PA­TRICK FREYNE

For­get the new Star Wars – in­stead catch Luke, Leia and Han in the long-lost ‘Hol­i­day Spe­cial’

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - PATRICK FREYNE -

Last week the long-awaited trailer for Star Wars Episode VII was re­leased. True fans, how­ever, know that it’s re­ally

Star Wars Episode VIII. Why doesn’t George Lu­cas want us to re­mem­ber the first se­quel, The Star Wars Hol­i­day Spe­cial, which aired on CBS in 1978 and has rarely been shown since?

Thanks to the in­ter­net, a tech­nol­ogy that doesn’t ex­ist in

The Star Wars Hol­i­day Spe­cial, any­one can watch it now. It’s an all-singing, all-danc­ing ex­trav­a­ganza, which opens with Han Solo and Chew­bacca try­ing to get to his home planet so that Chew­bacca can cel­e­brate “Life Day” with his fam­ily.

Chew­bacca is a Wookie, a sort of sen­tient shag car­pet. Han Solo is Har­ri­son Ford, a sort of sen­tient Mark Hamill. And Life Day is ba­si­cally Wookie Christ­mas. On Life Day, presents are given, Wook­ies spend time with fam­ily and pre­sum­ably cel­e­brate the birth of Wookie-Christ (the the­ol­ogy of Life Day is a bit vague).

Chewy is an ab­sen­tee fa­ther, and his son Lumpy, his wife Malla and his fa­ther, Itchy, wait for him, growl­ing and grunt­ing, in their swish 1970s-themed tree­house. There are slap­stick di­ver­sions. Rebel trader Saun Dann brings gifts in­clud­ing a mu­sic box con­tain­ing the band Jefferson Star­ship (se­ri­ously) and some vir­tual re­al­ity erot­ica (se­ri­ously) for Itchy. This in­volves a singing hu­man woman who ap­pears to Itchy and says: “I am your fan­tasy. I am your ex­pe­ri­ence . . . I am your plea­sure, en­joy me.”

It’s a bit creepy for a fam­ily spe­cial. Then again, it’s the 1970s, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Malla watches a cook­ery pro­gramme fea­tur­ing a four-armed alien in a dress. There’s an an­i­mated se­quence with fan-favourite Boba Fett (his first ap­pear­ance). Then Bea Arthur serves space-drinks to aliens in the cantina from the first movie while be­ing has­sled by an alien-suitor and in­ex­pli­ca­bly singing Brechtian songs.

“Just one more round friend, then home­ward bound friend,” she sings, be­fore lock­ing her­self in the bar with her stalker (much of the Hol­i­day Spe­cial feels slightly off, like it should be called Lars von Trier’s Star Wars Hol­i­day Spe­cial).

Mur­der­ing stormtroop­ers Back in the tree-house, Im­pe­rial stormtroop­ers ap­pear. Chew­bacca and Han ar­rive and show Lumpy the true mean­ing of Life Day by mur­der­ing a stormtrooper. “Best. Life Day. Ever,” Lumpy would say if he could speak. Although, there’s al­ways

The ‘Star Wars Hol­i­day Spe­cial’ is a bit creepy for a fam­ily spe­cial. Then again, it’s the 1970s, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away

a pos­si­bil­ity he can’t speak be­cause he’s trau­ma­tised.

Mur­der­ing fills Han Solo with warm feel­ings. “You’re like fam­ily to me,” he says to Chew­bacca’s fam­ily. Well, his mouth says this. His eyes say: “I’m go­ing to fire my agent.”

Then dozens of Wook­ies make their way to the “Life Tree”. All are wear­ing long red robes, which means that Wook­ies have a con­cept of cloth­ing, which means Chewie, Itchy and the rest have been wil­fully nude un­til now (Chewie wears a gun-belt, but if any­thing that makes him more nude.)

Luke, Leia, R2D2 and C3PO ar­rive. C3PO laments hav­ing no emo­tions with which to ap­pre­ci­ate Life Day and after an hour watch­ing this I un­der­stand. I too can feel noth­ing, C3PO.

Han says: “All of you are an im­por­tant part of my life.” He still hasn’t man­aged to get through to his agent.

A zonked-look­ing Car­rie Fisher makes an im­pas­sioned speech about the true mean­ing of Life Day. I say Car­rie Fisher rather than Princess Leia, be­cause there’s a look in her eyes that sug­gests she thinks this is re­ally hap­pen­ing (“Dear di­ary, great day to­day, sang for some Wook­ies at the Life Tree, signed, Car­rie”).

So bad it’s bad She starts to sing to the tune of the Star Wars theme: “We cel­e­brate a day of peace, a day of har­mony.” Off-cam­era I imag­ine some­one say­ing: “This isn’t in the script.”

I know. This all sounds amaz­ing, es­pe­cially the Bea Arthur bit. But Star Wars Episode V: The Star Hol­i­day

Spe­cial isn’t “so bad it’s good”. It’s so bad it lays eggs in your brain and spi­ders of aw­ful­ness hatch in your dreams. It has never been re-re­leased. It’s said that George Lu­cas trav­els the world de­stroy­ing all copies and elim­i­nat­ing all who’ve seen it.

I don’t care. When Lu­cas finds me, and his hands clutch my throat and things start to go black, I’ll make my peace with Wookie-Christ and say: “It’s still bet­ter than The Phan­tom

Men­ace, George.”

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