Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Happy LIfe Day all you Star Wars types

200px-StarWarsHS.jpgOK, I'm a month late. Life Day was actually November 17.

What? You've never heard of Life Day? You're kidding, right?

Actually, I hadn't heard of it either, until Merlin Mann talked about it during the latest MacBreak Weekly podcast (#70). But if you're of a certain age, anything to do with Star Wars can grab your attention - at least it got mine. And what he was talking about was the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special.

That's right...a holiday special, featurng the original cast members, including the robots and special guests like Art Carney, Bea Arthur and the Jefferson Starship. What a trip.

As usual, to find out more, I turned to Wikipedia. And you won't believe what the entry on this subject looks like. It's one of those amazing, in-depth articles, lovingly put together by many people, which contains virtually everything that could possibly be known about this subject. It's a treat to see, even if you're not a Star Wars fan. You've got to be impressed (and if you're like me, maybe envious) by the dedication of some folks. Here's a bit from the intro:
The Star Wars Holiday Special was a two-hour television special (including commercials) set in the Star Wars galaxy. It was broadcast in its entirety in the United States only once on Friday, November 17, 1978 on CBS-TV from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (EST). In it, Chewbacca and Han Solo visit Kashyyyk, Chewbacca's home world, to celebrate Life Day. Along the way, they are pursued by agents of the Galactic Empire who are searching for rebels on the planet. The special introduces three members of Chewbacca's family: his father Attichitcuk, his wife Mallatobuck, and his son Lumpawarrump.
Apparently, Star Wars Creator George Lucas was upset with the show (its main claim to fame is how terrible it is) and he's been working hard ever since to make sure no one ever saw it again.

Again from Wikiepedia:
Lucas, who had had very little to do with production since his initial plot outline, was given a private screening of the completed film before it aired. According to reports, he was disgusted with what the producers had done to his story and greatly disliked the special. Rumor has it that he had signed an agreement for it to air at least once, and after seeing it, decided that it would never again be shown on any network after its first airing. The show was greatly hyped on broadcast TV, however, before its debut on November 17. Although ratings were excellent, since the airing many have considered it a general disappointment, and even an insult to the Star Wars saga.
And finally,
Lucas himself has rarely commented on or even acknowledged its existence, except to friends and co-workers. Generally, however, he holds a very low opinion of it. For instance, Tom Burman, one of the costume designers for the holiday special, has said that Lucas once told him that he was very disappointed with the final product.

At one Australian fan convention he reportedly said "If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it." In an online chat with fans, he reportedly said: "The holiday special does not represent my vision for Star Wars." In an interview with Maxim magazine in May 2002, Maxim asks the question: Any plans for a Special Edition of the Holiday Special? Lucas responded with "Right. That's one of those things that happened, and I just have to live with it."
Alas for George, (but good for us) the age of the Internet has meant that the show is now available (albeit illegally, I suppose) on sites like YouTube, which features a 5-minute version called The Two-Hour Star Wars Holiday Special in only Five Minutes, and GoogleVideo, where you can watch the whole, spellbinding 117 minutes.

This was one of those lucky finds that I just had to tell you about. There's not a lot of literary merit involved, nor will it make you do your job better, I'll admit. But I bet you'll smile a few times, if only at the sheer weirdness of the 1970s minds that conceived this little gem.

I know it's not Friday, so I'm not supposed to be having fun, but here's the 5-minute version from YouTube. I suspect it will be more than enough for most of us.


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