After "Star Wars" everyone wanted more. On Novemer 17, 1978 we got it.
This close-up from "TV Guide" despite its mispelling of "wookiee" and "C-3PO" describes "The Star Wars Holiday Special" pretty accurately. It was a variety show with a narrative. Variety shows were a staple of television in the 1970s, so it didn't seem that weird. Yes, it was pretty crappy and is just about impossible to sit through now, but back then, I didn't care. It was better than no "Star Wars" I even had the framed ad from the newspaper's sunday tv listings framed and hung in my room for many years. I also audio taped it and listened to it often.
The show, produced pretty much entirely by CBS without the involvement of Lucasfilm, tells the story of Chewbacca's family as they anxiously await his return home for the Life Day celebration, as han Solo and Chewbacca avoid Imperials in their efforts to get there.
Chewie's family consisted of his wife Mala, father Itchy, and son Lumpy (who was lucky enough to have a stuffed bantha). Oddly, despite George Lucas' despisement of this production, Chewie's family is part of official "Star Wars" continuity, only now they are known as Mallatobuck, Attichitcuk and Lumpawarrump
The show featured such guest stars as Bea Arthur, Harvey Korman, Art Carney and Jefferson Starship, all of whom took part in a variety of skits and commercials that the wookiee family might be able to watch on their version of television. Sadly, Paul Lynde was not part of the cast.
The best part of "the Star Wars Holiday Special" was the short cartoon, which is best known for introducing the popular character Boba Fett.
As you can see here, all of the "Star Wars" characters were given three fingers and a thumb in the cartoon.
The show also served as the introduction to the wookiee planet Kashyyyk, which would be featured in "Star Wars: Episode 3 --Revenge of the Sith."
The Cantina aliens were also brought back for this show, transported to a new watering hole run by Bea Arthur. The segment was pretty shoddy looking. One mask maker commented that a member of the Cantina Band had a dent in the side of his mask the whole time. You'll notice in this photo of Greedo, renamed as Bludlow for the show, that they had some trouble getting the actor's hands into the long fingered gloves, and decided just to jam them in there as fists awaiting someone to come along and turn all of those limp fingers into balloon animals.
R2-D2 and C-3PO also returned as did a singing Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker who appeared to be serving as the representative for maybeline given how much makeup and mascara he was wearing. He also had that haircut that made me suspect maybe this time Luke was being played by Dorothy Hamill, rather than Mark Hamill.
In the end Chewbacca makes it home, puts on some red robes and joins lots of other wookiees for the Life Day celebration.
If you need to know more, there are press books, sketches, audio clips and more here.