I Bent My Wookiee

If you haven’t yet seen the bit of late-seventies oddity that is the Star Wars Holiday Special, it’s up here. I just recently watched it, and yes, it’s just as much of a train wreck as everyone says. It’s not just that it’s cheesy (which it is, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with cheesiness), but that it’s boring and doesn’t make a lot of sense. I mean, a lot of it is just Wookiees growling at each other. There are no subtitles, and it’s not like the actors can really convey anything through body language or facial expressions in those crappy sasquatch suits either.

The plot, as revealed through conversations with the stars of the movie, involves Chewbacca trying to make it home to his family for Life Day. His family (made up of his wife Malla, son Lumpy, and father Itchy) worry about how he hasn’t shown up yet, and kill time by watching stuff on TV. The television segments are in English, but that’s not necessarily a good thing when most of them are either bad comedy bits or totally unrelated musical performances. Besides, don’t Wookiees get broadcasts in their own language? The video clips we see are:

  • A cooking show hosted by Harvey Korman in drag and with four arms.
    Some sort of softcore porn video (okay, it’s not REALLY softcore porn, but the description makes it sound like it) that Itchy watches. It’s supposed to feature his fantasy, who turns out to be singer and actress Diahann Carroll with pink hair. Isn’t that rather bestial on his part?

  • A video by Jefferson Starship, formerly Jefferson Airplane, and before that Jefferson Steamship. It’s a boring performance of a boring song, and they don’t even attempt to tie it in with the Star Wars universe.
  • A badly drawn cartoon featuring the main characters. And when I say “badly drawn,” I mean like this:

    Nonetheless, if you want to see the major characters in some space-based action, this is the only place you’re going to get it in this special. It also features the first appearance of the inexplicably popular Boba Fett. I’m not entirely sure how a Star Wars cartoon can exist in the Star Wars universe, but they at least try to explain it by saying it’s an audiovisual log or something.

  • Korman again, this time as some sort of malfunctioning cybernetic being, giving instructions for a voice synthesizer.
  • Life on Tatooine, a video showing Mos Eisley Cantina being forced to close due to an Imperial curfew. Bea Arthur features as the owner of the bar, and sings a song to the only tune the house band is apparently capable of playing (although it is slowed down a bit). As insane as the idea of Bea Arthur in a Star Wars special is, I’m not sure anyone else could have managed to keep such a straight face when dancing with people in goofy alien outfits.

    Korman is in this one as well, as a guy who flirts with Bea. He looks human, but drinks by pouring liquid into the top of his head.

Meanwhile, what passes for a plot has Art Carney show up as a local trader bearing gifts and providing a bit of relief from all the howling, and Imperial forces show up to ransack the house looking for evidence of rebel activity. Lumpy uses a voice synthesizer to fake the commander’s voice, getting all of the forces to leave except one Storm Trooper, who eventually realizes he’s being scammed by a kindy-gart’ner. Fortunately (I guess), Han and Chewie show up just in time to kill the Storm Trooper, and then we finally get to see the Life Day celebration. After all this build-up, it has to be interesting, right? Well, no. We do, however, get to hear Princess Leia sing a song about Life Day to the tune of the Star Wars theme, which is something that deserves to be heard for its sheer weirdness factor. So that’s that. Some of the segments kind of work in a corny way, while others just drag. Mostly, it’s just bizarre. Anyway, happy Life Day, and may the Force be with you!

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8 Responses to I Bent My Wookiee

  1. Tim Tucker says:

    Yes, I saw the Star Wars Holiday Special when it was first broadcast, and, no, it didn’t seem that strange at all when I was 11.

    It was no different from any other ’70s variety show (which tells you a lot about the ’70s in general.)

  2. J. L. Bell says:

    Thank you for watching this so I don’t have to.

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