This adorable little girl who could charm a Bantha into submission is Kara Laird. Her parents are Brian Laird (Official Balladeer’s Blog Nickname: The Techno-Baron) and Rachel Laird (Official Balladeer’s Blog Nickname: Jedi Mom) who is a coworker of mine when she’s not performing in her one-woman show Buckner! (Yes, she’s a Red Sox fan) Rachel is a huge fan of the original Star Wars trilogy and is passing her enthusiasm on to her daughter. Kara has such Force-Sensitivity in fact, that she’s able to review the steaming pile of diaper-sauce that IS 1978’s telefilm called The Star Wars Holiday Special. Well, like Yoda said “Size matters not”, so let me turn you over to “the littlest critic”, Kara.
KARA: Hello, kittens! In my brief stay so far in this plane of existence I’ve picked up quite a bit about you people’s pop culture and I felt I could bring some fresh perspective to George Lucas’ fall to the Dark Side. Many Star Wars fans seem to feel that Lucas AKA Darth EdWoodLite began his fall with the first film in the prequel trilogy, The Phantom Menace. Actually, however, there were plenty of clues before then that George wasn’t all he was cracked up to be. Even in the original Star Wars movie let me remind you folks of three things Lucas WANTED TO DO but was forced by the studio to change his mind.
Lucas wanted Luke Skywalker to be a very old man with a robot head, wanted C3PO to be “like a used car salesman” and wanted Han Solo to be an amphibian humanoid. This may be the only example in history in which interference from the suits at a studio actually IMPROVED a movie rather than ruined it. The fact that Lucas wanted those three things proves that right from the start he had very poor judgement about what constituted good storytelling.
If George had had the kind of power back then that he had when making the horrible prequel trilogy the Star Wars franchise would have died with that very first movie, because nobody would have flocked to see a film about a frog-like smuggler and a hundred year old guy with a robot head.
But the BIGGEST indication that Darth EdWoodLite was lurking beneath Lucas’ pretentious exterior is to be found in The Star Wars Holiday Special. You’d have to be higher than Carrie Fisher says she was during the filming of this bizarre little turkey to not realize how badly it sucked. This pile of Ewok- dung stains the Star Wars universe even more effectively than the introduction of Midichlorians in The Phantom Empire.
George Lucas himself realized what a disaster this telefilm was and had enough pull to prevent it from ever being broadcast again. Bootleg copies have abounded since then, however, and people like the guy who usually writes this blog have kept the memory of this cosmic bomb alive. George Lucas refuses to discuss this Holiday Special in interviews and has said that he would like to burn every single bootleg copy. (Yet he still doesn’t understand why people hated Jar Jar Binks so much. Go figure.)
The alleged plot of The Star Wars Holiday Special (henceforth TSWHS) is that Han Solo is trying to get his friend Chewbacca to his home planet in time to celebrate Life Day, the universe’s biggest holiday next to Frontierado. Han, Chewie and Princess Leia only make scattered and brief appearances in this thing, along with Mark Hamill as Luke in a very early appearance after his reconstructive surgery. (Dude, you did that to yourself over CARRIE FISHER? )
The main characters of TSWHS are Chewbacca’s Wookie family – his wife, Malla, his apparently demented father Itchy and his “special needs” son Lumpy. (“Itchy?” … “Lumpy?” Was someone suffering from a severe skin condition when this script was written?) Not even families on reality tv shows are as dysfunctional as this trio. Not only that but Malla, Itchy and Lumpy don’t speak English and communicate in that same “mating call of the buffalo” grunting that Chewbacca uses, yet the show DOESN’T PROVIDE SUBTITLES TO LET US KNOW WHAT THEY ARE SAYING … not once. Seriously. And not just for brief periods, these scenes of bizarre grunting and growling go on for several looooong minutes with the audience unable to understand anything that is being said.
Compare that to the Star Wars movie from the year before. For a BRIEF scene of Greedo talking to Han Solo subtitles were provided, but in TSWHS multiple scenes feature no sounds but animal gibberish and not one subtitle is provided. WTF? (Which stands for Well That’s Funny) I am not exaggerating. If you watch this thing try to count how many minutes are wasted on incomprehensible Wookiespeak.
Lucas’ ideas about what constitutes entertainment on Wookieworld are mind- boggling. First, we see Lumpy watching a small version of acrobat images that are as silly and boring as the giant bubbles that Palpatine and Anakin were watching in Revenge of the Sith. Malla watches a cooking show with a four-armed cook speaking in English and making jokes that are so bad you find yourself wistfully longing for a return to no sound but Wookie grunts.
I’m told Harvey Korman plays the cook as well as other “comical” characters in the special but since nobody under the age of 50 will know who he is we’ll ignore that fact. Art Carney embarrasses himself as a friend of Chewbacca’s family in a few scenes, too. Itchy also watches a music video featuring Jefferson Airplane minus Gracie Slick, who I guess wasn’t born yet since this is supposedly “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”.
These scenes are every bit as exciting as you would expect scenes of people in Wookie suits watching tv to be. I’m surprised George didn’t do an Indiana Jones Holiday Special in which viewers got to watch Indy’s family listening to old Fibber McGee and Molly radio shows.
The most mind-bogglingly weird moment of Wookie entertainment, however, comes from the most famous scene in this entire special. It’s known as the “Wookie Porn” segment but I have no idea what that means. Anyway, it features Chewie’s father Itchy watching a hologram of Diahann Carroll singing. Itchy’s reaction to the video is to beat his arms on his chair and make excited sounds like my Dad makes when Mom puts on her Princess Leia slavegirl outfit but I really don’t get that, either. The whole ugly scene can’t help but make you VERY uncomfortable, though (Mr Wozniak said to say “Thankfully his hands are kept at his sides the whole time” but I have no clue why that’s funny) and I think Itchy’s reaction is as weird as if my Dad got excited by looking at Chewie’s wife Malla in Mom’s Princess Leia slavegirl outfit.
Storm Troopers show up to menace the Wookies periodically throughout the telefilm, Itchy watches a cartoon ( “non-stop television-watching action”) which introduced the character of Boba Fett to the Star Wars universe (No, really. It’s the one thing fans actually LIKE about this Holiday Special) and we learn that Bea Freaking Arthur is the owner of the famous Mos Eisley Cantina from the original Star Wars movie. She SINGS A SONG while shooing her customers out in a scene which seems to have been edited in from Hell’s Tony Awards Special or something.
Lucas saves the worst for last, however. Han, Chewie, Luke and Leia show up at Chewie’s home in time for Life Day, as if anybody cares at this point, and Carrie Fisher (who has claimed she was so coked up in this scene that Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill had to literally hold her upright) sings a song that forever transforms the formerly grand-sounding Star Wars theme music into a nightmare that you can never escape. In this finale that makes you want to kick George Lucas where it hurts we learn THE LYRICS TO THE STAR WARS THEME!
If you thought the Cartwrights singing the words to the Bonanza music was an awkward scene you haven’t seen anything yet! The Star Wars theme is apparently the Life Day Song and Princess Leia sings the lyrics to it … lyrics which not even Barney the Purple Dinosaur would stoop to singing and which will pop into your head every time you hear the Star Wars theme forever after. I won’t scar your soul with them by typing them here, but if you seek TSWHS out you can hear them for yourself.
One final note about this incredibly bizarre SithTV production: not long after this special aired the mass suicides in Jonestown, Guyana took place. Coincidence? I’ll let you be the judge.
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