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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

"May the Fourth" Week: The Forgotten Star Wars Holiday Special

We've featured the Star Wars Holiday Special here at RetlawYensid.com before. It was the regrettable variety show produced by CBS without the assistance of George Lucas. George had signed an agreement with CBS prior  to the production in exchange for extra cash he used for special effects shots. When the movie was successful, CBS chose to exercise its option, getting minimal support from Lucasfilm and none from George Lucas. The broadcast was a notorious disaster, getting high ratings, but critical scorn. It never aired again and has never been released on home video.

However, how does the company treat the characters introduced in the special? Despite ignoring the special itself, the official Lucasfilm Star Wars "Bible", used internally, acknowledges the characters and situations from the special. The most embraced segment of the special was the Boba Fett cartoon.

This cartoon is the only part of the special that has been seen in official presentations. Its storyline has also been referred to in other official publications. 

Other characters, while never seen outside bootlegged copies of the special, are referred to internally as official characters, like Chewbacca's son Lumpy:

And Mos Eisley Cantina's spunky barmaid Ackmena, played by the legendary Beatrice Arthur:

The central holiday being celebrated by Chewbacca's family- "Life Day", has been humorously referenced by the official website StarWars.Com and is starting to be celebrated every November 17th by fans of the movies. Could this thawing of the special's icy reception mean that a home video release of the only major Star Wars production to never see the light of day on any home format might be in the offing?

One "Life Day" tradition- the wearing of a red robe- had a practical reason for its existence. CBS and Lucasfilm's agreement stated that the network would have to pay to use any costumes or props from Lucasfilm. This is why they introduced new characters into the show. CBS wanted to cut costs, so for some scenes featuring Chewbacca, they only rented the head. Using the cheap robe saved thousands of dollars.