Originally aired on November 17, 1978, the Star Wars Holiday Special is a television special on CBS. It is set in the universe of the sci-fi-based Star Wars franchise. Directed by Steve Binder, it was the first Star Wars spin-off film, set between the events of the original film and The Empire Strikes Back (1980). It stars the main cast of the original trilogy and introduces the character of Boba Fett, who appeared in later films.
In the story line that ties the special together, following the events of the original film, Chewbacca and Han Solo attempt to visit the Wookiee home planet of Kashyyyk to celebrate “Life Day”. They are pursued by agents of the Galactic Empire, who are searching for members of the Rebel Alliance on the planet. The special introduces three members of Chewbacca’s family: his father Itchy, his wife Malla, and his son Lumpy.
The Star Wars Holiday Special stars Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, James Earl Jones as Darth Vader’s voice, and many others.
After its release on television it was universally lambasted by critics, audiences, and Star Wars fans alike. Jerry Buck of the Associated Press called it “bubble gum for the brain.” The special was only aired once on television and have never been released in its entirety on home media. Although, bootleg copies have circulated since making it a cult-classic program. The entire cartoon appeared as an Easter egg on the 2011 Star Wars: The Complete Saga Blu-ray set and the cartoon was released on Disney+ in 2021.
Despite the unpopularity of the Star Wars Holiday Special, Lucasfilm maintained its status as part of the continuity, placing it halfway between Episodes IV and V.