With special guest stars: Beatrice Arthur, Art Carney, Diahann Carroll, The Jefferson Starship and Harvey Korman!
December 14, 2011 9:45 AM   Subscribe

The Star Wars Holiday special, in its entirety, complete with original commercials. You are welcome.

More about the holiday special, and previously.
posted by jbickers (107 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
Region blocked.....
posted by BlackPearl at 9:49 AM on December 14, 2011


Region blocked.....

NOOOOoooooooOOOOOOooooooo!!!
posted by m@f at 9:50 AM on December 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


and Harvey Korman!

...and Harvey Korman, and Harvey Korman...
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:50 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know how some things are under-appreciated in their time but get better with age?

This isn't one of them.


But *dammit!* I'll watch it again! Thanks for nothing!
posted by mazola at 9:51 AM on December 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


I was ten when this first aired. That night, I thought it would be hilarious to jump out from behind a door and scare my mom. She reacted with the Instant Bedtime Sanction and I went to my room sobbing because HOW COULD SHE?

Now that ancient wrong has been righted.
posted by mph at 9:51 AM on December 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


This is the same one as found in the previously link, except instead of being on Google video, this is on YouTube. Yes, the Google video version has the commercials and everything.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:51 AM on December 14, 2011


The SWHS was posted in its entirety in your previously, so I think this is pretty much a double.

Region blocked....

Does the older Google Video link work?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:52 AM on December 14, 2011


Region blocked.....

This might be a rare case when that is a good thing. I tried watching this thing once. I tried watching it ironically, ready to make fun of it for being so bad.

I was not able to do that. It is worse than you can imagine.

I wish it were blocked in my region.
posted by bondcliff at 9:52 AM on December 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


And really, you should watch this with Rifftrax.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:53 AM on December 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


Do not want!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:53 AM on December 14, 2011


Bahahaha, excellent.
posted by kafziel at 9:54 AM on December 14, 2011


I don't care what you say, it's still better than the prequels.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:55 AM on December 14, 2011 [10 favorites]


Region blocked.....

I'm envious.

A couple years ago, a friend got the bootleg DVD of this and we all got a little not-terribly-sober and watched it. We thought it'd be fun to laugh at, and enjoy it in that so-bad-it's-good way.

It turns out that it's actually just kind of depressing. Seriously. It feels completely interminable and just sucks the energy out of you. I don't know how long it actually is but it feels like half a day. The commercials feel like salvation; there is finally something to look at besides this weird, badly-lit half-assed show where nobody wanted to be there - not the actors, not the camera operators, not the guest stars, and certainly not the audience.

Think about that. Commercials from the seventies are exciting by comparison. That's what the Holiday Special is like.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:59 AM on December 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


yes... the google link works fine
posted by BlackPearl at 10:00 AM on December 14, 2011


Even watching it ironically, even watching it with the Rifftrax, I can only handle watching this segments at a time. It's not so bad that it's good or so bad that it's funny. It's just so bad that it's utterly unwaveringly unstoppably bad.
posted by kmz at 10:01 AM on December 14, 2011


You are welcome.

I think you might want to wait for someone to thank you for this.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 10:02 AM on December 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


already regretting clicking that region free google link
posted by BlackPearl at 10:02 AM on December 14, 2011


I think you might want to wait for someone to thank you for this.

I doubt that'll happen.
posted by grubi at 10:04 AM on December 14, 2011


Even watching it ironically, even watching it with the Rifftrax, I can only handle watching this segments at a time. It's not so bad that it's good or so bad that it's funny. It's just so bad that it's utterly unwaveringly unstoppably bad.

Yeah, this is usually the case at a friend's "bad Christmas special marathon" parties. We were all even able to handle He-Man Christmas straight through, but not this.

It's a commen enough phenomenon that there's even an xkcd strip about it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:07 AM on December 14, 2011


How bad is it? I would rather watch Shyamalan's The Last Airbender sober with no Rifftrax than watch the Holiday Special in any form. And TLA is already one of those bad bleak movies not helped by booze or funny commentary.

