What NOT To Watch During Holidays

The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)

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The Book of Boba Fett is airing on 29th December, but many may feel that watching a nice Star Wars movie or show might be just the thing for winter holidays. For those among you here is a tip what you definitely should NOT watch. And that despite the fact that it has Boba Fett in it.

It is called The Star Wars Holiday Special.

Do not confuse it with the Lego Star Wars Holiday Special that has been available on Disney Plus since 2020. That is a modern attempt to likely reuse that name and make people forget that the original Star Wars Holiday Special ever existed.

But some deeds cannot be undone.

Bea Arthur as the bartender of Mos Eisley cantina in The Star Wars Holiday Special

The Horrors of Past Christmas

There is a reason why the original Star Wars Holiday Special is NOT available on Disney Plus. It (so far) exists only in bootlegged versions from peoples’ VHS. It would be however easy to find if you so desired. Don’t.

But what IS The Star Wars Holiday Special, actually? A full-length (over one and a half hours), live-action film made in the 1978. Indeed: just after the first Star Wars and full two years before The Empire Strikes Back.

It stars everyone – there is Mark Hamill as Luke, Carrie Fisher as Leia, Harrison Ford as Han, Anthony Daniels as C3PO… and also R2-D2, Chewbacca and Jefferson Starship. AND Boba Fett, although we will get to it momentarily.

But perhaps the most important characters – and certainly the most memorable – are Chewbacca’s family. They provide the overall story that is occasionally interrupted by peculiar psychedelic musical numbers, cuts to Luke repairing R2 or Leia getting ready for a Life Day celebration. The fact that Mark Hamill wears about as much make-up as Marilyn Manson only adds to the mood, along with the way Carrie Fisher’s eyes glitter which led many fans to connect it to the stories of her drug use at the time.

Carrie Fisher as Leia and Anthony Daniels as C3PO in The Star Wars Holiday Special

Wookiees’ Happy Home

The story takes part on Life Day, the Wookiee festival corresponding to our Christmas, Yule, what-have-you. For the first seven entire minutes of the film, we watch Chewbacca’s wife Malla, his father, and his son walking around their tree-house and doing whatever Wookiees do on Life Day. There is plenty of dialogue, all in Wookiee language without subtitles. Seven minutes.

And what is it that the Wookiees are doing, specifically? Malla is cooking with a TV program featuring a four-handed cook. Imagine any old-fashioned program for housewives, only with aliens. The kid, Itchy, is playing with various toys, including holographic board of psychedelic dancers. And the perverted grandpa is using a VR headset to watch a holographic dancer in what is undeniably an erotic, again somewhat psychedelic performance. You know, this is the normal 70s American family TV program.

Harvey Korman as Chef Gormaanda on the Life Day program observed by Malla in The Star Wars Holiday Special.

Jefferson Starship, Mos Eisley And Boba Fett

As the story continues there unfolds a plot involving Imperial occupation of the Wookiee homeworld. It is mostly boring and pretty much nothing happens. All of this is interlaced by more strange performances, including that of the band Jefferson Starship, which is apparently what Imperial Officers enjoy watching on-duty.

The more “serious” interludes include a story from Mos Eisley cantina. That bit feels like straight out of The Mandalorian. Nothing really happens even there, but it has the right atmosphere, plus the actress Bea Arthur amazingly stars as the local barkeep who COULD absolutely be in The Mandalorian.

And what about Boba Fett? He appears in a cartoon short that is perhaps visually terrible (and features a… dinosaur?), but nonetheless has a plot. I will not spoil it for you: the cartoon, as the only part of the Life Day Special, has found its way to Disney Plus, where you can find it under the name “Story of the Faithful Wookiee”. It is notably the first appearance of Boba Fett ever: again, remember, this was made two years before The Empire Strikes Back.

Boba Fett astride a monster in the cartoon originally showed as part of The Star Wars Holiday Special

The Legacy That Endured

Surprisingly much, in fact, has endured and carried over into the official canon from The Star Wars Holiday Special, despite of what it was like. The design of the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk, the fact that Chewie has a wife and her name: Malla/Mallatobuck. The concept of Life Day itself, used since in games, novels and even as yet another marketing tool by Lucasfilm for Star Wars-themed sweaters or holiday recipes.

Does this redeem The Star Wars Holiday Special? I do not know if it, in fact, requires redemption in the first place. It is a piece of entertainment so ridiculous that it actually CAN be entertaining. But if you watch it, do so with friends with whom you can share the puzzlement by it all.

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Rostislav Kurka
Rostislav is a Protestant theologian and a self-trained Sith, counting Jan Hus, Dorothee Sölle, Darth Revan and Darth Traya among his main influences. He hails from the hundred-towered city of Prague, where he had spent a large part of his life creating worlds and inspiring young generations to roleplay. His involvement in organising children's camps led him to accidentally writing a Lord of the Rings musical, which made him temporarily famous, and a Three Musketeer-Jedi fanfilm, which didn't. He has recently moved to the frozen waste of Finland, because that's it, the Rebels are there.