Typically, in each episode, their spaceship (a NASA lunar module) would be captured by aliens (one being played by John Carradine, who so impressed Denver with his acting skills that the scene had to be reshot) and taken to some strange planet, or the spaceship would just land somewhere. Then, either Barney and Junior or the ship would be taken away by the strange creatures on the planet. After some weird mission was carried out, the two astronauts would be reunited with the spaceship and be off on their next mission"
So every dungeon master always faces the prospect of too few players & way too much of a big dream of running the game of their imagination. Sometimes its Dungeons & Dragons and sometimes its some other table top rpg. Well for me it was Gamma World, it was a bout '79 or '80 & I had moved back to Connecticut. I was in a brand new school & the number of kids into D&D let alone Gamma World was very low. I only had three players at the time that would change later on. Now the Space Nuts were in reruns at the time on a weekday I think on channel 11 out of New York. The first thing I did was kept the Apollo style landing module, ditched guys as pilots and added in my players mutant and pure strain human from Gamma World. I think later on we added in another player who was a mutant plant. What this format allowed us to do was to use the module to point crawl between communities and places especially in Metamorphosis Alpha 1st edition & Gamma World. Did any of this make any sense? Hell no we were kids & the party often got in way over their heads. This also made it quite easy to have the adventurers land in some D&D fiesta setting such as Greyhawk or Blackmoor because of a solar storm or time warp or dimension gate. After all we were big into Land of the Lost.
We'd add or subtract adventure locations, sample monsters, adjust communities, and generally kill a ton of NPC's etc. We later on added in Space 1999 energy weapons & much bigger space craft when we added in new players but for a glorious retro future moment all was right with the world. But now many years on I'm thinking about this style of format & how it could work?! Well a huge influence was Star Wars and the aliens from Far Out Space Nuts always seemed like refugees from a Science Fiction convention. These guys were always mutants in our games with lots of powers and abilities far beyond the norm. These aliens always seemed half way between Lost in Space, Star Trek, and perhaps a low rent part of the Star War's Cantina. In fact the Far Out Space Nuts might have been the inspiration for that scene;"Chuck McCann, who played Barney, said that Lucas was working on the same film lot in the early '70s, and wandered into the studio cafeteria one day to see the Space Nuts cast sitting around having lunch wearing various alien costumes - he believes that was the influence for the Cantina scene"
So what does any of this have to do with old school or retroclone gaming? Quite a bit actually by using the three or four adventurers with an interstellar or solar system vehicle model of play and setting we get a perfect set up for a post apocalyptic or near space opera style encounter point crawl. We don't even have to go outside of the solar system for this type of campaign set up to work.
The whole thing works well with games such as Mutant Future or Gamma World 1st & second edition where the technology of space travel was implied and indeed used for exploration of near orbit ruins. The various planets and what not that the Space Nuts have been visiting might actually be a part of Earth's or the Sol system's asteroid belt a fact that seldom if ever gets mentioned in post apocalyptic material except for Metamorphosis Alpha 1st edition and Gamma World's time line.
I had Barney pop up a couple of times in Alpha Blue in some lone space bar toasting his partner and grabbing some scores on the holo sports bar. 'The Farout Space Nuts' was of its time and for those of us who grew up in the 70's perhaps one of the first introductions to science fiction in our young lives.