I can’t recall exactly how old I was at the time, but I do distinctly remember the moment when I first discovered the legendary — or perhaps infamous — 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special. I was browsing the bootleg video tables at some convention or another and suddenly my eyes stopped on the words “Star Wars.” I fished the video out of the mix and stared agape. Star Wars…Holiday Special? What the hell was the Star Wars Holiday Special? See, this was the wild and wooly days before the Internet, so there was no quick trip to Wikipedia to clarify this mystery. All I knew was that it was something Star Wars related that I had, against all likelihood, never heard of. And it was obviously some sort of official tie-in, because there were Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher right there on the cover. Did I buy it? Of course I bought it!
What awaited me once I got home and slid the tape into the player was one of the most singularly inexplicable things I’ve ever sat through. Its every element seemed to defy reason and common sense, leaving me with nothing but questions, so many questions. Why was Han Solo suddenly in the middle of an all-Wookiee sitcom? How did Jefferson Starship find their way into a holographic video a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away? Was that really Bea Arthur? Singing? Sadly, time has provided us with no satisfactory answers. Like the existence of evil or the literary success of Stephenie Meyer, it cannot be explained; it simply is.
In honor of this grand occasion, here are our picks for the best and/or worst things about the Star Wars Holiday Special.