The Star Wars franchise is incredibly popular. Despite its many successes, not every property has been well received. The Star Wars Holiday Special is one such example.
The Star Wars Holiday Special tells a story. It’s your basic feel good Christmas movie done in the style of a 1970s variety show. Anyone expecting to see something even remotely similar to the movie is setting themselves up to be disappointed. While A New Hope was known for it’s state of the art special effects, The Holiday Special was made for television and did not have the same production values. To compare the two would be unfair, but that being said the effects in use are pretty terrible across the board.
We start with stock footage from the original movie. Han Solo and Chewbaca are on the run from the Empire and they want to get to Chewie’s planet of Kashyyyk in time for the Wookie holiday Life Day. Chewie’s family are then introduced (including his father Itchy and son Lumpy) and are the only ones to speak for ten minutes. Unfortunately there are no subtitles to translate what they’re saying, so you just suffer through it without having any idea what’s going on.
The bulk of the time is spent with Chewbaca’s family. Art Carney plays Saun Dann in an over the top manner similar to the comedic sidekick in a 1950s movie. Bea Arthur plays Ackmena and runs the Mos Eisley cantina. There is also an odd scene where Chewie’s father uses a virtual reality machine to fulfill a sexual fantasy. Basically, the Star Wars Holiday Special is a series of loosely connected skits and none of them are very good.
The Star Wars Holiday Special is probably best known for the debut of Boba Fett. Fett is one of the most popular characters in the Star Wars universe. His first appearance is unimpressive. The segment he appears in is poorly animated with strange use of shadowing. Fett also gets a large amount of dialogue and is more of a generic bad guy than the silent deadly assassin that fans would come to love.
For all its faults, there is some good. Unfortunately, each of these bright points comes with its drawback. The cast from the movie reprise their roles, but in minor parts. Boba Fett debuts in an awful short. Ackmena’s farewell song to the Cantina is almost touching, but the scene itself is meandering and pointless. From start to finish the entire film is only an hour and a half, but it seems twice as long.
The Star Wars Holiday Special is one of the most reviled parts of the popular franchise. It was obviously a cash grab using the popularity of the original movie. Boba Fett survived his debut, silly names were retconned and the whole thing means nothing to the actual story. Later installments to the saga films were much more insulting to fans. Still this is only for completionists.