There’s no question about it. The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special isn’t high art, and it’s not the kind of thing that turns into legend like the Star Wars Holiday Special did. It’s unlikely to become the kind of Bea Arthur-starring cult weirdness that the original was for a variety of reasons — a lack of an actual Bea Arthur being the leading one. The humor is also pretty bog-standard, its entire premise is to make a series of callbacks to previous films (now in Lego form), and its
holiday Life Day message doesn’t exactly land the same way as, say, Linus explaining the meaning of Christmas does. No, the Lego Star Wars Holiday Special is simply just a nice piece of fluff.
Yet, it’s also the exact Star Wars we need right now.
For those unaware, the Star Wars Holiday Special was a TV show that premiered in 1978, a year after the first Star Wars film landed and turned into the biggest film ever. A kind of odd holiday variety special all couched in the world of Star Wars, the show was aired only once and basically buried forever by George Lucas after that (until the internet brought it back anyway). He considered it a stain on the franchise, and its release showed a bit of a misunderstanding of exactly what Star Wars was. That, in fairness, can be understood; at the time something like Star Wars had never been seen before. Nonetheless, the holiday special still sits in an odd place that allows for open franchise mockery of something that many hold sacred.
We need the Lego Star Wars Holiday Special right now for that same reason, no matter how inconsequential it is. The special revolves around Rey finding a Jedi time stone and hurtling herself back through the entire film series, and it is the kind of mockery this franchise and fandom desperately need to stop taking it all so seriously. Since 2017, the year the polarizing The Last Jedi released, the Star Wars fandom has been plunged into negativity, a feeling only compounded by the nearly universal panning of The Rise of Skywalker. The franchise has since been struggling with the internet fandom tearing itself apart, overanalyzing every aspect of it (we here at The Escapist not excluded). Yes, The Mandalorian has been a relative bright spot, but what this franchise needed is for something to point out just how absurd it all is.
It’s important for franchises to have these moments of self-mockery. It allows the audience to sit back, laugh at the absurdity of things, and take a break from piecing together plotlines and deciding if Luke would really drink milk straight from a thala-siren’s udder. Star Trek has a long tradition of inserting episodes like this into its lexicon, starting with The Original Series episodes like “The Trouble with Tribbles” and eventually leading to Star Trek: Lower Decks. Marvel released Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, two movies that routinely mock the premise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general. Even The Walking Dead takes a breather every once in a while.
For long-running franchises, poking fun at yourself is a necessity for staying alive, but Star Wars has resisted doing that outside of the written word (Lego video games aside) and especially under Disney. It’s been one big giant release after another with no time to decompress and unpack just how ludicrous it all is. However, as an official, advertised, branded, quasi-canon mocking of Star Wars, the Lego Star Wars Holiday Special shows that Disney and Lucasfilm are at least in on some of the jokes and can poke fun at themselves. That statement is made with full awareness that Disney is still a massive, evil, soulless corporation controlling the majority of our most popular media.
The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special offers levity. There are swipes at shirtless Kylo Ren, Han-shot-first gags, and even a Maclunkey sighting. There are callbacks to the myriad of issues with the prequels, nods to the current trilogy’s issues, and plenty of character-busting moments that make little sense in the context of very-serious-Star-Wars-stuff but are just kind of fun to watch. Is it the wholehearted deconstruction that the franchise truly deserves in its current messy state? No, it’s a holiday special made out of Lego. But it’s still better than staring into the void and wondering if Disney has any clue at all. This is Star Wars for kids with just enough of a wink at the adult audience to make you feel a bit better and remind you that lightning-shooting space emperors sitting in throne rooms on their giant balls of laser death are patently ridiculous.
Of course, the aforementioned Lego Star Wars video games do exist, and it could be easily argued that they’ve been providing levity for years and better than this special does. Those games, however, just aren’t as mainstream as the Lego Star Wars Holiday Special and its Disney+ holiday season release. This is a special millions upon millions of people are going to watch, and for casual fans, it’s one of the only places they’re going to see Disney directly mocking its franchise. Given its attachment to the previous special, it holds a unique place in the Star Wars pantheon, and hopefully it can, much like its cliche holiday message, bring everyone together in laughing at this “very important” space opera.
There are actually a few other reasons the Lego Star Wars Holiday Special is landing at the right time. For one, it answers a lot of questions left open-ended by the flailing script of The Rise of Skywalker. In the show, for instance, Rey is training Finn in the ways of the Force, confirming that he is Force-sensitive if there were any remaining doubt. There’s also some closure for poor Rose Tico and (what one can only hope is) a super deep cut of a joke where she’s once again sidelined into doing absolutely nothing despite being the only lead actor from Episodes VII – IX to voice her character. That might be giving the show a bit too much credit and many of these issues were answered in other media like books, post-release explanations, and scattered details around the internet, but for normal fans who aren’t diving into the expanded universe, the special answers questions they would have never seen otherwise, even if the special itself isn’t canon.
It’s just nice that the show doesn’t really care. It’s made to have fun. “It’s
Christmas Life Day, asshole,” the show seems to be saying. Sit back and enjoy all your favorite Star Wars moments and laugh at them for a bit. Are the jokes all clever? Not really, but they are jokes and it’s the season to not be a dick about things. There’s an underlying, albeit cliche, story sitting at the bottom of this tale that’s about friendship and being together and all that stuff that every holiday special is about. And, you know, it’s just nice to have that right now in the middle of a world that’s kind of gone to crap. It’s nice to have it in the form of a favorite franchise even if it’s gone to crap too. It’s nice to be able to sit back, get some hot chocolate, and not have to worry about all that for a while. Even if you end up thinking the Lego Star Wars Holiday Special is crap itself, it’s the kind of crap we need right now.