And Now… The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)

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A long time ago in a galaxy Far, Far Away, Bea Arthur ran a cantina with her alien pals.

And bandit Han Solo found it in his heart to interrupt his daring exploits to take Chewbacca home to be with his family for Christmas–er–Life Day. Though Chewbacca was explained as being a loner whose only friend was Han in the first film, he found time to bonk Mrs. Chewie and birth some chewbacca babies. So every now and then, I imagine Han has to stay over at his pal’s house, listening as Chewie and his wife argue with one another about taking out the trash, while Han tries to unfold the cot for his awkward sleep over.

Meanwhile his furry little brats are crying in the corner, and Chewie’s father Itchy won’t stop talking Han’s ear off about those Clone Wars he witnessed. We get it, you saw a lot of combat, old fart. Oh and Mrs. Chewie also complains behind closed doors about Han parking his Millennium Falcon in the backyard ruining her vegetable garden. What a pain. Just another hectic Life Day at the Bacca household. The Holiday Special is so rushed and slapped together that when Chewbacca’s oddly domestic family talk to one another, there’s no subtitles.

So it’s merely a bunch of people in furry suits growling and grunting at one another, almost like we’re watching a day at the DMV. I guess you could fill in what they’re doing and saying by adding your own dialogue. Perhaps it’s mundane, or perhaps we can learn that Chewbaccas eat human flesh when they’re really hungry. If the Ewoks do it, why not the Wookies? But that’s okay since Chewie’s wife Malla watches an intergalactic cooking show (with Harvey Korman in drag) about cooking Bantha meat.

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I always assumed Banthas were animals exclusive to planet Tattooine, so what do I know? What we don’t understand is handled by odd appearances by Art Carney, and Harvey Korman, both of whom do their best to add coherence to the story. Because when we think Star Wars, we think Ed Norton and The Great Gazoo. Were Rich Little and Ruth Buzzie not available for roles as bumbling bounty hunters? I’m not too sure why the hero of the Special is Art Carney. Why go from Harrison Ford to Art Carney? And why do we need an adventure of the rebel crew from “Star Wars” but in animated form only? And what is Life Day? That’s about as broad a holiday as Love day or Breathing day. Things aren’t too good for Chewbacca on Life Day, but hopefully that can change.

Mrs. Chewbacca keeps talking behind closed doors with that young furless Skywalker boy, who keeps undermining Chewbacca’s rules and flirting with her. Plus, every time Chewbacca comes home, he disappears in to his holographic television and watches sexy Diahann Carroll perform for him and seduce him with his door locked. And then there’s Maude. She runs the cantina apparently, or a cantina. Probably the one in the first movie or maybe not. I can’t imagine the cantina we saw in the first movie which held the worst scum in the galaxy would be run by someone who looks like she greets Stormtroopers with blue milk and space cookies every time they come by her house.

She has to now close down her Cantina because the Empire are now enforcing the closings of local businesses for reasons never quite clarified. But she sings a wonderful and lovely song about friendship to a bunch of alien patrons, many of whom probably murdered her out back after she closed down, and stole her land speeder to sell to local Jawas for a quick buck or two, but it’s a nice song as her friends leave her cantina to look for other activities.

Han Solo gets Chewbacca home in time to save his family from a Stormtrooper invasion, but then defeating a stormtrooper is as easy as outrunning a two year old. In one instance Han tricks a stormtrooper in to thinking he’s reaching for his gun, and the storm trooper reaches first and falls off the balcony of the Bacca house to his death. Seriously, Vader and Palpatine really weren’t investing their top dollar in these soldiers. So the Bacca family get to celebrate Life Day, Art Carney and Han get to re-enact their favorite “Honeymooner” skits, and we all lived happily ever after.

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Until the next adventure where the rebels lose, Luke gets his hand cut off, and Han is almost killed in carbonite.

Happy Life Day!