The year is 2053. The Disney Wars continue to engulf the nation as the Mouseketeer Army advances from their home base on the Anaheim System. Both the Warner Bros. and the Universal Systems have fallen, causing the Netflix and Apple Systems to form a Resistance Alliance. In a last ditch effort to boost morale, the Alliance sent two undercover agents to Galaxy’s Edge in order to procure a rare asset to the Disney Empire to hold hostage: the theatrical releases of the original Star Wars trilogy.
The spies were successful in stealing the asset and hiding the films, but were ultimately captured before they could escape and get them to the Alliance. Held beneath Smuggler’s Run, the spies are interrogated about the location of the rare films and forced to watch reimaginings of their childhood classics in an attempt to have them psychologically broken. Having grown up watching both the prequel and the sequel trilogies, the spies are confident that nothing can break their resolve. That is until The Empire puts on a TV special from 1978…
The two spies looked at each other nervously as the guard wheeled in a very old brown TV with a VHS player on a wheeled tray. The elder spy leaned over and whispered, “What are they gonna show us now? That looks like something my great-grandfather used when he was in elementary school!”
The other shook his head, “They wouldn’t be showing us the original Special Edition, would they? We lived through those AND The Last Jedi. There’s nothing more that they could show us that we haven’t already suffered through.”
“So you may think,” said a sharp voice smugly behind them.
The two men whipped their necks around to see the tall figure striding into the room. The spies allowed a small smirk to play across their faces for an instant. If their shenanigans aroused the ire of the Captain of the Lucasfilm Division himself, they must’ve done something right.
The Captain smirked back as he walked around them to the TV, shaking a VHS tape in front of their faces. “You see gentlemen, what you have stolen is quite valuable. We were planning on releasing those films in a higher definition format as an…heh hemmm…reward for those who lay down their arms and surrender. However, because of your antics, the Alliance has deprived the citizens of something they’ve been wanting for over fifty years. As we cannot allow this and nothing we have shown you seems to have no effect on you, I’m afraid we must subject you to our last resort.”
“Last resort?” The older man scoffed. “On a VHS? What could you possibly…”
The Captain laughed as the spy’s eyes went wide in shock as the realization hit him. “Ah, it’s nice to see the older generation still remembers it. Who told you about it? Your grandfather?”
The spy didn’t answer the Captain, but turned to his companion in a panic. “Don’t look at it, Roderik! Just close your eyes and don’t look!”
The Captain barked out an amused laugh and rolled his eyes. “Oh, don’t be so dramatic. I am prepared to make a deal, since you two seem determined to defy us. You watch this tape, and I will give you the choice to reveal the location of the original trilogy. If you do, you are free to go with no consequences, provided that the films are still where you say they are. If you refuse, you will be allowed to keep the original trilogy, but we will release this film in high definition to counter it.”
Roderik frowned. “How is that a threat? What could you possibly show us that will persuade us to give up our most valuable hostage?” He grew more angry. “Do you take me for a weakling? I lived through the High Republic trilogy—through Rey Palpatine! What could possibly be so horrifying that it would sway us from our goal?”
The Captain smiled cruelly as he inserted the tape into the VHS player. “Why don’t you watch and see?”
The old grainy footage opened to reveal a familiar scene, Han Solo and Chewbacca speeding away from the Empire in the Millenium Falcon. Han promises Chewy that he will be home in time for Life Day...
Roderik frowned. “I don’t know what this is.”
The older spy groaned and hung his head. “I don’t think I can bear watching this again.” The Captain slapped the back of the man’s head. “If you want to go free, you will watch all of it.”
The older man reluctantly lifted his eyes back to the screen as the title credits rolled: The Star Wars Holiday Special.
As images of the cast flashed across the screen, Roderik leaned over to the other man and whispered, “John, why does Mark Hamill look so… weird?”
“Just keep watching,” John muttered.
The scene now shows the Wookie homeworld of Kashyyyk as Chewbacca’s family appears to get ready for Life Day. They groan and moan in the Wookie language to each other over…and over…and over again.
Twelve minutes later…
“How long does this go on,” Roderik cried, struggling against his restraints. “No subtitles for this? I can’t take it anymore!”
“Calm yourself, man,” Roderick hissed. “It’s only going to get far, far worse.”
Lumpy, Chewbacca’s son, turns on a holographic display of what seems to be acrobats. After this, the family tries to contact Luke Skywalker who is fixing his X-Wing.
