It was only 42 years ago that CBS blessed (cursed?) us with The Star Wars Holiday Special. The 1978 independent “sequel,” which fell between the original Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, featured all your favorite characters celebrating Life Day (the galaxy-far-far-away equivalent to Christmas) and introduced Chewbacca’s family to fans. The special was originally so poorly received that it was never released on video; only fans who searched high and low for cheap bootlegs were lucky enough to watch it again. Though many believe it to be a blight on the entire franchise, the holiday special now holds a special place in many a Star Wars fan’s heart, so much that the mere mention of “Life Day” in the first season of The Mandalorian thrilled die-hard viewers. The Mandalorian made Life Day canon, and in turn, validated the existence of the elusive Holiday Special. It is the perfect puzzle piece in the Star Wars universe that fans love to hate.
Star Wars TV spin-offs were validated once more when The Mandalorian earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Drama earlier this year. Now Disney has revived the holiday special, and given it a Lego facelift. The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, which will be out on Disney+ on November 17 (the anniversary of the original), includes all things festive while still keeping the integrity of the franchise intact. Instead of a remake where our characters speak Wookiee 85% of the time and Chewbacca’s elderly father watches questionable VR material, the new special focuses on the new generation of heroes: Rey, Finn, Rose, and Poe. And of course, no Lego Star Wars story would be complete without droids and Porgs.
We are introduced to this new story by our omniscient narrator, Master Yoda, who explains that Rey has begun training Finn to be a Jedi. This proves to be a real challenge for Finn, and Rey has trouble finding the power she needs to train him. True to her character, Rey puts her search for answers ahead of Life Day festivities while the rest of the crew tries to prepare a proper celebration before Chewbacca’s family arrives. Things pick up with a Back To The Future-like twist, as Rey opens a pathway to the spirits of Life Day past. We are then thrown into a time-traveling adventure revisiting every key point in the Star Wars saga—all retold and rebuilt in the goofy Lego style; some quick-but-great cameos lead to fantastical scenarios and whimsical fight scenes.
The story progresses through all the parts of the Star Wars universe absolutely bursting with references and Easter eggs; even The Child makes an appearance. The special also offers breaks and changes in major storylines and character arcs, as longtime Lego writer David Shayne and director Ken Cunningham let their imaginations run wild. But, in true Lego fashion, all the pieces can be neatly put back together. The Star Wars Lego Holiday Special, in all its warm and fuzzy glory, is a nice addition to the holiday season, but it cannot entirely redeem the dumpster fire that is the original. If anything, it only solidifies the original’s low-ranking place within the saga, acting as a cleaner, more put-together “sequel.” But the ridiculousness of the original holiday special lives on in the silliness of Lego mechanics, which makes the new Life Day re-telling all the more fun. The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special amps up that cheesiness in the best way possible, taking all the bad with the good, in a charming ode to the 1978 television special.