This past summer, box office analysts all over the galaxy blamed Solo’s disappointing earnings on poor marketing and oversaturation of Star Wars movies. Personally, I believe these theories are (and forgive my French) a whole lot of hooey. The problem with Star Wars these days is that there are too many new ideas, new characters. Why enjoy something fresh and exciting and possibly even challenging, when you can watch the same old thing over and over?
With this in mind, I’m sure you will agree that what Star Wars truly needs is a remake. Search your feelings. You will know it to be true. You probably already know what film I’m going to recommend that they reimagine, and that is the beloved sequel to A New Hope.
I am, of course, speaking of The Star Wars Holiday Special.
This made-for-TV movie honestly has everything you could ask for in a holiday special: There’s Bea Arthur pouring an alcoholic beverage into a man’s open cranium, Luke Skywalker wearing more eyeliner than Billie Joe Armstrong circa 2004, an elderly wookiee watching VR porn while suggestively waggling his lower lip. If all that doesn’t speak to the spirit of the holiday season, I don’t know what does. As a world-renowned remake enthusiast, I feel that I would be remiss not to stand up here on my digital bully pulpit and tell you what the new Star Wars Holiday Special should be like.
In the original SWHS, the audience gets to spend some quality time with Chewbacca’s family in their treehouse on Kashyyyk. The wookiees are fun and a little wacky, and they scream at each other for an hour and a half without any subtitles. While this is all well and good, I think we should change things up somewhat and focus on the family of another popular character. Picture this: A decrepit Jar Jar Binks and his loved ones cluster together in their underwater living pod, yammering at each other in Old Gungan, roasting Nabooian chestnuts and luminescent worms on an open fire.
The 1978 holiday special centers around a wookiee celebration known as “Life Day,” which is a thinly veiled analogue for Christmas. The final scene of the movie even shows Chewie’s family sitting together for Christmas dinner, holding hands and bowing their heads in prayer. My suggestion for the remake would be to take this blatant celebration of space-Xmas to the next level.
Let’s show Jar Jar and his grandchildren, Bong Bong and Jim Jam, decorating a Christmas tree with starfish and singing carols about an amphibious baby Jesus. Bong Bong will attempt to leave out green thala-siren milk and crustacean-chip cookies for Santa, only to have the entire feast swiftly devoured by old grandpappy Jar Jar. The miserly old Gungan will show no remorse, even after the entire family exclaims, “How wude!” In order to learn his lesson, Jar Jar will be visited by the Force ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. By the end of these spectral proceedings, we’ll find Jar Jar staring in horror at his own grave, as he whispers to the figure of Death beside him, “Ani, meesa will change.” If the filmmakers play their cards right, this new Star Wars Holiday Special could become a classic that’s aired every December, in between A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life.
Obviously, the film can’t be composed entirely of heartwarming holiday scenes of gingerbread baking and Jar Jar getting his tongue stuck on a gigantic frozen eel. Like in any good Star Wars movie, there need to be a few thrills and chills. In the original movie, Han and Chewie faced off against a stormtrooper, which resulted in the villain falling off the treehouse to his doom. Perhaps this time around Rey and BB-8 can show up to confront the clone of Supreme Leader Snoke. Emperor Palpatine cloned himself multiple times in the expanded Star Wars universe, so it seems only fair that Snoke should get the same opportunity.
We do need to be honest with ourselves and admit that Snoke wasn’t the most popular character in Episodes 7 and 8. That’s why I’m going to suggest that something should go wrong during Snoke’s cloning process. Perhaps the cloning machine is hit by a bolt of space lightning, which causes someone a little different to be created; someone I’m going to call Cool Snoke. This Snoke wears pince-nez styled sunglasses and uses catchphrases like, “Okey-Snokey.” Instead of coming across as a weakling like he did in Episodes 7 and 8, he’ll use his Dark Side powers to perform some epic feats, such as throwing a rancor at Rey’s head and mind-controlling a horde of rabid Ewoks. Of course, Cool Snoke will be swiftly drowned in the unforgiving depths of Lake Paonga, but his visage will live on in the Pop figures posing on our bookshelves.
