Disney is adding a tidal wave of “Star Wars” content to its streaming site, Disney+, and some of the upcoming films hint at a possible revival of George Lucas’ infamous “Star Wars Holiday Special” movie.
Until now, the “Star Wars Holiday Special” has been locked away, viewable mainly via unauthorized youTube uploads in all its insane, horrible late-70s glory. But in April, one of the few parts of the special that isn’t considered a historic embarrassment — the animated short that introduced Boba Fett to the “Star Wars” universe, “The Story of the Faithful Wookie” — will begin streaming on Disney+.
It’s just one of the long-unexploited “Star Wars” spinoff projects coming to Disney+ beginning April 2. Others include the 1984 live-action movie “Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure,” the animated limited series “Star Wars: Ewoks” from 1985 and animated shorts from Gennedy Tartakovsky’s “Star Wars: Clone Wars” series. Disney+ will also add the live-action flick “Ewoks: Battle for Endor.”
But die-hard “Star Wars” fans either looking to relive days gone by or embrace the cringe are still wondering when they’ll be able to see the full holiday special.
For those of you who forgot — or weren’t alive — the “Star Wars Holiday Special” was a variety special that aired exactly one time in 1978. It’s set on Chewbacca’s home, the Wookie planet Kashyyyk. In the special, Chewbacca and everyone’s favorite space swashbuckler Han Solo return to Kashyyyk for a holiday celebration with Chewbacca’s family — which includes his wife and hilariously named son (Lumpawaroo) and dad (Itchy). Because it wouldn’t be “Star Wars” without the looming threat of Lord Darth Vader, Chewy and Han also spend a fair bit of time running from the Galactic Empire, in between song and dance numbers and cameos.
The “Star Wars Holiday Special” also featured some of the era’s big TV stars, including Bea Arthur, “Blazing Saddles” star Harvey Korman, the band Jefferson Starship and Diahann Carroll. Notable for absolutely bargain basement fx and some uh, extremely cringe performances, it was universally panned and has never bee re-aired.
Lucas wasn’t extremely involved in the “Star Wars Holiday Special” production, and he was reportedly so unhappy with the final product that he decided to literally lock it away from public view. Apparently Lucas signed on to the holiday special because he thought it could be a way in for CBS or Fox to fund “Star Wars” cartoons, and the actual variety show “wasn’t something he was particularly interested in,” according to an animator at Nelvana who worked on the film.
Regardless, it might be time for the holiday special to see the light of day, uh, legally we mean. Disney+ recently hit 100 million subscribers 16 months after launching, and “The Mandalorian” gave that number a huge boost. A nostalgia play with the full “Star Wars Holiday Special” could draw in new fans: “If subscriber numbers ever start to dip and Mickey specifically needs to bring back boomer ‘Star Wars’ fans for whatever reason, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Bea Arthur’s appearance at the Mos Eisley Cantina suddenly show up somewhere,” the AV Club noted.