Most people barely remember this offering, which aired back in November of 1978 and was never repeated again. There’s a reason for it being kept under wraps, mostly because it wasn’t exactly “Star Wars”‘ finest hour and proved to be a colossal embarrassment to the fledgling franchise. But thanks to eBay and a few savvy souls with VCRs, copies of the movie have survived and multiplied to allow fans a chance to view what no sane man should want to see.
For a “Star Wars” offering, the plot is very simple. Han Solo tries to evade the Empire while getting his pal Chewbacca back to his home planet for Life Day, the Wookie equivalent of Christmas. Meanwhile, Chewie’s family anxiously awaits his arrival so the festivities can begin. While everyone waits, musical numbers and guest appearances fill up the 97-minute running time.
The “Holiday Special” does feature all the principal characters of the film, albeit too briefly. Harrison Ford (“Hollywood Homicide”) escapes with his dignity fully intact, giving his usual bravado performance as Han Solo. His screen time is simply too brief, and if he were in this more it really would have made a difference. Carrie Fisher sings a song to the tune of the “Star Wars” theme, and while it’s hard to watch you can’t help but notice her beautiful voice. Too bad the producers didn’t have the sense to give her better musical material to work with.
As Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill (“The Guyver”) does what he can but he’s got nothing to work with either. His part seems to consist of looking like he was attacked by a Mary Kay saleswoman and fixing an antiquated gadget. Give him credit, though, at least he tries, despite having next to nothing to go on.
As for guest stars Bea Arthur, Harvey Korman, Art Carney, and Jefferson Airplane, they seem so out of place that they stand out like Mormons at a biker rally. The producers apparently had no idea what “Star Wars” was about, and decided to cram every available celebrity into the special for the sake of ratings.
The only silver lining is that the “Holiday Special” is the first appearance of Boba Fett, predating “The Empire Strikes Back”. Debuting in an animated short, it’s nice to see a fan favorite in action for the first time. The animation is fairly well done, and makes for the only enjoyable part of the show.
The sets on the Wookie planet are poorly constructed, and look too flimsy to hold creatures that can grow over 7 feet tall. Outer space effects are mainly scenes either taken or cut from “Star Wars”. Even the costumes look poorly done, as if they were in a rush. The Wookie suits are nothing special, making the creatures look like Bigfoots who’ve let themselves go.
The “Holiday Special” is best for “Star Wars” fanatics who need something to tide them over until the arrival of “Episode III”. It’s also good for seeing the very first appearance of Boba Fett. But for anyone else, be wise and rent the actual films for your “Star Wars” fix. This is something that may scar your psyche for life.
David Acomba, Steve Binder (director)
CAST: Mark Hamill …. Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford …. Han Solo
Carrie Fisher …. Princess Leia
Anthony Daniels …. C-3PO
Peter Mayhew …. Chewbacca
James Earl Jones …. Darth Vader