From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Star Wars Holiday Special: The Good Parts Version

Since The Star Wars Holiday Special recently celebrated its thirtieth anniversary (holy crap, it’s almost as old as me!), it might be worth revisiting it. I’d like to say that it isn’t as bad as its reputation suggests, but it really is. The one time I screened this as a “special treat” at my university’s science fiction club, I was nearly lynched. I have never lived that down, and I’m certainly not going to risk a repeat by recommending that anyone force themselves to sit through the ninety minutes of torture. Look, it’s so bad that George Lucas barely admits that it exists. If it had any merit at all, he would have put out a special edition by now that might, just might, have been an improvement on the original. Adding Jar Jar Binks to it couldn’t make it any worse.

But okay, now you’re tempted, right? If you dare to track down a bootleg copy, which isn’t all that hard to find on the cheap, you might want to try watching it with some MST3K-style commentary, via the folks at Rifftracks. $3.99 is a small price to pay for your sanity. You should also keep a sizeable supply of alcohol handy. No drinking games for this one–just keep pouring. At the end of the night, you might be as blitzed as Carrie Fisher was during her appearance on the show. No promises.

Note that I said this is ninety minutes of torture. Here’s a secret–it isn’t all bad. Those other thirty minutes are filled with vintage television commercials on most circulating copies of the Special. You’re probably accustomed to skipping television commercials, but they’re actually the best part–and that should say something. The brightest gem is the advertisement for a toy robot called…wait for it… TOBOR.

Get it? Do you get it? TOBOR is robot spelled backwards. They had some real marketing geniuses in the Seventies.

There’s one other not-too-painful part of the Special. This program was also the worldwide premiere of a character many people love, the bounty hunter Boba Fett. Fett appears in animated form, which is usually something I love, unless the words “Clone Wars” are in the title. It’s still worth checking out.

Special bonus video–The Rifftracks version of the TOBOR commercial:

Oh, TOBOR, is there anything you can’t do? That doesn’t involve…circling?

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