The Star Wars Holiday Special: How. Why. WHYYYY? – YouTube Review

This cinematic mistake has never been released officially and that’s for the best.

SUMMARY (Spoilers, but you should be thanking me)

Look, here’s the damn video:

It’s Life Day, which is apparently like Wookie Christmas. Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is trying to get Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) home to his wife, Malla (Mickey Morton), his father, Itchy (Paul Gale), and his son, Lumpy (Patty Maloney). Most of the special is dealing with the family waiting for his return. Malla contacts Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill *Applause*) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker wasn’t in this, but he’s awesome and I’m putting his name here), who explains that Chewy already left with Han. Malla contacts the trader Saun Dann (Art Carney), who tells her that Han is on the way and heads out toward her house. Malla watches Chef Gormaanda (Harvey Korman) demonstrate cooking a Bantha loin. Saun arrives with a VR program as a gift for Itchy that features Diahann Carroll and is uncomfortably erotic. The Imperials arrive at the house searching for Chewbacca and Saun distracts them with a VR performance by Jefferson Starship. 

Wookies don’t age well.

Malla keeps Lumpy distracted with a cartoon featuring the adventures of the cast of Star Wars meeting Boba Fett (Don “Iron Buffalo” Francks). A video is played by the Imperials announcing that Tatooine is being placed under curfew, represented by Ackmena (Bea Arthur), the Mos Eisley Bartender, having to kick out her clients while singing. Lumpy creates a translation device that mimics the voice of the Imperial commander and tricks the stormtroopers into leaving. One stormtrooper sees through it and attacks Lumpy, only for Han to arrive and kill him. Saun covers for the dead trooper and the whole group joins Luke, Leia (Carrie “Space Mom” Fisher), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), R2-D2 at the Tree of Life church “Our Lady of WRaaaaaaagh.” Leia gives a short speech and a song, then the Wookies sit down to eat.

So much greatness onscreen, so much fail surrounding it.

There’s also a crazy troupe of mummers, a bad instruction manual featuring Harvey Korman, and enough drugs to put a charging rhino down.

DRUGS ARE BAD, KIDS.

END SUMMARY

This is the third time I’ve seen this special. It seemed bad when I was a teenager and some people from my school had a bootleg. It seemed really bad when I was in college and a friend of mine showed it while we were drunk. It somehow was even worse when I watched it this time, probably because I was mostly sober. That was a mistake. 

Even the actors realize how bad this is going at some points.

Almost everything in this is astonishingly bad and it’s bad in the worst way. Someone said it was written by a sentient bag of cocaine and I find that to be completely untrue. If it was a bag of cocaine it would likely have been alert, wild, and interestingly off-kilter (cards on the table, I haven’t done cocaine, but I’ve been with people who have). This was crazy, but in a lazy way where everything is left on the screen for so long that any charm it might have had slowly dies a painful death. It’s like it was written by a sentient barrel of laudanum.

Bea Arthur’s great, but cocaine would get you Rick James.

It’s all about the tolerance we have for these scenes. Wookies talking without subtitles is fine as long as you either A) have someone who can clue us in or B) the conversations are completely clear from their body language and actions. In this case, some of the wookie-only scenes are so long that I assume there was a discussion of either baseball statistics or the plot of Inception. The mummer troupe goes from “kind of amusing” to “way too creepy.” In two entirely different bits, Harvey Korman, one of the funniest people alive, is forced to stretch for time. My only conclusion is that this was written for one hour and then they were spontaneously told that the Love Boat had sank or something, so they had to fill double the time. It’s just painful how everything goes on well past what you would have tolerated. Even if the scenes had been good, 10 minutes of watching a four-armed chef is just going to get old. 

Stir, whip, whip stir whip stir. It haunts my dream.

