The Star Wars Holiday special was first and only officially aired November 17th, 1978 and it was my first glimpse at the actual Star Wars characters. I fell deeply in love with Mark Hamill, and my torch for him hasn’t lessened a bit.
Watching the story, and especially the cartoon introducing Boba Fett, it was wondrous to me…. And a shame it only gets circulation through bootlegs and pirated downloads. I think it’s a valuable companion to the Star Wars franchise.
It was produced by a television network ( I want to say CBS, but I’m not sure) with only vague permission from 20th Century Fox, not George Lucas himself. He thinks it’s horrible and any journalist interviewing the great producer is wise not to bring it up in front of him.
Us hardcore fans think differently, as bad as it might be. I don’t find it much different than the cheesy 1970’s holiday specials that enjoyed so much popularity back then. It wasn’t unheard of for weekend viewing to consist mostly of variety shows by popular entertainers pretending to take sleigh rides or trim artificial christmas trees while singing with their buddies. So my seven-year-old self equated the Holiday special with that, only with my beloved Star Wars characters instead of Donny Osmond or Paul Lynde.
(screenshot off youtube)
My Dad even got into it…. He got us some popcorn as a special treat, sat us down in our jammies and let us stay up to watch the end (It was almost two hours, started at 7 pm, and our bedtime was set at 7:30) making it that much more special to me. And the way the writers “created” a Wookie Holiday to make it applicable to almost any religion is still to this day very typical of the Star Wars-verse.
(from the animated feature, done entirely by Canadian animation company, Nelvana)
(First look at Boba Fett, most favoured yet underused character in nearly any fandom)
(Mark Hamill looking amazingly good after his facial reconstruction surgery following his ill-fated
It is no small coincidence that was the same year we got Star Wars toys for christmas, breaking through the gender-stereotyping so rampant in that day and age. I can only hope that Mr Lucas can soften his heart to us old-school fans and perhaps give permission to release a DVD copy of a remastered Holiday special. One can hope, right?
10 Things you didn’t know about the Star Wars Holiday Special
1. It debuted character Boba Fett
2. All original characters were played/voiced by the original actors, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford.
3. While the actual program hasn’t been officially released by the Star Wars franchise, the animated short is on the special features of the Star Wars Saga DVD set.
4. While not returning in any other canon works, Chewbacca’s family got some coverage in 1979’s “The Wookiee Storybook” and comic book series “Wookiee World” released in 1985.
5. Include’s the Jefferson Starship single, “Light the Sky on Fire”, with a scene of the band performing the song for one of the Imperial officers.
6. Bea Arthur has a cameo as a bartender, Ackmena in the Cantina. She sings a song “Goodnight but not Goodbye” and her character is explained in “A New Hope” as having been present in the Cantina with Luke and Obi Wan, but presumably in the back, negotiating pay. (Star Wars Complete locations, 2005)
7. No english is spoken during the first twenty minutes of the show, as it is set on Kashyyyyk, and the Wookiees are speaking their native language. This did not hinder the plot, but it sure didn’t help.
8. The holiday special is the first time James Earl Jones is credited as the voice of Darth Vader. In “A New Hope”, only David Prowse is credited as the character until “Empire Strikes Back”.
9. The famous Star Wars “Wilhelm Scream” can be heard near the end when Han Solo sends a stormtrooper to his death when he finds him threatening Chewbacca at his tree house.
10. The Art Department for “Revenge of the Sith” used the shots from the Holiday special to build sets for Kashyyyk.
And if fans think Star wars was alone in this kind of character lambasting in 1978, may I kindly direct your attention to “Legend of the Superheroes“….
I’m hoping one day we’ll have a legitimate copy of the Star Wars holiday special to call our own, but in the meantime, at least we have youtube.