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  • Writer's pictureRob Freese

ICFH 2022 Advent Calendar- Day 16

ICFH 2022 Advent Calendar- Day 16

Part of nostalgia, especially in looking back on our childhoods, is the ability to look past the bad stuff and go right to the good stuff. In the moment, while living it, you take the good with the bad as it hits you, but years later, when stuck in the rut of life, you tend to look back fondly on only the good stuff. (Many characters in the original The Twilight Zone series struggled with this.) The bad stuff gets pushed away. Then, when something bad from your past rears its ugly head again, you wonder if your whole life is just a lie.

Warning: Spoiler Alert! If you're a die-hard fan, you've already seen it. Or you know so much about it you've basically seen it. Please do not take my words as a challenge to try and sit through this thing. I turned it off the night it came on and I should have just stayed away from it. This damn holiday special is a mood killer, man.

ICFH 2022 Advent Calendar December 16- The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)

It was the summer of my seventh year, when my life changed forever. The summer of 1977 I finally realized what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be a Jedi, like Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), and have a great girlfriend like Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). But I struggled. At other times, I thought maybe I would be a space scoundrel like Han Solo (Harrison Ford). He seemed cool as hell. Surely a slick space pirate could steal the princess away from a clodhopper like Luke.

Yes, this was a much simpler time than today. Star Wars fandom was still in its infancy. We didn't even have action figures for Christmas that year. We got a coupon promising that the figures were coming. And that made us happy.

My earliest memory of my obsession with films revolves around Star Wars. All the kids in the neighborhood were going to see it, everyone I grew up with within walking distance of my home, kids I'm still friends with to this day. My mom kept it on the down low but finally spilled the beans when my little brother was picked up and tossed into the way back of one of those glorious "Dragon Wagon" station wagons all our moms drove back then. She had to tell me that all the kids were going to see Star Wars but I couldn't go because I had baseball practice for All Stars.

Yes, there was a time before I was ten that I was into sports. I made the All Stars team every year. I thought it was a big deal. When I couldn't go to see Star Wars with the neighborhood kids, it broke me. I changed. I was left behind because of sports. Sports? I spit on your home plate. I would never allow sports to interfere with my movie consumption ever again!

1977 was the last year I made All Stars and pretty much the last year I played baseball. Sure, I jack-assed a couple more years but when my Dad saw my heart was no longer in it I didn't have to play any more. It wasn't all bad, but, you know... movies. (This is all 100% true, by the way.)

My mom did take me to see it, as promised to get me to stop crying (don't judge- it was for a movie!), and it was amazing. I can still recall sitting beside her in that crowded theater and the first chords of the theme blasting and the titles running up the screen.

We anticipated Star Wars 2. Even back then Lucas was telling everyone he had nine stories to tell in three trilogies, so it would happen. But it would be years.

Eventually we got The Empire Strikes Back, but that is a story for another time.

In between the two Star Wars movies we got a holiday surprise. An awful, horrible holiday surprise.

It's Life Day and Han is trying to get Chewbacca (Peter Mayhews) to his home planet Kashyyyk so he can spend the holiday with his wife Malla (Mickey Morton), son Lumpy (Patty Maloney) and father Itchy (Peter Gale).

The Imperial force is on their tail, preventing them from making decent time. (This can be seen as a sort of early run through of Planes, Trains and Automobiles.) There's some bad lip-reading in scenes culled from the original film of Vader and his second in command chit-chatting about "the Falcon." Malla is worried sick.

She calls Luke but Luke hasn't heard from them. He's working in the shop with R2-D2 when he's not bleaching his hair in the sun.

Art Carney, a local trader, comes by to offer Life Day presents.

Lumpy watches holographic circus performers on a contraption made out of old tape cassette recorders and Malla watches Harvey Korman in drag host a cooking show.

Itchy watches a virtual reality music video of Dihanna Carroll who tells him, "I am your pleasure," and then she dances around seductively.

Leia calls Malla to talk to Han or Chewie and learns they have not returned. C-3PO is with Leia and says some stuff but who is listening?

Imperial troops raid the house. Carney offers another contraption which shows a 3-D music video of Jefferson Starship.

This is followed by an animated short of Boba Fett tracking Han and Chewie and tricking Luke into helping him.

At Moss Eisley, Bea Arthur is running the cantina and tells all her alien customers it's closing time. When they don't leave she sings. They leave.

Han and Chewie finally arrive home, save the day from the Imperial troops and save Life Day.

Leia sings.

The End.

My only memory of this holiday special was anticipating it with unimaginable expectations and then turning it off within the first ten minutes. It stinks. Sorry if you like it. For me, it's a big steaming Wookie turd. I remember turning it off to watch whatever else only to flip back to see if anything was happening and there wasn't. (I did not flip back to catch the animated short, which is the first introduction of Boba Fett and the only reason to watch this stinker.)

I admire everyone getting back together to be a part of this thing, but it boggles my mind how stupid it turned out. Did they think we would not turn the channel? We did.

Amazingly, this has now elevated my Day 3 pick, Scrooge's Rock 'n' Roll Christmas, a slot down from the top on my list of horrible Christmas variety shows. Do you even understand how difficult it is to make that Christmas special seem better?

It was such a colossal failure that it never aired again. In fact, I believe the only portion of this special to ever get a legit release was the animated short, and that wasn't until 2020 when Disney+ offered it as streaming content.

This should have been my first indication that I would not be a fan of Star Wars for my whole life. I wanted to believe this was the worst Star Wars has to offer. (I only enjoy the original three films released between 1977 to 1983, and for the longest time I considered this the worst of the Star Wars universe. But, you know, they made more. After the second trilogy, The Star Wars Holiday Special shifted to 4th place out of seven, and then I happily tapped out of the Star Wars universe for good.)

This is a disaster on every level. It is trying to tell a story and be a variety show at the same time. Singing! Bea Arthur singing! Who was this for? I'm happy I turned it off all those years ago because if I had continued watching I imagine I would now be one of those sad people who go around talking to themselves and lining the inside of their hat with aluminum foil.

Hey, it's out there. If you're curious, it's not hard to find. I would recommend you spend your time doing anything else, but I know if you really want to see it you will seek it out. For fans of just the first couple films like me, it was a treat seeing all the principals playing their roles when they were still young, that kick ass cartoon with Boba Fett and many of the cantina aliens used in the movie make an appearance here.

Merry Life Day to all and to all a good night!

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