1 February 2005 | RJV
From an Adult Perspective, What Episodes I've Seen Aren't So Bad
Growing up in the 1970s, I remember watching FAR OUT SPACE NUTS, first on CBS in the 1975-76 season and then in reruns on New York City-based syndicated station WPIX later in the decade. Since I was a child, my critical faculties were not fully developed. Since reaching maturity, I've only seen three episodes- "Tower of Tagot," "Secrets of the Hexagon," and "Birds of a Feather." My impression from these episodes is that the television show was hardly remarkable, but it had its amusing moments. In my opinion, FAR OUT SPACE NUTS holds up better than other Saturday morning children's programs like SCOOBY DOO, WHERE ARE YOU? and JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS.
Two assets are the stars. It's true that Bob Denver is basically reprising his famous "Gilligan" characterization as the bumbling Junior, but this personality perfectly suits him. He conveys the same sweet naiveté he did as Gilligan, thoroughly endearing himself to audiences despite his klutziness. As Denver's domineering partner Barney, Chuck McCann amusingly registers annoyance at Junior's bumbling. But like Denver, McCann's character lacks malice. Indeed, Barney loves Junior like a brother, giving Denver and McCann's partnership an underlying warmth.
The show's premise is that NASA janitors Barney and Junior accidentally launch themselves into space and they struggle to get back to earth every episode. The production values are astonishingly cheap, looking like the show was filmed in someone's backyard. From what I've seen, I feel the writers (including McCann) missed an opportunity to satirize the show's low budget. The characters could have addressed the television audience like those in ROCKY AND HIS FRIENDS, reminding them that FAR OUT SPACE NUTS was just a TV show. The humor presented on the show is uneven, ranging from clever to infantile. Usually, however, Denver and McCann put the jokes over with their droll expressions and lively delivery. It's a pity they split up after this show.
Supporting performances are generally good. It seems to me that at least some of them acted with tongue in cheek, fully aware of the show's utter silliness. In particular, Robert Quarry playing a villain on "Tower of Tagot" came across as deliberately campy. In my opinion, this approach enhanced this episode.
For me, the greatest appeal of FAR OUT SPACE NUTS is its nostalgic value. The program's good-natured innocence and inoffensiveness not only convey the joys of childhood when one enjoyed this entertainment without any concerns of the world's problems, but also the golden age of comedy in the 1930s and 1940s where nothing off-color or cynical was suggested- just clean, slapstick comedy. I'm no prude, but I feel that today's entertainment is generally over-saturated with smut and mean-spiritedness. FAR OUT SPACE NUTS is no masterpiece but it comes across as wholesome escapist entertainment for the family.