An integral part of the American Christmas experience is the television holiday special. Many of these shows have earned a permanent place in the collective heart of the American conscience; they make us smile, feel warm inside, and think about simpler, better times. And then, there is the Star Wars Holiday Special – which makes us smile, but only because we are laughing at the utter horror. We laugh to avoid the pain.

This special only aired once, and was immediately hidden deep in the archives, as all persons involved attempted very hard to forget about its existence. The only way its been viewed since that initial, infamous airing is thanks to a small collection of people who recorded it on their home VCRs and then sent the tapes into circulation, passing them from fan to fan in a strange network of geeks and masochists who feel some need to view the atrocity. I have recalled here for you some of the moments that I find particularly terrible (and often amusing) from the Holiday Special. So, without further ado, Cinematical presents The Seven Worst Moments of the Star Wars Holiday Special.

  1. Long, uninterrupted periods of Wookiee conversation.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-Wookiee- it’s just that some subtitles would have been helpful. Given that the show was focused around a Wookiee holiday and the events of Chewbacca’s family, it makes plenty of sense that there is a lot of Wookiee-to-Wookiee chatting going on…but it goes on without so much as a hint of explanation for those of us who don’t speak Shyriiwook.
  2. While we are on the subject of Chewbacca’s Wookiee family, let’s talk about their names for a moment. Chewbacca’s son is named Lumpy, and his father is named Itchy. Seriously, what the heck is this? I know that SW canon makes a halfhearted attempt to make it seem okay by explaining that their full names are in fact Attichitcuk and Lumpawarrump (later Lumpawaroo, after a rite of passage in the forests of Kashyyyk), but who are they trying to kid?
  3. Bea Arthur as owner of Mos Eisley Cantina (remember, this is the place which is supposed to be the most “wretched hive of scum and villainy in the galaxy) performing a strange bar song for the benefit of her amusingly drunk patrons. Just the concept of Bea as the owner is offensive enough, but a song routine? This special rapidly descends into some weird comedy variety hour.
  4. Speaking of painful singing, let’s not forget Princess Leia and her amazingly coked out, Wookiee dance accompanied rendition of some freaky holiday song set to the tune of the Star Wars main theme. Scratch that – let’s please forget it. Right now.
  5. And when talking about strange musical performances in the Star Wars Holiday Special, you would be remiss to leave out the odd holographic performance of that wacky space rock band Jefferson Starship. They built this special on rock and roll. The best part of this performance is that it was being watched by Imperial Stormtroopers.
  6. Perhaps the most painful moment in the Special for me personally was a brief exchange of dialogue between R2D2 and C3PO in which C3P0 awkwardly ponders the existential. While watching the Wookiees celebrate their “Life Day,” the two droids have a short discussion in which C3PO ends by declaring (underscored by R2D2 whistles) “It is indeed true, that at times like this, Artoo and I wish that we were more than just mechanical beings and were really alive, so that we could share your feelings with you.”  (SW fans will also remember similarly painful soul searching by C3PO in Michael P. Kube-Mcdowell’s Black Fleet Crisis.) I’m not sure why, but that sort of weird droid introspection in the middle of an already terrible Holiday fiasco just makes me burst out laughing.
  7. And I can’t let an article about the Holiday Special go by without mentioning my absolute favorite awful part of the show – Lumpy’s ill-fated stuffed bantha doll. We first see this toy while Lumpy is rummaging through his room in search of something or other, and later learn that it meets a terrible fate. Stormtroopers invade the Wookiees’ residence, looking for any sign of rebel sypathies. In their absolutely thorough search of the house they turn Lumpy’s room inside out. Apparently, something about the bantha struck a Stormtrooper as suspicious, because he feels inclined to tear the little sucker’s head off, just to make sure there were no hidden rebel messages inside it, we must presume. The trooper later orders Lumpy to go clean his room, and poor Lumpy hugs the severed head to his chest in sadness.
What do you think is the Special's most cringeworthy moment?