Dear George…. Or Lord Lucas, if you prefer.
There’s a term that’s used, often regarding anything that’s released after years of being banned – historical interest. It’s why films like Caligula and Cannibal Holocaust have finally been deemed acceptable for release – no matter how shocking they are – as they can be looked back on retrospectively as a fascinating product of their time. While there’s no roman orgies or animal slaughter here, I feel exactly the same way about The Star Wars Holiday Special – having also been locked away for its own unique ability to shock and offend.
As you already know, the infamous special was aired on the 17th November 1978 on NBC, during the very peak of Star Wars mania. Fans could only watch in horror as their beloved sci-fi epic was turned into a cheesy 70s variety show, with expectations destroyed as spectacularly as a death star explosion. Now I know you’re not the biggest fan of the special, and I don’t blame you. You’ve even been famously quoted as saying “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it”.
But here’s the thing George, we all know you had little input or involvement in the TV special and how displeased you were with the end result. So, lets just enjoy it for what it is – a campy, bizarre and unique piece of Star Wars history to be guiltily enjoyed and watched through the gaps in your fingers. Why not utilise an official release as an opportunity to express your true thoughts on the holiday special and present it in a humorous way as a curio of the Star Wars universe.
I mean let’s face it, It’s available to watch on YouTube, bootlegged on eBay, and is readily available to anyone who want’s to see it. The longer you suppress it, it’ll just become more powerful. Why not put out a deluxe remastered edition on Blu-ray ? The demand for it will be undoubtedly huge, and it’ll allow you to put a stop to the ugly bootleg copies that are floating around online. Or even better, stick it as an extra on the inevitable re-re-release of the saga on Blu-ray which will include the films in 3-D and probably the original theatrical editions…. Cause you’ll need a reason for us all to re-buy it.
Still not sure if there’s good reason for the Holiday Special to get its own official release ? Well, both you and I know there‘s plenty about the special which makes it more notable than you’d like to give it credit for. It gave us the first appearance of Boba Fett in an animated segment which remains loved by many despite its frankly disturbing 70s animation. There’s the bizarre musical segments, including a clearly intoxicated Carrie Fisher singing over the main Star Wars theme as an ode to Life Day, and lame ill-fitting comedy routines from Harvey Korman.
Who could forget the spectacularly awful sequences with Chewbacca’s family – introducing us to Lumpy and Itchy, presumably named after a nasty bout of Wookie haemorrhoids. The contractually obliged appearances of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford – who on a recent Conan O’Brien interview seemed especially pleased to be reminded of his time working on the classic TV special. Huge segments that seem heavily induced by psychedelic drugs, including a never-ending miniature circus routine , scored to 70s synth music, being truly the stuff of nightmares.
And let’s be honest here George, there’s far worse things out there with the Star Wars name on it. I mean ok, maybe not quite as bad as the Holiday Special, but pretty damn bad none the less. There’s some ropey video games and questionable comics, or those awful 80s Ewok TV movies, and…Ahem… Significant chunks of the prequels. Then there’s all the constant revisions and changes that you’ve made to the films we once loved so dearly.
The replacement of Sebastian Shaw with Hayden Christensen is the single most depressing moment in the entire history of Star Wars and makes even the greatest injustices of the Holiday Special seem normal – that’s no mean feat. Oh and I’m under the firm belief that Jefferson Starship belong in the universe more so than Jar Jar Binks.
The Star Wars Holiday Special released on Blu-ray and DVD would be exactly what we need to bring that classic Star Wars magic back. Its managed to transcend sheer awfulness to become a legendary example of something so bad that it’s good. After 33 years since that fateful night on NBC, it has no chance of impacting the success and popularity of Star Wars – in fact it’s likely to make other entries in the franchise seem even better.
You see as cringe worthy as the special is, it’s a fascinating part of the history of Star Wars that deserves to be remastered and retrospectively discussed. Like it or not, it’s considered canon and part of the franchise, remaining a stunning example of how to never allow a classic series of films to be transformed into something unspeakably crappy……. Oh.
Happy Life Day 2011 !
Star Wars: The Complete Saga is released on Blu-ray today
Sadly, you won’t find The Star Wars Holiday Special on any of its bonus disks.