Just how awful was The Star Wars Holiday Special? So bad that it only aired once and has never been released on VHS or DVD. So bad that George Lucas himself alienated himself from the project. So bad that Conan O'Brien has used a clip from it to embarrass Harrison Ford during one of his appearances as a guest on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. So bad, that the only thing that could make it better would be for Bill Murray to make a cameo as his SNL Nick the Lounge Singer character crooning his made-up lyrics to the Star Wars theme.
Actually, it's quite surprising that Bill Murray didn't make an appearance in the 1978 train wreck, because Bea Arthur, Harvey Korman, Starship Airplane and Art Carney did. It's almost like the producers tried to turn the Star Wars legacy into a comedy variety show--in one segment, Bea plays a singing bartender and Harvey is a four-armed alien who tries to romance her and consumes alcohol (or whatever concoction they imbibe on the planet Tatooine) by pouring it into a hole in his head. The comic relief is well intended, but it's also a little embarrassing. The storyline also takes place on "Happy Life Day" (the equivalent of Christmas) and introduces us to the disturbing notion of Wookies procreating; we discover that Chewbacca has a wife, son, and father. It also introduced the character of Boba Fett (via a cartoon) and features Carrie Fisher as Princess Leah singing at the end.
All of which, I'll admit, sounds intriguing. I've never seen the special in its entirety and I don't even remember it as a kid, but the clips are out there and it's possible to watch the whole thing on YouTube. George Lucas loathed it, and told fans that it didn't match his vision of Star Wars. TV Guide ranked it number 11 on their "25 Most Hilarious Holiday TV Moments", mentioning that it was "unintentionally hilarious". The toy company Kenner was planning on creating characters of Chewbacca's family, but after the poor reception the special received, it canceled them. Supposedly prototypes still exist; I would imagine they're worth quite a bit of moolah.
Here's some clips from the program; you can judge for yourself. And I'd like to wish all of my readers who celebrate a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Life Day!
Harvey and Bea's romantic interlude seems so out of place in the Star Wars story:
Some say that Bea's performance was one of the better parts of the special.