The year was 1978 and… well, Star Wars had been around for about a year and a half. It had only grown in popularity and fans couldn’t get enough Star Wars anything.
While home video didn’t exist yet and the movie hadn’t been shown on TV, fans shelled over money for comic books, posters, novels, action figures, space ship miniatures and pretty much anything else with Star Wars on it.
While a sequel movie was already being planned, it was years off and to keep people from forgetting or moving on, CBS suggested a TV special. Bruce Vilanch was one of the writers and he was tasked with following the idea of George Lucas to have it mostly speechless Wookies grunting at each other for 2 hours.
It’s mortifying, but oddly entertaining in the same way it’s fun to watch a building being demolished.
The story is… odd… it has Han, Chewie, Luke and Leah all coming to a sort of Wookie Thanksgiving but they all get delayed by the Empire. Some footage from the original movie is used and a lot of dialogue is lazily dubbed over it. The Death Star is inexplicably back together and Darth Vader makes a sort of cameo appearance (so does Boba Fett who actually debuts in this… mess).
Things to watch for: An alien cooking show featuring Harvey Corman that isn’t mildly amusing for about 30 seconds and then excruciating for the next 8 minutes. Bea Arthur singing a song trying to clear out a bar, Art Carney telling a bunch of very unfunny jokes, Lola Falana playing a CGI masturbation movie (that the grandfather watches while sitting in the living room). Mark Hamill had been in a motorcycle accident so he looks… wrong. Carrie Fisher shows up at the end and is so stoned she seems to be more interested in the invisible butterflies in the room before she bursts into song. There’s also a sort of weird toy circus thing that Lumpy watches for 10 times longer than anyone would want to see it.
Jefferson Starship also sings for some reason.
George Lucas was apparently so horrified by the end result that he refused to ever let it be seen again. But thanks to the wonder of Youtube.. here it is for you. OH and in the book “From A Certain Point Of View,” Chuck S Wendig made Bea Arthur’s character canon which… technically makes this whole mess canon… so… yes, this all happened.
My first love was Han Solo. Not Harrison Ford… Han Solo. But even I had trouble suffering through this mess when it first aired.