Where on the Shelf Is...The Star Wars Holiday Special?
Up this week is...THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL
What Is It?:
Everyone has a favorite holiday movie/TV-watching tradition. You may tune into A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS or HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS when they air. Or sit through 12 showings of A CHRISTMAS STORY to watch The Old Man gleefully open his fra-jee-lay gift. Or gather with family and friends to hear Clark W. Griswold rant about Bing Crosby and Danny f*ckin' Kaye.
Or, you may spend the month tracking down the elusive STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL.
In 1978, less than one year after STAR WARS destroyed box office records, CBS aired the 97-minute special, which found Han Solo trying to get Chewbacca back to his home planet of Kashyyk in time for Life Day, the Wookiee equivalent of Christmas. Almost the entire cast showed up for the production: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, James Earl Jones...
It's also known for introducing bounty hunter Boba Fett (albeit in animated form), as well as handing out paychecks to the likes of Bea Arthur, Art Carney and—why not?—Jefferson Starship as Holographic Band.
Where Is It?:
"If I had the time and a hammer, I would track down every copy of that program and smash it." – George Walton Lucas, Jr.
With that state of rationale, Lucas made sure that THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL never aired again on national television. He also all but guaranteed it would never be made available on VHS or DVD. And that was all before it ranked as one of TV Guide's 25 Most Hilarious Holiday TV Moments, one of TV Guide/TV Land's Top 100 Unexpected TV Moments and #1 in the book, "What Were They Thinking?: The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History" (where it edged out, among others, The Heidi Bowl and the mere existence of Cousin Oliver).
THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL is considered such an embarrassment to the franchise that, just last year, the estimated odds of the special gracing the airwaves or video store shelves were 1,138,000,000 to 1, making it far more likely that Lucas would revive "Ewoks on Ice" than give global access to the special.
It's presumed that Lucas' personal copies are stashed away somewhere on the grounds of Skywalker Ranch, along with the remains of Chewbacca’s nuclear family.
When Will We See It?:
If we posed that question earlier in the year, the answer would have been a resounding, "Never! Are you kidding?!"
But Disney's recent acquisition of LucasFilm puts a number of STAR WARS-related classics, including CARAVAN OF COURAGE: AN EWOK ADVENTURE, EWOKS: THE BATTLE FOR ENDOR and THE HOLIDAY SPECIAL, in the possession of the Mouse House.
So only time will tell if and when Disney decides to give THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL its due. It could mean a proper home video release. Or a 3D theatrical run. Or a 4D theme park attraction. Or Burger King tie-ins. Or a re-airing next holiday season on ABC, perhaps leading into the network television debut of A VERY JAR JAR KWANZAA.
Where Can We See It?:
Not surprisingly, very rough-looking bootlegs are readily available on YouTube and eBay.
Happy Life Day, everyone!