The Holiday Special is a black hole of misery sucking out all joy in the vicinity. Watching it for documentary understanding is the only reason to suffer through it at all.

LET THIS BE A WARNING
posted by kmz at 10:09 AM on December 14, 2011


"... but, other than that, what'd you think of the show, Mrs. Lincoln?"
posted by jbickers at 10:11 AM on December 14, 2011


... you said Harvey Korman twice.

And this show seared my soul in 1978. It has not yet recovered.
posted by zomg at 10:16 AM on December 14, 2011


The Star Wars Holiday Special was a pivotal piece in teaching me to not put unconditional faith in anyone. Up until that November evening, 12 year old Slack self would have fought anyone that would dare say anything negative about Star Wars. After that piece of crap I was less devoted to the franchise and learned to be more cautious about getting excited over a new movie or show.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:18 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Merry Time Day.
posted by sparkletone at 10:18 AM on December 14, 2011


After reading the the article referenced in this post which mentions Maytag's purchase and dismemberment by Whirlpool, the Whirlpool commercial at 1:18:20 is pretty amazing to watch.

Times sure do change.
posted by CosmicRayCharles at 10:21 AM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


The most amazing thing about the Star Wars Holiday Special is not that drugs don't make it better, but that it actually makes drugs worse.
posted by theodolite at 10:21 AM on December 14, 2011 [11 favorites]


let me quote rusty from the "previously":
"It's like heroin. There's no way to describe it to you that doesn't make it sound sort of cool. But it is. Not. Cool."
posted by juv3nal at 10:23 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


And really, you should watch this with Rifftrax.

Yays! I'll pop some corn and my night is made. Husbunny! Cue up the Wii!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:23 AM on December 14, 2011


Watching this would be the equivalent of finding out where the kid lives who bullied me in elementary school, going to his house, and paying him $100 to punch me in the face again.
posted by The World Famous at 10:24 AM on December 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


I watched this all the way through a couple of years ago, and what made it one of the most fun times of my life? New friends who were as strange as me + absinthe + the Rifftrax = one hell of a good time laughing strongly for the whole run.
posted by usagizero at 10:29 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've tried several times to watch this. I still haven't made it all the way through and I can endure some pretty awful shit. They really did create a thing that closely approximates an anti-Infinite Jest.
posted by dosterm at 10:30 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Holiday Special is a black hole of misery sucking out all joy in the vicinity.

I think this is a profound underestimation of the singular charms of watching a singing Bea Arthur dance with Walrusman and Greedo's cousin. It might not be joy, exactly, but whatever it is, it's far too unique an experience to be dismissed as simple misery.

If Schadenfreude is taking joy in the misery of others, might this be Freundenschade? A particular sort of giggling pain at the inexplicable joy of Bea Arthur?
posted by gompa at 10:33 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think this is a profound underestimation of the singular charms of watching a singing Bea Arthur dance with Walrusman and Greedo's cousin. It might not be joy, exactly, but whatever it is, it's far too unique an experience to be dismissed as simple misery.

In 30 years, will people be saying that about watching Liam Neeson carry on a serious conversation with a cartoon amphibian Rastafarian caricature?
posted by The World Famous at 10:43 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is the MeFi post that shall not be acknowledged in my house.

My wife, having heard about this benighted thing's existence a short time ago, is intrigued to find it and watch it. My six year old Star Wars obsessed son has no clue it exists.

I would keep it from them, because I remember the bewildered seven year old who saw this when it aired. I remember getting special permission to stay up late. I remember waiting for it to get good...

I will spare them from this...thing's... existence, because one of us suffering from the memories of it is enough.
posted by never used baby shoes at 10:45 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


8 minutes in and NO HUMAN WORDS HAVE BEEN SPOKEN
posted by jmccw at 10:47 AM on December 14, 2011


I remember watching this on TV as an innocent child, newly wise to the ways of the Force, seeking further enlightenment.

