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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Fun Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Infamous ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’


Sometimes when you look back at pop culture phenomena, you can’t help but ask: Can you believe this really happened? Jeremy Coon and Steve Kozak’s hilariously detailed documentary, The Force Disturbance, follows the infamous fiasco of one of the galaxy’s most beloved franchises, revealing Opened the veil on 1978’s “Star Wars Holiday Special.”

You don’t have to be an avid “Star Wars” fan to get a behind-the-scenes look at this special — which premiered on CBS on November 17, 1978 and has never been rerun on any broadcast or cable outlet — as it should And born. It’s safe to say fans will appreciate it more than the general audience. But it’s also an irresistible lure for those with fond memories of the star-studded music/variety TV specials of the 1970s – a certain type of wildly popular general audience entertainment, let’s be honest , generally featuring more bombastic holiday specials than any other show in “Star Wars.” ”

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For those too young (or too picky) to recall the fare, Coon and Kozak did a first-rate job of putting the “Star Wars” episode in context, with plenty of cuts representing everything from the “Donny and Marie” segment Content (the Osmond duo as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, Kris Kristofferson as Han Solo, and dancing stormtroopers singing variations of the Top 40 single “Get Ready”) to The “Bob Hope All-Star Christmas Holiday Special” skit, in which Hope plays Darth Vader opposite the real Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill.

As one interviewee put it: “The shows that were airing back then were astonishingly bad.” Even though none of those shows Wookies communicated in unsubtitled grunts and growls.

At a time when such specials are commonplace—nearly all of them aimed at audiences older than the then-newcomer Star Wars fanatics—a two-hour TV extravaganza with Art Carney, Bea The prospect of seasoned veterans like Usher and Harvey Korman interacting with “Star Wars” stars Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher (and a bunch of Wookiees) as they might look Very sane, maybe even foolproof.

But things didn’t go as planned.

Using extensive newly filmed talking-head interviews with all parties involved — as well as extensive archival footage, including participants who apparently didn’t want to discuss the special — the documentary traces it all back to George Lucas’s quest to be able to The desire to sustain the high-priced stuff was his budding franchise’s popularity between the release of “Star Wars” (1977) and the completion of “The Empire Strikes Back.” Yes, while it might be hard to understand decades later, some fear (not just Lucas) that the public might “forget” the first movie before the sequel comes out. (Another consideration: Before the 1978 Christmas gift-giving season, there were toys and other merchandise to promote.)

Unfortunately, after providing a plot outline involving how Chewbacca and his family celebrated Life Day, Lucas more or less dropped the project and began pre-production on The Empire Strikes Back. Even more unfortunately, as the documentary makes clear, most of the people in charge who stayed (including writer Bruce Villange, costume designer Bob McKee and producers Ken and Mitchie Welch) There’s more experience making traditional variety shows than protecting emerging sci-fi series.

All of which explains why many viewers—especially those who were expecting some kind of “Star Wars” sequel—were overwhelmed by highlights like the fantastical sequence in which Chewbacca’s aging father is elated while watching a beautiful singing voice. Surprising responses — a dancing Dahan Carroll; a culinary trick video featuring a four-armed, heavily made-up Harvey Korman in disguise; Bea Arthur as bartender at Mos Eisley Bistro while fending off an amorous customer (Korman again), and eventually sang the tune “Goodnight But Not Goodbye” at closing time.

“The Force Riots” elicited giggles from the production crew and innocent bystanders “Star Wars” fans, who generally agreed that it was an unmitigated disaster, rightly or wrongly. (“The ‘Star Wars’ special sucked,” claimed the late Gilbert Gottfried, “I’m surprised I wasn’t a part of it.”) While the filmmakers apparently couldn’t interview George Lucas—according to claiming he has blocked any TV or home video release of the special since 1978, despite its easy access on YouTube — and they responded with a horrified George C. Scott clip of porn featuring his mistake Snippets to represent Lucas’ initial reaction to the show, which earned the big laugh Daughter in the 1979 film Hardcore.

Coon and Kozak, on the other hand, are admirably unbiased in that they take into account the fact that, hey, there were a lot of people who really liked the “Star Wars Holiday Special” back then, and there are quite a few people who even now ( Not all are revisionists) admits – grudgingly or otherwise – that not only isn’t that bad, it has plenty of worthy elements, including the still impressive cartoon episode, which introduces the bounty hunter Boba Fett before his first appearance in “The Empire Strikes Back.” (This snippet has been picked up on Disney+ and elsewhere, apparently with Lucas’ blessing.)

Likewise, you don’t have to be a “Star Wars” diehard to appreciate the documentary’s refreshments and gossip spread. After the original director went wildly overrun early in production, Steve Binder (veteran of the Elvis special) came in to right the ship, only to find that the after-lunch boozy Atkanee was hard to work with at best, he didn’t have enough Money to complete the climax, so much so that he and his assistants have to run out to buy candles, hoping that the dim lighting will mask the cutting corners and penny-pinching.

Speaking of stinginess: You know that scene where Bias flirts with what looks like a big rat? The rodent’s head was salvaged from Bert I. Gordon’s “Food of the Gods,” a low-budget 1976 sci-fi melodrama. not completely. Then as now, the show must go on.

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