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The Star Wars spinoff George Lucas wants to destroy

What the Holiday Special means for the franchise today.

Christophe Haubursin is a senior producer for the Vox video team. Since joining the team in 2016, he has produced for Vox’s YouTube channel and Emmy-nominated shows Glad You Asked and Explained.

There aren’t many fictional worlds quite like Star Wars. Since the first film in 1977, George Lucas’s universe has been explored through stories in every possible medium, giving it a world-building depth that rivals J.R.R. Tolkien’s work.

Today, Disney has made it clear that the parameters of that universe are highly protected: There’s a dedicated Lucasfilm Story Group responsible for deciding what counts as part of the official universe, and a comically large number of people have been fired from the latest movies over creative differences on the series’ direction.

But Lucasfilm wasn’t always this strict about what counts as part of the world — and there’s no better evidence of that than the Star Wars Holiday Special, a 98-minute comedy variety show that aired only once on television.

You have to see it to believe it.

It’s hard to imagine how this thing got made. But it’s a testament to how unpredictable Star Wars’ success really was. George Lucas was notoriously picky about maintaining control over his world, but he was convinced to approve the show in order to keep Star Wars on everyone’s minds until the second film.

Watch the video above to learn more about how the Holiday Special shaped the extended Star Wars universe, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more.