Then there are the other, much more bizarre moments. For example, the video program that Itchy watches is pretty clearly the Star Wars version of pornography. My first thought on re-watch is “oh damn, they still dragged poor Diahann Carroll into this.” It would be bad enough to just watch some of the things she says into the camera, but Itchy’s reaction shots ratchet it up from “uncomfortable” to “nightmare-inducing.” The same is true of many of Lumpy’s facial movements. I’m not going to take shots at Stan Winston or at Patty Maloney, I’m just going to say that someone, somewhere, needed to realize the only solution to this costume issue was fire and lots of it. It’s like I’m seeing into the eyes of a damned soul and now I feel only cold. I swear I thought I had a heart attack during some parts of this because my body started going numb.

70s Porn was already nuts.

It doesn’t help that so much of the film is based around watching people watching things as the framing device. Diahann Carroll, Jefferson Starship, the cartoon, etc. are all things that are being watched by the characters. It’s a conceit designed to work the guests into the story, but it’s kind of a terrible one and it really makes you question how media promulgates in the Star Wars universe. Since Star Wars doesn’t really seem to have pop culture or media in any other incarnation, it makes it even more glaringly awkward to inject weird modern-day references. 

Also, why do they have cartoons about real people in this universe?

Overall, this is just so very bad. It’s almost worth seeing just to recognize how bad it is. It’s astonishing that something like this ever got made. 

And since she requested that I watch it, here’s a forced commentary from The Faceless Old Woman that Lives on my Couch:

What more is there to say about this work of cinema? I spent most of it wondering “is something going to happen soon?” I was told that was the theme of this special. I’d wanted to see this because it seemed like everyone else had. Everyone had told me it was very bad and never to watch it, but I didn’t really understand. Given what I knew of Star Wars, I assumed it was just very cheesy and not very good. I couldn’t have conceived of how BAD it was, though. Maybe if someone had just explained to me that it is not like a regular piece of Star Wars media, where there is a story and the characters do things in the story – it is meant to be like a variety show. How could I have predicted the uninterpreted Wookie? That the characters everyone likes would barely be in it? The perm machine that’s actually a VR porn viewer? It’s truly an accomplishment to make Star Wars deeply disturbing and NOT entertaining, but they did it! The best thing about it is Mark Hamill in eyeliner and hearing my boyfriend repeatedly moan, “I didn’t know I could be this dead inside.” I’m going to finish this eggnog and try to forget about what I saw.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Futurama Fridays – S3E1 “Amazon Women in the Mood”

An episode on chauvinism also gives us every man’s chosen way to die: DEATH BY SNU-SNU.

SUMMARY

Amy Wong (Lauren Tom) has been receiving calls on her cell-phone. They feature a man’s voice breathing heavily, but no words. It turns out that the person on the other end is none other than Lieutenant Kif Kroker (Maurice LaMarche), who has been trying to work up the courage to ask Amy out since their sudden romance on the Titanic. He decides to ask Zapp Brannigan (Billy West) for advice, who agrees to set up a double-date as long as Leela (Katey Sagal) goes out with him. Amy talks Leela into it.

S3E1 - 1Zoidberg.png
Meanwhile, Zoidberg goes wild.

The four go out on a date to an orbiting restaurant, but Zapp’s advice to Kif backfires at every turn. Finally, Kif tries to sing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” at karaoke, but Zapp does a spoken-word version of “Lola” with Leela’s name substituted. It’s so terrible that the people in the restaurant all leave, resulting in Zapp trying to fly the restaurant and crashing it into a planet. Searching the area, the group finds that they’re on Planet Amazonia, which is populated by giant women that capture them.

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Zapp Brannigan: 10% Kirk, 90% Shatner

Fry (West) and Bender (John DiMaggio) take the Planet Express ship to save the girls, but they are quickly captured. When going through a tour of the village, Zapp, Fry, and Bender all mock the various feminist aspects of the culture, including their comedy and basketball. The Amazons take them to their leader, the Femputer (Bea Arthur). The Femputer, upon learning that the men all mocked their civilization, orders the men to be killed… by snu-snu, the Amazon word for sex. It’s also revealed that all the men on Amazonia died from this. Bender points out that he can’t have sex, so he is pardoned. Zapp and Fry are somewhat excited about dying mid-coitus, but Kif is horrified. Facing death, he finally confesses his feelings to Amy.

