The year was 1978. Americans were suffering under the weak leadership of an ineffective president. Inflation was running hot and about to get much worse. And then, as if to put an exclamation point on just how bad things were getting, one of the three broadcast television networks that existed at the time aired The Star Wars Holiday Special.
It's difficult to describe just how crushingly bad this entertainment event was. The year before, the movie Star Wars (as it was popularly known at the time, today it goes by "Star Wars: Epsiode IV - A New Hope") had been a spectacular success, providing a beacon of light in the gathering gloom of the era's popular entertainment. By contrast, The Star Wars Holiday Special has been described as a "cosmic catastrophe" and "infamously terrible". No wonder Star Wars producer George Lucas and the stars of the movies worked hard to bury the memory of the special in the decades since.
But some Star Wars fans, being who they are, couldn't let it go. Not only did they remember it existed, some have worked to improve it in a campaign to bring it back. One fan has even gone so far as to create a two minute 4K video trailer for The Star Wars Holiday Special, employing AI and machine learning to improve a portion of the viewing experience.
The trailer only hints at the badness to which Americans were subjected in 1978. To get the full experience, we need to turn another effort to improve the watchability of The Star Wars Holiday Special, put together by Rifftrax.
If you don't think the jokes in the added soundtrack are an improvement, try watching the special without them. You'll soon see why President Jimmy Carter was sermonizing about malaise to Americans just a matter of months later.
We'll agree with CNet's Gael Fashingbauer Cooper that the best part of the improved viewing experience are the vintage ads.
Previously on Political Calculations
Since we're on the verge of the holiday season, here's a sampling of how we've celebrated the time of year in years past.
- The New Physics of Santa and His Reindeer
- How Much Should You Spend on Gifts this Christmas?
- Air Shark!
- Why There Are Only 12 Days of Christmas
- The Quantum Santa and the Solutions to Other Christmas Conundrums
- Inventions in Everything: The Santa Claus Detector
- 2020's Xmas Bill
- Reworking Overworked Christmas Carols
And for Star Wars fans, do have a happy Life Day!