Thanks to that night of horror, I was forever turned to the Dark Side. I became...yes...a Star Trek fan.
posted by thomas j wise at 10:55 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


jmccw, fear not, there is a book for you (also available at ThinkGeek, or directly from Chronicle books if you dislike Amazon). The Force.net has a bit more on the book, and I can vouch, it makes a variety of wookie noises.

But it won't dull the pain of watching this "special."
posted by filthy light thief at 10:58 AM on December 14, 2011


Luckily, brain damage made me lose a lot of childhood memories and allows many things to be experienced as new again. And, with starting in on the early access for SWTOR yesterday, I thought, "Oh, neat, more Star Wars."

No, it was not neat. Barely 3 minutes in and the memories of my youthful crushing disappointment have flooded back. I can even remember some of my seven y.o. angry ranting.
posted by _paegan_ at 11:01 AM on December 14, 2011


I would prefer a version which excised the holiday special entirely, and merely left me the advertisements.
posted by aramaic at 11:04 AM on December 14, 2011


All this hate when all it really needs is better special effects.

Hey, George!
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:08 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


You guys just don't have Life Day in your hearts.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:09 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obligatory xkcd link
posted by Gelatin at 11:10 AM on December 14, 2011


The General Motors commercial just kind of rips your heart out (for the people in the ad who actually worked the line there, NOT THE COMPANY ITSELF).
posted by kuanes at 11:12 AM on December 14, 2011


Around my house when someone is sad, we still say, ala Bea Arthur: Is that a tear, friend? I've seen this twice without Rifftrax or much alcohol, which I suppose makes me some sort of mutant (my superpower is Tolerance of Cheese, perhaps). Looking forward to doing the Rifftrax this year if I can find the time.

It's possible the entire appeal of it is seeing promos for long-dead 70s variety shows and the Hungry Jack commercial, which transport me instantly to the shag rug of my childhood home, crosslegged in front of our giant console TV with my Barbies.
posted by emjaybee at 11:13 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Isn't there singing at some point? I distinctly remember singing, but all I can hear in my head when I try to remember it is the sign-off song from the Donny and Marie Show, which may be just as well.

I guess that makes Leia a little bit country, and Han a little bit rock'n'roll.
posted by tzikeh at 11:15 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aw, heck, EmpressCallipygos, I'm sorry. I looked but still missed your link.
posted by Gelatin at 11:18 AM on December 14, 2011


As proof of how bad this thing is, The Star Wars Holiday Special is where Boba Fett made his first ever appearance, albeit in cartoon form, and as we all know Boba Fett is the most awesome thing about the entire Star Wars universe, yet his name has not even been spoken once in this entire thread and he does nothing to offset the huge amount of suck that is this special.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is ONE magic pile of suck.
posted by bondcliff at 11:19 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


as we all know Boba Fett is the most awesome thing about the entire Star Wars universe

Nonsense. Han Solo is the only major character who does not appear in any of the prequels. He is, therefore, the most awesome thing about the entire Star Wars universe.
posted by The World Famous at 11:20 AM on December 14, 2011 [17 favorites]


Han Solo is the only major character who does not appear in any of the prequels. He is, therefore, the most awesome thing about the entire Star Wars universe.

Oh please, he couldn't even get off a shot before Greedo!

*ducks*
posted by bondcliff at 11:25 AM on December 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


The horror of this "special" prefigures the terrible prequels. We should have known.

All those years ago, Lucas was telling us what was going to happen to Star Wars. What he was going to do to it.

He told us over the span of two hours on national TV, but we just refused to listen.
posted by aramaic at 11:25 AM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


After reading the the article referenced in this post which mentions Maytag's purchase and dismemberment by Whirlpool, the Whirlpool commercial at 1:18:20 is pretty amazing to watch.

I saw the special on its first broadcast and not again until some twenty years later (commercials intact). The thing that startled me the most on the second viewing was not the ads for long-forgotten toys or spotting James Cromwell for a quarter of a second in the Alice promos, but rather the ILGWU PSA* at the 42-minute mark. By the end of the century, the idea that unions would be willing and able to buy a solid minute of network prime-time advertising was baffling.

