Beloved actress Bea Arthur died this weekend, and while most people remember her for her roles in Maude and Golden Girls, I remember her best as Ackmena, the cantina bartender from The Star Wars Holiday Special. The CBS special holds a unique place in the world of Star Wars, because it's quite possibly the most awful piece of Star Wars-related entertainment ever made, and has been condemned by George Lucas himself, who had no involvement with it. Because of this, it has only been aired in its entirety once (in 1978) and has never been officially released on VHS or DVD. So anyone under the age of 30 who can speak with knowledge about Boba Fett's first appearance (in the special's animated segment) or Chewbacca's grandfather's love of holographic pornography has likely seen one of the millions of bootlegs in existence, all copied from the original TV broadcast. And while most of the original Star Wars cast members make brief appearances, Bea Arthur stands out as a symbol of the high caliber of guest stars the producers roped in to appear in this disaster.
Growing up in the 1980s, I didn't watch a lot of traditional "holiday specials." No special guests coming over, no singing songs by the fire, nothing like that -- just Charlie Brown, the Grinch and little Ralphie for me. So all I know about the golden age of holiday specials is what I've seen parodied on Saturday Night Live ("I'm Gumby, dammit!"). But from what I've seen, Stephen Colbert really nailed it in A Colbert Christmas, his Comedy Central Christmas special, which aired last night, although I can only imagine that his was a million times funnier, and that this time the humor was intentional. I would even go out on a limb and call it a new holiday staple, like A Christmas Story, although I don't know if I'd want it to play 24 hours in a row. Here are the five funniest moments from last night's airing.
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