Quark
Richard Benjamin and the Barnstable twins
Created byBuck Henry
Starring
ComposerPerry Botkin Jr.
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes8
Production
Executive producers
Running time30 minutes
Production companies
Original release
NetworkNBC
ReleaseMay 7, 1977 (1977-05-07) –
April 7, 1978 (1978-04-07)

Quark is a 1977 American science fiction sitcom starring Richard Benjamin. Broadcast on Friday nights at 8:00–8:30 p.m. on NBC,[1] the pilot aired on May 7, 1977, and the series followed as a mid-season replacement in February 1978. The series was cancelled in April 1978. Quark was created by Buck Henry, co-creator of the spy spoof Get Smart.[1]

Plot

The show was set on a United Galaxy Sanitation Patrol Cruiser, an interstellar garbage scow operating out of United Galaxy Space Station Perma One in the year 2226. Adam Quark, the main character, works to clean up trash in space by collecting "space baggies" with his trusted and highly unusual crew.

Quark draws heavily from Star Trek as a source of parody. In its short run, specific episodes also satirized such science fiction as Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Buck Rogers, and Flash Gordon.[1] Three of the episodes were direct parodies of Star Trek episodes.[1]

Characters

Episodes

A United Galaxy Sanitation Patrol cruiser
No Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1"Quark"Peter H. HuntBuck HenryMay 7, 1977 (1977-05-07)
A deep space phenomenon threatens to destroy the galaxy, and Quark's ship is the only one in the area. Palindrome and The Head instruct Quark to go on a suicide mission to save their civilization, but he's so far away they can only contact him by telegram. The two of them argue over telegram costs and spend most of the episode trying to reduce the number of words in the message so as to keep the cost down. Meanwhile Quark and company accidentally save the day anyway.
Ficus was not a part of the cast in this episode, and the "science guy" role was held by Dr. O.B. Mudd, a crotchety one-eyed old man played by Douglas Fowley (Mudd lost his eye while working at his science station when he fell asleep while using his microscope). It is mentioned that Mudd and Quark built Andy together. Mudd never appeared or was mentioned again in the series, and no explanation was given for his departure from the show, other than a gag about transferring. The Barnstable twins are credited with the last name "Barnett" in the pilot.[2]
2"May the Source Be with You"Hy AverbackSteve ZachariasFebruary 24, 1978 (1978-02-24)
Perma One is in a state of emergency, as the Gorgons have created the ultimate weapon to defeat the United Galaxy. Palindrome gives Quark the secret weapon, "The Source" (voiced by Hans Conreid). Quark must believe completely in the Source in order to defeat the Gorgons. The episode parodies elements from Star Wars and 1930's sci-fi serials Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. The episode title parodies the phrase "May the Force Be with You" from Star Wars.
In the Spanish-language version the scene where the Bettys compare Quark to a god was removed so as not to offend Catholic viewers.
3"The Old and the Beautiful"Hy AverbackBruce KaneMarch 3, 1978 (1978-03-03)
Expecting his usual garbage hauling assignment, Quark is excited to hear that the Head has authorized an "extended romantic interlude" with Princess Carna of Kamamor (Barbara Rhoades). Troubles ensue when the crew encounter a stray space baggy carrying a virus which ages Quark two years for every hour. Borrows from & parodies elements of the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Deadly Years". Kirstie Alley appears in her first, (uncredited) screen role as Princess Carna's second handmaiden.
4"The Good, the Bad and the Ficus"Hy AverbackStuart GillardMarch 10, 1978 (1978-03-10)
While on a routine mission, the ship is accidentally pulled into a black hole, which splits the crew into good and evil counterparts. The exception is Ficus, who remains the same because "there are no good or evil plants, there are just plants", leading both sets of crew members to scream at him in their usual exasperation. After Quark confronts and defeats his evil self on a nearby asteroid, he sends the evil crew back through the black hole. As the evil crew is being sent back we hear the evil Adam Quark say "Keep your deflectors up, do-gooder! You haven't seen the last of this face!" Borrows from and parodies elements of the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Mirror, Mirror". The episode title is a play on the film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
5"Goodbye, Polumbus"Hy AverbackBruce KaneMarch 17, 1978 (1978-03-17)
Quark and his crew are sent on a suicide mission to Polumbus to discover why no one has returned alive. Quark and his crew fall prey to their fantasies as part of a fiendish plot by the dreaded Gorgons to drain the minds of the United Galaxy's most brilliant scientists. Quark encounters a beautiful dream girl, Ficus encounters a teacher, the Bettys encounter dancing clones of Quark, and Gene/Jean encounters his favorite comic book character "Zoltar the Magnificent" (Denny Miller). In order to save his crew, Quark must destroy the obelisk and free the shape-shifting "Clay People" it enslaved. Borrows from and parodies the Star Trek original series episodes "Shore Leave" and "This Side of Paradise". The episode's title is a play on the film Goodbye, Columbus starring Richard Benjamin.
6"All the Emperor's Quasi-Norms: Part 1"Bruce BilsonJonathan KauferMarch 24, 1978 (1978-03-24)

