The Star Wars Holiday Special aired only once, for good reason. It is indescribably awful–not even so-bad-it’s-good, just so-bad-it’s-bad. It is one of the most painful two hours of “entertainment” that I have ever sat through. Horrifying.
With [George Lucas’s] attention elsewhere during most of its production, The Star Wars Holiday Special metastasized into a monster. Two directors and much turmoil later, the finished special didn’t so much resemble its namesake as it did another science-fiction film: The Thing with Two Heads. Onto the body of Lucas’s sentimental and irony-free Wookiee plotline, the producers and writers grafted a campy 70s variety show that makes suspension of disbelief impossible. In between minutes-long stretches of guttural, untranslated Wookiee dialogue that could almost pass for avant-garde cinema, Maude’s Bea Arthur sings and dances with the aliens from the movie’s cantina scene; The Honeymooners’ Art Carney consoles Chewbacca’s family with such comedy chestnuts as “Why all the long, hairy faces?”; Harvey Korman mugs shamelessly as a multi-limbed intergalactic Julia Child cooking “Bantha Surprise”; the Jefferson Starship pops up to play a number about U.F.O.’s; and original Star Wars cast members Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill walk around looking cosmically miserable.
Yes, you read that right–Jefferson Starship.
Thirty years later, this piece in Vanity Fair tells the story of this odd Star Wars footnote.
If you’ve never seen it, and you just have to, here it is. You’ll regret it, I promise.
You may want to skim it just so you have some idea of the horrors that awaited millions of children huddled in front of their televisions in eager anticipation in 1978. Scrooge himself couldn’t have done a better job of ruining the holidays.
Via Ace, who has more.
Update: Here’s a more managable bit (three minutes). Princess Leia sings! Happy Life Day!: