Today is the 35th Anniversary of the ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’
Come celebrate Life Day with the worst thing George Lucas ever did with Star Wars… and that’s saying something.
Originally airing on November 17th, 1978, the Star Wars Holiday Special centered on the Wookie equivalent of Christmas known as Life Day. Han Solo is trying to get Chewbacca back to his family on Kashyyyk to celebrate Life Day when they are attacked by two Imperial Star Destroyers and are forced to flee. Back at home on Kashyyyk, Chewbacca’s family is preparing for his return, watching television and trying to make dinner. The story shifts from the primary Life Day narrative to interjected segments including a cartoon that marks the introduction of Boba Fett, and a musical number with Jefferson Starship.
The entire main cast from Star Wars appears, possibly reluctantly, in this holiday special, joined by classic television stars Art Carney, Bea Arthur, and Harvey Korman. George Lucas reportedly hates the Holiday Special so much that he’s expressed desire to physically destroy every copy in existence, and refuses to allow it to be released on home video. Yes, the man that willingly made The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones thinks THIS is so bad that it should never be released. The special went unseen for many years after its initial broadcast until the 90s when fans came forward with old VHS copies recorded from the first broadcast, sparking copying and tape trading. The special regularly shows up on television “Worst of…” lists, though it has spawned a cult following of fans who include it with classic Christmas television specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and A Charlie Brown Christmas. The only segment regularly recognized by George Lucas is the cartoon featuring Boba Fett, which was included as an Easter Egg on the Star Wars Complete Saga Blu Ray set.
Harrison Ford claimed to have forgotten everything about the special until Conan O’Brien made him watch a scene several years back, and Carrie Fisher requested a copy of it from George Lucas in exchange for participating in a DVD commentary for Star Wars, saying she puts in on at parties when she wants her guests to go home.
If you’re brave enough, here’s the complete Star Wars Holiday Special. But to give you something a bit easier to watch, there is also video of the complete special along with the Rifftrax commentary.