While on a routine mission, Quark and his crew are captured by Zorgon the Malevolent (played by Ross Martin), the Most Vicious Gorgon Space Pirate and Half-Brother to the High Gorgon Himself. Zorgon tries to learn from Quark where to find "It"—which represents a problem as Quark has no idea what "It" is. Meanwhile, Zorgon's daughter, Princess Libido (played by Joan Van Ark), has fallen in love with Ficus. Ficus agrees to a meeting with Princess Libido in hopes of letting her down gently because, as he explains to her, "Where I come from, we don't kiss. We pollinate." This line of reasoning fails to dissuade her. The next scene finds both of them lying on the floor on their backs, sticking their arms and legs up in the air, and saying "bee bee bee bee" over and over again, increasing in rapidity and pitch in anticipation of the arrival of the bee. Andy and Gene/Jean escape and disguise themselves as Gorgon scientists and Gene/Jean is asked to give a lecture on "It". The episode cliffhanger has Quark horrified to realize that the location for "It" that he gave as a bluff has turned out to be absolutely correct.

This episode (and Part 2) borrows from & parodies Flash Gordon with sendups of Ming the Merciless, his daughter Princess Aura, Prince Barin and Prince Vultan.
7"All the Emperor's Quasi-Norms: Part 2"Bruce BilsonJonathan KauferMarch 31, 1978 (1978-03-31)
Ficus sacrifices himself and marries Princess Libido to save the crew. Gene/Jean manages to impress the Gorgon scientists with its lecture, and it and Andy escape. Quark and the Bettys are sent down to the planet to be eaten by a Lizigoth, but are saved by the Baron of The Forest People. With the Baron's help, Quark locates "It", which turns out to be a small stone on a necklace. Subsequent events (a door being opened, a disintegration ray deflecting off the stone) lead Quark to believe he is invincible when in fact "It" is nothing more than a powerless rock. Quark returns to Zorgon's ship, survives a struggle with Zorgon's monster champion, and leaves the planet with his crew after Zorgon accidentally shoots Libido, freeing Ficus from his obligation to her. Unfortunately, when Quark tries to report on what happened, Palindrome has absolutely no interest. His assistant, Dink, however, is fascinated by the story.
8"Vanessa 38-24-36"Hy AverbackRobert A. KeatsApril 7, 1978 (1978-04-07)
During "Holiday Number 11", an advanced new ship's computer, Vanessa, is installed on Quark's ship for a test flight as an experiment. Vanessa's efficiency in controlling every aspect of the ship is intended to show human crews are obsolete. A seeming attack by a Gorgon ship turns out to be a simulation programmed by Vanessa in an attempt to prove her superiority to Quark. Vanessa begins acting erroneously, and then tries to destroy Quark. Quark and the crew confer in secret to discuss disconnecting Vanessa. Vanessa then incapacitates the crew and takes control of Andy. Quark is able to disable Vanessa and throw her out the garbage hatch. As Quark, Palindrome and the crew celebrate "Number 11", we see Vanessa drifting through space singing "Born Free". Borrows from and parodies the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Ultimate Computer" and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Reception

Awards

The series won one Emmy Award nomination, for costume designer Grady Hunt's work in the episode "All the Emperor's Quasi-Norms, Part 2".[3]

In popular culture

In the television series Breaking Bad, the character Gale Boetticher creates a music video of himself singing "Major Tom (Coming Home)" by Peter Schilling with footage of Quark in the background. It originally appeared in short in the episode "Bullet Points," but the full music video was later released online by AMC.[4]

Home media

The complete series was released on DVD on October 14, 2008.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Decaro, Frank (December 24, 2008). "A Space Garbage Man and His Eclectic Crew". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "Quark The Complete Series". Quark.name.
  3. ^ "Nominations Search". Television Academy. Archived from the original on 2017-08-19. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  4. ^ Gilligan, Vince (August 9, 2011). Breaking Bad Insider 404 (Audio commentary). Breaking Bad Insider Podcast. Event occurs at 32:18–32:23.