Perhaps even more important than the heroic fight scenes is the need to incorporate some edgier elements into the story, to satisfy a modern audience. This is a post-Game of Thrones era, and we all expect our entertainment to be bold and fearless. So how exactly do we push the boundaries of Star Wars? Since this is a Christmas movie, viewers probably won’t expect a character (particularly a well-loved character) to be killed off. That’s why I’m going to recommend that they blow up BB-8. Naturally, he should be obliterated beyond repair, so that there’s no hope of a miracle that might bring him back to life in the end.
Personally, I believe an underwater marriage ceremony (or Blue Wedding) would be the perfect setting for this tragic event. In the original holiday special, George Lucas wanted to reveal that Han Solo was married to a wookiee, but the filmmakers decided this truth would be too controversial for TV. Now, I think there shouldn’t be any problems revealing a similar coupling. Let BB-8 meet his end during the nuptials between Rey and Jar Jar’s adult son Rat Rat. I’m sure you can picture the scene already. The Max Rebo Band wails out their jizz music, while Unkar Plutt (ordained by the Universal Galactic Church) presides over the ceremony. “Today,” he’ll say. “Rey and Rat Rat come together, making two half-portions into one full portion.” Just as Rat Rat is about to take the ring from BB-8, Snoke drops a force missile on the droid’s head. And boom. The audience might not enjoy witnessing the death of the ever-popular roly-poly, but they will certainly be talking about it for weeks to come.
Everything that I’ve described so far might make the remake seem too good to fail, but we can’t let our guard down quite yet. When it comes to cinematic reimaginings, there’s always the danger that somewhere along the way, some of the magic of the original will be lost. Because of this, it’s important to carefully analyze what exactly makes the first film so exceptional. Is there one specific scene that elevates the special from just another quirky Christmas movie to a cinematic masterpiece? Is it Princess Leia’s musical number amidst a throng of berobed wookiees? The bit where Chewie’s son Lumpy spends about four hours putting together a mini-transmitter? No, not quite. Objectively, the most memorable scene in the SWHS is the one where Chewbacca’s wife Malla watches a cooking program about how to prepare a Bantha rump. To my mind, this segment is where most of the charm and beauty of the holiday special resides. Therefore, the film creators need to tread carefully when recreating this scene. But fear not: I’m here to help.
In the original version of the kitchen scene, Malla’s watching a TV show hosted by a gray humanoid named Chef Gormaanda who repeats the phrase “stir whip stir whip whip whip stir” about one hundred times. As you would imagine, the phrase gets even funnier each time it’s repeated. After watching the SWHS, I can hardly even hear the word stir without chortling. Clearly, Gormaanda is the standout character in the special, and we’re going to need someone with a knack for humor and acting chops aplenty to take over this vital role. That’s why I’m going to recommend Guy Fieri for the part. Fieri is no stranger to repeating the same hilarious phrases hundreds of times. If he can so masterfully deliver to his audience expressions like “bomb-dot-com tasty” and “hot tub in flavortown,” he can surely handle “stir whip stir whip whip whip stir.” And let’s not forget that brilliant moment in the original holiday special when Gormaanda reveals that she doesn’t have two arms, as we first assumed, but four. In a similar vein, imagine a gray-faced Fieri turning around and surprising us with the fact that he’s wearing sunglasses on the back of his head because he does, in fact, have a second pair of eyes.
I could go on and on about how to perfectly craft this remake, but I believe I’ve already covered the most salient details. And to all those Disney creatives out there, feel free to use this post as a roadmap to a brighter and more lucrative future for the Star Wars franchise. You can thank me later by sending me a free “stir yourself to flavortown” T-shirt.
Originally published in July 2018.
Jeremy C. Shipp is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of Cursed, Vacation, and Sheep and Wolves. His shorter tales have appeared in over 60 publications, including Cemetery Dance, ChiZine and Apex Magazine. Jeremy lives in Southern California in a moderately haunted Victorian farmhouse. His novella The Atrocities and his novel Bedfellow are both available from Tor.com Publishing.