End My Life Day, Please

‘The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special’ is just as much a disaster as the original Star Wars Holiday Special

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, they didn’t celebrate Christmas. However, according to both the Star Wars Holiday Special and The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, those fine galactic citizens came together annually to celebrate Life Day. Based on these stupendously lousy productions, all citizens of the Milky Way should celebrate our complete lack of Life Day, because in entirely different ways, each of these specials is a disaster.

While The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special is slickly produced, it’s devoid of joy. We know everyone involved has access to every single Star War, and the whole snarky/clever Lego schtick is practically a science, yet somehow, this clunker feels agonizingly long. It’s an obvious cash grab that is so coldly calculating, it forgets to even try to warm our hearts on the way to our wallets, the way any proper holiday special should.

Lego Star Wars Holiday Special
The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special

Yoda, distinctly not voiced by Frank Oz, strolls out Rankin/Bass style, ready to share the story of Rey and Finn, who eke out some Jedi training while assembling the rest of their gang to celebrate Life Day. Various characters don Christmas sweaters featuring Star Wars designs that viewers might grab at Kohl’s later, while side characters parade onscreen as convenient reminders of merch you probably still need to buy.

The Lego storytelling machine injects none of its levity into this universe. The Star Wars world has always been a little self-serious, but the solution was definitely not for Darth Vader to say “anyhoo,” or goofily stumble around during a lightsaber battle with himself. The once toweringly scary Darth Vader of my recurrent nightmares is now a clumsy, insecure, gift-giving dork in a Christmas sweater. And we all thought 2020 couldn’t get worse.

As for the flimsy story, Rey wishes she could be a better Jedi trainer, and handily finds a device that drops her throughout history into everybody’s top moments from the live-action films and, for Disney+ subscription purposes, The Mandolorian. Han Solo shoots Darth Vader out of the way so Luke can blow up that first Death Star, and Rey is there. Luke trains with Yoda on Dagobah, as Rey witnesses it all. Kylo Ren stands around shirtlessly brooding, while Rey takes in that sweet money shot. Typically, the Star Wars Lego products are canon-adjacent, as though told by a child sharing the events, but if that holds true here, it means a magical Rey now lurks in every moment we hold so dearly in our hearts. That kind of ruins everything if you really think about it.

The Star Wars-ian fallacy that equates rehashing to world building plagues every second of The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special. Toss in the official Lego mandate which ensures everything is ultra cutesie, and you end up with a holiday trifle so light and airy, it’s entirely forgettable. At least the original Star Wars Christmas Special expanded the universe in its own twisted way, and after forty-two years, remains accidentally hilarious enough to rewatch (in limited segments) annually.

The Star Wars world has always been a little self-serious, but the solution was definitely not for Darth Vader to say “anyhoo,” or goofily stumble around during a lightsaber battle with himself.

In today’s gluttonous society, it becomes increasingly harder to recall the days of limited choice, but way back in the 1970s, humans truly suffered for lack of entertainment. It’s cruelly amusing to imagine all those poor nerds plopping down on the shag carpet in front of the family’s glowing picture box, hyped out of their gourds to see what happens when a zany variety show merges with the glory of space adventure. Instead of festive razzle dazzle, viewers received a perplexingly unmagical look into Chewbacca’s never-mentioned domestic life.

After the opening ten minutes of non-stop Wookiee, it’s painfully clear why Chewie doesn’t mind leaving the fam to jaunt all over space. Turns out, yowling conversations and blank Wookiee stares are not compelling. The whole experience must have been extra disorienting at the time, since no one ever got to see the likes of it floating across their airwaves again. It must have felt like a group mind fog, or a collective, surreal out-of-body experience.

Now, though, in the right frame of mind, this terribleness can be as hilarious Tommy Wiseau’s entire good-bad oeuvre. It’s astounding that such a disaster was assembled at warp speed, actors participated willingly, and it made it onto a major network during prime time. There were so many places where someone, anyone, could surely have said no, yet apparently no one did.

It could be that contract negotiations trapped series stars Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford into performing, while we all know throwing on a slanket and singing in a glassy-eyed haze was pretty much life for Carrie Fisher back then. But, imagine Bea Arthur’s agent calling her up to see if she feels like singing some space ballad behind a space bar for this space show, and Bea willingly giving that a yes. Likewise, how much hardball did Harvey Korman play to earn himself three separate skits? Was he being punished or rewarded?

People love to act like the animated segment of the Star Wars Holiday Special is its highlight because it introduced Boba Fett to the world. First of all, even the best part of a sack of crap is still crap. Secondly, the animation style is, at its peak, of a quality akin to wavering reception from a TV antenna. Mostly, it looks like someone described Star Wars characters to animators who never saw any of them before, had never animated before, and were wearing blindfolds to work each day. Every element fails so spectacularly, it’s probably fair to say there will never again be a special that surpasses the distinct specialness of this one. Should any fool decide to merge Star Wars and holidays again, hopefully it will be after they figure out how to inject actual quality of life into Life Day so we all can duly celebrate.

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Paula Shaffer

Paula Shaffer has worked on shows for a variety of networks including ABC, Hulu, A&E, HGTV, and WeTV. Her family zom-com script, Chompers, was a selected work of the Stowe Story Labs Feature Campus in 2021, and a 2022 semi-finalist in the Emerging Screenwriters contest, which led to placement on the Coverfly Red List.

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