The “Original” Star Wars Holiday Special

December 25, 2020 ,

As most know, Star Wars debuted a new Holiday Special on Disney+ recently, but did you know about the original? In 1977, the world was introduced to the Star Wars Universe and the characters who would forever become a part of pop culture. People all over would side with their favorite hero or villain, wish they were a pilot flying one of the awesome ships or want to get their hands on one of the lightsabers to duel with someone. A year and a half later, on November 17, 1978, the shows Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk were not shown as the Star Wars Holiday Special was broadcast on CBS television from 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm.

The special opened with a scene in space, where we saw the very familiar Millennium Falcon being shot at from an Imperial Star Destroyer and our heroes, Han Solo and Chewbacca, piloting the Falcon to avoid being shot down. Han is ready to turn around to avoid being shot or captured, but Chewbacca reminds him that his family is waiting and that it’s an important day. Han agrees to push forward and they jump to light speed. You hear around this time that Chewbacca is going to his family to celebrate Life Day.

The Star Wars intro music begins and we are introduced to the stars of the show, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, R2-D2 as R2-D2 and James Earl Jones as the voice of Darth Vader.

Next, we are introduced to Chewbacca’s family – his wife Malla (Mallatobuck), his father Itchy (Attchitcuk) and his son Lumpy (Lumpawaroo) and some very special guest stars including Bea Arthur, Art Carney, Diahann Carroll, Jefferson Starship and Harvey Korman.

And finally, an animated Star Wars story that introduces a character who would become a legend in the Star Wars franchise, Boba Fett.

The next scene shows what appears to be Chewbacca’s home on the planet of Kashyyk. Itchy is carving out what looks like X-Wing fighters for Lumpy to play with as Malla is preparing a meal. Lumpy, who appears to be like other children, is having fun, not listening and looking to spoil his supper. They are talking back and forth in a language we don’t understand but viewers grasp that the family clearly misses Chewbacca. They have some type of Hologram table for entertainment, almost like TV, which comes to life before their eyes. Next, we see the family go to a TV and have the first “Facetime” as they connect with Luke and R2. Luke recognizes the family and interacts with them as they ask where Chewbacca is as they are uncertain of his whereabouts. Luke tries to comfort the family telling them that Chewbacca will make it and to not worry.

After speaking to Luke, Malla then talks to Saun Dann (Art Carney) over a visual phone system and explains to her, through a code, that Han and Chewbacca are on their way and will be there soon. The reason that Saun is speaking in code is there is an Imperial Officer in his shop at the time. Malla goes back to cooking and preparing the meal, following the instructions from the four-armed eccentric cook, Chef Gormaanda (Harvey Korman), the Paula Deen of Kashyyk.

Saun arrives at the home of Chewbacca with gifts for everyone on Life Day. He assures the family that Chewbacca and Han, or as he said HanD, will be home soon. He then presents each of them with their gifts. First Lumpy, then Malla and finally Itchy. Itchy’s present is some type of virtual reality video where Diahann Carroll explains she is being created specifically for him and then she sings to him. Even watching this today, it seems kinda creepy to me to be honest, but this was the 70’s so they had to make it appear as futuristic as they could.

In the next scene, C-3PO and Princess Leia are trying to make a connection to Chewbacca’s home through a video phone asking to speak to Han or Chewbacca. She is informed by Malla that they haven’t made any contact yet.

Saun comes and speaks to Leia and assures her that he is a part of the Rebellion and will take care of Chewbacca’s family until the Wookie returns.

Shortly after that, we see Han and Chewbacca are coming out of hyperspace near Kashyyk. Han recognizes that there is a heavy Imperial presence in the area, so he decided to land on the north side as there is less traffic there. Back in the home, the family hears a ship overhead and they get excited thinking it’s Chewbacca, but when Malla opens the door two stormtroopers and two officers are there.

The Imperial forces are searching for the Rebels and they believe Chewbacca is somewhere in the home. While the Imperials are searching the home, Saun and the others are trying to distract them with food and then with Malla’s music video box that features a video by the rock group, Jefferson Starship.

