We’re very sorry to hear that actor Chuck McCann has died. He was also a writer and TV presenter, and an omnipresent face in the 1970s, with appearances on everything from commercials to Columbo. I knew him best as Barney in Sid and Marty Krofft’s hilarious Far Out Space Nuts and was really sorry to hear that such a funny, popular guy has left us. Our condolences to his friends and family.
“This is really going to try your patience,” I told Marie, and I was right. There’s only one episode of Sid and Marty Krofft’s Far Out Space Nuts available commercially, and I swear it’s the worst of the series. It ran in the fall of 1975 on CBS, alongside Filmation’s Shazam!, Isis, and The Ghost Busters, and six or seven of the episodes are really, really funny.
In 2002, Rhino released a three-disk sampler set containing one installment each from thirteen different Krofft shows. They didn’t pick the one with the space haunted house, and they didn’t pick the one with John Carradine (!!). They picked the one with the chicken-people. The adults suffered in silence. The five year-old loved it to pieces. He laughed and giggled all through the thing somehow.
Far Out Space Nuts starred Chuck McCann and Bob Denver. Many of the episodes were either written by McCann and his writing partner Earle Doud or, like this one, by Ray Parker, who wrote dozens and dozens of Hanna-Barbera cartoons in the 1970s, but I don’t believe he did any other work for the Kroffts beyond this. FOSN is typical mid-period Krofft, with the gigantic and intricate sets of their earliest days abandoned in favor of smaller sets – meant to represent different places on different planets but invariably all looking the same – and guest stars. The fun is watching Denver and McCann do their delightful physical comedy – it’s Gilligan and Hardy, basically – and grumbling wordplay while being threatened by various ridiculous aliens, almost all of whom observe them from the same “monitor” prop. I guess all alien supervillains shop at the same electronics store.
It’s a shame this one hasn’t been properly collected. Most of the show appears to be on YouTube in various quality bootlegs, but I’d really like to teach our son to respect artists and creators by buying official releases where possible. He’d love to laugh at some more of this show, and I’d love to see the space haunted house one again.