Sunday, December 24, 2017

Vox explains how 'The Star Wars Holiday Special' contributed to Star Wars Legends

On Festivus, I promised another Vox video in another seasonal post, telling my readers "Stay tuned for the third video from Vox, which is about the origins of Life DayStar Wars!"  Without any further ado, I present Vox's Star Wars’ infamous Holiday Special, explained as the Sunday Entertainment feature.

How the 1978 spinoff accidentally shaped the Star Wars universe....

A long time ago in living rooms across the US, a bizarre 98-minute Star Wars-themed variety show aired on CBS to an estimated 13 million viewers. It wasn't necessarily the first of its kind: hosts like Donny & Marie Osmond and Richard Pryor had done TV variety shows with Star Wars characters in 1977, which had helped boost box office sales. But unlike those shows, the Holiday Special featured the original film's cast. George Lucas was convinced to approve the project in order to maintain interest in the franchise until The Empire Strikes Back's 1980 release — but the special itself is a confusing mess. A crossdressing Harvey Korman leads a cooking show segment, Jefferson Starship stars in a holographic concert, and Chewbacca's dad watches some very suggestive virtual reality entertainment. But if nothing else, the Holiday Special was one of the first examples of Star Wars' expanded universe — whose influence continues to shape the today's Star Wars stories. No spoilers for The Last Jedi, from a certain point of view.
While the "Star Wars Holiday Special" has been consigned to the equivalent of unperson status for a work of art within the Star Wars universe, it has had three lasting effects.  First, it introduced Life Day as the Star Wars version of Christmas -- BTW, a happy early Life Day to my readers!  While Wookieepedia does not list it reappearing in any of the movies or TV shows, it was celebrated in the MMOs based on the franchise, Star Wars Galaxies and Star Wars: The Old Republic.  In fact, I'm still playing the latter and all this week I've seen Life Day trees at Fleet Headquarters and been bombarded by snowballs thrown by other players.

Second, it also introduced the Wookiee homeworld Kashyyyk, which has had a much more durable legacy than Life Day.  Its Wookieepedia entry lists 44 appearances and mentions under Canon, including its first portrayal in the movies as a setting of "Revenge of the Sith," and many more under Legends.  Even that is not complete, as it was mentioned in an episode of "Once Upon A Time."  On the one hand, it could merely be an instance of cross-promotion of Disney properties disguised as a joke for the fans.  On the other, it opens the possibilities that "Star Wars" exists in the "Once Upon A Time" universe and that a future season might travel there.  One can hope.

Finally, as the Vox video points out, it serves as a good example of what not to do in Star Wars, making the rest of both Canon and especially Legends that much better.  Think of it as Early Installment Weirdness within what is now Star Wars Legends.  In fact, since I've already linked to TV Tropes, its entry for "The Star Wars Holiday Special" mentions it as exactly that and lists this example of Early Installment Weirdness.
Due to being made early in the franchise's history before many ideas and characterizations were set in stone, there's quite a bit. The most striking is Boba Fett acting like a cackling Dastardly Whiplash rather than the stoic Noble Demon he's famous as.
Yes, I've linked to TV Tropes.  Enjoy your Christmas Eve clicking on links!

I'm not done with Star Wars this week.  After I post the Broken Peach Christmas songs I promised just before Halloween, I plan on posting a follow-up to 'The Last Jedi' is a force at the box office.  One of my predictions, that it will pass "Thor: Ragnarok" to hit sixth, has already happened.  It could easily pass both "It" and "Spider-Man: Homecoming" by Tuesday.  As I wrote last year about "Rogue One" being a force at the box office, "I wasn't optimistic enough about the movie's performance at the box office!"

Finally, if anyone wants to watch the entire show, Vox embedded the YouTube video of it at their site.  Personally, I think they should have embedded the Rifftrax version instead.  Even if they had, reading TV Tropes might be a more entertaining and informative waste of time.

Once again, Happy Life Day!

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