ByCatrina Dennis, writer at
Host, Reporter, Podcast Queen | @ohcatrina on twitter/fb/insta |
Catrina Dennis

The Star Wars Holiday Special first aired one day and 37 years ago, which almost seems poetic with the premiere of Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens just on the horizon. Having gone down in history as one of the least-favored creations to come out of the saga, the Holiday Special has been the subject of many weird thought pieces, drinking games, and (possibly, but I assume as much) torture rituals. The first 10 minutes alone – where we're introduced to Chewbacca's family, who grunt and groan in an effort to establish some kind of backstory – feel like an hour's worth of irritation, despite Chewbacca's family being generally delightful Wookiees.

Thank you, Rifftrax.
Thank you, Rifftrax.

But history is history, and yesterday saw several Star Wars fans subject themselves to the torture of a time-honored tradition: watching the special during the holidays.

Not all of us enjoy this kind of torture, though, so here's a rundown of the special's best moments. It's important to stay positive right?

1. Han Solo's Quick Thinking

Stormtroopers have a pretty bad rap when it comes to accuracy and smarts. Where the Clones were given the chance to really shine as individuals in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Empire's recruits that made up it's army were not granted quite as much individuality before the new canon began establishing. Even now, with a diverse array of Imperial captains and higher-ups being introduced, Stormtroopers are still seen as fairly inept.

Needless to say, it came as no surprise to fans when this hilarious exchange goes down. Han Solo pulls the oldest trick in the book – "Look over there!" –before tripping a stormtrooper directly off of a balcony with his own gun and saving Lumpy, Chewbacca's son.

2. Boba Fett

The interlude cartoon was a little weird, but it did give us Boba Fett. The character was a hit, and thanks to his menacing appearances in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Fett went down as one of the most beloved characters (with, initially, less than five lines) in the saga's history. What's more, it gave us a little more context when it comes to the dynamic between Fett and Han Solo, who became his primary target after Jabba the Hutt ordered a hit out on the charming Corellian smuggler.

3. Bea Arthur, Obviously

Sure, the former Golden Girls star (may her blessed soul rest forever in power) might have seemed a little out of place in that galaxy far, far away, but her role as Ackmena, the evening bartender/songstress who entertains at Mos Eisley Cantina (Wuher, the grumpy bartender from A New Hope, is on shift during the day) is stunning. She serves as a headstrong matriarch at the cantina, and politely kicks her guests out with a song that can be summed up as: "hurry up with your drink and get your a**es out of my bar!"

Extra points for the fact that Bea Arthur took on that crazy space jargon with more grace and ease than anyone might have expected.

4. Our First Trip to Kashyyyk

While it was heavily explored later in the now-not-canon Legends stories, the first real trip that Star Wars fans took to the Wookiee home planet of Kashyyyk was our visit to Chewie's family in the special.

Wookiees, much like Ewoks (Ralph McQuarrie's original art for Kashyyyk inspired some of the architecture on the forest moon of Endor), build most of their homes high up in the trees with the dense, dangerous forests beneath them serving as a trap for any wanderers. The interiors (while a little strange, with their space-kitchens and space-upholstered loveseats) are spacious and almost familiar, showing off how normalized Wookiee families are in a galaxy that sees them as savages.

It's unclear whether this still stands as canon (it's listed as Legends on Wookieepedia, and J.J. Abrams joked about it as well) but outside of Revenge of the Sith, this is probably the most time the saga has spent on Kashyyyk as a whole.

5. The Big Three

Despite their minimal appearances, the primary trio of the original trilogy managed to make some lasting on-screen memories. Han duped a stormtrooper; Leia's Life Day ballad stands as a reminder of Carrie Fisher's long line of triple-threat entertainment lineage (despite the horrible lyrics); the fifteen layers of makeup on Mark Hamill's face still manage to take a backseat to how effortlessly adorable and cheesy Luke Skywalker's interactions with Chewbacca's family are.

Let's just hope that the veterans of the saga (along with Chewie, Threepio, and Artoo) play a bigger role in The Force Awakens than they did in the Holiday Special!

Whether it's canon or not, the Holiday Special has something of a cult classic status in the worst of ways. No matter how many Life Days may pass, Star Wars fans will continue to subject themselves to the Holiday Special in a loving sense of self-hatred... if that makes sense at all.


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