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Header graphic and screenshot from the dreaded Star Wars: The Christmas Special.

By Charles Apple

Logo for Star Wars Holiday Special Documentary Screening

Star Wars Holiday Special Documentary Screening

Location: Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center

Date: Saturday, Dec. 16, at 2 p.m.

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It was embarrassingly low-budget. The stars who appeared in it seemed less than thrilled. David Hofstede, author of “What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History” ranked it at No. 1, calling it “the worst two hours of television, ever.”

Its the “Star Wars Holiday Special,” which was shown on CBS one time — on Nov. 17, 1978, about a year-and-a-half after the original “Star Wars” opened in theaters. And boy, was it a stinker.

Incase You Were Lucky Enough to Miss It

Malla and Itchy, Chewbecca's family

The plot: Chewbacca's family on Kashyyyk — the home world of the large, furry creatures — eagerly awaits Chewbacca's return for their annual Life Day celebration. The first 15 minutes or so of the special shows Chewie's family — his wife, Malla; his father, Itchy and his son, Lumpy — speaking Wookie — but without subtitles. Viewers figure out what's happening purely by pantomime.

Luke Skywalker, pictured in the film.

Concerned about Chewbacca's tardiness, Malla contacts Luke Skywalker. Some viewers noted Mark Hamill looked a little different than he had 18 months before in “Star Wars.” In January 1977, after most filming was done for the original movie, Hamill had fractured his nose and cheekbone in an automobile accident. He feared his career might be over.

Harvey Korman playing a T.V. cook within the show as a gag.

Malla then turns on a cooking TV show and tries to follow along with the recipe but finds herself falling hopelessly behind the alien host, who has four arms. The alien is played by Harvey Korman, who was a regular guest on TV variety shows of the late 1970s. The “Holiday Special” uses this same show-within-a-show idea time and time again.

Diahann Carroll within the show.

Itchy is gifted a device that allows him a virtual reality-like visit from guest star Diahann Carroll. Originally, Cher had been offered the role but she wisely had turned it down. “Carroll's song sounds like it was rejected from a 007 title sequence,” said writer and pop culture commentator Glen Oliver. “It all feels Sid and Mart Krofft on a blandly colored, bad trip.”

Still from the starship video.

Imperial Stormtroopers arrive at Chewbacca's family home to search for the rebel outlaw. With the help of a friend who has dropped by to visit — played by Art Carney — the family attempts to distract them with Malla's music video box, which plays a video of Jefferson Starship playing their latest single, “Light the Sky on Fire.”

The animated Boba Fett from the Holiday Special.

While Stormtroopers search the treehouse, Lumpy keeps busy by watching yet another video — this one a cartoon of his father's adventures. This animated segment is the most — and, perhaps, only — truly entertaining part of the special. It features the first appearance of Boba Fett as well as voices of the original “Star Wars” actors.

The Mos Eisley Cantina and Bea Arthur playing a woman.

Again, events at the Chewbacca household come to a halt as everyone watches a video report from Luke Skywalker's home planet of Tatooine, which has been put under Imperial curfew. The cantina in Mos Eisley — featured in “Star Wars” — is run by a woman played by Bea Arthur, whose message is interrupted by Korman, playing his third role of the special.

A still from the Holiday Special of Lumpy, the wookiee.

From time to time throughout the special, the action focuses on Chewbacca's young son, Lumpy, who entertains himself with a series of videos, 3D playsets and, at one point, builds a device to mimic the voice of the Stormtroopers' commander in order to trick them into leaving the house. One Stormtrooper remains behind and realizes Lumpy has tricked them.

Han Solo pushing a stormtrooper off a balcony.

The angry Stormtrooper chases Lumpy around the treehouse balcony where — in true “Star Wars” fashion — Han Solo and Chewbacca have arrived just in time. Chewie protects his son while Han fights the Stormtrooper. The Stormtrooper stumbles over the treehouse railing and falls to his death. The family — and Life Day — are safe.

Princess Leia in the Holiday Special singing.

The reunited Chewbacca family dress in red robes for the ceremony. Princess Leia arrives to give a brief speech and sing a song of celebration for Life Day — sung to the tune of the opening theme of “Star Wars.” Fans won't see their heroes in action again until “The Empire Strikes Back” opens in theaters 19 months later, in June 1980.

A Documentary About 'The Star Wars Holiday Special'

“A Disturbance in the Force,” written and directed by Jeremy Coon and Steve Kozak, premiered at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, in March.

Disturbance In The Force documentary logo

The documentary was then released on digital platforms and on Blu-Ray this past Tuesday. Kozak has written a book about the holiday special and the making of the documentary and will appear at a special screening at The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages book club.

Logo of Northwest Passages

The event will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Coughlin Theater of the Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center on the campus of Gonzaga University.

For tickets and more information: Click Here!

Sources: Secrets of the Force: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of 'Star Wars'” by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman, “George Lucas: A Life” by Brian Jay Jones, “The Ultimate Guide to 'Star Wars'” by Entertainment Weekly, “'Star Wars': The Skywalker Saga and Beyond” by the Los Angeles Times, Variety, Vanity Fair, the London Guardian,,,,, Internet Movie Database. All photos from LUCASFILMs

This edition of Further Review was adapted for the web by Zak Curley.