I am awfully excited because I had a rare opportunity this past weekend. I learned for the first time in my life of the existence of a rare precious gem of "comic gold" (if Pepper will excuse me for lifting her expression, which I love), in the form of a bootlegged DVD. And that DVD was...The Star Wars Holiday Special!
Aired in 1978, this show is the big embarrassment of the George Lucas empire, and believe me, it more than deserves its pride of place. I don't know when I've ever seen anything so incredibly bad (and thus hysterically funny).
Oh wait! There was this really dreadul monster movie I saw once, with partners in crime Mark and Steve. We were flipping channels on TV one night, and I will be forever grateful for the fact that we stumbled across Reptilicus
, which I can only describe as Godzilla on a budget. Er, yeah. It's basically about a monster that bears a kind of resemblance to the Japanese lizard, except that instead of being electrifying and breathing fire (wait, did Godzilla breathe fire? I forget), Reptilicus...well, I'm sure this isn't what the filmmaker intended, but it looks like he vomits on people. Green cartoon slime came out of his mouth as he stomped through the towns, which looked rather like King Friday's papier-mache kingdom on "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood." Also, instead of Japan, the movie takes place in some Netherlandish location.
But no, I think the Star Wars Holiday Special
is actually worse than Reptilicus
. At least the monster movie had a fairly coherent story and plot outline--monster terrorizes Denmark, people try to kill it, monster spits or vomits its green slime on people, chaos ensues for awhile, the monster is vanquished, and people are happy again in their Lego-like village. I mean, that's a story we can all understand and appreciate, if not entirely relate to.
In the case of the Star Wars Holiday Special
, the word "coherent" was banned from the set, apparently considered in incredibly bad taste by whoever filmed it. It begins epically, with a deep-voiced voice-over guy mentioning the characters--Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, and then introducing "Chewie's family," one of which (this is where I nearly fell off the couch) was actually named--LUMPY.
Another one was Itchy. And no, I am not making any of this up.
The opening scene could take the place of Chinese water torture; it has much the same effect. The viewer finds himself in the home of Chewie's sort of endearing, but not exactly English-speaking, family. After 20 minutes of listening to Wookie-speak (which, as you all know from watching the Star Wars
movies, consists solely of emitting strange, strangled growls and yells), the family becomes much less endearing and much more annoying. Subtitles might have helped, but then again, I doubt it.
During the opening, there is this one obscure and slightly disturbing (to me anyway) sequence where Chewbacca's son (or daughter--I guess Lumpy could be a girl name too), turns on some sort of holograph-machine-table-thing, and all these little people suddenly appear, dancing, kind of like fairies or something. Lumpy watches, enthralled, as the improbably-colored fairies do little gymnastic routines and make music in an effort that I am sure is meant to entertain, but, if my reaction is any gauge, actually repels the viewer (but still makes them laugh at the sheer, mind-numbing ridiculousness of the whole thing).
At some point it becomes "clear" (and I use that word in the loosest possible sense) that the family is concerned because Chewie, out on some mission somewhere, has not come home in spite of the fact that a holiday is rapidly approaching. It being the future and all, "Christmas" has apparently become a bit jejeune
, so that meant someone had to come up with a name for the holiday. Remember that whoever this someone was also came up with the names for Chewie's family--ahem, Lumpy, anyone? And once again we see that creativity did not abound in the scriptwriting department, as Luke assures the worried family that Chewbacca "hasn't missed a Life Day yet."
I'll never know for sure (mostly because I'm too lazy to find out), but I am fairly confident that whoever wrote this show never worked in Hollywood again ever, when it was done.
Other priceless moments include an appearance by the band Jefferson Starship inside a music box, and a very weird cartoon that introduces Boba Fett, who had my favorite line of the show: "You'll only get in the way. But if you must--come on."
Yeah, Boba Fett! You tell 'em!
I thought that perhaps the show was the result of someone (or many someones) doing too many drugs, but then I thought that people on drugs would probably have come up with something a lot more interesting. So perhaps the viewer
is supposed to be taking drugs when they watch it. I for one wouldn't have minded taking something for the pain, at least.
I couldn't make it through the whole thing, I confess. But I do think it is a must-see for any Star Wars
fan. In some sadistic sense, it will be worth it, I promise. (Laughter is only the best medicine til it kills you, but hey, there are worse ways to go.)
May the Force be with you--you'll need it.