Star Wars tries its hand at getting force lightning to strike back with The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special. A spiritual sequel to the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, this installment is filled with references for the general audience familiar with the nine-film saga as well as for the hardcore fanbase who got into the spin-off television shows. Given that it’s a sequel, does that mean general audience members should watch the first holiday special? It’s really up to the viewer; however, it is known for being the worst thing to come out of the Star Wars franchise than the prequel trilogy or even (to some) the sequel trilogy.
A [Not So] New Hope
Originally airing on CBS on November 17, 1978, The Star Wars Holiday Special took place after A New Hope. Set on the Wookie planet, Kashyyyk, the story follows Chewbacca’s family, his wife Malla, son Lumpy, and father Itchy waiting for him to come home and celebrate Life Day. This Wookie holiday celebrates peace, harmony, and togetherness. He runs late due to him and Han dodging Imperial ships throughout his journey home. As they’re waiting, they entertain themselves in various forms, turning this special into a random variety show full of circus acts, how-to videos, a cartoon, and musical performances. It was basically Saturday Night Live, but trade in the humor with confusion.
What bothers fans was that this hour and a half long special was that it was mostly filled with Wookie roars without any subtitles, unrelated performances, and an old Wookie that is going to need some privacy with a virtual reality show. Even having Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, the late Carrie Fisher, and Anthony Daniels reprising their roles with Peter Mayhew couldn’t even save this special. Their appearances were basically cameos that don’t garner the same excitement as seeing them on the big screen. What was left were veteran comedians like Art Carney, Bea Arthur, and Harvey Korman carrying the show with odd antics that tries to pass off as being galactic, but just comes off strange. But there’s got to be at least one good thing about the special? There is an introduction to Boba Fett. That is all, “move along.”
The Dark Side of the Holiday Special
The Hollywood Reporter recalled George Lucas commenting on the special a couple of years after it aired. Sharing with his fans at a convention in Australia, “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.” Hope he hasn’t been introduced to YouTube yet. Completely disowned by Lucas and fans, the special was a torturing mechanism for Star Wars fans or even just a joke to win whatever Star Wars related argument.
Return of the Holiday Special
However, it has recently been slowly creeping back up. It started with a quick reference in the pilot episode of The Mandalorian. Recently, 42 years to the exact day, November 17, 2020, Disney decided to put Star Wars, holiday, and special together once again. This time, they used a couple of Lego pieces.
The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special takes place right after The Rise of Skywalker. Within the Millennium Falcon on Kashyyyk, Rey struggles to train Finn to be a Jedi. Her solution to enhance her teaching skills is to travel to the past events of the Star Wars films to gain inspiration from her master (Luke Skywalker) and her master’s masters (Yoda/Obi-Wan) while crossing her master’s father (Darth Vader). While she learns from the past, Poe, Finn, and Rose prepare for all their guests to arrive and celebrate Life Day.
Out of the two storylines, it’s mainly Rey’s adventure that’s given more of the screen time as she goes through the sagas recognized events only to find herself in an endless lightsaber fight with the Return of the Jedi version of Darth Vader. Think of their duel like the “Peter Griffin versus the Giant Chicken” gag on Family Guy. Also, like Family Guy, most of the references and gags are added as opportunities as Rey and Vader travel and fight. One scene highlighted in the trailer is when they fall into the timeline of The Mandalorian. They see The Child (Baby Yoda) and comment on his cuteness and move onto the next event. Much like the Lego Star Wars games and Lego movies, the references are sprinkled around with overly exaggerated antics funny to all ages.
Diehard Fans Strike Back?
For the diehard fans of the series, some famous lines from the saga are included throughout but slightly altered for laughs along with their childhood dreams coming true with all these characters colliding with each other. But with every deep cut reference comes a bit of concern. Is there mention of the great disturbance in Star Wars history that can use Lucas’s sledgehammer? Yes, but it won’t have all fanboys and girls groan in agony. Because it is a Wookie practiced holiday, Chewbacca’s family does make an appearance. Disney didn’t just take the opportunity to pull from the first special’s mistakes, but they also took the liberty to pokes some fun of their own Star Wars missteps by breaking the fourth wall to one disagreed plot thread and having one character recite his infamous line added to the Disney Plus version of A New Hope.
All in all, both holiday specials are a prime example of taking a bad thing and make it better, or in this case, watchable. Without a doubt, this recent version is better than the last one. It’s cute and quick fun for the whole family. Kids would enjoy the Lego aspects as well as the funny antics of the characters while adults (who grew up as Star Wars fans) can appreciate this being easy to enjoy and playing to their fandom with the references to the previous media. Now, to all the hardcore fans, the question will always be, “Is this cannon?” Well, it might just have to depend if the next batch of films or TV shows would ever reference this version.