Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Day 14: A Christmas Special....Gone Horribly Wrong

So we've already discussed holiday specials and episodes of television programs and how they all manage to bring their own special flavor to the Christmas episode formula.  Some shows are more successful than others.  Roseanne was able to effectively skewer the American idea of the family Christmas several years in a row while focusing on how it takes place in low-class families, The Golden Girls explored how those with advanced age celebrated Christmas, and the Muppets managed to make several special episodes (with at least one featuring John Denver) so yeah, it seems like everyone does one eventually.  Most people don't know how true that statement is though.  Some franchises that should never dip into Christmas have even 'gone there' in order to cash in.  Franchises like...Star Wars.  Yes friends, its come to this.  Time to examine one of the most critically panned Christmas shows ever made for television...The Star Wars Holiday Special.

It is Life Day (a holiday analogous to Christmas). Chewbacca is on his way home to see his family and to celebrate the holiday, accompanied by his friend, Han Solo. Not long after departing Tatooine in the Millennium Falcon, the duo find themselves chased by two Star Destroyers. Han then sends the Falcon into hyperspace.
Meanwhile, on Kashyyyk, Chewie's family is anxiously awaiting and preparing for Chewbacca's return. Malla switches on a viewscreen-computer, and runs a search for any starships in the area, hoping that the Falcon will be found in the scan, but the results are negative. Malla contacts Luke Skywalker, who, along with his faithful droid R2-D2, is working on his X-wing starfighter. Luke says he doesn't know what has happened. Next, Malla contacts Saun Dann, a local human trader on the planet. He lets her know through a carefully-worded message that Han and Chewie are on their way, and should be arriving soon.
On Kashyyyk, Saun Dann arrives and brings everyone Life Day gifts. Back on the Falcon, Chewie and Han have just come out of hyperspace not far from Kashyyyk. Han notices an increased Imperial presence on the planet, so they decide to land in an unguarded area on the north end of the planet.  What follows is a mishmash of plot, cartoons, celebrity cameos, and musical numbers.  Will Life Day go on successfully?  Do we care?

This really is one of the worst holiday specials that ever existed and there's a reason that George Lucas has never given his blessing to have the show released on DVD.  The special got made because of the original 1977 success of Star Wars and with no sequel to sell immediately, the great minds of television saw a chance to cash in on the hype.  George allowed the trademark and characters to be used for the money, and then looked the other way as disaster was created.  The production values are so bad that you might get this confused with the original episode run of "Star Trek".  That's not a knock against Trek, mind you, but this was Star Wars and it had a distinct high-budget look (even if it was a low budget movie).  The choices in cameos are not wise at all as comedians like Bea Arthur and Art Carney crack wise along with Harvey Korman.  Life Day is also a terrible holiday name and I find it hard to believe that they couldn't think of something much more creative for the Wookies to celebrate.  Its all just much too cute and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.  The only think about the special fans seem to universally enjoy is the cartoon segment which introduces Boba Fett for the first time.  At any rate, if you relish watching train wrecks you can always find this disaster on YouTube...but only if you're curious.  Trust me, its really that bad.

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