The Star Wars Holiday Special

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Title: The Star Wars Holiday Special
Date(s): 1978
Medium: television
Fandom: Star Wars
Language: English
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The legendary, the infamous, the horrifically bad, The Star Wars Holiday Special holds a special place in Star Wars fans' hearts. This TV special featured the original cast of Star Wars and aired once in 1978 before George Lucas thought the better of it and refused to air it or make copies of it available ever again. Nonetheless, some fans had taped the original airing, and copies of it (first analog, then digital) have circulated clandestinely ever since.

Fan Reactions in Zines

Jean Stevenson wrote a review in Jundland Wastes #12 (December 1982). She listed some highlights: it portrayed regular Wookiee life, and showed Wookiees continuing their alliance with the rebels. The reviewer found several things problematic, one being a male Wookiee being sexually aroused by watching a human woman sing. The reviewer includes all the lyrics to the songs sung and analyzes them at great length, and concludes that "In summation, the Star Wars Holiday Special cannot be dismissed, forgotten or ignored when considering the saga as a whole. For even the "irrelevant" and/or "useless" can have meaningful application."

In the following issue (March 1983) a fan referred to The Star Wars Holiday Special as "a less than successful experiment in bringing Star Wars to television." Another fan comments on the show and writes: "[name redacted] got a lot more out of the SW Holiday Special than I did, obviously. I found the show for the most part rather boring, definitely overlong, and downright embarrassing in spots. Cut to half the length with most of the "musical interludes" removed, it would have been much better in my opinion. I doubt the writers, etc, had in mind the meanings Jean found in the songs-the sequences seemed to be shoved into the plot sideways rather than an integral part of it. The story itself, the portrayal of Chewie as a family type, Han's relationship with the family, the character of Sonn Dann-all these were fine. I just think the whole program would have benefited from concentration on these elements in a shorter span of time."

In Jundland Wastes #14 (May 1983), a fan wrote, "First off then is Jean Stevenson's article about the Star Wars Holiday Special. As one who looks at cinema and TV from a production point of view, I found Jean's article disappointing. It is not the overview that at first glance it gives the impression of being. Instead, it is another of what seems to be endless attempts to prove Han Solo is the central/pivotal/main (choose one) character in the Star Wars universe. In making this attempt, Jean ignores the many flaws in the special, especially the fact that the personalities of the characters are changed to fit the story-particularly Leia's. Her attitude toward anyone or anything that is not of immediate use to her is abominable. I've never been of the "Leia is a bitch" persuasion, but she certainly appears to be one in this production. Luke, who in both ANH and TESB has always been quick to act, respond and aid a friend in need, is made to appear too busy. If these two peoples' characters are made to appear flawed for the sake of the TV production, it's possible that Han's character has been stretched to fit the script as well, albeit more favorably. Also, let's not forget that George Lucas disavowed the Star Wars Holiday Special and insisted his name be removed from the credits."

In Comlink #22 (1985), a fan wrote, "How come the last Lucas TV-movie disappeared without a trace? I was looking forward to a rerun of that Wookiee Christmas special, and it never came out again. Was it unpopular or did Lucas retain the copyright and refuse to rerun it? Perhaps it was supposed to sell Wookiees and it ended up not selling much of anything."

A fan in Southern Enclave #40 (1994) wrote: "In the SW Holiday Special, Han looks as if he were facing the hangman's noose when Leia starts warbling. Luke is swallowing a big lump in his throat. Is it the girl's singing — or the fact that they have been caught in such a silly kiddy show that brings tears to their eyes?? Mark really looks like he did a nose dive into the makeup pot. Even his hair looks dyed (a totally unnatural yellow ... Talk droid Gold or what ever you call it). The whole haircut is strange, too. It's my guess that this special was taped just a month or two after Hamill got out of the hospital, where (according to some sources) the doctors used some ear cartilage to reconstruct his nose. That would account for his hair being cut off around his ears in this ridiculous fashion."

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