December 12, 2013

The STAR WARS Holiday Special Gets Dissected Live

Last night, I went to the Parkside Lounge where the podcasters behind THE STAR WARS MINUTE, Alex Robinson and Pete The Retailer, took on the bastard stepchild of the SW franchise; the infamous STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL. Their 2-hour live podcast took apart the "special" which was essentially a variety program that aired on CBS just before Thanksgiving in 1978 (pre-empting THE HULK and WONDER WOMAN!) and was considered a critical disaster even though it got a respectable audience of about 13 million people...which is not too shabby for a Saturday night in the pre-cable era.

If you haven't seen it, you can watch the entire special online at Daily Motion. But be warned... it is extremely slow going and very bizarre. During the live podcast last night, Alex Robinson referred to the opening 20 minutes as a sort of "weird performance art piece" where only Wookie is spoken. The episode centers around Chewbacca's family on their home planet as they wait for Chewie to return for something called Life Day. When humanoids appear, it's in the form of short cameos by the SW gang; Luke (looking heavily made up post-car accident), Leia, Han, and even Darth Vader (in a clip swiped from the first movie and repurposed for the show).

But the true strangeness is the special guest stars--Harvey Korman in multiple "comic" roles, Art Carney as a local trader and Bea Arthur as a sassy barkeep at the alien cantina from STAR WARS. But wait there's more--Diahann Carroll and Jefferson Starship do a couple strange songs too. The one element the bloggers agreed was actually good was an animated short about halfway through that introduces Boba Fett. And it is pretty cool looking filled with trippy, 70s style animation of the familiar characters and some snappy dialogue as well. The rest, however, is pretty embarrassing and had little involvement by George Lucas, who basically licensed the characters for this one time outing which never aired again and still remains commercially unavailable. But thanks to the Internets, it lives on to baffle and amuse people to this day. Merry Christmas!