The Imperials convince Saun to leave and then they continue their search of the home. They are rough and mean to Chewbacca’s family, but take control of the home to do their search. They tell the family that they don’t want to hurt them but can’t guarantee no one will be hurt. The Imperial Officer tells Malla to keep Lumpy quiet and he will forget about this incident.

We see Lumpy sit down in front of what I believe is a TV of some sort and he puts headphones to listen. The cartoon features the familiar hero’s of Luke, Han Solo, Princess Leia and their first encounter with a bounty hunter, Boba Fett. In the cartoon, the Falcon crashes on a planet named Panna. While there, the crew runs into Fett who claims he wants to help them after saving Luke from a giant monster that attacked him from behind. While there, Han and Luke become infected with a virus that puts them to sleep.

Boba and Chewbacca go into the city to get the cure for the virus that Han and Luke contracted. Once they arrive in the Imperial-run city, Boba instructs Chewbacca to stay behind while he goes to get the cure. Once Chewbacca is away, Boba contacts Darth Vader. Back on the Falcon, C-3PO is taking care of Han and Luke when R2-D2 intercepts the message that Boba sent to Vader. Eventually, Boba and Chewbacca return to the Falcon with the cure. Once Han and Luke are cured, they learn about Boba’s true allegiance. Boba using his jet pack blasts away promising that he will meet with them again. After the encounter, the Falcon gets off the planet and gets the crew back to the Rebel base.

After watching the cartoon, Lumpy works to create a trick to get the Imperial forces to leave. A news alert comes over the screens that talk about a curfew on Tatooine due to an instance at the Mos Eisley Cantina which is being run now by Ackmena (Bea Arthur.) Lumpy uses this as his shot to trick the officers to leave, faking a repeated call for the Imperials to return to base. Three of them leave, but the leader instructs one of the Storm Troopers to stay behind. After the others leave, the Storm Trooper hears the signal and realizes they have been tricked. He finds Lumpy and destroys the machine that is sending the signal and chases the little one outside.

Once they are outside, Han and Chewbacca appear. Chewbacca steps in to protect his son as Han sneaks up behind the Storm Trooper and tricks him to fall off the porch of the home that is very high in the trees. Han comes in and says Hello to everyone. He is invited to stay but says he has to go before someone stumbles upon the Falcon.

Shortly after, there is a general alert on the TV looking for the missing Storm Trooper. Saun contacts the Imperial forces and tells them that the missing trooper robbed the house and stole food. They now are ready to celebrate Life Day, Saun leaves them saying “May the Force be with you.”

Toward the end of the special, Chewbacca and his family are seen in space, traveling toward a bright star. They walk into it, arriving at the great “Tree of Life,” where many other Wookiees are gathered dressed in red robes. As Chewbacca takes the stage, his friends C-3PO and R2-D2, Luke, Leia and Han all suddenly appear. Princess 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. At the end of the ceremony, Chewbacca remembers the adventures he went through in the first film and that he will return to be with Luke, Han, Leia, R2, and C-3PO somehow.

That night, the Wookiee family sit around the feast table, celebrating the day and being back together again.

Now you may wonder, with all the holiday specials that have shown year after year, why have they never shown the Star Wars Holiday Speical again. The reason is that George Lucas was not happy at all with the final result so it was never played again and never released on any type of home video. George has been noted in many different interviews explaining he wishes he could destroy the tapes that contain the footage as it never represented his vision of Star Wars. The video I found on YouTube, is very poor and the story is very weak, in my opinion. Many have said, the only good part of the whole special is the cartoon that introduced Boba Fett on screen, and I agree. To me, none of the characters, but maybe Chewbacca were represented like they were in the film. If you would like to watch the special you can find the full version on YouTube. This special though, really needed the “Force” to make it better.  At a Mandalorian press event, Jon Favreau has stated he would be interested in remaking the special, we can only hope that he would someday.

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