S3E1 - 3Amazons.png
Oddly, the society divides Snu-Snu up by physical appearance.

The girls come up with a plan to save the three men. They send Bender to try and hack the Femputer while Amy pretends to be an Amazon to save Kif (Fry and Zapp are enjoying their violent snu-snu). Bender finds out that the Femputer is actually a Fembot, who he seduces into forcing the other Amazons to release everyone. Now free, Kif and Amy start going out.

END SUMMARY

My opinion on this episode has shifted a lot throughout my life. A lot of the humor is derived from the women on Amazonia behaving like overblown stereotypes and the men responding to them… as overblown stereotypes. At times, it seems like a lot of the jokes are just too easy to be funny, but, well, no, they’re still freaking funny. The fact that there are so many jokes that are easy make it all the better that there are so many really, really clever jokes embedded in the episode, and it also serves to highlight the absurd premise.

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Admittedly, the shot at the WNBA was REALLY cheap.

A lot of what makes this episode work is the heavy dose of Zapp Brannigan. While he’s always fun to have along for the ride, this features him without any restrictions whatsoever. His book of pick-up lines include such gems as “if I said you had a beautiful body would you take your pants off and dance around a little?” and “I find the most erotic part of the woman is the boobies.” He tries to seduce Leela with a spoken-word version of “Lola,” a song about a drag-queen. He attempts to wrangle a threesome out of Amy and Leela by arguing it’s to repopulate the human race (not being smart enough to remember that Leela isn’t human… yet). When Kif is frightened of being killed by snu-snu, Zapp assumes that something is wrong with his sexuality. Basically, he’s the perfect male chauvinist to feature in an episode picking apart chauvinism.

S3E1 - 5Smile.png
Death by Snu-Snu is a bag of mixed emotions.

I think that the final twist in the episode, that the Femputer is a Fembot, ends up being doubly hilarious when she reveals that she only has taken over Amazonia because she lived on a planet which she discovered was run by a chauvinist Manputer which was actually a Manbot. She decided that the best way to deal with an oppressively masculine society was to create an oppressively feminine society. Despite this, she asks Bender if he can understand what it’s like to live in a social structure that’s engineered towards the other gender, and he ends up not even understanding the question. If that’s not social commentary… well, it is, so I don’t need to contemplate the rest of that sentence.

S3E1 - 6Fembot.png
Also, it’s Bea Freaking Arthur.

Amy’s and Kif’s romance really begins in this episode, and it’s one of the most interesting relationships in the show, since they seem to have literally nothing in common. Amy is a wild party girl who isn’t much into monogamy, while Kif is socially awkward and a little obsessive towards her. Despite this, the show manages to actually sell that the two should be together, because they each make the other better. It’s weird to realize, in retrospect, that it started with him semi-stalking her.

FAVORITE JOKE

I’m a sucker for calling out double standards, and this episode has one of the most succinct and funny ones in media. When informed that the leader of Amazonia is a Femputer, this exchange happens:

Fry: A female leader? Hahahahaha.

Leela: Fry, shut up.

Fry: Yes, captain.

This episode makes this shut-down funnier than it normally would be because, while encouraged by Zapp and Bender, Fry is actually being more of a stereotypical male than he usually is. This line reminds us that the status quo is still operating, and that Leela is still not just in charge, but the most competent person on the team.

S3E1 - 7Salute.png

Oh, and DEATH BY SNU-SNU. Everything about it is hilarious.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 32: The Cryonic Woman

NEXT – Episode 34: Parasites Lost

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.