2016 Film Essays

Streamless – Off the Subscription Grid: ‘The Star Wars Holiday Special’


Mike Postalakis doesn’t have a streaming subscription account, but he does have YouTube. These are his stories.

On November 17, 1978, The Star Wars Holiday Special aired for the first and last time on CBS. A celebration of the Wookie Holiday know as “Life Day,” the special featured the Star Wars cast alongside musical acts Jefferson Starship and Diahann Carroll, as well as comedy legends Bea Arthur and Harvey Korman. It was a failure with both critics and fans alike, and George Lucas ordered that it never be shown in public again. Below is an imagined narrative of thoughts from some of the people involved.

You are George Lucas, creator of all things Star Wars. You sit in the living room of your palatial estate, located in Marin County — far, far away from Tinstletown. You are the recently crowned King of Hollywood, but feeling more like a fool, you find yourself full of dread, slumped in your Lazy-Boy recliner. Your empire, which had only begun its ascent last year, is facing its end. “You fucked it up, old boy,” you think to yourself. “Francis was right. Make art. Leave the kiddie shit to Hasbro.”

On the coffee table is the current issue of TV Guide, left opened to last night’s programming — circled, in a now foreboding red ink, LIFE DAY: A Star Wars Holiday Special. It aired on CBS. A 90-minute Prime Time Special. Millions tuned in. You only watched for about 10 minutes before you shut it off and dragged yourself to bed.


You are Steve Binder, director of last night’s fiasco. This was your big break, Stevie. A chance to get out of the network ghetto and move into features. Now? You’ll be lucky if you get to direct dog food commercials. Your wife tries in vain to comfort you. But the reviews are right; this was an utter train wreck. But how? Variety shows are your wheelhouse. You did The T.A.M.I. Show, worked with Diana Ross — for fuck’s sake, you brought back Elvis! You had the world, no, a UNIVERSE at your disposal: sets and props from a blockbuster movie, all the costumes, including those two annoying droids — and Mark, Carrie and even Harrison agreed to appear. Not to mention, Harvey Korman. And you blew it. The phone is ringing. It’s George Lucas… and he’s mad as hell.

You are Harrison Ford. Rugged, tan, with a crooked smile. Your generation’s Bogie. You didn’t even bother to watch last night. Couldn’t care less. You’re fly fishing in Montana. That’s where you find your peace.

You are Carrie Fisher. You watched it, alright. Piece of fucking shit. That fucking asshole, Lucas. He begged you to be in it. “Gotta wet the audience’s appetite till the next one,” he kept saying. Jesus, you look high as fuck in this thing. How much cocaine did I… I mean, you, do on set? How much have you… I mean, I, done today? And who is this guy laying in my bathtub, dressed in all denim. The water is overflowing. Jesus, you need help.


You are Mike Postalakis. Handsome, hilarious and the writer of this article. Growing up, you had heard of this monstrosity from your much older brother, a Star Wars nerd. You never got into the Light Saber shit. You like crime novels and movies with tits in them. But you stumbled upon the special on Youtube and decided to throw a Life Day-themed party at your friends bar in The Valley. A lot of people showed up. There was a costume contest, a band played the cantina theme, a lot of wine was consumed. On your part alone, two bottles, in fact. Ignoring the advice of (almost) everyone, you attempted to drive home. The cops get you; threw you in the clink. Now you’re living a crime novel. That was four years ago today. Haven’t had a drink since.

You are Mark Hamill. But you are better known as Luke Skywalker. Let’s face it, you will always be known as Luke Skywalker. You did this for the money. You saw the writing on the wall. You can’t act. George and his friend Spielberg are talking to Harrison about some treasure hunting movie. They aren’t asking you to be in anything — except these Star Wars things. And that’s fine. I won’t be bitter. It’s a job. And if I just stick with it, maybe one day I’ll land another iconic role. And the joke will be on them.


You are the members of Jefferson Starship. Your first record was called “Blows Against the Empire.” The irony is not lost on us.

You are Bea Arthur. One of the funniest people ever to walk the planet. A real Golden gal. You watched the special, camped on the divan with husband Gene and your two sons. The kids grew bored and fell asleep in your lap. Gene drank three martinis and laughed the whole way through. You jot down on a little notepad two separate reminders: 1. Fire my agent 2. Divorce Gene.

You are Boba Fett. Steel-helmeted intergalactic bounty hunter and general badass. The special marked your introduction to the Star Wars story. In a fucking cartoon, no less. You deserve better. It would be another two years before The Empire Strikes Back premieres. Even then, you only have about five minutes of actual screen time. But it sure left an imprint, didn’t it? Less is more. It’s not like they’re gonna start making movies for each individual character. That would be stupid.

You are the reader of this article. You look at the clock at the top right of your MacBook. Wow, this killed a good seven minutes. You wonder what Donald Trump has said since. And why didn’t the writer mention Darth Vader?

Mike Postalakis (@mikepostalakis) is a writer, director and comedian living in Los Angeles. He doesn’t have a Netflix, Hulu, Amazon or HBO Go account. Instead, he spends his extra money at the Gap.

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