One of the most infamous pieces of Star Wars history is the Star Wars Holiday Special, which aired once in 1978 and never received a home video release. With this weekend marking the 40th anniversary of the program, Mark Hamill shared on Twitter that he's never seen the special in its entirety.
While sharing a post about the infamous special on Twitter, which asked whether or not fans had watched it, Hamill added the comment, "Not all the way through."
After the debut of Star Wars: A New Hope on May 25, 1977, the film became one of the biggest pop culture sensations of all time, permeating every corner of society. A new film wasn't slated to hit theaters until 1980, leading CBS to approach George Lucas about the idea of creating a holiday special to tide fans over.
The promotional tagline of the special read, "Luke Skywalker and Han Solo battle Imperial forces to help Chewbacca reach his imperiled family on the Wookiee planet—in time for Life Day—their most important day of the year!" What fans actually got, however, was something far more bizarre.
CBS tapped a number of writers behind their more successful variety specials to craft the program, which ultimately focused on Chewbacca's family waiting for him on Kashyyyk to get back from his adventures with Han Solo in time to celebrate Life Day. The special featured Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, James Earl Jones, and Anthony Daniels, which added legitimacy to the endeavor. To fill its running time, the special also included multiple musical numbers from contemporary musicians Jefferson Starship, Diahann Carroll, and, for some reason, Bea Arthur.
The special was an almost immediate disappointment with both fans and those unfamiliar with the series, as its portrayal of Life Day didn't resonate with any real-world holiday strongly enough to build seasonal excitement. Likely having realized their mistake, the program was never aired again.
Unfortunately for Lucasfilm, keeping a lid on the program wasn't as easy to accomplish as they had hoped. While no official releases of the special exist, multiple viewers made recordings of it which were then repeatedly copied to be traded and sold for decades to come. Thanks to the advances of streaming video, anyone with an internet connection can now check out the full special if they feel like witnessing the debacle.1comments
Lucas has regularly voiced his regret over the event, making an official release seem unlikely to ever occur.