The Star Wars Holiday Special aired on television precisely once in 1978 and was notoriously terrible – so bad, in fact, that not even Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, can sit through the whole thing.
Hamill confessed as much on Twitter, in response to a tweet by fanzine Famous Monsters. Acknowledging the 40th anniversary of the special, Monsters asked “Have you seen it?” Hamill quote-tweeted their question, answering: “Not all the way through.”
The actor joins fellow stars Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, as well as Star Wars creator George Lucas – and thousands of fans – in holding a low opinion of the special.
In a 2006 interview with Conan O’Brien, Ford said that he’d never seen it, while Fisher claimed to have forced Lucas to give her a copy so that she had something “for parties ... when [she] wanted everyone to leave.” Lucas has also expressed regret, stating that allowing a variety show team to use his characters “probably wasn't the smartest thing to do.”
Aired only once in 1978, the Star Wars Holiday Special was a musical variety show starring the main cast of the original Star Wars, as well as Golden Girl Bea Arthur and prog-rock band Jefferson Starship. The special is famous for including the first appearance of fan-favorite character Boba Fett and introducing Chewbacca’s family -- and infamous for just about every other part of it.
The plot follows Chewbacca and Han Solo as they dodge the Empire in an attempt to visit the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk to celebrate “Life Day” –- a holiday that looks an awful lot like Christmas, only in space. They arrive and are greeted by Chewbacca’s father Itchy, his wife Malla and his son Lumpy. Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, R2-D2, Darth Vader and Princess Leia are also there, for increasingly convoluted reasons. There’s also a VR music video, an alien cooking segment, and the song “What Can You Get A Wookie For Christmas (When He Already Owns A Comb?)”
Never released on home video, or rerun on television, the Star Wars Holiday Special has taken on a bit of a mythic quality within the Star Wars fandom, existing almost entirely through stories and bootleg copies of the special.
Hamill will reprise his role as Luke Skywalker in J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: Episode IX, also starring Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Keri Russell, Matt Smith, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams and Carrie Fisher. The film is scheduled to open on December 20, 2019.