This week marks the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story, the second feature film from Disney to spin off from the main Star Wars saga since the House of Mouse took over the franchise in 2012. Today, Star Wars spinoffs are as prevalent as they've ever been, ranging from films to television series like Rebels to Marvel Comics to video games, and they're all closely guided by Lucasfilm's Story Group to make sure everything lines up as closely as possible. Spinoffs have almost always been a part of the Star Wars franchise, though, and once upon a time they were... well, they were just plain weird.
In honor of Solo's impending release, the folks over at Screen Junkies decided to take three such spinoffs — the infamous 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, and the TV movies Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984) and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985) — and feature them in the latest installment of their "Honest Trailers" series, which both mocks and celebrates various notable films and TV series.
There was a time, before the prequels and the Disney era, when the Ewok films were among the only live-action continuations of the Star Wars universe out there, while the Holiday Special has remained an infamous hidden treasure for fans ever since George Lucas refused to ever air it a second time. As with all Honest Trailers, there are quite a few barbs hurled at all three of these properties, but if you're a Star Wars fan and remember even one of these fondly, it's worth a watch just to recall how bonkers they were.
The Ewoks films are up first, and even more than three decades after they were produced they're still something to behold. After Return of the Jedi, Lucasfilm wanted to capitalize on the family appeal of Ewoks (which many Star Wars fans have since labeled as at least mildly terrifying), and gave them their own made-for-TV mini-franchise that sent them on a pair of fantasy-style adventures with human friends. In Caravan of Courage, they battle a giant. In The Battle for Endor, they have to save their forest moon from an evil invader. Those sound like relatively simple plots, and they are, but there's so much to unpack within them that you almost wish each individual film had received its own honest trailer. We need more analysis and friendly jokes about each member of the Caravan of Courage, please.
The bulk of the video is, of course, devoted to the Holiday Special, and if you still have the one friend or family member who isn't convinced that it exists, or that it's as weird as you say it is, now's the time to show them some clips. The Honest Trailer hits a lot of the highlights, including Bea Arthur's appearance in the Mos Eisley Cantina, Jefferson Starship's performance, Carrie Fisher's song about Wookiee "Life Day," Harrison Ford's confused and bored expression, and all those scenes in which Chewbacca's family talks to each other without the benefit of subtitles or humans to react to what they're saying. Oh, and yes, the infamous sequence in which Chewbacca's father watches Diahann Carroll on a virtual reality headset is included. You didn't imagine it.
While the Honest Trailer jokes that these specials will make you stop complaining about the prequels or whatever you find wrong with Solo, it's also a reminder of how fascinating these bits of the franchise are, if only as little cultural artifacts or things we enjoyed when we were kids. Even in the '70s and '80s, before the synergized ultra-branding of Disney got hold of everything, fans wanted all the Star Wars they could get, and that took us to some very, very strange places.