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In “Destination: Earth,” Barney (Chuck McCann) and Junior (Bob Denver) are recruited by aliens called Tarnesians to test a hand-held device that can open a time vortex and return them to Earth.
The aliens, however, have a secret agenda. They plan to change time in ways that benefit them once they know the devices work properly. They will be ready to launch an invasion.
Reluctantly, Barney and Junior say goodbye to Honk (Patty Maloney) as they embark on a journey through their own past, and a life on Earth.
They travel back in time to the moment of the disaster that launched them into space. When they get there, however, they choose to do it all again, to be reunited with Honk.
The first thing to understand about “Destination: Earth” is that it is a Far Out Space Nuts (1975) clip show. Barney and Junior travel back in time, and re-visit past episodes, on their journey to Earth.
The cool thing about the episode is that it is a prehistoric – and I mean prehistoric – version of something like Zelig (1983) or Forrest Gump (1994), only with Barney and Junior going back into their own adventures. Then, the adventures resume as they were seen originally.
And yet, despite the reliance on clips in this episode, this is one of the few segments in the canon that relies on genuine, heartfelt emotions.
In particular, Junior and Barney must say farewell to their diminutive partner-in-crime, Honk, who has been their constant companion on the journey through space. I know this is a goofy kid’s show from the 1970’s, but this is actually a pretty emotional moment. It’s like having to say goodbye to a pet, or a best friend.
Even more emotional is the decision that Barney and Junior make, once they have returned to their past. As I wrote above, they decide -- consciously and intentionally -- to be accidentally launched into space and once more undertake all their (mis-)adventures. And of course, that means befriending, and remaining friends with Honk.
Either I’m getting old and soft, or this was a sort of sweet episode, amidst all the typical goofy humor and chases.
Next week, the final episode of The Far Out Space Nuts: “Galaxy’s Greatest Athlete.”