Saturday, 31 March 2012


In EMPIRE, Luke says goodbye to Chewie with a parting gesture previously seen in the infamous 1978 STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL.

George Lucas may hold his arms, his head, his entire body in shame over THE HOLIDAY SPECIAL, but I think Steve Sansweet’s pretty much official comment at JEDI –CON 2008 this year that it will never, ever, be released on DVD, especially during it’s anniversary year, because it’s so bad, was probably both a little harsh, and, on LUCASFILM’s part, a wasted opportunity for making additional revenues on the Original Trilogy-the main breadwinner for the corporation. 

Yes, there are moments where the Special can be cringe- inducingly awful- the Wookiee scenes are too long, Jefferson Starship and Dihanne Carroll!!!, musical numbers, off tangent plotting, and other factors that are too many to mention, but who would have thought LUCASFILM, despite a few measly limited edition STARWARSSHOP.COM trading cards of the animated segment, would have missed it’s marketing potential-at least at the possibility of a DVD release of said animation-which could have been successfully linked to the release of THE CLONE WARS series-imagine the ads for it if it had happened-“the cartoon that inspired THE CLONE WARS!!- I can just imagine the mighty promotional blurb!! With a little bit of extra stuff like trailers, a documentary on the animation, some decent clips from the special thrown in (there are some very good sequences), perhaps clips like Harrison Ford attacking Conan O’Brian over it a few years back, then you’ve got a nice hour length DVD release for $14.95, and a lot of people would be made happy at finally getting hold of the best copy of the animation possible, and the majority of the bootleggers out there selling it may lose revenue that could go to funding future LUCASFILM projects instead (As well as the cartoon, even Ben Burtt, as far back as early 2000, thought THS could have been released officially-stating that it could easily have been truncated down with careful editing).

Boba Fett makes a fine first appearance in the show's enduringly popular animated segment.

Away from a DVD release, I’d love to see THS adapted as a comic book or novel and taken seriously (and not too kiddie orientated like the similarly themed early STAR WARS kids adventure book A WOOKIEE HOLIDAY) – looking beyond the lunacy of my suggestion there’s some good stuff story and ideas wise that I feel could be mined for adaptation-the attempt to break the Imperial blockade to reach Kashyyyk, the siege drama with Chewie’s family, the chance to make the Wookiee planet much more like that seen in REVENGE OF THE SITH. You could have Luke and Leia coming in to help at the end, Vader could be added to the mix in a way far more interesting that that cut scene clip shown in the programme, and you could even weave the Boba Fett animated short into the adventure’s timeline somewhere. You may snigger at my thoughts, but this could be a really nifty and cool addition to the STAR WARS EXPANDED UNIVERSE, improving on what had gone before and might even give it a bit more respectability in Lucas’s eyes..

Business and pleasure in the Tatooine Cantina.
Stan Winston's developed Wookiees make their one and only debut for the special.

Let’s also not forget that, though he disowns it, Lucas came up with the original story for the Special, which begs the question, being from its creator, can it be considered cannon within the events of the STAR WARS universe and between STAR WARS and EMPIRE. Well, despite it’s kooky nature at times, the general story could well be, and I think it’s time some serious thought was given to this-there are lots of times and selected moments where you could assume it was cannon, the look and feel of it is certainly STAR WARS in places thanks to re-used props, costumes, aliens and sound effects, and let’s not forget the concept work and art done for it by Joe Johnston and Ralph McQuarrie (the latter having thoroughly enjoyed the experience of it). And there is further continuity with Chewbacca that continues into EMPIRE (note the way Luke reaches out to Chewie in a gesture of friendship in the Rebel Hangar in the same way Han does in THS-we are assuming that this may have been improvised by Hamill on set (much to Kershner’s delight-he loved improvisation and any attempts to give our heroes more character) in reference to what he remembered for the special-or was it even in the script-either way, the fact that that moment is in EMPIRE makes THS cannon with the film series).

 And then there’s Boba Fett, an official character introduced in THS before returning in the flesh for EMPIRE. This appearance, promoted in THS as being the next villain in STAR WARS II makes THS more legitimate-though any type of THS/STAR WARS cannon continuity relating to him is now damaged circa 1997 onwards- with Fett being in THE HOLIDAY SPECIAL, how come Solo didn’t remember him earlier in Docking Bay 94-as seen in THE STAR WARS TRILOGY SPECIAL EDITION?). 

Mark Hamill on the small hangar bay set with the remote controlled Artoo Detoo.
Princess Leia and Threepio wonder whats happened to the Millennium Falcon.

So, what you think of this debate (or debacle?) on STAR WARS cannon is up to you–me, I’m ready to accept it as part of the live action, and Expanded Universe, STAR WARS in more, but also different, ways than SPLINTER OF THE MIND’S EYE (though, with my love of that first EU book, that is one very healthy debate that can be saved for another time..)-but I hope it gets you thinking more about THE HOLIDAY SPECIAL. And if it’s not going to be released, the worst you can do to celebrate it’s Thirtieth is slip it into your DVD/VHS player and enjoy it for both its good times, and its very bad ones!!!

That finale scene with our Star Warriors!

Celebrate the appearances of our heroes in sequences that are mostly okay for them, revel in Carrie’s singing, have a laugh at the sheer bananas of so much of it. Above all, celebrate a happy life day!!!

Original TV GUIDE ad for the 1978 special.

NOTE: The entire animated segment of THE HOLIDAY SPECIAL was eventually released on Blu-ray in 20122. Thank you, George Lucas and co.

UPDATE 1/7/2012: A dedicated fan has transferred a test clip onto HD. I think the results are pretty good, personally, though they show the low budget sets! Clip: Star Wars: Holiday Special (1978) in 1080p HD! - (Test) - YouTube

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