The Star Wars Holiday Special 1978

With all the buzz about the new film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which continues to break box-office records, one is bound to think back to another holiday season affected by the Star Wars franchise. After the successful release of the original Star Wars film in 1977, the following November gave television viewers The Star Wars Holiday Special.

The Special

CBS broadcast the 97-minute television show on Friday, November 17, 1978 at 8:00-10:00 p.m.  The Star Wars Holiday Special centered around Chewbacca and his family celebrating Life Day, a holiday that happens to be a lot like Christmas.

The musical-variety show featured many of the characters from Star Wars, even though many of the stars did not really want to be involved in the show. As Harrison Ford explained during a 2011 press tour: “It was in my contract. There was no known way to get out of it.” In the special, the movie stars were helped out by TV stars of the era like Bea Arthur, Diahann Carroll, Art Carney, and Harvey Korman.

The Star Wars Holiday Special included an animated segment that is notable for showing Luke, Han, and Leia having their first encounter with bounty hunter Boba Fett.  The bounty hunter, of course, would later appear in The Empire Strikes Back.

Below is the beginning of the special.

Reception

Fans of the movie had high expectations for anything related to Star Wars.  So, they were disappointed with the Star Wars Holiday Special, including its low budget and its motivation to sell toys to kids. The special became pretty much universally reviled by everyone including George Lucas.

Still, through the years, some fans have grown more fond of the show for its kitschy and nostalgic appeal. There is an entire website devoted to the TV show. And Mental Floss recently posted “An Oral History of The Star Wars Holiday Special.”

Below is a 15-minute “best of” compilation from the special.

If you still want more, you may watch the entirety of The Star Wars Holiday Special on YouTube. May the Force be with you through this holiday season.

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