*Ilgwu Psa was a cantina alien and his action figure was exceedingly rare.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:26 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh please, he couldn't even get off a shot before Greedo!

*ducks*


No point ducking. Those of us who follow the True Han shot you before you moved.
posted by never used baby shoes at 11:29 AM on December 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


Like one or two people above, I apparently have a larger tolerance for this than anyone. I guess it's because I have a fascination with pop cultural artifacts that are very clearly of the moment from which they originated -- and you have to agree with me that the Star Wars Holiday Special is very much 'of a moment.'

That, and the totally glossed over, fucked-up-out-of-her-skull eyes on Carrie Fisher at certain points near the end get me every time. If she had died from a drug overdose, it would be horribly tragic. But because she lived and writes hilarious comedy about those times, it's pure joy to me, despite the fact I should know better.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:32 AM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


And to answer your question, tziekh, which I meant to and alluded to with my comment, yes, there is singing at the end. So much singing. Singing like you can't even imagine. Singing that will change your life (day).
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:35 AM on December 14, 2011


Never seen it. I'm trying to not change that.
posted by clvrmnky at 11:42 AM on December 14, 2011


Isn't there singing at some point?

It concludes with Carrie Fisher and a pile of coke as big as your head singing a duet.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:49 AM on December 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


Yep, and like I said, it amuses me now. But if someone had pointed it out to me as a kid, it would have been better than 1000 "Just Say No" Campaign. Skillets and broken eggs be damned, that is your brain on drugs.

I feel like I've just earned a MeFi Achievement Badge, as this thread is making me, for the first time, long for the IMG tag
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:05 PM on December 14, 2011


Has anyone watched this on YouTube with the Riff that can talk about syncing?

I've bought several DVDs over the years that didn't work with the mp3 because of editing variances in different releases; I'm quite skeptical about this video. If I remember correctly, this was released on VHS, presumably without the ads, and I'll bet that's what they recorded the Riff alongside.
posted by heatvision at 12:10 PM on December 14, 2011


Yikes, that Jefferson Starship is notable for being the absolute worst song of all time.

Who'd think they'd top in the 1980s with "We Built This City"?
posted by porn in the woods at 12:13 PM on December 14, 2011


I've made it through some terrible, horrible films. I've seen Philippine cannibal exploitation movies. I've seen "Can't Stop the Music" several times. I have seen multiple Italian post-apocalypse movies starring Fred Willimason.

But this. This is brutal.
posted by JoanArkham at 12:14 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


oh yeah and... FIGHTING THE FRIZZIES... at 11!
posted by porn in the woods at 12:16 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I foresee the Lucasfilm DMCA hammer falling in 3...2...
posted by double block and bleed at 12:17 PM on December 14, 2011


No amount of booze will make this watchable. It's so bad that I think it might be the first of Berryman's basilisks.
posted by lekvar at 12:29 PM on December 14, 2011


I blame this thread for my falling into the Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship/Starship K-hole. Thanks.
posted by stannate at 12:40 PM on December 14, 2011


I made it to 4 minutes and 4 seconds. .. and I feel like I have been beaten up.
posted by Frasermoo at 12:41 PM on December 14, 2011


Metafilter: far too unique an experience to be dismissed as simple misery.
posted by herbplarfegan at 12:54 PM on December 14, 2011


I can't wait for the special edition blu-ray to come out.
posted by Fizz at 1:10 PM on December 14, 2011


Why all the vitriol? Seriously?

It's just an old 70's TV special that was made for what I'm sure were purely mercenary reasons. I watched it when I was ten, and my fuzzy memory recalls a few awkward moments, but no more than any other live action show aimed at kids from that era. I liked it at the time, but I was never a big Star Wars fan, so it didn't mean much to me either way.

I've downloaded the thing to my desktop, and I'm going to watch it later on my old analogish TV later on this evening. If there are any especially cringeworthy bits, I'll just skip over them.

I think maybe the reason people here are reacting so negatively to this is because this thing was made when the idiom of pop culture was different; the rhythm was different, the pacing was different. They are so inured to the current idiom of the moment, that anything else seems alien, ugly, and just plain bad.

