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I have a bad feeling about this
April 29, 2009 1:30 PM   Subscribe


 
[Vanity Fair article via metachat]
posted by dersins at 1:30 PM on April 29, 2009


I bought a "collectors copy" of this for holiday viewing. Even for a trained Psychotronic fan such as myself, it was brutal.
posted by JoanArkham at 1:39 PM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I saw this when it aired, then spent the rest of my childhood trying to convince my classmates that Chewbacca had a family that lived in the trees and growled at each other and celebrated Christmas, no Life Day or something, and no, I'm not thinking of Ewoks, they were WOOKIES, and .......oh nevermind.

When I saw a pirated version of this a few years ago, I was delighted to find out I wasn't crazy.

SUCK IT, SCOTT E. JOHNSON ELEMENTARY!
posted by chronkite at 1:39 PM on April 29, 2009 [6 favorites]


A guy stole my copy several years ago and I have never known how to feel about that.
posted by padraigin at 1:41 PM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nothing brings out the magic in Lucas's dialogue like someone running lines with an auditioner.

"At last the world is safe, eh, Fallout Boy?"
posted by Joe Beese at 1:42 PM on April 29, 2009


Get the RiffTrax for the SWHS, where they riff on the vintage 1978 commercials (actually funnier than the riffs on the "Special" itself).

Happy Life Day, everyone!
posted by porn in the woods at 1:50 PM on April 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have a copy of this. And people always want to see it, and I tell them no, and explain it this way:

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 rusty at 1:50 PM on April 29, 2009 [19 favorites]


Luke Skywalker and Harvey Korman?

I read that as Luke Skywalker and Harmony Korine and was momentarily excited.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:52 PM on April 29, 2009


I have a very vague memory of a scene where stormtroopers entered the house of some ewoks, and in particular the little kid's room, where they tore apart his stuffed animals, looking for something. It really upset me at the time.
posted by jbickers at 2:02 PM on April 29, 2009


In the summer of 1978, Bruce Vilanch had a bad feeling about the Star Wars television special he’d been hired to write.

Bruce Vilanch? Oh my god, suddenly it all becomes clear. I had no idea.
posted by COBRA! at 2:04 PM on April 29, 2009


On the other hand,

While flipping through a book of production stills, Vilanch says, the Star Wars creator came across a particularly provocative-looking creature. “Lucas, who had been pretty stolid the whole time, turned to me and said: ‘Oh yes, we call him Cuntface.’ And that’s what it looked like, actually. I noticed in a later movie”—Return of the Jedi—“that Lucas had, like, a huge vagina in the desert that sucked things in. So, I think this is one of his leitmotifs.”

kind of reduces my Vilanch-hatred a tiny bit.
posted by COBRA! at 2:14 PM on April 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


I have a very vague memory of a scene where stormtroopers entered the house of some ewoks, and in particular the little kid's room, where they tore apart his stuffed animals, looking for something. It really upset me at the time.

It was Lumpy's room (Chewbacca's son), so not ewoks, but otherwise accurate.

I don't know what it says about me that I have watched this special, several times, intentionally, as an adult.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 2:16 PM on April 29, 2009


I'm a big nerd, it's part of my genetic makeup, like I have some kind of antenna that picks up nerd-lore and fan trivia from the very ether itself. But somehow I'd never herd of this until '99 or so. A friend took great pleasure in exposing me to this... thing.

Now, I have a pretty high tolerance for the weird, cheesy, bad films of this world, whether of the arthouse variety or the in-the-backyard-with-an-8mm-camera variety.

I only made it through about 10 minutes of the Holiday Special.
posted by lekvar at 2:20 PM on April 29, 2009


You must all remember this broadcast. You must remember it, for it heralds your doom.

...one day soon I will complete my metamorphosis and rise, like the sun, a destroyer from the east. My rippling machine body will be slathered with the grease of a thousand-thousand Belgians, glistening in the light of the End of Days.

This is the broadcast which began my transformation. This is the broadcast which has eaten away the antique and decayed morality of my mind, leaving only the pure crystalline perfection of hate. In endless dark nights it ate away at me, purifying me, perfecting me. Never sleeping. Never stopping. Always the dark terrible whispers, always the vague disquieting memories, never proven, never believed.

Too late you see it. Too late you recognize the instrument it has wrought.

Behold.
posted by aramaic at 2:20 PM on April 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


2:30 in the Hamill audition, he calls Harrison Ford Hans
posted by jpdoane at 2:21 PM on April 29, 2009


Just imagine: Snake Plissken sneaking into the death star, to rescue... Shirley!
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 2:33 PM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


With the assistance of her brother, a charter member of the Skinemax hall-of-fame.
posted by dersins at 2:38 PM on April 29, 2009


Why would Chewbacca want to live on Kashyyyk, with a pair of wookiees called Lumpy and Itchy? That does not make sense! Why would Princess Leia sing to wookiees? It does not make sense! Why would Art Carney and Bea Arthur be part of the Star Wars universe? It does not make sense!

Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense! None of this makes sense! And so you have to remember, when you're you're viewing the Star Wars Holiday Special, it does not make sense. The defense rests.
posted by panboi at 2:49 PM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've never seen the special, as I was too young and in the wrong country at the time, but I have heard many tales of it glittering crapitude, so I guess I should watch it. Too many people have warned me not to so if it makes me weep I know that it's only my own fault.
posted by ob at 2:54 PM on April 29, 2009


Lucas wouldn’t want this to be seen? I’m surprised he’s not already marketing breakfast cereal on the nostalgia and has special edition action figures on the shelves.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:58 PM on April 29, 2009


I have watched this special, several times, intentionally, as an adult

Please, seek counselling before you move on to cutting.
posted by CynicalKnight at 3:01 PM on April 29, 2009


Lucas had, like, a huge vagina in the desert that sucked things in

this man has obviously not seen many vaginas.
posted by InfidelZombie at 3:01 PM on April 29, 2009


Christ, I had to stop it five minutes in. This might take me a few days to get through...
posted by ob at 3:05 PM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Having him live on Kashyyyk with a wife and two sons makes a hell of a lot more sense than having him go from A LEADER OF THE REBELLION to second-in-command to some random smuggler.

And say what you want, the prequel trilogy would have been a whole lot less painful with some Art Carney in it.
posted by PlusDistance at 3:10 PM on April 29, 2009


Fortunately, this never, ever happened.
posted by darth_tedious at 3:17 PM on April 29, 2009


I remember seeing this when I was a kid and trying to figure out how it was possible for Chewbakka to be the only survivor of his people and still have a Wookie family at the same time.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:19 PM on April 29, 2009


Although Lucas has subsequently had the special disappeared from American television—it has never again been officially aired or released in any video format—Star Wars geeks have not let the world forget that, even more than Jar Jar Binks, this is the one true embarrassment attached to the mostly superlative Star Wars universe.

How does 2 good movies and 4 real stinkers add up to mostly superlative?
posted by doctor_negative at 3:29 PM on April 29, 2009


How does 2 good movies and 4 real stinkers add up to mostly superlative?

If you consider yourself a Sci-Fi or Fantasy fan, you have the ability to fend off reality, even if some of that reality is related to that which you love. Luke was never a whiny runt in the same way that really hot girl in high school could have been into you, if you ever had the nerve to talk to her. Realities are bent for the better.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:38 PM on April 29, 2009


That, and the prequel trilogy is generally considered to be sub-standard fare by everyone, and ignored as part of the Greater Star Wars Universe.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:40 PM on April 29, 2009


I only made it through about 10 minutes of the Holiday Special.

So I guess you didn't make it through to the scene where Grandpa Itchy sits in some sort of virtual reality chair and apparently has an orgasm while watching Diahann Carroll attempt to seduce him? Your life is much poorer richer for it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:13 PM on April 29, 2009




The most mindblowing part to me: CHEWBACCA'S DAD'S VIRTUAL REALITY CYBERSEX. Of sorts.
posted by zardoz at 5:09 PM on April 29, 2009


Is it wrong that i just scanned through it to see the ads? Added bonus that is from a local station.
posted by ShawnString at 5:34 PM on April 29, 2009


You all poke fun. But how many are aware of how deeply, how stealthily, the Star Wars canon has sunk into your unsuspecting minds? Consider:
  • Boba Fett is never mentioned by name in The Empire Strikes Back.
  • The word Ewoks is never uttered in any of the movies.

posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 5:39 PM on April 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Bora Horza Gobuchul:

Actually, having lived through all this the first time around, and with great enthusiasm... I took pride in having the novelizations in hand to read right after seeing the movie for the first time, often while I sat in line to see the film again the same day. It was a point of honor at the age of 12 to know the arcane names of background creatures, and often it was only through the books that you learned that stuff. Or if you sat through the credits you might catch a name like Boba Fett.

But isn't Boba Fett featured in an animated sequence in the very holiday special this post is about? And indeed, he says, "My name is Boba Fett" about 3.5 minutes into it.

The concept "Ewoks" should never have been uttered at all.
posted by hippybear at 7:35 PM on April 29, 2009


So corrupted have I become by two(!) viewings of this that when Bea Arthur died, I texted my husband "is that a tear, friend?" which was one of her many regrettable lyrics sung to rubber-suited actors in the cantina scene.

I can only expain my ability to get through this more than once by my early lengthy exposure to years of 70s variety shows as a child; later generations haven't had that toughening process, so they find it a tougher slog.
posted by emjaybee at 7:36 PM on April 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


I truly, truly love the Star Wars Holiday Special. It's such an amazingly perfect glimpse into the brain of someone writing complete hackwork with no self-awareness whatsoever. I could watch it over and over again.
posted by mediareport at 8:03 PM on April 29, 2009


Get the RiffTrax for the SWHS, where they riff on the vintage 1978 commercials (actually funnier than the riffs on the "Special" itself).

