The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)

star wars holiday special 1978 advertisement
1 Overall Score
Story: 1/10
Acting: 1/10
Visuals: 3/10

Boba Fett's introduction, So-Bad-Its-Good quality

Everything in this show except the cartoon is can't-turn-away bad

TV Show Info

TV Show Name:  The Star Wars Holiday Special

Studio:  Smith-Dwight Hemion Productions

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Animated/Seasonal

Release Date(s):  November 17, 1978

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

star wars holiday special life day song carrie fisher harrison ford mark hamill

We’re out to make the prequels look like Citizen Kane in this special…

It is Life Day, and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is trying to get Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) home to Kashyyk to celebrate with his family Malla (Mickey Morton), Lumpy (Patty Maloney), and Itchy (Paul gale). Pursued by the Empire, Chewbacca and Han must evade the authorities. Malla checks in with the local trader Saun Dann (Art Carney) and tries to whip-up a dish with a television cook Chef Gormaanda (Harvey Korman). A trip to Tatooine has a visit to the famous cantina being managed by Ackmena (Bea Arthur), but the cantina learns that Empire is putting it on lockdown. The Empire closes in on Chewbacca and Solo, and Lumpy, Itchy, and Malla find themselves in danger.

Directed by Steven Binder and David Acomba, The Star Wars Holiday Specialhas gone down in infamy. It aired once on CBS on November 17, 1978 and only exists in copies from the time due to negative reaction. It is often listed as one of the worst holiday specials of all time.

star wars holiday special bea arthur cantina band

This is the cover of Ackmena’s old Tatooine standards album.

The special is awful, but it is the first official spin off of Star Wars. If people ran out and saw Star Wars in 1977 and were excited to see more…this was not the answer. It goes beyond being bad and back to being good by borrowing the format of popular variety shows of the time. The basic plot is the whole Life Day thing, but the show mostly exists through various “skits” performed by guest stars and Chewbacca’s family.

The show is loaded with guest stars. Art Carney helps put up distractions for the Empire as Saun Dann. Bea Arthur appears as bartender Ackmena. Diahann Carroll stops buy to sing as an almost strange sex machine hologram for Itchy. Jefferson Starship also performs as part of a holographic band for an Imperial soldier. Harvey Korman makes a few appearances as Krelman, Chef Gormaanda, and the Amorphian instructor. These are all in addition to the Star Wars cast embarrassing themselves (check out Princess Leia aka Carrie Fisher’s Life Day song if you haven’t seen it).

star wars holiday special cartoon boba fett first appearance

Well…at least Boba Fett was cool

The special looks and sounds awful. It doesn’t help that the show mostly exists from early recordings that have poor quality. You don’t have to worry about the complexity of the script since there are entire scenes in the “Wookie” language which amounts to a lot of grunting.

The most famous aspect of this series is a cartoon included with in the story that introduced Boba Fett before his first appearance in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Boba joins Luke, R2-D2, and C-3PO in trying to track down Han and Chewbacca. The art is bizarre, but also sometimes rather interesting. Chewbacca’s family have also made appearances in various stories (including a kids book I had growing up), and the planet of Kashyyk made an official film appearance in Star Wars—Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

The Star Wars Holiday Special should have been a sign of how bad Lucas can go. Lucas has completely disowned it and stated that he wishes he could destroy every copy…of course now with the internet, almost anyone can find it. The whole thing comes off as a “what were they thinking” type viewing that is so spellbinding that you can’t turn away…mostly due to sorrow and embarrassment for everyone involved.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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