But like I said, this was just a contractual obligation and a paycheck for most of the people involved, so yeah, it's probably not going to be all that and a bag of chips for most viewers.

Mostly, I'm looking forward to watching a show where the commercials are few and far between, instead of adding up to being longer than the actual show.
posted by KHAAAN! at 1:17 PM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm thinking about putting together a sequence of Christmas riff-things, to fill in for the fact that Christmas TV is invariably crap. MST3K: Santa Claus Conquers the Martions, MST3K: Santa Claus, Cinematic Titanic: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, RiffTrax: Santa Meets the Ice Cream Bunny.

I had forgotten that RiffTrax had done the Star Wars Christmas Special. I'm not sure if I want to add it in.
posted by JHarris at 1:18 PM on December 14, 2011


I would prefer a version which excised the holiday special entirely, and merely left me the advertisements.

I provide: look for the union label, and TOBOR is ROBOT spelled backwards.
posted by JHarris at 1:22 PM on December 14, 2011


If there are any especially cringeworthy bits, I'll just skip over them.

That's the best joke in this entire thread.

I think maybe the reason people here are reacting so negatively to this is because this thing was made when the idiom of pop culture was different; the rhythm was different, the pacing was different. They are so inured to the current idiom of the moment, that anything else seems alien, ugly, and just plain bad.

I have not seen it since it originally aired. It was, at the time, the worst thing ever created by humans. I am not aware of anything worse since then, with the possible exception of David Lee Roth's solo career.
posted by The World Famous at 1:26 PM on December 14, 2011


I've said it before and I'll say it again. This was the blueprint for all the Star Wars films that followed after Empire Strikes Back. Lucas has seemingly used the judgement he had in making this Holiday Special from Return of the Jedi onward. Similarly, it seems the writers of the new Doctor Who have done the same.
posted by juiceCake at 1:51 PM on December 14, 2011


Here's an edit of the Rifftrax version that leaves the Holiday Special on the cutting room floor and gives you nothing but the commercials.
posted by porn in the woods at 2:02 PM on December 14, 2011


All those years ago, Lucas was telling us what was going to happen to Star Wars. What he was going to do to it.

Lucas had literally NOTHING to do with the SWHS, other than agreeing to allow it to be made as part of a contractual obligation thingy. (possibly tied in with CBS purchasing the rights to be the first to broadcast Star Wars on television) He hated it as much as we all did, hence his longstanding disassociation from it.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:04 PM on December 14, 2011


If I remember correctly, this was released on VHS

Ha, no way. Unless by "released" you mean people duping and reduping over the air recordings.

presumably without the ads, and I'll bet that's what they recorded the Riff alongside.

The Rifftrax definitely includes the ads.
posted by kmz at 2:14 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think maybe the reason people here are reacting so negatively to this is because this thing was made when the idiom of pop culture was different; the rhythm was different, the pacing was different.

as a person who is much more attuned to the 70's idiom on tv (i watched tv then) than nowadays (i don't watch now), i can tell you that i lasted 15 to 20 minutes before concluding that this was a giant pile of suck that isn't even funny for sucking
posted by pyramid termite at 2:25 PM on December 14, 2011


When the Holiday Special originally aired I stuck with it because:

a) I got to stay up late (yay!)
b) every once in a while they reused a shot from the movie and those visuals were like crack in a pre-internet and (largely) pre-VHS age. Kids these days don't realize you couldn't rewind or freeze frame Star Wars when it was released. You planted your butt in the theatre and the movie whizzed by you, ready or not. You weren't sure what you saw. That's why we saw the movie 13 god-damn times in the theatre!
c) stormtroopers looked cool

I wasn't the most discerning kid, but even so I had to cut it a lot of slack to get all the way through.
posted by mazola at 2:38 PM on December 14, 2011


I've downloaded the thing to my desktop, and I'm going to watch it later on my old analogish TV later on this evening. If there are any especially cringeworthy bits, I'll just skip over them.

