In 1978, the Star Wars Holiday Special premiered on CBS. The two-hour special set in the new and highly popular Star Wars universe, featuring cameos by some of the biggest comedy and musical stars of the day, immediately set an all-time ratings high, only approached by the final episode of M*A*S*H 8 years later. The extreme popularity of the program, due largely to its engaging storyline, clever dialogue and action sequences rivaling that of the first movie itself, spawned a yearly tradition of Star Wars Holiday Specials running through the present day. The long-running, extremely-high-budget yearly series has been instrumental in filling in the story gaps between the various theatrical chapters, as well as portraying flashbacks, flashforwards and introducing dozens of new characters that quickly became as publicly beloved as those of the films themselves. With the completion of both planned Star Wars trilogies, there was some concern that the Specials would soon be discontinued, but creator George Lucas quickly released a statement that as long as the public was in love with Star Wars, the Specials would never be complete.
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