It is Life Day, a holiday that is celebrated on Chewbacca's home planet Kashyyyk. Chewie and Han Solo are trying to get to the planet where Chewie's family is waiting for him, but the Empire is out searching for the Rebels, giving everyone a hard time. While we are waiting we get a look at the everyday life of a Wookiee family. We meet all the familiar characters from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) and we are introduced to Boba Fett during a short cartoon. We also pay a visit to the Cantina and meet all the monsters again. Written by
Oh Harrison, oh Mark, oh Carrie.........................................how could you?
It is safe to say that Star Wars was THE big culture craze of the 1970s. The Sixities had Beatlemania, the Seventies had Star Wars-mania. And just to underscore the parallel, the Fab Four released a film 'The Magical Mystery Tour' which was shown on Christmas 1968 by the BBC in black and white. The movie was a critical and commercial disaster, regarded as painfully bad. Exactly a decade later, the Midas-touch of Star Wars also gave out when Luke, Han, Leia and Chewie ventured onto the small screen for this seasonal special. But while the 1968 TV fiasco at least gave us hits like 'I am the Walrus' and 'Fool on the Hill', the 1978 special has Carrie Fisher singing 'The Life Day Song' to the tune of the John Williams theme music! Yep..you read that right. Carrie Fisher, resplendent in her bedlinen-and 'donught' hairdo warbles a song... "A day that takes us through the darkness/A day that leads us to life/A day that leads us to celebrate/A lifeee/To live/To laugh/To dream/To grow/To know....!!!!" Anyone who thought 'Attack of the Clones' was a disappointment needs to check out this CBS 'family special' in which Han and Chewbacca are racing across the galaxy to get to Chewie's home planet in time for the Wookie's equivalent of Thanksgiving, Life Day. This being 'A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away' there can't be a Christmas, you see. The equivalent seems to involve lots of robed and hooded Wookies marching across the stars into the sun! Parts of 'Episode Four a New Hope' that ended up on the cutting room floor are slotted in for the space sequences. The Millennium Falcon is being pursued by some highly camp Imperials. Meanwhile, back on Chewbacca's planet we are introduced to his 'wife' (Malla) his cutsey proto-Ewok son (Lumpy) and his rather perverted father-in-law Itchy. Thus for about 10-15 minutes we have Malla in an apron making 'HHHAARPPPPHH!' and 'WHHHUUUUURRRRRRRKKK' noises at her son for not tidying up his room (it has stuffed Banthas). Without subtitles too... At intervals, Lumpy contacts some of the Star Wars Cast by videophone. Remember, this is the winter of 1978 when Carrie Fisher was having boyfriend trouble with Paul Simon and drug problems while Mark Hamill had recently been in a near-death car accident. In both cases, it really shows... Hamill, in particular, having recently undergone extensive facial reconstruction anticipates 'New Romantic' fashions by three years, appearing caked in make-up. Elsewhere, Art Carney and Bea Arthur appear in the Mos Eisley cantina where, having chatted to a giant hamster, launch into a musical number. Of course, being a Seventies Holiday Special, musical numbers abound. The viewer half expects Marie and Donny Osmond to start a musical debut on the Yavin rebel base but sadly, this never happens. Instead, Jefferson Starship turn up on some kind of hologrammic chessboard. But best of all, Itchy settles into an interactive video-machine and watches Diahann Carroll sing a 'lurve' song that causes him to become 'excited' in a way that must have at least some parents shielding their kids' eyes. What is fascinating about this 1978 TV Special is the way in which all involved have conspired to airbrush it from history. Carrie Fisher pretended not to know what the journalist was talking about in an interview some years later. The director Steve Binder is known for directing the 1968 Elvis 'Comeback' while writer Pat Profit later went on to script the 'Naked Gun' movies. The lesson would seem to be that while music and comedy have their place, they need to be kept to a minimum in a galactic epic. The 'musical' number in Jabba's palace was the least watchable part of the 'Special Edition' Return of the Jedi. Comic relief can be painful if not thought out properly (We're looking at you, Jar Jar Binks...)
Lucas, who gave the go ahead to the Thanksgiving Special is reported to have said he'd like to smash every every bootlegged VHS tape of this excruciating show...serves you right George for such a cynical attempt to grab the pre-Christmas toy market.
58 of 66 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?