THE COOKING SHOW
Ok, so I don't exactly "like" this scene seeing as it's very annoying and completely pointless. Plus I keep wondering whether Harvey Korman is actually in blackface or not whenever I watch it, which is unsettling. No, this bit makes the list because of how entertainingly mad (and bad) it is. What is this Chef Gormaanda even cooking? Why do we care? Why does she have four arms? What on Earth is going on with that hair? Just shut up with those questions and WHIP, WHIP, STIR!
LIFE DAY CELEBRATION
To the risk of spoiling the TV special for all of you, the Wookies do finally get to celebrate Life Day and Princess Leia gets to sing a little tune. The best thing about this scene, despite how hilariously corny it is, is how Carrie Fisher really goes for it. She IS Julie Andrews at this point and it's not quite clear just why she's giving it all she's got, especially since everyone else is perfectly content simply awkwardly standing around her, but I love it. Oh, by the way, the awful song is set to the Star Wars theme. Unmissable.
KORMAN BOT VIDEO
If there's one thing I know it's that Harvey Korman was a very funny guy and a very talented comedian. Unfortunately he wasn't given much to work with in this Holiday Special but he did try at least to bring something to his many scenes, even if that something was mostly just bizarre. In this confounding instructional video about how to build an... electronic... thing, he plays a robot who messes-up as he talks a bit like Max Headroom. Main thing I like about this bit is it becomes pretty funny when you picture it as a lost Tim & Eric infomercial.
Again, not quite sure what's going on in this segment but the best I could figure out from it is Art Carney just hands to Itchy (the old man Wookie) some bootleg intergalactic porn and he's loving every minute of it. I don't know what that holographic Diahann Carroll is doing to poor old Itchy but I think I'm starting to feel it too. This bit is crazy 70's and cheesy as hell but somehow the hypnotic Carroll lures you in with her soothing voice in what is essentially a very pleasant acid trip and, though you're quickly ready to go to sleep, you don't hate the special quite as much when she's on screen.
LUKE AND R2
This segment's also pretty corny as Malla, Chewbacca's lovely wife, tries to contact Luke Skywalker because she's worried her husband hasn't come home yet. The semi-likeable thing about this bit is, quite simply, that Luke and R2-D2 are bickering like they tend to do and for a brief moment you almost feel like you're watching a Star Wars movie instead of what you're actually watching. Mark Hamill's enthusiasm makes this bit work.
DARTH VADER CAMEO
Even though the Holiday Special essentially cheats us into believing that Darth Vader has an important part to play in this whole Life Day business and Vader's scenes reek of unused deleted scenes re-dubbed to make them seem part of the show, it's still cool to see Darth Vader being Darth Vader. Easiest buck James Earle Jones ever made, no doubt.
So Jefferson Starship are in this movie (don't ask) when Art Carney sits a baddie down and gets him to watch a music video, as you do. The song they play is "Light The Sky On Fire" and the video looks extremely purple. Also, I'm pretty sure the singer's microphone is a lightsaber. Again, this bit is 70's-licious and, at the very least, it's not Wookies singing.
LIFE ON TATOOINE
So at one point the Holiday Special cuts all of a sudden to what I think is meant to be a TV program called "Life On Tatooine" though I'm not sure why it's even showing since it's kind of anti-Empire and those guys are literally right there. At first it feels like another crappy distraction with Harvey Korman playing yet another goofy character and Bea Arthur somehow now being part of the Star Wars universe as the woman running the Mos Eisley Cantina. But the plot, which sees the Empire closing the Cantina down, is surprisingly watchable plus there's a musical number set to that classic tune and loads of freaky-looking aliens. Perhaps they should have considered making an ensemble piece about different places and people in Tatooine instead?
The Holiday Special opens with Chewbacca and Han Solo battling enemy ships and we cut back to that throughout, albeit very briefly. It may just be reused footage from the movies intercut with shots of Harrison Ford and Peter Mayhew on an old set pretending to look at stuff but at least something "actioney" is happening and at least, for those few moments, it feels like you're watching a Star Wars flick. I'd like to also throw in the bit where Han Solo fools a Stormtrooper into falling off a ledge later at Chewie's home: very amusing.
This one's a no-brainer and, to this day, it's still seen by most Star Wars fans as a cult classic piece of animation since it not only introduces fan-favourite character Boba Fett but also looks kinda cool. If only the Holiday Special had been a feature-length version of this much too short cartoon then we could have had something of value. The animation itself is pretty good, even if Han Solo looks frankly odd and the droids wobble about a bit too much, but those few minutes are so captivating they manage to make you forget about the Wookie family in a heartbeat, and that's something to be thankful for, trust me.
If you want to check out the Holiday Special, the whole thing's on Youtube so here it is below.