THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

GA Voice - - OUT SPOKEN - By MELISSA CARTER

Chew­bacca and Han Solo travel to Chewie’s home planet, where we get to meet some of the fuzzball’s fam­ily mem­bers. Luke Sky­walker is there, along with C-3PO and R2-D2. Princess Leia even sings and Darth Vader makes an ap­pear­ance. No, I’m not giv­ing spoil­ers to Episode VII; I’m talk­ing about the “Star Wars Hol­i­day Spe­cial!”

Th­ese past few weeks you’ve likely re­watched many of the “Star Wars” movies in or­der to catch up be­fore head­ing to the theater to see “The Force Awak­ens.” Yet you may have missed this two-hour gem from 1978 that aired on tele­vi­sion just one time. It has never been re­broad­cast or of­fi­cially re­leased on home video. Odd for some­thing that came on the heels of the first “Star Wars” film, which has grossed over $300 mil­lion. How­ever, there’s a rea­son the “Star Wars Hol­i­day Spe­cial” dis­ap­peared.

An­thony Daniels, who plays C-3PO, calls the show, “The hor­ri­ble Hol­i­day Spe­cial that no­body talks about.” Amer­i­can film critic Nathan Rabin said, “I’m not con­vinced the spe­cial wasn’t ul­ti­mately writ­ten and di­rected by a sen­tient bag of co­caine.” It even ranked #1 in What Were They Think­ing?: The 100 Dumb­est Events in Tele­vi­sion History. Au­thor David Hof­st­ede called it “the worst two hours of tele­vi­sion ever.” Was it really that bad? The an­swer is yes.

I re­mem­ber see­ing it as a kid. The story re­volved around Life Day, an oc­ca­sion cel­e­brated by Chew­bacca and oth­ers on his home world. Chewie takes pal Han Solo to his planet for the cel­e­bra­tion and to meet his fam­ily: Fa­ther Itchy, wife Mal­la­to­buck, and son Lumpy. I wish I were making this up, but that’s what they were called. Be­fore they can cel­e­brate the true mean­ing of the hol­i­day, they are forced to evade those pesky storm troop­ers, and thereby the ac­tion en­sues.

The high­light of the spe­cial is Bea Arthur’s ap­pear­ance as the bar­keep Ack­mena, serv­ing pa­trons at the fa­mous cantina on Ta­tooine. This was one of Arthur’s first roles fol­low­ing the con­clu­sion of her hit tele­vi­sion show, “Maude,” and her ren­di­tion of “Good Night, But Not Good­bye” set to the “Cantina Band” theme must have been a proud mo­ment for the Broad­way star. Car­rie Fisher also got a chance to croon. Leia gives a short speech on the mean­ing of Life Day and sings a song in cel­e­bra­tion, to the tune of the “Star Wars” theme. Other stars also ap­peared in this 1970s de­ba­cle, in­clud­ing Art Car­ney, Di­a­hann Car­roll, the band Jef­fer­son Star­ship, and Har­vey Kor­man.

There was one pos­i­tive note to this tele­vi­sion dis­as­ter. The spe­cial in­tro­duced Boba Fett, one of the most pop­u­lar char­ac­ters in the “Star Wars” canon. There’s a piece of trivia many “Star Wars” dis­ci­ples may not even know.

So when you see all the in­ter­views and the plethora of items for sale pro­mot­ing the lat­est bil­lion-dol­lar sci-fi in­stall­ment, don’t ex­pect to hear or see any ref­er­ence to the “Star Wars Hol­i­day Spe­cial.” Co­nan O’Brien tried to cor­ner Har­ri­son Ford into talk­ing about it dur­ing an in­ter­view, but Ford jok­ingly said he had no mem­ory of it and that it didn’t ex­ist. Car­rie Fisher once told a “New York Times” colum­nist that she owned a copy of the spe­cial and shows it at the end of par­ties when she wants peo­ple to leave.

I would love to see it again, since it was 37 years ago when I last caught it. So if you want to get rid of a boot­leg copy, it’s not too late to send this geek a Christ­mas gift.

Melissa Carter is one of the Morn­ing Show hosts on B98.5. In ad­di­tion, she is a writer for the Huff­in­g­ton Post. She is rec­og­nized as one of the first out ra­dio per­son­al­i­ties in At­lanta and one ofthe few in the coun­try. Fol­low her on Twit­ter@Melis­saCarter

“Car­rie Fisher once told a New York Times colum­nist that she owned a copy of the spe­cial and shows it at the end of par­ties when she wants peo­ple to leave.”

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