The Star Wars Holiday Special is, in a word, infamous. It has all the hallmarks of a cheap TV cash in, including guest stars and musical numbers, but over time it has become a cult classic. First traded on VHS bootlegged from TV, and more recently traded around the internet via sharing sites and BitTorrent.
When Disney+ was announced to launch with a large cross-section of all of the vast libraries of film they own including an entire section devoted to Star Wars, many hoped that the Holiday Special would be cleaned up and released. Those hoes have not been answered, but Disney did hear the fans because instead, they have created The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, which takes some of the elements of the original, updates them with the new characters, and then uses a magical MacGuffin to take a ride through the history of Star Wars.
It is, to put it simply, a lot of fun.
As the special starts, Rey is trying to teach Finn how to be a Jedi. Using the now tried and true method of covering his eyes and telling him to defend himself against incoming blaster bolts with a lightsaber.
Side note: I have no idea if Finn being a Padawan is canon now, but it fits. I know that JJ Abrams has said that being force sensitive is what he was trying to tell Rey but never got to in The Rise of Skywalker, but either way, it works for the story.
Rey becomes frustrated because she is having a difficult time training Finn, and nothing she reads in the original Jedi texts seems to be helping. It also happens to be the eve of Life Day, and they are on Kashyyyk two celebrate with Chewbacca and his family. Just as the preparations are underway Rey discovers that a mystical artefact exists that might help her train Finn, and decides to leave to retrieve it, much to the chagrin of her friends.
She and BB-8 reach an ancient Jedi temple and retrieve the artefact, a key made of Kyber crystals, the same crystals that form the heart of every lightsaber. The key turns out to be not to a physical door, but to space and time itself, and the pair start skipping through time and crashing into what amounts to a greatest hits reel of Star Wars historical events.
I don’t want to spoil too much for you but let me just say that she visits at least one major event from each of the major instalments of the Star Wars franchise. While that seems like it might be the kind of thing that might tip too much toward fan service or into parody, it’s clear that the people making this special love Star Wars and thread the needle of doing both of those things pretty perfectly. I never knew I needed to hear Darth Vader tell the emperor that “Death Star II” as a name for the second Death Star is “a little derivative” until I heard it.
Fans of the movies might be thrown by some of the voice actors, while Billy Dee Williams and Kelly Marie Tran both reprise their roles from the films most of the voice actors come from the animated adventures on TV. If you’re a fan of Clone Wars or Rebels, you should recognize them instantly.
Through the course of her adventure, Rey will, of course, learn the lessons of Life Day and of how to be an effective master to her new Padawan, and the whole thing wraps up with a lovely lesson about friendship and family. The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special doesn’t have the cachet of 40 years of bootlegged history, but it does have a loving production team behind it with a clear love for the source material. This is an easy recommendation for anyone who loves (or likes) Star Wars, or Lego, or both.
The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special debuts November 17th on Disney+