I firmly believe that every Star Wars fan should watch the infamous “Holiday Special” at least once.
It’s not because the Star Wars Holiday Special is some kind of hidden, underappreciated gem. It’s awful — truly, spectacularly, miserably awful. So awful, in fact, that if George Lucas could have used the Death Star to blow up all remaining copies, he most definitely would have.
The Star Wars Holiday Special aired on television in 1978, as a way for an overeager CBS to capitalize on the popularity of Star Wars. I’m not entirely sure who was in charge of decision-making on this particular project, but — to put it kindly — they probably should have been fired.
Watching the Star Wars Holiday Special is such a bizarre experience that it’s difficult to describe. It’s got long portions of Wookiee dialogue without subtitles, so you’re never quite sure what the heck is going on. There’s a strange Star Wars cooking segment, as well as random musical numbers. Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill do appear in this holiday special, although they look as though they’d rather be anywhere else than filming this monstrosity.
And yet…despite just how epically terrible it is, I have a strange fondness for the Star Wars Holiday Special. It’s a fascinating little piece of Star Wars history, and it’s so bad that while watching it, you can’t help but laugh.
That’s why when I heard that Disney+ would be releasing a brand new Star Wars holiday special — but with Legos this time! — I was absolutely thrilled. The Lego Star Wars tie-ins — whether you’re talking about the video games or short films — are always hilarious, with what’s perhaps best described as gently irreverent humor. If anyone could resurrect the Star Wars Holiday Special tradition and make it less of a dumpster fire, Lego is definitely the right team for the job.
The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special is available for streaming right now Disney+, and the good news is, it’s an absolute delight. The special picks up after the events of “The Rise of Skywalker,” with Rey, Finn, and crew preparing for the holiday known as “Life Day.” However, before Rey can relax and celebrate with her friends, she has to go on a special time-traveling mission that deposits her into different events throughout the Skywalker saga. As she hops from the podrace in Episode I to the epic lightsaber duel on the second Death Star in Episode VI, Rey learns some important lessons about what it means to be a Jedi.
I had a huge grin on my face the entire time I was watching this holiday special, and I laughed out loud numerous times. It’s filled with charming, silly fun, and if you’re a fan of Lego’s goofy brand of humor, I guarantee you’ll have a good time watching this.
While I don’t know that I want Star Wars to officially introduce time travel as a storytelling mechanic within the live-action films, it actually works really well in the context of a funny story that’s not-quite-canon. It’s a little like Star Wars meets Doctor Who, actually, and it was great fun to watch humorous Lego versions of key moments from the Skywalker saga.
Lego Palpatine, Darth Vader, and Kylo Ren are particularly hilarious, especially when the three of them decide to team up for some ridiculous scheming. And since the sequel trilogy is my favorite era of Star Wars films, I was so happy to see characters like Rey, Rose, Finn, and Poe again (plus some adorable Lego Porgs).
Although the Lego Star Wars Holiday Special is mostly unapologetic silliness, there are actually a few more moving moments that surprisingly got to me. (I’m going to veer into spoiler territory here, so if you haven’t watched the special yet and want to be surprised, skip the next three paragraphs).
One of my favorite parts of “The Rise of Skywalker” was the implication that Finn is Force sensitive. I actually wish they’d been a little more explicit about Finn’s ability to use the Force, and ever since the movie I’ve been hoping that a future Star Wars story (be it movie, book, comic, or TV show) would depict Finn training to be a Jedi.
I didn’t think I’d get confirmation of Finn being a Jedi so soon — and in the Lego Star Wars Holiday Special of all places. But yes, I actually did get a little emotional when the holiday special opened with Rey training Finn to use a lightsaber and sense the Force. Finn is one of my favorite Star Wars characters, and seeing him train as a Jedi meant a lot to me. I hope this is a sign that more Finn-focused content is coming soon, whatever medium Lucasfilm may choose to tell that story in.
Something that I also appreciated was hearing Lego Rey refer to Kylo Ren as “Ben.” Like I said before, even though this special is mostly full of goofy humor, there was a certain bittersweetness to Rey calling Kylo Ren by his real name, hinting at the deep personal connection the two of them shared in the sequel trilogy films. Rey’s wistful “Goodbye, Ben,” in the Lego holiday special got me a little misty eyed. Lego holiday special, I wasn’t prepared for you to make me FEEL things!!
The only negative I had with the holiday special was that some of the voice acting felt a little “off” to me. I know this is meant to be a silly parody, but some of the Lego characters sounded so different from their live-action versions that it was a little distracting at times. It’s also weird to hear anyone but Adam Driver voicing Kylo Ren. Honestly, if they’d convinced Adam Driver to read the lines for Lego Kylo Ren, I would have paid an extra $20 to stream this special on Disney+. I’m not even joking.
The Lego Star Wars holiday special is best enjoyed with a hot cup of cocoa and a willingness to just embrace the zaniness of the plot. I think we can all agree that 2020 hasn’t been great, but this Lego special was just the boost of holiday cheer and laughter that I desperately needed.
Happy Life Day, and may the Force be with you!