Nov 17, 2013

The Star Wars Holiday Special

The Star Wars Holiday Special aired on CBS on November 17, 1978, during my freshman year at Augustana college.   I didn't see it; I usually wasn't home on Friday nights.

Actually, I don't think anyone has seen it all the way through.  After about ten minutes, you could hear tv sets being switched to another channel all across America.     It was universally panned by critics and universally reviled by viewers -- especially Star Wars fans.

It was never rerun, never appeared on VHS or DVD.  But some collectors had bootleg copies recorded directly from the tv broadcasts by diehard fans who thought they were going to get something good.

Curious about what the worst 2-hours of tv would look like, I bought a copy

Curiosity is a bad thing.

Most of the Star Wars characters -- Han Solo, Chewbacca, Darth Vader -- appear in clips from the movie, redubbed to make it look like they're talking about something called "Life Day."

The main story takes place in Chewbacca's house on his home world.  The first fifteen minutes involve his wife Malla  trying to get their son ("Lumpy") to take out the garbage.  Wookies talk only in annoying whines, so it's 15 minutes of mother and son whining at each other.

Then Luke Skywalker calls to say "hello" (apparently they're close friends).  An amazingly feminine Mark Hamill with Farrah Fawcett hair and his face made up like a lower-class prostitute.  Did he forget to take his make up and wig off after performing in a bad drag show?

Then there's fifteen minutes of Malla and Lumpy whining at each other to do the dishes.

Malla cooks dinner, following the directions of a six-armed Harvey Korman in drag.

From The Carol Burnett Show and Blazing Saddles to this?

Then there's a lengthy sketch in a trading post, where shop owner Art Carney tries to sell trinkets to a Storm Trooper.  Very slowly.  Very boring trinkets.  "Here's a miniature aquarium."  "I hate fish."

From The Honeymooners to this?

Then Grandpa Itchy (yes, that's his name), who is apparently senile, opens his Life Day present -- a porn video starring Diahann Carroll, who gyrates seductively and invites Itchy to "experience her," while he grins idiotically, his grotesque gap-teeth throbbing as if he's....come on, kids are watching!

The DVD committed suicide during Itchy's self-gratification on the living room couch.  Thank goodness.   I didn't have the stomach to watch the next 75 minutes.

Hundreds of people contributed to this mess, including some of the greatest actors in Hollywood.

What were they thinking?