Give Me Those Star Wars 13: Happy Life Day

Honoring the 38th anniversary of the Star Wars Holiday Special, Ryan Daly and Aaron Bias review the highs and lows (mostly lows) and utter weirdness of this notorious TV special.

  • Introduction begins at 0:00:41
  • Star Wars Holiday Special talk begins at 00:01:19
  • Galactic Questionnaire with Aaron Bias begins at 1:14:33

Watch the complete Holiday Special on YouTube at:

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Music: “Star Wars Main Theme” and “End Title” by The Evil Genius Orchestra (with Ryan and Shag).

Thanks for listening, and May the Force Be With You!

14 responses to “Give Me Those Star Wars 13: Happy Life Day

  1. To quote Rick James: “Cocaine is a helluva drug”.

    I first saw the special at the new home of my friend Chip, who insisted he repay the friends helping him move into his new house with THIS! I had heard whispers of it for years, but I totally missed it. I understood its mythical status, because Legends of the Super Heroes was MY Star Wars Holiday Special: that fleeting memory of a TV production that couldn’t, shouldn’t exist, but yet does. And like those specials, its a head scratcher as to who thought any of this was a good idea!

    I actually listened to an interview with Steve Binder over at Skywalking Through Neverland ( yesterday. He said Lucas and CBS were in agreement on the variety show format, and they put the whole thing together with Kenner to sell the toys, which we know were FINALLY hitting store shelves, and of course were the big Christmas items of 1978. So, that begs at least TWO questions: what did Lucas expect if he agreed to this format? And why oh WHY did this special have that uncomfortable segment with an elderly Wookie and his humanoid sex fantasy, if it was aimed squarely at children?

    This thing is just as bad as legend has it. That’s rarely true, but it is here. It was just so misguided on every front. The animated sequence is cool, and Aaron hit the nail on the head…it feels like it should have been in the Heavy Metal movie. He also shares my thoughts on Carrie Fisher’s state of sobriety in this special. “Coked out of her mind” is the term I’ve used in the past.

    I think you guys were fair to it though, trying to find the good in it (Hamill, the cartoon, the cantina scene), while admitting there’s very little there to see. I showed this to Andrew when he was younger, and as Aaron pointed out, he lost interest almost immediately. I fast-forwarded to the parts with Luke and then the cartoon, but after that, he was out. Even though Dani is HUGE into Star Wars thanks to Rey, I don’t think I’m going to put her through this.

    This was the most enjoyable thing I’ve encountered connected to the special, so bravo gentlemen. And I DO want that audio commentary.


  2. Highly enjoyable episode!

    The one thing that still nags me about the SWHS (and maybe it’s been covered somewhere else and I just haven’t come across it) is this: other than the absence of Paul Lynde, the SWHS is pretty much standard issue, jokes-and-guest-wise, for a 70s variety special. The question is, WHY was this approach considered? WHY, when it was first mentioned that Star Wars should be combined, Brundlefly-like, with a comedy variety special, did no one say “Wait, that’s a horrible idea, let’s not do that”?

    I get that this is the result once you’ve made that decision, but I am still waiting to find out why no one during the chain of production stopped and said, “Hey, let’s rethink this.” It’s not Sid and Marty Kroft weren’t doing live-action sci-fi EVERY SATURDAY MORNING, and there wasn’t a template that could be copied when trying to appeal to little kids.

    I remember watching this special in our old house in Philly. I loved the Boba Fett segment and I ordered his action figure via the mail not long after. Good times.

    Thanks Aaron for bumping me out of the Snowspeeder once Ryan reminded you of the Kenny From South Park-like fate of the tailgunner. I agree, it’s much better if Shag gets smoked by the Empire.

      1. The only couple with a creepier brother/sister relationship…if you don’t count Barry and Iris on the Flash TV show.


  3. Great episode, and great conversation – it really brightened up a rather gloomy Saturday on which I am mainly working.
    I saw this when it was originally aired, with all of the earnestness of a 10 year-old who was a complete Star Wars fanatic at the time. Then, as now, my favorite part is that cartoon, which I think holds up really well; I absolutely love the animation, and totally agree that it has a sort of European and/or Heavy Metal Magazine look to it.
    Your comparison of it to a vaguely remembered fever dream is so apt: I recall that later, in high school and college, talking to friends who had also seen it, and wondering if we were really remembering all of the weirdness of it, or if we had even seen it at all or if it was just some kind of Jungian nightmare we all shared in the collective unconsciousness…
    Anyway, the Diahann Carroll segment is the one that still boggles my mind the most: everything about it, the music, Carroll’s dialogue and then the song, are so obviously sexual, and so obviously out of place – it could have easily been inserted into one of the more “arty” porn films being made at the time, yet it’s jammed into the middle of a variety show ostensibly aimed at preteen children. (By the way, I found myself asking the same question as Aaron, and excuse me if it seems speciesist: why would a Wookie find a human woman attractive in that way? I sort of have the same question in Star Trek, when the Ferengi men are often portrayed as lusting after human, Bajoran, etc. women – wouldn’t they find them unappealing, given that we know Ferengi women look nothing like them?)

  4. I’ve only watched this once when it first aired. Even as a fanatical SW kid, that was enough. It’s existed in my head as a fuzzy sub memory. Thanks for resurfacing this childhood trauma.

  5. About halfway through the episode now… loving it! I have a very similar history to this special as Aaron. Only real memories as a kid were from other sources I came across. I could remember the Wookies arguing and Han punching the Stormtrooper over the railing, but had no memory of the cartoon at all! One of my best friends and I used to argue over and over about whether the Holiday Special was live action or animated (neither of us remembering it was both).

    I also picked up a VHS convention copy while in college. I was so stoked to watch it again, but as the show progressed … we’re doomed.

    Also, thought you guys would like this picture I snapped at the 2009 Dragon Con. There are so many custom Mandalorian cosplayers at DragonCon each year, after a while you start to assume they are just whatever colors the cosplayer likes. As I walked past this one, the staff is what make me realize. Loved it!

    Boba Fett

  6. Because I’m certifiably insane, I TRIED to watch this again on YouTube, thanks to you, Ryan. I fast-fowarded through about 90% of it. Dani (my 9-year old daughter) came in and asked what I was watching. She was mildly interested in the idea of Chewie’s family, but that quickly faded. The cartoon was more appealing to her, but she was repulsed by Han’s design. And I agree, it’s a bridge too far into the grotesque.

    I also noted how many uncomfortably long camera holds were focused on Mala’s mostly-unmoving face. Chilling.

    I was left with the same head-scratching questions you and Aaron posited, Ryan. I have no answers.


  7. You suffered through this so the rest of us don’t have to. And this is why Life Day is truly a day of rememberance. We remember your sacrifice Aaron and Ryan. And thanks to you the rest of us may bypass this hell and ascend to Star Wars heaven (where Special Editions don’t exist and the prequels exist only as vague backstory alluded to in character encyclopedias.)

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