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Star Wars as a franchise has millions of fans all over the world. As a franchise, seemingly everybody loves it, and while there are certainly disagreements about which parts of it are best, you're likely to find somebody somewhere who will defend their favorite part of it from those that claim any given film isn't as good. However, there may be one part of the Star Wars universe which is generally agreed upon to be terrible. You'll find few people who love the Star Wars Holiday Special, at least few who don't love it ironically.
Which is why it was something of a shock to Anthony Daniels, who, as C-3PO, was part of that original special in 1978, when he was told a new holiday special was being planned for Disney+. I recently had a chance to speak with Daniels about the new The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special and I asked him what his first thought was when he heard about the new project. His response was just as honest as it was hilarious. Daniels said...
It was horror. It was, ‘Are you crazy?’ People are going to sue you for bringing up this title again because they’ve only just forgotten the first one 40 something years ago.” I was genuinely surprised that they would risk awakening those dreadful memories.
Of course, The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is a very different animal than the 1970s variety show that was at the core of the original, but even by using the name, the new holiday special is designed to specifically evoke the original one, which, as Daniels explained, was a real surprise to him. The "horror" wasn't so much that somebody would make a new holiday special, but that somebody would do it in a way that so intentionally causes people to think of the first one. Those are not good thoughts.
Whether true or not, the original Star Wars Holiday Special has an infamous reputation as a project that George Lucas simply ignored and mostly pretended never happened. Viewed as a product of 1970s television, the special is very much like other variety show specials of its day. Taken as a piece of Star Wars, it's a bizarre piece of the canon.
And to be sure The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special, while it is still very much a separate thing, stops to reference and poke fun at that original holiday special at numerous points. But in doing so, you can't help but be reminded, assuming you've ever seen it, of the, let's be honest, truly terrible original. Even Anthony Daniels, while describing the new special to me, had to stop and recover as memories of the first one came flooding in...
And... I'm sorry, I was just remembering the original, it was seriously bad. With all those wookiees kind of grunting at each other...yeah, no translation...
We probably won't ever see the original Star Wars Holiday Special on Disney+, so perhaps, in a few years, new generations will simply adopt the new LEGO version as the one true and only holiday special, and that other one can finally be forgotten.
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special debuts on Disney+ November 17, the 42nd anniversary of the debut of the original. Why do they keep trying to remind us of it?