This is much like planning to drive from New York to Paris and figuring if you encounter water, you can just drive around it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:47 PM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Happy Life Day!
posted by Artw at 2:55 PM on December 14, 2011


I think "Good Night, but not Goodbye" could really be a great song with better accompaniment. Unfortunately, I doubt anybody's got a good copy of Bea Arthur's vocals alone.

I host a Life Day party most years (I have the special on VHS), and this year we paid more attention to the actual video than on any previous viewing. I'm somewhat horrified by that.
posted by asperity at 3:18 PM on December 14, 2011


I was 6 years old when this was on television. I spent the night at my aunt's house because her TV was better than ours. I love Star Wars more than anything else on earth.

And afterwards all I could think was, "What the fuck was that shit?"
posted by coolguymichael at 3:24 PM on December 14, 2011


That's why we saw the movie 13 god-damn times in the theatre!

Amateur.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:27 PM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, only someone paid to do it would watch Star Wars more than 13 times in the theater.
posted by The World Famous at 3:55 PM on December 14, 2011


On the 100th time round Alec Guinness personally comes around to tell you to stop it.
posted by Artw at 3:59 PM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


That's when I ask him whether it's a thousand years or a thousand generations. And I ask him why Obi Wan claimed that he would become more powerful than Vader could possibly imagine, when really he would just turn into a glowy ghost. Was Vader's imagination really that bad?
posted by The World Famous at 4:04 PM on December 14, 2011


I think maybe the reason people here are reacting so negatively to this is because this thing was made when the idiom of pop culture was different;

Dude, you are in for one harsh surprise.
posted by Mcable at 4:04 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bless you, whoever you are that made this possible.
posted by freakazoid at 4:12 PM on December 14, 2011


I think maybe the reason people here are reacting so negatively to this is because this thing was made when the idiom of pop culture was different; the rhythm was different, the pacing was different.

No. It was bad; bad enough that something I watched only once when I was 7 years old is still with me (And I watched a lot of bad TV as a kid - I had no taste). The horror of it is hard to explain - I loved Star Wars, absolutely loved it...I wanted to love this too, and just went to bed feeling betrayed and with horrible cognitive dissonance - it was Star Wars and Christmas, and therefore supposed to be good, I must love it! Must! But why did I feel so sad, so disappointed?

I suspect it would be hard to understand now, watching it as an adult...so much of it was being caught up in the sheer enthusiasm of being a kid and then receiving an absolute turd that was wrapped up to look like something you were supposed to love.

I really have no words to describe the feeling I had going to bed after seeing it.
posted by never used baby shoes at 4:16 PM on December 14, 2011


Yes, only someone paid to do it would watch Star Wars more than 13 times in the theater.

Oh no you didn't.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:26 PM on December 14, 2011


I was agreeing with you.
posted by The World Famous at 4:33 PM on December 14, 2011


It's amazing how much that animated segment seems to be influenced by Moebius. The city looks straight out of "The Long Tomorrow".
posted by jiawen at 5:50 PM on December 14, 2011


Incredible. So much I kind of remembered, so much I'd forgotten. One thing I do remember coming away from the episode when it aired with mixed feelings: I was glad for more Star Wars of any kind (no web/dvd/vcr at the time), but I also felt let down, thinking 'Could a Star Wars thing somehow be bad?'.

Crazy days.
posted by holycola at 8:09 PM on December 14, 2011


Wow, it didn't seem that bad to me. A little slow and campy.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 9:42 PM on December 14, 2011


Has anyone watched this on YouTube with the Riff that can talk about syncing?

Just did this tonight. I started the movie at the second that they said to hit pause. We had to stop Rifftracks for about 1 second during the title sequence to get everything sync'd up, but then it was solid the whole way through.

Well worth the effort.

