Star Wars Holiday Special, 1978
Happy Life Day and welcome back to an all new episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! Well with Christmas time here, Dion Baia and J. Blake have decided to cover maybe their most controversial topic to date and the most anticipated event of the 1978 Holiday season: the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, that aired Friday November the 17th, of that year.
So to cut right to the chase, why is this television special so controversial for the boys at SNMS? Well probably because of the stance Blake and Dion take on this almost universally-panned time capsule from ’78. After the boys chat about last week’s podcast with guest host Mike Vanderbilt, and a dive into Dion‘s food allergies, the fellas get right into the seasonal topic at hand. They set the table and interject the context of the latter half of 1978, a year after the original Star Wars had been released and almost a year and change before the sequel Empire Strikes Back would come out in 1980. Along with a ‘variety show’ template and the majority of the original cast of 1977 film reprising their roles, we get some pretty astounding cameos by such stars as Art Carney, Harvey Korman and Bea Arthur, performances by Diahann Carroll, the rock band Jefferson Starship, and even a pint-raising song by Ms. Arthur herself. The television audience was also treated to a 9+ minute cartoon that introduced one of the most legendary Star Wars characters of all time, the mysterious bounty hunter Bobba Fett. So why is this special so universally hated by critics and fans alike? How involved was George Lucas really (especially since afterward he completely disavowed himself and completely berated the special)? Why was the aforementioned Bobba Fett introduced in cartoon form, in this holiday special anyway? Another dirty little secret, was Han Solo actually supposed to be married to a wookie?! And to get right to the most controversial question: in the context of the era, was this special really as bad as everyone likes to remember…considering what else was going on in 1978? Well it could be a very interesting podcast to say the least for some hardcore Star Wars fans, as SNMS delivers another all new, holiday edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!
And speaking of rotoscoping, here is the ultra-rare and never released pre-MTV 1979 music video Tom Waits did for his song “The One that Got Away” with director John Lamb (who would go on to do American Pop with Ralph Bakshi). It was done as a test, using the pioneering ‘video rotoscope’ technology and then converted to animation, a technique that producers then brought to Bakshi to sell him on the concept for his next film, which audiences would see 2 years later in 1981, in the aforementioned, American Pop. The short ended up winning an Oscar in 1980 for Scientific and technical achievement. More information about this story can be found here.