Remember the ill-fated Star Wars Holiday Special? Of course, you don’t — unless you tuned in on November 17, 1978. That, or you’ve managed to track down a bootleg copy.
But now, fans might finally be able to watch the Holiday Special in its entirety, and in HD!
Star Wars Holiday Special Only Aired Once
Many Star Wars fans have never seen the special, save for bits and pieces. That’s because the Star Wars Holiday Special was a spectacular failure.
It aired on television on November 17, 1978, on CBS. The special stars the main cast of the original Star Wars, including Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, James Earl Jones, and more. It also featured the very first appearance of fan-favorite character Boba Fett, who hadn’t made his way into the feature films yet.
It centers around the fictional holiday, Life Day. On the Wookiee home planet of Kashyyyk, we are introduced to some of Chewbacca’s family: his father Attichitcuk, his wife Mallatobuck, and his son Lumpawarrump (but you can call him “Lumpy”). The Imperial army has begun a blockade in search for Rebels. There’s footage from the original 1977 film, along with new live footage and animated segments.
Sounds normal, right?
The Star Wars Holiday Special took it all to the next level, though. There are musical numbers, obnoxiously long stretches of untranslated Wookiee dialogue, Bea Arthur as a singing bartender at the Mos Eisley Cantina, holographic acrobatic circus performers, and a video by Jefferson Starship. Oh, and Mark Hamill wearing a frightening amount of makeup.
The reception of this bizarre variety show-esque holiday special was so bad that it never saw the light of day again. It became notorious for the extremely negative reception. Not even George Lucas liked it — and he even likes the prequels.
“If I had the time and a sledgehammer,” Lucas once said, “I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.”
Luckily for all of us, Lucas never found that sledgehammer.
Has the Special Been Upgraded to HD?
Sure, you can still track down bootleg copies. These home recordings made from the original broadcast by fans have been the only way to see the Star Wars Holiday Special. But now, it looks like Disney+ could be bringing it back.
We’ve already seen part of the special hit Disney+. The Story of the Faithful Wookiee, the animated short that served as Boba Fett’s debut, was added to the streaming service earlier this year. Will we see the rest of the Star Wars Holiday Special?
As it turns out, some of the holiday special is being used for a different special. Titled Under the Helmet: The Legacy of Boba Fett, it explores the origins and history of the bounty hunter. Clearly, the Star Wars Holiday Special is pretty relevant to Fett’s history.
But here’s the kicker: the footage from the Boba Fett feature doesn’t match the subpar quality of bootleg recordings. Has Disney/Lucasfilm restored the notorious holiday special?
A snippet from the Boba Fett special was shared on Twitter, and the footage looks like it’s been restored. Check out the high-def footage below, interspersed with Lucas reflecting on the ill-fated special.
For comparison, here are stills from the “broadcast master” that has been circulating on the internet, versus the clips used in the Boba Fett feature.
So, what’s the verdict? Will we get a high-def rerelease of the Star Wars Holiday Special? I guess only time will tell… but it does seem promising.