“What in the name of all that is holy is wrong with Luke’s face?!” Roderik shouted. “It looks like he has twelve pounds of stage makeup on! And don’t get me started about that haircut!”
“You will be silent,” the Captain growled, cutting the younger man off.
For the next hour, the Alliance spies were subjected to a variety of different clips that aggravated Roderik further, and caused John to slip into a deep despair—from an alien cooking show, tech support , a rock music video, an actually semi-decent Boba Fett cartoon, and another musical number. What nearly drove Roderik over the edge, though, was the erotic music video that Chewbacca’s father found great pleasure in watching near the middle of the special.
“I can’t take it anymore,” he yelled at the Captain. “What the hell is this? Who signed off on this? This isn’t Star Wars!’
“Rod, shut up,” John snapped. “There’s only an hour left. One hour and we are free to go. Remember why we are here!”
Holding back his sobs, Roderik nodded and continued to watch.
Nearing the end of the special, the Chewbacca family reunite with Han, Luke, and Leia as they gather around the Tree of Life; Leia sings a song about Life Day as they all hold glowing orbs. The dead look in Harrison Ford’s face as the film ended is the same look that reflected in Roderik’s own face.
“So, now you have a choice,” the Captain declared. “Do you tell us the location of the stolen films, or do we release the Holiday Special? The choice is up to you, Roderik.”
John’s eyes flickered back to full alertness at this new development. “Why only him?”
The Captain grinned. “Because you are the last of the older generation that understands just how many changes were made to the franchise. His generation does not. If he wants the pure, unadulterated films as they were originally, he should have the knowledge of everything that came out in those days, not just the ones you older folks seem to worship. So, what will it be? The responsibility is yours.”
“Rod, think about it! For the first time in history, we can have the original films legally! No unnecessary CGI! No dubbing over Boba Fett and Darth Vader! You can see Darth Vader’s original Force Ghost…”
He was cut off by the Captain raising his hand to silence him. “Your choice, Roderik. Make it quickly.”
After a long pause, Roderik sighed. “We hid the tapes in a room under the Pirates of the Carribean ride when we were trying to escape.”
He looked over at his companion. “I’m sorry, John. No one should ever have to suffer through this. The changes are bad, yes. But it’s all we know. This will totally destroy their perspective.”
“A wise choice,” the Captain sneered. “Guards, let them go and retrieve those tapes.”
Two guards stepped forward and began dragging them away, not noticing the look of triumph in John’s eyes. The third guard looked at the Captain curiously. “Sir, how did you know that showing them the tape would break them?”
He chuckled, “We’re part of the Disney Empire. Ruining childhood memories is what we do.”
The guard started laughing but then suddenly stopped, his eyes growing wide as something Roderik said stood out to him.
The Captain glared at him. “What is it man?”
“They said they hid the tapes in Pirates of the Caribbean. Fantasy Land is quite a distance from here sir. Why run there?”
“They were running?” he scoffed. “Who knows their logic?”
“Sir, they said they hid them in a room underneath the ride. No one is supposed to know about that room.”
The Captain stopped, his normally calm demeanor shattering as terror filled his eyes. “No… You think the tapes were a decoy? But that means…” As if his fears could hear his thoughts, a message blared over the speakers of the ride:
“ATTENTION, IMPERIALS. THIS IS THE ALLIANCE. WE HAVE WALT DISNEY’S CRYOGENIC CHAMBER. YOU HAVE LOST.”
The Star Wars Holiday Special is every franchise at its lowest. It attempts to cash in on its popularity without providing the effort to connect it to what makes the franchise so beloved among fans. With only half-hearted cameos from the original cast that look like they’d rather be anywhere else and guest stars performing dated sketches that range from weird to seriously uncomfortable, this TV special is a stain on the Star Wars legacy that even George Lucas is ashamed of. What they should have done is have Lumpy watch an hour-long cartoon about Han Solo and Boba Fett. The cartoon segment was the only unironically enjoyable segment, and could have provided some interesting segway into The Empire Strikes Back. Instead, we are left with an uncomfortably bad TV special that is so reviled that it can only be found on YouTube in a very low resolution quality. The one spot of hope in this monstrosity is that no matter what Lucasfilm comes up with next, it will never sink lower than this. Although the above story is a humorous work of fiction, it would not surprise me if this Special was used as a torture device somewhere. It’s that bad. If you’re brave enough to venture into these depths, the entire video is posted below. May the force be with you!
Recommendation: SKIP IT