outfits however. And hey, the Imperial officer is digging the tunes!
Lumpy trying his best to keep cool with Imperials around. Poor kiddo. So he does what most kids do, cartoon time!
This cartoon is extremely 1970s. The animation is exactly what one would think of a 1970s cartoon. Very much like Heavy Metal. Ok, here’s Panna. Seems like an interesting planet, red water based. And now there’s Boba Fett! Riding a giant pink dinosaur! What….what am I watching??
On board the Falcon now. So, Boba Fett is a friend, not a foe. Oh wait, he’s going to contact Vader! Sneaky. Han Solo’s face is crazy looking in this cartoon. Super weird, yet mildly entertaining.
And the cartoon is over. Why are the Imperials destroying Lumpy’s room? C’mon he’s just a boy! Oh no, he’s hugging the stuffed Bantha with the torn off head! Just like my toddler hugs his stuffed animals when they get boo-boo’s. Agh! Heartstrings!
Now Lumpy is assembling his translator tool. How is this entertaining? It’s just odd and boring. Why did they keep this scene in the show at all?
Life on Tatootine time! Cantina patrons, nice! There she is! Bea Arthur! I’d totally drink any place Bea (aka Ackmena) bartends. She’d be the sassiest bartender ever. And look, she has a paramour! Why is he pouring his drink in his head? Really? REALLY? Bless Bea Arthur for doing this show.
Poor Ackmena. Trying to close the bar for curfew and no one listens. You run that tab for the Empire girl! Oh! She’s singing! Yes! Bea Arthur had a great voice. Wait. She’s hugging a giant mouse now. Okay….
Again, bless Bea Arthur for doing this show.
Ok, back to the Wookiees now. Hey, Chewie arrived just in time to fight the stormtrooper! Han too! Some fine acting by Harrison Ford here, talking to actors in what can only be described as pretty funny walking carpets. Time for a Wookiee family reunion. Wait, are Chewie and Malla going to kiss?? Oh, thank heavens they didn’t. And now it’s time for the Life Day celebration. Wookiees in red Snuggies with glowing globes, very interesting. Han, Luke, and Leia are joining in. I’m not sure what Life Day actually is…just a celebration of life and peace? Oh! Leia’s singing!
Aw, Carrie Fisher could sing well. I did not know that. And now the show is wrapping up with scenes of Chewbacca from A New Hope and a lovely Wookiee family dinner.
First thought: What did I just watch?!
That was truly an insane TV special. No wonder it’s panned and made fun of. It is infamous for a reason, and I had no idea it was that bad. Such a beautiful train wreck of a show.
In the end though I’m glad I finally watched the Star Wars Holiday Special. I’m not quite sure what it was really about, and it was extremely odd. Really, really odd. And Itchy is creepy. And how much money did they have to pay Harrison Ford to do the show? I’m almost positive I’ll never watch the special again. But I’m happy to have experienced all the weirdness and can now join my fellow Star Wars fans in making fun of this cultural legend!
Courtney Martin is a graduate of Indiana University and works in publishing. She’s an avid Star Wars fan and wrote the recipe blog Courtney Cooks Star Wars on suvudu.com. When not enveloped a science fiction or fantasy novel, she is watching television with her husband and son, doing crossword puzzles, or playing with her Shih Tzu, Burt.