Unwrapping the gifts of the Star Wars Holiday Special

The Star Wars Holiday Special only aired once, but did it feature themes and items we can see in the upcoming The Mandalorian?

As reported recently, The Mandalorian showrunner Jon Favreau has teased some special easter-eggs in the upcoming live-action Star Wars series.

One of those special items is what would appear to be the Amban Phase-Pulse Rifle, or at least heavily influenced by the design. This is a reference not just to the old Expanded Universe, but to something far more infamous; as seen in this episode of The Star Wars Show the Amban rifle is what Boba Fett carries in his debut in the Star Wars Holiday Special.

Aired only once the Star Wars Holiday Special was for a short while the only other live-action Star Wars we had aside from the original movie. It has become something of a legend, the world’s introduction to the widely loved Boba Fett, yet still a musical variety show set in a galaxy far, far away.

 

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We have seen in Star Wars Rebels, Disney may have rewritten the canon, but it is not afraid to pick the best elements from the old EU. Thrawn making his transition from legend to canon illustrates this.

Solo: A Star Wars Story was not afraid to drop in references to Brian Daley’s Han books, or L. Neil Smith’s Lando trilogy. Planet Mimban comes from Alan Dean Foster’s “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye,” which could be considered the very first piece of EU for the Star Wars Galaxy.

So the Powers that Be are willing to do deep dives into old material. If The Mandalorian is not afraid to venture into the Holiday Special realm, perhaps there are other Life Day gifts under the Tree of Life to open. Here are three possible gems waiting to be polished into something new, like a kaiburr crystal into a kyber crystal:

Chewbacca’s Family: The Star Wars Holiday Special focused on Chewie’s wife, son, and father waiting on Kashyyyk to see if their Rebel loved one would make it home for Life Day. Perhaps we don’t need to tap into Malla’s inability to follow an alien cooking show’s lead, or Chewie’s dad’s apparent love of, um, “adult” material; however, Solo tells us slave Wookiees are spread around the galaxy. The idea Lumpy or Malla are out there while Chewbacca is ever more involved in Han Solo’s life of crime could be great character development for our favorite frizzy co-pilot.

It could be a sad tale where Chewie finds a despondent Malla who cannot locate Lumpy. Or perhaps during the Galactic Civil War Chewie saves them all, but chooses to go back and continue with the Rebellion. Solo helped define Chewbacca as so much more than the reliable backup he has always been.  Family drama could drive home the point that he is a fine character unto himself.

Imperial Propaganda: An entire section of the Star Wars Holiday Special shows Imperial Forces being ordered to watch a holodocumentary called “Life on Tatooine.” This not only makes use of Star Wars film footage, but sets the stage for Bea Arthur’s musical number.

(Really, I know there’s no official way to watch the Holiday Special, but it must indeed be seen to be believed.)

An entire branch of the Imperial military whose entire job is negative information operations against aliens or non-aligned worlds could be great story fodder. Who is out there filming these? Are they true believers in their Empire, or just trying to get by?

We’ve seen Stormtroopers and Imperial Security Agents; but in a Galaxy that had to shift public perception against the Jedi and in favor of an autocrat, the masterminds who make Palpatine’s manipulation a tangible product could be truly terrifying. Imagine the Joseph Goebbels of the Star Wars Universe, serving the Dark Side with glee.

Death Star Survivors: Making use of extra footage from the original film, the Star Wars Holiday Special shows us Darth Vader talking to an Imperial Officer we saw on the Death Star before the Battle of Yavin. This is Leslie Schofield’s  General Moradmin Bast. For years fandom kind of accepted that it was the same person and Bast had survived the Death Star’s destruction. Lucasfilm Story Group’s Leeland Chi discounts the idea that Bast survived, leading to an entry for “Unidentified Moradmin Bast look-alike” on the Star Wars Wiki (where you can also find Chi’s quote), but the idea of survivors may not be far-fetched.

Given Imperial officers’ tendencies toward self-preservation, the idea a few might have seen the danger and hopped a shuttle could easily fit into a story. They may not however be highly regarded by their peers.  We get a hint of this in the novel “Inferno Squad” by Christie Golden when Iden Verso, who survived when her TIE Fighter crashed on Yavin IV, has her survival initially scorned by her own father.

Iden at least has a good excuse given she was flying to defend the station when it blew. How though would other officers who deserted be treated? Survivors who are out there avoiding at first Imperial and later New Republic detection after Endor and Jakku may find themselves going from one bad situation to another. Sure, the Empire would execute deserters, but what does the New Republic have in store for a war criminal complicit in the destruction of Alderaan? To whom would those fugitives turn?

Next: The Mandalorian: Are live-action TV shows the future of Star Wars?

Those are just a few possibilities. As Disney moves to continually expand the Universe, and nostalgia heals a few of the worst memories of the much maligned Star Wars Holiday Special, I hope to see that Jon Favreau borrowing from that material is just the beginning. It is perhaps time for this particular gift to find its way back into the world of Star Wars, at least in part.  What better way to celebrate a day of peace, a day of harmony?

Happy Life Day!