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Pre-Ghostbusters Reference Review - Ed Norton Had Proton Packs Before The Ghostbusters

 By Paul Rudoff on Sep. 13, 2020 at 8:34 PM , Categories: References

Most Ghostbusters references are short bits that can best be encapsulated with a small video clip, as evidenced by Spook Central's collection of Ghostbusters reference videos on Critical Commons. However, sometimes there's a reference for which a small clip won't do it justice. It is for these types of references that I have this reoccurring feature here at Spook Central, the Ghostbusters Reference Review... or in this case, the PRE-Ghostbusters Reference Review (since it occurred before 1984).

A long time ago (the 1970s), in a galaxy far, far away (network television)...

After nearly 42 years, I finally saw the infamous The Star Wars Holiday Special. It received one, and only one, television broadcast in the United States on CBS on November 17, 1978 from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM Eastern. Despite never being seen again on television, or ever being released on home video, fans who recorded it off the television on their early VCRs made copies of their tapes for other fans, who in turn passed it around at conventions and via the tape trading community. Eventually, it was transferred to DVD and passed around some more, before eventually finding its way online, as most everything eventually does.

Although I'm sure that a copy has always been readily available online (one is embedded at the end of this article), I never had much interest in bothering to find it and watch it. Despite owning many of the Star Wars films on official DVD and Blu-ray, I'm not a Star Wars superfan, and just never had much interest in seeing the Holiday Special. Besides, its reputation told me that it wasn't worth it. Well, while picking up a nice Blu-ray copy of the Despecialized Original Trilogy, I saw that the site also offered a DVD of the Holiday Special, and I figured, "Why not?" I wanted to finally see what was so special about the Holiday Special.

Well, let me put it this way: I can sit here and watch The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, No Holds Barred, Santa With Muscles (reviewed here), Mac & Me, and even Ghostbusters (2016) (reviewed here), and get some enjoyment from each of them (and many more awesomely bad movies), but The Star Wars Holiday Special was the longest two hours of my life that I'll never get back!

Strange enough, the Holiday Special doesn't ignore the sole Star Wars movie that came before it (the now-titled "A New Hope" from 1977), even though all those involved in its production prefer to ignore the Holiday Special itself, while the fans won't let it die. Meanwhile, Ghostbusters (2016) purposely ignores the two Ghostbusters movies that came before it (the ones in 1984 and 1989), even though all those involved in its production would prefer to not let the 2016 film itself be ignored, while most of the fans wish it would die. Maybe if Ghostbusters (2016) featured VR porn and a multi-armed Harvey Korman in drag, Sony would let us all forget about it.

Now, you're probably wondering what The Star Wars Holiday Special has to do with Ghostbusters. I'm getting to that, young Padawan. First, let me give you the gist of what the Holiday Special is all about. Han Solo is bringing Chewbacca home to the Wookiee home planet of Kashyyyk, so that he could celebrate the Wookiee holiday Life Day with his family, which includes his wife Malla, his son Lumpy, and his father Itchy. As Han and Chewbacca are known Rebel agents, they are pursued by the Galactic Empire, while down on the planet, Empire officers invade Chewbacca's home. The special centers around the Wookies at home and being terrorized in their home by the Nazis... I mean, the Empire. Really, swap Jews for the Wookies and Nazis for the Empire and you'd have Schindler's List. Anyway, what should be a 30-minute special is stretched to two hours with more padding than a three-hour episode of Monday Night Raw. What The Grinch and Charlie Brown could accomplish in 30 minutes, the Holiday Special can't do in two hours. Every few minutes, an unrelated musical number, comedy routine, or other variety-show act appears to eat up some of the running time. You'll be bored amazed at the sights and sounds of Jefferson Starship, Diahann Carroll, Art Carney, Harvey Korman, and Bea Arthur. All of the movie actors - Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and James Earl Jones - show up to collect a paycheck reprise their famous roles, too!

The only guest star who actually has anything to do with the main plot is Art Carney, who plays a trader/shopkeeper named Saun Dann. You might remember Carney as Ed Norton, the comic foil to Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden, in the 1950s sitcom The Honeymooners. Saun is also a Rebel sympathizer, slipping in a hidden message about Chewbacca's whereabouts in his videophone conversation with Malla. Before ending that call, he tells her that he'll "be by later to drop off that extra proton energy pack". Okay, I think you're starting to understand why this article is on a Ghostbusters website :-)

Play Video

Later, when Saun shows up at the Bacca residence, he tells Itchy, "I brought you that Proton Pack for the Mind Evaporator."

Play Video

As we'll find out minutes later, the Proton Pack that exists in the Star Wars universe is not the same one that exists in the Ghostbusters universe. The Star Wars Proton Pack is a power source (battery) that gets inserted into the Mind Evaporator. The Mind Evaporator is, well there's no getting around this, it's dirty old man Itchy's VR Porn machine. See, the Holiday Special not only "invented" Proton Packs, it also invented VR Porn, too! While the clip below only includes Saun inserting the Proton Pack into the Mind Evaporator, which looks like a hairdryer stolen from a beauty salon, you can also watch the full VR scene with Diahann Carroll.

Play Video

Now, I'm not saying that The Star Wars Holiday Special is where Dan Aykroyd got the name "Proton Pack" from, I'm sure that it's just a funny coincidence, but who's to say that he didn't watch this back in 1978 and picked up on it. Imagine if, for the past 36 years, we never realized that Ghostbusters was partially inspired by the Holiday Special :-)

That's not the only connection between Ghostbusters and the Holiday Special. Scope this out...


Yup. The Star Wars Holiday Special, Ghostbusters, and Ghostbusters II were all filmed at The Burbank Studios. Sadly, not on the same soundstages. The Ghostbusters movies were filmed on Stages 12, 15, 16, and 18. The Holiday Special sets were constructed on Stage 2.

The Star Wars Holiday Special is NOT officially available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD, Laserdisc, DIVX, Video CD, VHS, Betamax, CED Videodisc, Super 8, or any other home video format that's ever existed! An embarrassed George Lucas has made damn sure that this thing has never, officially, seen the light of day since its single airing back in 1978. Of course, that just made the fans more enticed to widely circulate the thing over the past few decades. A copy without the commercials is embedded below. If you want to own a physical copy, the bootleg DVD copy I purchased came from SWDespecialized.com, where it cost me $20 plus shipping and tax. It comes in a thick, clear Blu-ray-size case with very high-quality printing on the case artwork and liner booklet. Yes, it comes with a liner booklet! It's the WMAR-TV Baltimore broadcast with all of the commercials and the RiffTrax audio commentary. The famous WCBS-TV "Fighting the Frizzies" news teaser (parodied in the 1999 South Park episode "Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics") is included as an Easter egg. The quality of the special is fantastic considering it didn't come from Lucasfilm/Disney. My only qualms is the use of a Blu-ray case for a DVD; and not putting the commercial breaks into one chapter each, so they could be easily skipped past (each commercial is individually chaptered); or providing a "commercial-free" viewing option.

If you'd like to learn more about The Star Wars Holiday Special, check out Wookiepedia, StarWarsHolidaySpecial.com (where you can find a script, a transcript, and other documents), and the Wrestlecrap induction.

For the complete list of Spook Central's Ghostbusters Reference Review posts from years past, check out the References category.

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