George Lucas’ “Star Wars” saga stands as the most dominant pop-culture franchise of the last half-century. The space western has permeated virtually every medium, from film and video game to slippers and theme parks. But one piece of “Star Wars” memorabilia is notably absent from the canon: the resoundingly panned, time-immemorially terrible, “Star Wars Holiday Special.”
To memorialize that which filmmaker George Lucas has made every effort to erase, Stacker has done the difficult, at-times-unpleasant work of compiling a brief history of the ever-campy, 1978 TV variety show. The special’s plot centers on Chewbacca’s family, awaiting his return to the planet of Kashyyyk. While the family waits, and the Empire stalks the rebels, viewers gain an inside view of Wookiee family life. The (perhaps unintended) high point of the whole fiasco is the short cartoon midway through the special when the world is introduced for the first time to Boba Fett.
Following the staggering, instant success of “Star Wars: A New Hope,” Lucas’ attention and time were elsewhere—notably on work for “The Empire Strikes Back.” While he was looking the other way, production of the TV special went sideways, churning through two directors while Bea Arthur crooned in a cantina, Jefferson Starship performed a reasonably good song about UFOs, and Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and Mark Hamill popped in for regrettable cameos. The star power was strong—Harvey Korman features in three roles including one as a Julia Child-inspired alien chef preparing “Bantha Surprise” with his myriad arms—but even that wasn’t enough to save what for all ostensible purposes ought to have been a slam dunk.
The show, which is unavailable for streaming and can not be found on professionally sanctioned DVD or VHS (though you’ll have no trouble finding pirated versions online and as DVDs in their entirety), has served as the butt end of many jokes in the nearly 45 years since its release. Namely, Carrie Fisher went on the record claiming she put the holiday special on at parties as a way of enticing her guests to leave at the end of the night. Lucas famously attempted (and failed) to destroy all hard evidence of the special’s existence altogether.
Keep reading to discover everything you could possibly ever want to know about the “Star Wars Holiday Special.”