Then we all had a good laugh at a very stoned looking Carrie Fisher. At around this time, my boyfriend started apologizing on my behalf. Ah, but if we’d only known then how much more apologizing we would have to do… The first 20 (that’s right, 20) minutes of the special is spent with Chewie’s family, his wife whose name escapes me, his son Lumpy and his father Itchy. It is also entirely in Wookie. No subtitles. Nothing. Graeme made the observation that this was “great” television. Corinne on the other hand complained that it went on far too long. We kindly pointed out to her that this would not be the last time she would say that. Brendan quipped that the special was the exact same level of badness as the prequels, but having sat all the way through the special and lived to tell the tale, I’m sure even he would agree that that was an overly harsh assessment of the prequels.
There were some cracks about the French Canadian acrobats and the visibility of the zippers on the Wookie suits. My boyfriend decided to soothe himself by focusing on the presence of a young and sexy Harrison Ford, the subject of one of his bigger man-crushes. Then scary, scary Mark Hamil with way too much eye make-up appeared looking eerily like Buster Keaton. Corinne then polled the group to see who had actually seen the special before. Only one person, answered in the affirmative. At first we thought he was brave, but upon learning that this was in fact his third viewing we decided instead that he was crazy. A couple people asked for a copy so that they could torture people with it, but we were barely half an hour in.
After some kick-a*s vintage commercials (anybody know where I can find a working “Trail Tracker”?), Nick, Jason and Kate left to get more (much needed) booze. People were starting to get restless:
Corinne: “This is all irrelevant!”
Graeme: “This is all lame!”
Boyfriend: “They could have done anything, but why make it boring? I’m going for a cigarette.”
Mike (somehow) was able to identify the stock footage as that used in the Turkish Star Wars, but then again this was the same guy who brought with him homemade “Wookie-ookies” following Lumpy’s recipe. He was also able to warn us about the “second to worst” part of the special, where Itchy puts on the virtual reality helmet (you have no idea how badly I wish I was just making all of this up) and salivates to a crooning Diahann Carroll. Grumbles from the Peanut Gallery were numerous. “Ewww, this isn’t appropriate!” “I feel like worse of a person for having seen this.” “Oh God, it sings.” River and my boyfriend simply held their heads in their hands and wept quietly. Andria, who had just shown up lamented her lack of foresight in bringing only warm beer with her. No one was paying attention anymore.
Cut to more commercials, including one for Comtrex, which Graeme helpfully pointed out was no longer on the market. And one for the Garment Union (one of several Union ads), which apparently also no longer exists. By the time the special started again Carla was yawning. The Jefferson Starship showed up to distract the Stormtroopers (or something) and Chris called out “here comes the RAWK!” to which we all raised our lighters and made cat calls. Someone pointed out that the glowing microphone made it look like the lead singer was sucking a giant glowing c**k and even Tim’s date who had been frightfully quiet all night started shouting at the TV: “Do it, do it!”
Graeme was starting to get despondent. “Will this never end?” he pleaded. Then Chris hit on the observation that the action served only to set the stage for Jefferson Starship and Diahann Carroll, which lead to a thought provoking discussion, or at least provided a focus . Andria meanwhile was distracted by the fact that Lumpy more closely resembled a retarded Gremlin than a Wookie. Then all of a sudden, for no real reason there was an extended animated sequence. And it was really cool and “Heavy Metal” looking. Except Han had a huge nose.
More commercials. One for yellow cake, with seductive shots of women stuffing cake into their mouths. Then a hilarious “newsbreak” where the Neutron Bomb was explained using Sesame Street pedanticism and a colorful animation. Some ad with Bobby Vinton for some musical no one wanted to see that none of us had ever heard of. A Chevet for $99 US!
At this point, Nick and company had returned from their quest to acquire more booze and were a) in disbelief that the special had not ended yet and b) deeply disturbed by the sight of an animated Han Solo that more closely resembled a cartoon Mick Jagger. Sadly, the only good part of the entire special finished and we were treated to more “comedy” by Harvey Corman. Graeme started by sarcastically suggesting that Corman should perform the robot for our amusement, then quickly conceded that the entire spectacle was in fact “psychological torture”. My boyfriend commented on how badly it was put together, while Corinne was simply in awe of what passed for comedy in the ‘70s. I didn’t have the heart to remind her that Bea Arthur was still to come, or that Arthur had herself hosted numerous “variety specials”.
More commercials, and I was reminded of how even as a small child I had made the observation that the commercial breaks always became longer and more frequent as a TV special wore on. Corinne meanwhile was pondering the necessity or logic of “waterproof blush.”