The commercials are actually a lot more interesting than the special itself. Forgotten seventies toys (Tobor!). Promos for barely-recalled shows. And most startling of all, a PSA for labour unions... things were very different in the old days.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:18 PM on April 29, 2009


I can only expain my ability to get through this more than once by my early lengthy exposure to years of 70s variety shows as a child; later generations haven't had that toughening process, so they find it a tougher slog.

Good point. It's reminding me that my six-year-old, circa '79, was under the vague impression that famous people of various sorts got together periodically to offer "tributes" or "salutes" to things as part of the natural course of human affairs. Look, it's the Macy's Thanksgiving parade! Look, it's Battle of the Network Stars! All part of the tidy march of human events . . .

That said, the first time I saw The Star Wars Christmas Special as an adult - on a grainy, hiccupping, fourth-generation VHS tape - it broke my brain so fully I can't say for certain I'm recovered even now. In a way, that was kind of the magic of pre-internet pop culture - sometimes, you just never did learn how the fuck what you just saw could've possibly come to pass.
posted by gompa at 8:29 PM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


. . . that should be "my six-year-old self" . . .
posted by gompa at 8:30 PM on April 29, 2009


Anyone else notice the meaningful looks Mrs. Chewbacca was throwing Han Solo? What's that all about?
So disturbing that it is the only thing I remember about the show.
posted by Catch at 8:38 PM on April 29, 2009


I've never seen it, but my dad had the Star Wars Christmas album "Christmas in the Stars", which I'd wager is similarly execrable, and had taped "What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb)?" onto a tape that was in heavy rotation around Christmas time.

As a result, my two sisters and I all know every word of "What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb)?" with all the correct voices.

For those curious, after going through several options (including a tie clip, galoshes, a hat, and shaving foam) the singers decide on love and understanding, and goodwill to men. Kind of a cop-out since it's revealed at the beginning of the song that they've gotten normal, material gifts for everyone else.

My early exposure to "Christmas in the Stars" has made me quite certain I never need to sample any other Star Wars-related holiday entertainment.
posted by crinklebat at 9:00 PM on April 29, 2009


Having him live on Kashyyyk with a wife and two sons makes a hell of a lot more sense than having him go from A LEADER OF THE REBELLION to second-in-command to some random smuggler.

Wookie's gotta eat.
posted by mazola at 9:44 PM on April 29, 2009


I can only expain my ability to get through this more than once by my early lengthy exposure to years of 70s variety shows as a child

Also, alcohol helps.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 10:57 PM on April 29, 2009


Vilanch says it was Lucas who named Chewbacca’s father and son, respectively, Itchy and Lumpy (though Star Wars nerds will note that the names are actually abbreviations of Attichitcuk and Lumpawarrump).

Well, that just makes everything better.
posted by Spatch at 7:58 AM on April 30, 2009


Character names from the Star Wars movies that are every bit as dumb as Itchy and Lumpy:

Salacious B. Crumb
Biggs Darklighter
Count Dooku
Kit Fisto
General Grievous
Poggle the Lesser
Jek Porkins
Sy Snootles
Zorba the Hutt
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:14 AM on April 30, 2009


Still standing? Want more? Christmas in the Stars.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:40 AM on April 30, 2009


Following Atom Eyes:

Sio Bibble
Bib Fortuna
Nute Gunray
Plo Koon
Lobot
Conan Antonio Motti
Lorth Needa
Mace Windu
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:08 PM on April 30, 2009


You guys don't have to dig so deep for ridiculous Star Wars names.

Luke Skywalker (get it? he's a great pilot !)
Han Solo (get it? he's a loner!)
Darth Vader (get it? he's the dark father!)
posted by dersins at 12:22 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


The only thing I really remembered about the SWHS, after watching it as a kid, is the guy in the cantina who poured the drink into the top of his head.

(Also, I can scarcely ever remember the correct spelling of wookiee. I googled wookie, and this (some NSFW photos in the galleries) was the third hit result. Thank you, internet!)
posted by cog_nate at 1:25 PM on April 30, 2009


the Star Wars Christmas album "Christmas in the Stars"

Chewbacca Jesus
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 2:34 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was all of 11 when I saw this in the original TV broadcast. My brother was 8. Thank God my parents were not in the same room. They didn't permit me to watch "Charlie's Angels" because of the alleged racy content.

As a kid who absolutely adored the movie, I recall only being rather disappointed in the Holiday Special, and remembering that it was kinda weird. Well, nothing could prepare me for watching it a couple years ago on a VHS copy my sister bought. Hooooo, Nelly!

Ditto on the commercials' being a fascinating piece of arcana.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:13 PM on April 30, 2009




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