It didn’t take long for The Mandalorian to reference the Star Wars Holiday Special. In the Disney+ series' first episode, an opening act moment specifically cites the infamous 1978 TV production that first introduced Boba Fett, a bounty hunter who understands Mandalorian culture. However, The Mandalorian doesn’t reference Boba Fett’s appearance in the Star Wars Holiday Special, but rather the story itself.
After A New Hope released in 1977, the film’s success inspired a Wookie tale that was conceptualized by franchise creator George Lucas. The Star Wars Holiday Special follows Chewbacca’s attempts to visit his family in Kashyyyk on Life Day, with Hans Solo along for the ride. The special has a surrealistic visual aesthetic to match the times, complete with a cartoon sequence that includes Boba Fett, a virtual reality performance starring Diahann Carroll, and even a cameo from the band Jefferson Airplane. All of the main Star Wars characters appear in the special, like Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, among others. However, critics and fans weren’t impressed with the Holiday Special, and Lucas ultimately distanced himself from it in the long run.
In “Chapter One” the first episode of The Mandalorian, the eponymous Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) visits a cantina and locates his target, Mythrol (Horatio Sanz). Once they board the Mandalorian’s vessel, the blue alien expresses his need to visit the “Vac Tube” and then searches for a way out. As the two characters converse, Mythrol states that “I was hoping to be free for Life Day… get home to the family.” Just like that, The Mandalorian directly references the premise for the Star Wars Holiday Special. But what exactly does this mean for future episodes, if anything?
The Mandalorian was created for Disney+ by Jon Favreau, a well-known cinephile who wrote The Mandalorian’s first episode, so he’s the person responsible for shouting-out the Star Wars Holiday Special. But while some may view the reference as a passing joke, others may consider it to be more of an homage, strange as the 1978 production may be. While The Mandalorian could theoretically be used to explore the idea for a new Holiday Special, one on Disney+, it's unlikely. Instead, it seems that the series simply wants to incorporate as much of the Star Wars galaxy as possible.
The Mandalorian has already featured alien species that haven't been seen since the original trilogy, weapons that first appeared in the Holiday Special, and more. So the Holiday Special reference is possibly something that Favreau and the rest of the production team behind the series merely did in jest. If not, and if it was meant to allude to something bigger, then there could be an interesting story in the future about Life Day on The Mandalorian.