As we sit down to fowl and football (and maybe a film or two), here's wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving! But of course, Thanksgiving is a specifically American holiday, so let's not leave out our friends all over the world and the galaxy, who are no doubt sitting down today to their Life Day feasts!
If you're somehow not familiar with the ancient Wookie tradition of Life Day, I direct your attention to the fine historical document The Star Wars Holiday Special, first seen on this planet in 1978. Aired on television about 18 months after Star Wars became a run-away blockbuster/pop-culture phenomenon, the infamous Holiday Special has never been officially released on video. But thanks to the wonders of YouTube you can bring your whole family around the computer today and see it all for yourself–it's broken up into 15 parts, but the good news is you also get authentic 1978 commercials!
The plot of the special follows the Star Wars gang as they all
work to help get Chewbacca home to his planet and his family (including
grandfather Itchy and son Lumpy) for the Wookie Life Day celebration.
This includes dodging hapless stormtroopers, Imperial officers, and
stock Star Wars footage of Star Destroyers.
But let's not let a pesky detail like a lack of "official" availability stop us and Princess Leia from wishing you all a very Happy Life Day!
Why, you may ask, was The Star Wars Holiday Special never released on video? After all, this is Lucasfilm–they've certainly never been shy about peddling tie-in merchandise. Well, if you just watched Carrie Fisher singing, you've seen for yourself that the special is… um… special. Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher all contractually gamely gladly show up and give it their mostly straight-faced best. Plus there are jaw-dropping appearances by Bea Arthur, Art Carney, Harvey Korman, The Jefferson Starship ('cause… you know, "Starship"), and a very, very odd, somewhat uncomfortably introduced performance by Diahann Carroll.
There's more over the jump, including Bea Arthur singing and the introduction of a certain fan-boy-favorite bounty hunter!
Need more? How about Bea Arthur crooning a bittersweet song (arranged to the tune of the Star Wars cantina band ditty) to drunken alien bar patrons? Arthur passed away last April and I'm sure this is how she'd have wished to be remembered:
George Lucas himself was too busy counting his cash and filming The Empire Strikes Back to be creatively involved in the special, so all of this, including some uh hilarious comedy bits, comes off a bit–shall we say–below the usual Star Wars standards (yes, even below The Phantom Menace). As a result, The Grand Poohbah of the Galaxy declared the special verboten and it was never officially shown again.
Of course, as hardcore Star Wars fans know, one not-completely-brain-meltingly-awful interesting thing did come out of the special: a kinda funky, Ralph Bakshi/Heavy Metal-esque cartoon segment that introduced the character of Boba Fett:
Need more Star Wars Holiday Special to make your own Life Day complete? Unofficially check out the whole thing on YouTube. It really does need to be seen in its entirety to be believed appreciated.
And a very happy Life Day to all of you from all of us!
(And thanks to my friend Jim S. who reminded me of Life Day's approach–until he dropped me an e-mail, I hadn't even started my Life Day shopping!)