Bonnie Burton dares to speak up for that Star Wars spin-off
Nothing says happy holidays more than seeing Chewbacca in a long red robe singing next to a not-so-sober Princess Leia, a confused Han Solo and Luke Skywalker and a couple of beeping droids. While many Star Wars fans choose to forget the 97-minute travesty called The Star Wars Holiday Special, which debuted on American TV sets in 1978, I like to remember it more like a beloved time when campy variety shows made their way to a galaxy far, far away. It’s not like Darth Vader, the Skywalker clan and even C-3PO and R2-D2 didn’t do guest appearances on everything from The Muppet Show to Donny & Marie variety shows back then. After all, Star Wars was a hot commodity, so seeing Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia pop up on the original Saturday Night Live in a skit wasn’t that shocking.
When The Star Wars Holiday Special debuted in 1978, we were treated not only to an elaborate backstory about Chewbacca and his family on his home planet of Kashyyyk, but we also got our first look at bounty hunter Boba Fett in a cartoon during the show. Even Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia – all played by the movie’s original actors – got in on the action.
The main storyline begins when we witness Han Solo and Chewbacca in the Millennium Falcon on their way back to Kashyyyk so they can celebrate the holiday Life Day, which is sort of like Christmas minus Santa. But on the way home, Han and Chewie are attacked by the Empire and are delayed. The rest of the story sort of goes downhill from there, but for me, it just starts getting good when we see an inside look at Chewbacca’s family doing their daily chores and just being themselves. Think of it like The Only Way Is Essex, but for Wookiees.
The weird thing is, none of it is subtitled, so you have to guess what the Wookiees are saying to each other when washing the dishes or jamming out to Jefferson Starship hologram music videos.
While I might be the only fan left in this galaxy who loves the original Star Wars Holiday Special for its campiness and unusual characters, perhaps it’s time to reboot the special? After all, if we can have a bunch of brand new movies, why not give the fans a fresh take on the kind of Star Wars variety special we deserve now?
The improved Star Wars Holiday Special can feature a mix of actual actors from the new movies, but also musical guests who best embrace the bizarre intergalactic nature of the franchise. Who wouldn’t want to see Lady Gaga or Beyoncé made up to look like a droid goddess or the new queen of Naboo? Perhaps Stephen Fry could be a wise Yoda-like sage, though it would be nice to see him reinstate his cocktail-shaking prowess à la A Bit Of Fry And Laurie in the Cantina.
Costumes could be designed by Vivienne Westwood. Daft Punk could compose most of the music. Add a few eccentric comedians and actors like Noel Fielding and Alan Carr in the mix, and you’d have a geektastic hit on your hands.
I’m not the only one who waxes nostalgic when it comes to holiday specials! Shows like Doctor Who, Sherlock and even Top Gear have Christmas episodes, so why not Star Wars? If they need a snowy backdrop, they could stage the whole episode on the ice planet of Hoth. Imagine the fun Noel Fielding could have with a Wampa!
“who wouldn’t want to See lady gaga as the new queen of naboo?”
Illustration by Maria Colino