If you want to send a chill down the spine of any Star Wars fan, just drop the words "Holiday Special" into any conversation about the franchise and watch them squirm. Whatever you might think of the prequels or the more recent sequel trilogy, there's a pretty strong consensus among fans that the worst thing in the history of Star Wars is the 1978 television special. It turned the space opera of the original film into a variety show complete with singing, dancing, comedy sketches, and, for some reason, 20 minutes of untranslated Wookiee noises. But now, thanks to LEGO, there's a new Star Wars Holiday Special coming to Disney+ and it seems there's a good chance the new one will help you forget the original, except when it's trying to get you to remember it.
Reviews for The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special are in, and, for the most part, they're actually pretty positive. While few critics seem likely to be incorporating the new Disney+ special into their normal holiday or Star Wars marathon viewing, the new show is, you know, fine. Our own Eric Eisenberg gave the special three stars and found it to be cute, even if it's little more than an excuse to run through a "greatest hits" of Star Wars in LEGO form.
The wrap-around story is cute enough, but it also jams a MacGuffin into the plot that has the sole purpose of turning the whole enterprise into a clip show.
The special takes place following the events of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, although, as a LEGO special, it's not technically canon. We see Rey training Finn in the ways of the Jedi, though she's not having much success. In one of the ancient Jedi texts she discovers an object that may be able to help her be a better teacher, that is only available on Life Day, the Wookiee stand-in for Christmas that was introduced in the original Star Wars Holiday Special. The object allows Rey to travel in time, giving her an excuse to jump in and out of various moments throughout the Skywalker Saga.
The whole thing may be little more than a simple reason to string together Star Wars jokes, but as long as the jokes work, does any of that really matter? That's the feeling of Slashfilm, who found the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special succeeded not in simply being not the other holiday special, just legitimately funny in its own right.
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is a huge step above the original travesty that graced television screens in 1978. Not only is it half the length of the original holiday special, but it’s infinitely more enjoyable.
While The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is certainly a very different sort of show than the previous one, you ultimately, can't make a show with the same name without causing people to think of the previous version. That's potentially dangerous, but ultimately the AV Club thinks it works. Although, the fact that it works may simply reinforce just how much the previous one doesn't...
The Star Wars Lego Holiday Special, in all its warm and fuzzy glory, is a nice addition to the holiday season, but it cannot entirely redeem the dumpster fire that is the original. If anything, it only solidifies the original’s low-ranking place within the saga, acting as a cleaner, more put-together “sequel.
Of course, not everybody thinks that it works quite as well. While some credit the film for simply not being the mess of the original, RogerEbert.com is of the opinion that the new special is trying so hard to be the opposite of that, it ends up trying to please everybody, and thus will likely please nobody.
A studiously inoffensive mess, being both self-conscious and desperate-to-please, but also unfocused and un-funny.
You can judge for yourself when The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special debuts on Disney+ tomorrow, November 17, 42 years to the day after the original one arrived on television.