"Morley Safer looks terrible!"
posted by hwyengr at 10:07 PM on December 14, 2011


Also, Pan Am is clearly a rip-off of Flying High.
posted by hwyengr at 10:12 PM on December 14, 2011


I'd forgotten this gem of a call-out.
posted by dhartung at 10:35 PM on December 14, 2011


I bought my first copy of the SWHS at a record swap meet, featuring those unforgettable semi-professional inkjet labels. Same shit-fest as the version in question, the only difference being the commercials. It's been a while since I've fired up my VHS version, but the only commercial I remember was for the "Big Trak" toy. (basically a tank that could be programmed to travel to specific coordinates via a decimal input system) Other than that, it was all the same. Though I spent $40 on the "rarity" at the time, I don't think I ever made it all the way through until the Rifftrax version came out.

As mentioned above: PLEASE do not blame Lucas for this abomination. The man was hip-deep in "Empire" by this time (whom most people consider the best film of the entire franchise) so let's cut him some slack: this was contractual obligation carried out by under (or other) qualified people, with little or no oversight by Lucas.

Granted, I am a dyed-in-the-wool Lucas lover, but I have absolutely NO problem criticizing franchise-related mis-fires. ("Caravan of Courage", anyone?) But still, let's assign blame to the appropriate parties. Lucas signed off on this clusterfuck, but come on! If you want to consider that a shortsighted move, consider also that Fox refused to finance "Empire"! George needed money to finance the sequel, CBS wanted the rights to show "Star Wars" on network television, so what did they do? They worked out a deal. The "X factor" was that nobody (at the time) knew what a shitty combination "variety TV" and "Star Wars" would be. (The "Donny and Marie Show" notwithstanding)
posted by ShutterBun at 4:17 AM on December 15, 2011


PLEASE do not blame Lucas for this abomination

Our bootleg version has a quote from Lucas on the back stating he would like to "hunt down and destroy every copy ever made."
posted by JoanArkham at 7:23 AM on December 15, 2011


The man was hip-deep in "Empire" by this time (whom most people consider the best film of the entire franchise) so let's cut him some slack

So, what exactly was Lucas doing "hip-deep" in Empire, a film that he did not direct, did not write, and did not even produce? He was the Executive Producer (the Producer was Gary Kurtz) and he apparently did some uncredited editing at some point. I've always had the impression that the reason Empire is considered to be the best film is that Lucas had very little to do with it.
posted by The World Famous at 9:05 AM on December 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Fourth. Worst. Star Wars. Ever.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:10 AM on December 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Our bootleg version has a quote from Lucas on the back stating he would like to "hunt down and destroy every copy ever made."

Because it was a preview of what was to come...
posted by juiceCake at 11:27 AM on December 15, 2011


"hunt down and destroy every copy ever made."

But, since he couldn't find every copy of the show, he went ahead and destroyed the entire franchise, because it's the only way to be sure.
posted by The World Famous at 11:33 AM on December 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's amazing how there's one shitty ludicrous piece of film out there that even I could not finish watching for the lulz. Because there were no lulz. Except for the song about the Wookiee and the comb.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:02 PM on December 15, 2011


Except for the song about the Wookiee and the comb.

Right idea, wrong piece of work. You're thinking of Meco's "Christmas in the Stars" album, which does indeed include a song called "What do you get a Wookiee for Christmas (when he already has a comb?)"
posted by ShutterBun at 7:41 AM on December 16, 2011


So, what exactly was Lucas doing "hip-deep" in Empire, a film that he did not direct, did not write, and did not even produce?

Regardless of his title in the credits, let's not pretend for a minute that there was a single important decision on Empire that Lucas didn't have final approval on. Kirsher was probably too polite to say anything, but I have no doubt that GL was looking over his shoulder much of the time.

Also, if George's work on Empire weren't enough, he was also in preliminary talks with Spielberg and Kasdan (Empire's final scriptwriter) about Raiders of the Lost Ark so it's fair to say that he had plenty of other stuff on his plate, nevermind a quickie T.V. special.

