Star Wars has always had a complicated relationship with canon. Creator George Lucas never really embraced the early comics and books as part of his film universe, and that aversion may have started with the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, a variety show that aired on CBS in 1978 and has never been rebroadcast since.
The show is something of an urban legend to fans, especially newer ones who have come into the franchise with the sequels or even the prequels. But the show remains a part of Star Wars history, even if its place in the legacy of Star Wars is one some would like to forget.
Fans have clamored to see the Star Wars Holiday Special represented in some form, either on DVD or perhaps on Disney+ for years. It’s unlikely to ever happen given George Lucas’s strong dislike of the show. But the show is part of Star Wars history, and like the Droids animated series from 1985 and its Ewoks companion series, both of which have also never been re-released, the Holiday Special is worth acknowledging as the first true live-action spinoff of the franchise.
There is a reason George Lucas doesn’t want people to see it and it’s mostly because the Holiday Special isn’t any good. He had little involvement in the film, focused at the time on preparing The Empire Strikes Back for production, and left the movie to CBS. CBS brought in experienced variety show writers like Bruce Vilanch and actors like Harvey Korman and Bea Arthur, but the end product was nowhere near the high standard that Lucasfilm has always maintained for its marquee franchise.
The one thing the Holiday Special did have going for it was that it introduced new concepts to the nascent Star Wars universe. People generally cite the introduction of Chewbacca’s Wookie family on Kashyyk as a part of the show that didn’t work at all, but the impetus for that storyline did come out of George Lucas’s own ideas for future Star Wars spinoffs. The idea to expand the universe, and the medium, into animation as it did with the segment that introduced Boba Fett, were both concepts that served Star Wars well going forward.