At the time, a Star Wars holiday special seemed like a good idea.
In 1978, more than a year after A New Hope's release, Star Wars mania was still going strong, and CBS decided to harness that passion into a holiday TV spectacle.
But the network would go on to create a special so profoundly terrible and bizarre, it's now the stuff of legend.
When CBS brought the plan to George Lucas, he had agreed to sign off on the idea, but couldn’t oversee the project as he was busy with The Empire Strikes Back. Instead, the special was ultimately directed by Steve Binder.
However, Lucas did suggest the special's narrative, which centers around Chewbacca trying to get home to the Wookie planet of Kashyyyk in time to celebrate Life Day—the Wookie equivalent to Christmas—with his family.
From the start, the project was plagued with difficulties. Multiple directors were brought in as were a revolving door of writers, singers, and other artists.
Ultimately, this team created one of the strangest, most embarrassing chapters in the history of of Star Wars; the kind of production so confusing and surreal that it's literally incredible. The special aired only once, on November 17th, 1978, and was panned by fans and critics alike.
Below, you can watch seven of the most absurd, over-the-top moments from the infamous Star Wars holiday special—because when something is this weird, it deserves to be remembered.
Chewbacca's son Lumpy enjoys a hologram
Yes, Chewbacca’s son is named Lumpy. No, that's not the weirdest part of this scene.
You might remember the Millennium Falcon's holographic chessboard from the original films. Well, it turns out that apparatus is not just for playing games.
At one point in the Holiday Special, Lumpy’s grandfather, Itchy, turns this device on to entertain the small Wookiee child with an interpretive dance routine that will haunt your dreams forever, like a nightmarish version of Cirque du Soleil.
Malla learns to cook bantha rump
Chewie’s wife Malla is confident her husband will make it home for the holiday, so she wants to make sure Life Day dinner is hot and ready for him when he arrives.
In this scene, Harvey Korman plays the host of a cooking show who instructs Malla on the finer points of bantha rump, a delicacy somewhere in a galaxy far, far away.
Korman really does try his best to deliver a solid performance in this scene, all while dressed like Joan Cusack from the movie Toys.
Itchy enjoys some disco porn
At one point, Art Carney, who plays a trader friendly to Chewie’s family, shows up to the house bearing gifts. One of the gifts is a “proton pack” which allows users to enter a virtual reality program.
Carney sits Itchy into a large chair and plays him a video he describes as, “Wow—if you know what I mean ...”
Itchy is then mesmerized by “fantasy” Diahann Carroll who proceeds to talk dirty to the aging Wookiee before a sensual performance of her song, “This Minute Now."
Boba Fett makes his glorious animated debut
Not everything in the Holiday Special is a complete disaster! At one point, Lumpy watches a 9-minute animated interlude starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford. The cartoon actually marked a landmark Star Wars moment—the first appearance of bounty hunter Boba Fett.
In the animated segment, Fett moonlights as an abusive dragon tamer while trying to trick Luke into believing he’s a standup guy. Chewie and C-3PO are hip to Fett’s ploy and warn Luke of his real intentions. The bounty hunter's plan fails, but he gets away, promising revenge on the group.
The Empire loves Jefferson Starship
In the 1970s, Jefferson Starship was a rock band consisting of former members of Jefferson Airplane. Starship is probably best known for their 1985 hit, “We Built This City”.
Halfway through the Holiday Special, Art Carney decides to play Starship’s new song “Light the Sky on Fire” for a bored Imperial Guard. The Guard musters about as much enthusiasm as I guess an imperial is legally allowed to show, tapping his finger ever so slightly to the beat.
The video itself is pure '70s cheese—the band is blasted with neon light and lead singer Marty Balin looks like he’s singing into the blade of a lightsaber.
Bea Arthur is the nightshift bartender at Mos Eisley Cantina
In Star Wars Holiday Special, Bea Arthur plays Ackmena, the nightshift bartender at the Mos Eisley cantina.
In this scene, Ackmena must fend off the unwanted advances of a returning Harvey Korman. This time, Korman plays a boozing alien who knocks 'em back via a crater-sized hole in the top of his head. Throughout the twelve minute scene, Ackmena continually berates the patrons of the cantina before finally capping the skit off with the song, “Goodnight, But Not Goodbye”.
Leia's musical number
When Han and Chewie finally make it back to Chewie's family, they are confronted by a clumsy stormtrooper who proves to be more of a threat to himself than to our heroes. The trooper trips and falls to his death from Chewie's house.
With the threat finally over, the gang gathers around to hear a few festive words from Princess Leia. Not to be outdone by Bea Arthur, Leia then sings a song based on the the Star Wars overture.
According to Harry Leider, a camera operator for the Holiday Special, one of Fisher's conditions for appearing in the special was that she sing at least one song. All in all, Fisher is a decent singer, but the image of General Leia Organa serenading a small crowd during a space Christmas celebration is strange to be sure.
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Featured still from "The Star Wars Holiday Special" via Lucasfilm
This article was originally published on December 21st, 2016.