Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Star Wars Holiday Special (Shitmas Day #12)

– A Mind Fuck of a Fever Dream 

Star Wars is one of those topics that set people off in many emotional directions. Like politics, or religion, I try to avoid pushing people’s buttons on the subject. I love Star Wars, but even if you enjoy the hell out of it, people will be there to slam you for some tiny mistake you make about the franchise. It’s a protected universe, and for better or for worse, the fan-base is rabid. So, I charge into this post with the knowledge that I might be hated by many.

George Lucas is a monster. Even if he gave us one of the most beloved franchises in the history of, well, everything, he is a man that has torn our hearts out again and again. The prequel set of films were everything that a Star Wars fan did not want. While I can tolerate Episode III, I and II are almost unwatchable at times. I could go on and on about what makes the prequels good and bad, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make. I want you to understand that Star Wars, as legendary as it is, has some rather atrocious moments. One of those moments comes in the form of the 1978 (took place after A New Hope) Holiday Special that only aired once on television at the end of November of that year. Even if Lucas barely had a hand in it, he should still be blamed for one of the darker moments in Star Wars history.


The premise to the Holiday Special is simple: Chewbacca is heading back home to his planet, Kashyyyk, to be with his family to participate in Life Day. Life Day is a celebration that takes place on the Wookie planet every three years and celebrates the natural beauty of Kashyyyk. Chewbacca’s family, who seem to be a collection of wookies who were turned away from a mental institution, begin to get worried when Chewbacca fails to show up. The rest of the special revolves around a series of events that have close to nothing to do with the premise and a good portion of the show’s focus is on Lump, Chewbacca’s son.


I am even having a hard time now trying to convey what direction this show goes in. The story is nonexistent but yet there is an underlying theme of “family” playing throughout the show. Unfortunately, all that “good” stuff is cut short with, I don’t know, five minute musical numbers and guys in rainbow tights doing acrobats in a hologram.

Now, I have only seen bits of this special on the internet over the years but never found the motivation to watch all two hours of it. I knew that this was going to be a rotten piece of television history; I just didn’t think it would be as inane as it is. The opening ten minutes is Chewbacca’s family yelling at each other with no subtitles. It’s just that annoying wookie sound without any context or understanding. People had to be high in order to create this, and thinking about it, I wish I did drugs in order to appreciate it in some fashion. While the opening stresses Chewbacca’s arrival and detour to home, the show takes chunks of time to show Chewbacca’s wife cooking Banther and to put a cartoon segment about halfway in. It’s as if the writers wanted to shove all this expanded universe shit into two hours with no direction.


While there are some cool moments (i.e. Boba Fett’s first appearance in the series is in the cartoon segment), the majority of it feels like its pandering to the Star Wars crowd while making them run and puke at the same time. Take the cantina scene, for instance –Bea Arthur shows up in the Mos Eisley cantina, meets Greedo (who should be dead?), and then sings a song for about five minutes. Only fans of A New Hope would get anything that was going on but they would all want to kill themselves at the moment songs begin to be sung.

So, where am I going with my discussion on how much of a piece of shit this “holiday special” is? I want to show you that Star Wars, the expanded universe, was fucked even before the prequels or shitty books came out. This came out a year after A New Hope, which we consider the golden age of Star Wars. Lucas, even with his minimal involvement, was showing us that he was indeed, crazy and had no idea what Star Wars even was. To this day (maybe it will all change with this Disney business), he is withholding the original cuts of the film and making sure only his “vision” is accepted. I love Lucas for what he gave me (Star Wars), but I also hate him for his tyranny.

Star Wars: The Holiday Special is a mind fuck of a fever dream. It encompasses the Star Wars universe but with a large amount of LSD thrown on top. It is everything that is wrong with Star Wars before anything was really erroneous with the series. The lack of seriousness and attention to detail is thrown out the window in favor of something nobody wants. If only we saw the signs! To be fair, Lucas is pretty ashamed of this abortion of a television special but it makes me wonder if that’s how he’ll feel about the prequels thirty years (if he is alive) from now.

While this isn’t necessarily about Christmas, or any holiday we celebrate, I do hope you have wonderful time this holiday season. We have tons of shitty things to watch and people to spend time with. Remember what makes this time of year important and remember that Han shot first.

- Jesse Bartel

P.S.
Here is a ( LINK ) to watch the special if you DARE!

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