Saturday, December 23, 2017

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Far Out Space Nuts: "Flight of the Pippets" (October 18, 1975)

In this episode of Sid and Marty Krofft’s Far Out Space Nuts (1975), miniature alien beings called “Pippets” capture and then shrink Junior (Bob Denver) down to miniature proportions so they can store him in a jar and bring him back to their intergalactic museum.

Honk (Patty Mahoney) rescues Junior from this fate, bu Junior is trapped in tiny form, no bigger than a matchbox.

Now Honk and Barney (Chuck McCann) must restore Junior to his normal size, and outwit the Pippets.

To do so, Junior uses the lunar lander’s jet pack, which in turn gets miniaturized.

“Flight of the Pippets” makes extensive use of chroma-key technology, the innovation that was so crucial to Sid and Marty Krofft series including Land of the Lost (1974-1977) and Dr. Shrinker (1976-1977).

Here, chroma-key allows the miniature Pippet flying saucer miniature to be composited over live-action footage of Denver, and McCann. Later, it is utilized to composite the tiny Junior into live-action scenes with Barney.  The technique was cheap and easy to do, but the drawbacks can be noted today. Chroma-key effects (which I love, and used extensively in my web series, The House Between), sometimes look very cheap in color.

Some of the shots work better than others. For instance, there is a shot here of a miniature Junior encountering a normal-sized, but giant-seeming Honk. The shot stands up remarkably well.

Far Out Space Nuts seems to possess two major plot formulas. The first involves Barney being sought by nefarious alien purposes, and captured. The second involves the Space Nuts helping to restore (a female) alien ruler to her rightful throne. “Flight of the Pippets” sees a return, after some weeks, to the first plot line.

The silliest aspect of the story involves all the “tiny” jokes the comedic duo make about Junior’s situation. “I’m so hungry, I could eat an ant,” Junior notes. Or “Let’s talk some small-talk.”  It’s goofy, but not un-amusing.

Finally, the aliens this week are another homage to classic movie monsters. Last week, the aliens resembled the famous Gill Man. This week, the Pippets are modeled after the Metalana mutant from This Island Earth (1951).

Next Week: “Birds of a Feather.”

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