We don’t need to remind you of Jar Jar Binx to make the case that Star Wars, since its inception in 1977, has seen some aesthetic highs and lows. Still, nothing in its expansive universe garnered as much infamy and perplexed, bewildered fascination as the Star Wars Holiday Special.
A Disturbance in the Force
Like Voldemort, insofar as few dare even to speak its name, this notorious chapter in Star Wars history is nonetheless the subject of a new, fascinating documentary, A Disturbance in the Force.
The doc offers an in-depth—if not painful—glimpse into the story behind the strange, perplexing television event.
The most panned Star Wars project in history amounts to an interesting footnote in the long arc of the iconic franchise. It aired only once on CBS, on November 17, 1978, and was a two-hour television special that remains a largely obscure and often ridiculed piece of Star Wars lore.
Wookie Holiday – Life Day
Still, The Star Wars Holiday Special retains a curious position in the hearts of die-hard fans despite its infamy. It functions as a fascinating case study in franchise expansion and fan culture.
The special’s story surrounds the Wookiee holiday, Life Day—a celebration of peace and harmony.
Less gripping than destroying the Death Star or a more familiar Star Wars plot, the narrative pertains to Han Solo and Chewbacca attempting to return to Chewie’s home planet, Kashyyk, to celebrate Life Day with Chewbacca’s family.
Musical Numbers And Guest Appearances
Proceeding from this premise, The Star Wars Holiday Special serves as a platform for a variety of musical numbers, celebrity guest appearances, and comedy sketches—all of which diverge wildly from the tone of the original film, Star Wars, which premiered only a year before.
Indeed, a notable feature of the strange project remains its cast, which featured the film’s original Stars: Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, and Anthony Daniels as C-3PO.
First Appearance Of Boba Fett
Interestingly, the TV one-off also marked the first appearance of Boba Fett, the bounty hunter who later became a fan favorite. Boba’s introduction? An animated sequence that many cite today as the “best” part of the Star Wars Holiday Special.
The star-studded cast and immediate, referential ties to the recently released film could not spare the special its poor reception and horrendous reviews. The variety-show format’s writing and bizarre nature were widely and aggressively criticized, as was the special’s lack of coherence overall.
George Lucas Barely Involved
George Lucas, the creator and originator of the Star Wars universe, was minimally involved in the special’s development—which shows—and has since voiced dissatisfaction with the final product.
Problematized by lackluster special effects and costumes, alongside subpar production value starkly dissimilar from that of the original movie, The Star Wars Holiday Special deeply disturbed Lucas.
So much so that he allegedly said, were it possible, that he would destroy every available copy.
Documentary Features Many Big Names
Directed by Jeremy Coon and Steve Kozak—with Kyle Newman serving as one of the producers—A Disturbance in the Force strives to solve the mystery of this enigmatic, terrible sci-fi side project.
For its part, the doc offers a compelling array of interview subjects: Weird Al Yankovic, Seth Green, Paul Scheer, Taran Killam, Patton Oswalt, Donny Osmond, and Gilbert Gottfried, among others.