Then, Bea Arthur showed up, and Graeme’s despondency seemed to reach its breaking point. “Oh God, make it stop!” he bellowed. Bea was the bartender at the Mos Isley cantina. This was obviously only so she could sing “One More Round Friend,” which, like everything else in the special had nothing to do with anything. It also holds the distinction of being preceded by some delightful sexual harassment humor. However, my absolute favorite part of the cantina sequence was the presence of all those cool aliens. Some were familiar: Greedo, Butthead, some were decidedly not. Like Hamsterman. Yes, you read that right, Hamsterman. The only theory that I could come up with was that they had run out of money for alien costumes, and as Lucas and company only had the most superficial of involvement with the Holiday Special, the network had to improvise. In this case, improvising meant stealing creature costumes from a children’s show.
Then, still more commercials. Pantyhose, “The Wiz” on stage, and a great Bobcat ad where they actually showed workers puttying lead into the joints of the car. Finally, things seemed to be wrapping up. Seemed being the operative word. Han and Chewie showed up on Kassyk to save the day. To celebrate, Harrison Ford dismissively shoves Lumpy towards Chewie and trying not to laugh, blurts out, “here’s your daddy.” This right after the cold blooded murder of a stormtrooper who is still visible, lying on the ground while the happy reunion takes place. Graeme commented that it was very rarely that television caused him to feel physical pain, and others started pleading with me to turn it off. But I would not relent, as I knew that the “best” part was still to come.
Life Day happens, and it looks curiously like The Rapture. We started to question what we were seeing as it made so little sense. Maybe our brains were starting to be affected by exposure to this monumental piece of crap? More ads! Softcore pantyhose ads and a telephone commercial that had nothing to do with the company slogan. “Holy s**t? It’s not over yet?” wailed Tim who is beginning to crack. His date wanted to die. Everyone else was simply filled with volatile rage towards me.
But then, the “best” part of the special: Carrie Fisher! Stoned! Singing! We couldn’t even laugh it was just too horrifying. Couples gripped each other in fear. Jaws were slackened. Yet, we were strangely comforted by the knowledge that she was obviously on such effective painkillers that she probably has little to no memory of the special at all.
Nick made the first death threat against me. There was a clip montage that is obviously pure pandering and an attempt to make people forget the crap they had just endured and imagine they are instead watching “Star Wars.” Then a toy ad hosted by R2D2 and C3P0. Then more “special”! My boyfriend goes into the office to fetch his Star Wars toys, which he distributes amongst the guests so that they can distract themselves. And then, by the sweet mercy of Baby Jesus, the special, finished.
There were cheers and applause. Numerous deities were invoked. My boyfriend theorized that by ingesting an entire bottle of Tequila he could adequately black out the evening. Jason suggested that a purification ritual involving the slaughter of a large animal is necessary to properly cleanse our souls. Kate questioned whether I have seen the special before, as the idea my having subjected others to it after knowing the true horrors it contained seriously worries her.
There was a short break and then we jumped right in to “Secret Santa”. Some highlights included a dimestore metal detector, a used Tickle-Me Cookie Monster, a Metal sampler with bands like “Hell-A-Copter” and an entire case of stale Simpsons “Jelly Pops”. There were numerous dollar DVDs such as “Lightening Kung-Fu” and some movie with David Hasselhoff and Linda Blair. The copy of “Dragonstorm” which we had hoped to dump on Corinne to further torture her instead went to Kate.
In an attempt to detoxify, someone put on “Robo Vampire” which appears to be a cross between “Robocop” and… oh God I don’t know. From what I could tell it seems to mix traditional Chinese hoping vampires and “The Terminator”. The “Robocop costumes were made out of those silver reflector things you put on your car windshield in the summer. It has atrocious dubbing and some guy in a gorilla suit shooting candles from his sleeves. Although I admittedly wasn’t paying very close attention, the movie seems to give “Lady Terminator” and “Mad Foxes” a run for their money in the T.A. hall of fame.
To finish off the evening we put on “Bad Santa” for the five people still in attendance and I quietly passed out.
Rumblings from the Peanut Gallery: Despite all of the wailing and eye-gouging, everyone seems to have forgiven me, although I have a feeling I will have to divulge next year’s program in advance. In fact, I think having sat through “The Star Wars Holiday Special” actually forced us to bond, that special kind of bond usually reserved for people involved in military combat. Either that or everyone else is just being extra quiet about their plans to kill me.
Mariko McDonald and her fiancé host a weekly film night in their apartment, affectionately known as the Den of Sin. It’s kinda like evil film school. Monthly screening schedules are available at http:filmgurlland.blogspot.com and if you happen to live in the Vancouver, BC area and are interested in catching a screening please drop her a line at filmgurl79@hotmail dot com. Suggestions, hate mail and cute pictures of cats also accepted.
And of course you can always offer up some juicy Back Talk>>>