It is that clear in my mind, how excited I was for a dose of Star Wars after the breathtaking first movie. Oh, I had such a crush on Harrison Ford. And confusingly, on Carrie Fisher. Life is complex, and I knew it already. I was a scifi nerdette, a proto geek girl, into Asimov and Heinlein and Clarke and Pournelle and Herbert…(and I knew L Ron Hubbardstank as a writer of scifi, and that is all I knew of him).
The season of the coming of the Star Wars Holiday Special saw my brother and I on a hot evening in front of the tv eagerly waiting for the ads to STOOOPPPPP – you know how time dilates when you are waiting for something? Of course, we had fewer ads then, but in my memory they were a huge wall of irritation to be endured, it was coming, finally! We had all seen the ads, I knew my friends would be also huddled around their TV sets. Christmas in Australia is HOT, and air conditioning was not yet commonly built in, so we had fans and huge evaporative air conditioners that sprayed noise and water, so the volume needed to be up, and you needed to be at the carefully calculated distance for cool not soggy.
The music came up, the titles…and the confusion started early. Was this a Donny and Marie show we had stumbled into? The comforting sickly cheese of a Brady Bunch special variety hour? What was WRONG? Harrison Ford looked beyond embarrassed, he, too, was enduring the experience, and no doubt thinking his career was ending before his eyes. Carrie Fisher seemed bright and happy (so innocent of the chemicals she was requiring to do this was I). Mark Hamill seemed to have shrugged and decided to do his professional best, oh bless his intentions. And we all, a collective stirring of child consciousness, we all learned the first lesson of Lucas, the first bitter foretaste that he could and would betray us, he would lead us to Jar Jar Binks one day. A first glimpse of the mortality of our innocence was felt that day.
So I cannot recommend watching this for the cheese value – this is beyond cheese and is simply moldy, fermented to the point of something beyond distaste. The RiffTrax guys have a commentary track that tries to make it bearable, but simply lends itself to a shared misery that we all tried to alleviate, like sifting through the wreckage to find any surviving shards of your life after a disaster.
In short, it SUCKED. And when the next two movies came out, we were relieved. Indiana Jones makes us smile again. But we were not shocked by the awfulness of the history of Darth Vader, of Jar Jar and ‘mitochlorians’ and oh the horrors to come..
So here is a review of the Star Wars Holiday Special. Happy Life Day (gag).