That being said, allow me, if I may, to...ahem...defend the SWHS, if it's at all possible. There are present, for example, many ideas & concepts that were new to the Star Wars Extended Universe at the time, but which have remained with it for decades. For example:

1. The Wookiee home planet of Kashyyk. Though it was inexplicably pronounced "Kazook" in the show, most of what we learn of Kashyyk in the SWHS remains part of the canon to this day. a: Treehouses high above the forest floor. b:The Empire maintains an outpost to oversee the planet (as also seen in the "Knights of the Old Republic" game) c: an uneasy peace between Wookiees and humans. All of these things are taken for granted within the Extended Universe nowadays, but at the time, they were brand new concepts. Credit them for getting it right, even way back then.

2. Heroes divided. Luke & R2-D2 are separated from Leia and C-3P0, very similar to what happens in Empire. Coincidence? Maybe. Note further that Luke is in his orange flight suit, and is working with R2 on fixing machinery, not unlike his ordeal on Dagobah.

3. The Empire is still in business. Again, taken for granted now, but at the end of Star Wars, it was pretty much a question mark to most people. Here we see Vader still very much in control, and making a priority of hunting down the rebels, much the same as he does in Empire.

4. Life Day. Yeah, it sounds pretty lame, but given that we now know that Chewie's relationship with Han centers around owing him a Wookiee "Life Debt," the name makes sense. Also, as we saw in "Knights of the Old Republic," Wookiees take their cultural (religious?) events VERY seriously. It's therefore justified that Chewbacca would make every effort to get home in time for Life Day, even at the risk of his own hide.

5. The cast. Despite being completely out of place (for the most part), the cast itself was top notch for a TV special, with unimpeachable bona fides (numerous Emmy nominations, Academy Awards, Tony Awards between them). Granted, the material they were given was atrocious, but on paper the cast is ideal for a TV variety show. Also, Bea Arthur bore a striking resemblance to the original cantina bartender. (OK, that was a low blow)

6. "One More Round." It's actually kind of a cute number, especially the way they blend in the Cantina Band's original song. (Granted, I'm being awfully generous here)

7. Risk-taking. Granted, it ended up being an abysmal failure, but you've gotta at least give some points to the makers for having the nerve to attempt a 2 hour special that goes 15 minutes without a single (human) word being spoken.

8. Not very many commercials. Of course, this could be interpreted as a negative by some, since the commercials are often more interesting than the show itself. But it's definitely amusing to see an uninterrupted stream of pre-deregulation television. Long gaps between extremely short commercial breaks, mandatory news updates on the hour, etc. Not to mention the dad from "Land of the Lost" portraying both a druggist and a wine-guzzling photographer in two different commercials!

9. The Wilhelm Scream. Yep, it's in there.

10. Excised Star Wars footage that can't be seen anywhere else. (as mentioned previously, this shit was just like crack to us youngsters at the time)

I think the main problem of the SWHS is that they made it 2 hours. Cut it down to 1 hour, eliminate Diahann Carroll & Jefferson Starship (and for the love of god give Harvey Korman SOMETHING to do) and it could be a decent little show. If they had focused more on the "Star Wars" elements, and less on filler, the whole thing would have benefited. As outlined above, most of the "Star Wars specific" stuff was actually handled pretty well, all things considered. As it is, there are just way too many long segments of "what the fuck am I watching?"

Also: those red robes aren't fooling anyone. We know full well that you couldn't afford Wookiee suits for all the extras.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:00 AM on December 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


So I thought I had never watched this before.
Me and the little Star Wars Junkie have been watching it in small half hour spurts. We fast forwarded through the two songs. Other than that it was okay, but totally unfamiliar.
At least it was unfamiliar until the Stormtroopers tore the head off the stuffed bantha. All of a sudden I remembered that scene. I remembered what 5-ish year old me was feeling and thinking when that happened. I think that was more traumatic than having seen Uncle Owen's and Aunt Beru's corpses.
I take that as proof that I watched the special and suppressed the memory of it.
posted by Seamus at 8:54 AM on December 18, 2011


Seamus, that was exactly my experience. I was convinced I had either dreamed or imagined that scene, because it wasn't in any of the movies (I looked, repeatedly for it), and I had no memory of seeing this show.

Memory is a strange thing, isn't it?
posted by jbickers at 6:29 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


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