Why you should watch the Star Wars Holiday Special – or at least finish it


It’s time to watch the Star Wars Holiday Special – or at least finally finish it. It’s only been about 40 years.

To borrow an opening from another Christmas classic, the Star Wars Holiday Special  is bad, to begin with. There can be do doubt whatsoever about that. Dickens allusions aside, however, it is still worth watching — and all the way to the end. You already celebrate May the Fourth, why not add Life Day?

Put it on in the background while you’re decorating, cooking, or writing Christmas cards you’d otherwise put off for later. That’s how I ultimately finished the special, after some failed attempts when I was younger. I don’t regret it. The Holiday Special is a fun kind of bad, only a little boring, and ultimately worth at least a fraction of your time and attention.

Even Mark Hamill himself hasn’t finished it. I mean, look at the faces of the main Star Wars trio in the photo below. Nobody is happy to be there.

For one thing, if you don’t watch it all the way through, you’ll miss Bea Arthur’s appearance as a Tatooine bartender. She sings a song called “Good Night, But Not Goodbye” that can most easily be described as Semisonic’s “Closing Time,” but set to the Cantina Band music.

There’s enough variety in the special that you’ll probably find at least once section you don’t hate.

With Rogue One taking the tone of a war movie, and Solo (originally at least) leaning into the comedy, it’s cool to see the genres play against each other in the Holiday Special. Even though it was ultimately a disaster, this type of program that mixes funny character bits with musical performances might be an interesting avenue for Star Wars to take in the future.

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Plus, with all the talk these days about what did and did not ruin Star Wars for different fans (maybe you were out with the midi-chlorians back in the ’90s, maybe The Last Jedi was just too darn lady-centric for you, maybe Rogue One was just too darn sad) — you might as well suffer as much as the OG fans did back in the day. The Expanded Universe can be Force ghosted into “Legends” by Disney, but the Holiday Special exists. You can’t deny it. Don’t you want the cred?

There’s also some merchandise out there, and you can’t sport the sweater unless you’ve sweated out the special.

Finally, after Solo gave Chewbacca a somewhat tragic origin story, I have a whole lot of questions about his history. Everyone on Kashyyyk seemed to be doing just fine in the Holiday Special, aside from the fact that the Empire was banging down the door. When did Chewie find his family? Has Han been keeping him from them to go on a series of adventures?

It might be worth revisiting the long, strange, Wookiee section of the TV movie just to try and parse out what his whole deal is. If in fact The Mandalorian is going to incorporate Holiday Special canon, we may all have to get on board and stick it out — I promise, you’ll live, and you may even smile once or twice.

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Have you watched the Star Wars holiday special? What did you think of it?