Happy Wookiee Life Day!
November 17, 2014

It was 36 years ago today, Nov 17th, 1978 that the Star Wars Holiday Special first premiered on national television on CBS.   It has only ever aired one time.   I was seven years old when it came out and at the time, to me, it was SHAKESPEARE!

 

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I couldn’t WAIT to see it.   It was more, new Star Wars… on TV… in my house.   You Millennials out there won’t understand that, but to us Gen X’ers back in the day, that was HUGE.   We did not have a VCR at that time, no DVR, no internet, no iTunes or Amazon Prime, so if you missed a show, you MISSED it.  That was it.  This was NEW Star Wars… with the main cast.  There was NO WAY I was going to miss it!

The late 70s were a time when variety shows roamed the earth across the air waves – Sonny and Cher, Donnie and Marie, The Smothers Brothers, Hee-Ha, The Muppet Show, The Carol Burnett show, etc. so the fact that they chose this format for the Holiday Special is not entirely surprising…but it was such a jarring juxtaposition to the original Star Wars film that I’m sure it gave plenty of older fans a case of emotional whiplash.   I didn’t see ant of that.  I saw wookiees, and droids and spaceships and aliens, everything I loved about Star Wars was all there again on the screen.   Again, that is my impression as a 7 year old.   I think a saw it again in the mid 90s when I was in college when I got my hands on a bootleg VHS copy and what I discovered then was such a shock to my system and my 7 year old memories and that is what all of us that view the Star Wars Holiday Special as an adult.. that it really is an unwatchable, inexplicable mess!

There are some bright spots, primarily the animated short that features of the first appearance of Boba Fett:

Other moments that always stood out for me after my original viewing was that stuffed Bantha that Lumpy, Chewbacca’s son had in his room.   I coveted that and always wondered why they never made and sold a real one?  I was then heartbroken when the stormtroopers showed up the their house looking for Han and Chewie and one trooper tore the head off of the plush Bantha.  That really upset me as a kid. ( Wow, stormtroopers are really JERKS!) And, of course, I was waiting with baited breath for any moment of screen time for C-3Po and R2-D2.   In my young mind it was all a tight new story with a little bit of music… it was art.  It was perfection.  It would tide me over until the next movie.

But of course, looking at it as an adult the reality of the Special, with it’s 2 hour run time, a good 65-75% of that being all Wookiee dialog with no subtitles, Bea Arthur singing to denizens of the cantina,  Harvey Corman chewing every piece of scenery he could get his acting jaws around, Uncle Itchy’s cyber porn addiction… then we top it all off with most of the cast coked out of their mind, Chewbacca in a choir robe and Carrie Fisher singing made up lyrics to the Star Wars theme song and it’s a much different experience.   I get why uncle George wants it locked up in a Sarlacc pit, never to emerge.   I’m sure several of the actors who are visibly uncomfortable on screen are happy that it’s never had an official re-release.

But I was there for that slice of history.  With my action figures in front of me, glued to the TV, tuning out life and stepping back into that galaxy far, far away.

Happy Life Day everyone!

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Daniel Pickett
Daniel “Julius Marx” Pickett has been around toys his whole life. The first line he ever collected was Mego’s World’s Greatest Super Heroes line back in the 70s. He has been surrounded by collectables ever since. In 1999 he was confounded by a lack of information and news about some of his favorite toy lines he was collecting. Since he couldn’t find the information he decided to pursue it himself thinking other people might also be interested in the same news. He started writing a weekly column on the toy industry and action figure for a toy news site and in a years time he tripled the sites daily traffic with his updates, reviews and product features. He built relationships with every major toy manufacturer and many sculptors, painters and mold makers. He grew his hobby into a world wide expertise that the industry has embraced. In 2004 he teamed up with his toy buddy Jason “ToyOtter” Geyer and they created their own website www.ActionFigureInsider.com. Daniel has been quoted in both industry and mass media press outlets. Over the years Daniel and AFi have been sought out as experts in the field. Daniel was regularly featured on “Attack of the Show” on the G4 network as the primary contributor to their “Mint On Card” segment, and our front page has been linked to from USA Today’s “Pop Candy” Blog twice. Daniel’s content has also been featured on MSNBC.com, Time.com, The Wall Street Journal, The Saturday Evening Post, CNN.com, AssociatedPress.com Wired.com, Fark.com, Boing-Boing, Gizmodo.com, Ain’t It Cool News, the Official Star Wars blog, Geekologie, G4, CNet and Toy Fare magazine, among many others. He has consulted on toy lines, books, documentaries and TV shows. But all of that really just sounds snooty and “tootin’ his own horn” – the long and short of it is that Daniel loves toys and he LOVES talking about them.
Read other articles by Daniel Pickett.

 

 

 

3 Comments »

  • puckace says:

    Just watched this again recently. Truly a painful experience as an adult. You’re right about the Boba Fett short being the only decent thing in the whole 2 hour disaster.

  • demoncat_4 says:

    omg i have manage thanks to you tube after hearing all the legends about this crazy thing watched it a few times and not only found chewies uncle porn addiction creepy. but mostly the wookie costumes had to be uncomfortable for lucas had to be like every one else cooked up to even have let this thing get made. not to mention mark hamil was recovering from a car accident during this thing. for just the thought of this thing existing is still scary.

  • StrangePlanet says:

    Like yourself, I was just a kid. i was 9 and a huge Star Wars fan, and when that holiday special came on TV I went ballistic. I remember being flabbergasted that that was the real Han Solo on there. I flipped out. I loved it. And there was a cartoon of Star Wars in it. Cartoon Star Wars!!! Flipped out. Loved it. Went crazy. Say what you like, that show did its job.

    And I had to go back and watch it again recently. Bad idea. What a terrible show, but now I can enjoy it for over-the-top camp value.

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