Thursday, April 19, 2012

A-Z Challenge 2012: Q is for Quark!

Now we come to one of the more difficult posts in the April 2012 A-Z Challenge - well, for me anyway. I thought the 2011 entry was pretty good, too, which only made this year's a bit harder. Worrying about stuff like that is a quirk of mine, and that's fairly appropriate, since

Q is for Quark!

And we're taking a trip into the Video Vault of Mora Tau!

Way back in the prehistoric days of 1977, science fiction suddenly went through the roof when Star Wars turned from a movie into a money printing machine. Interestingly, before the movie had even premiered on May 25th, 1977, NBC had aired a science fiction comedy pilot called Quark. The show was created by Buck Henry, who’d had a hand in Get Smart the previous decade; and this new series had humor in much the same vein.

Adam Quark (Richard Benjamin) was a spaceship captain assigned to space station United Galaxies Perma One who longed for adventure out among the stars. Thanks however to his superiors back at base – he got a much different mission: garbage pickup. Yes, in this corner of the science fiction universe, man never invented a way to recycle or cleanly dispose of his waste – no, instead he still loaded it into big plastic bags, and in this case instead of setting them by the curb, left them out in space for pickup. Quark and his crew travelled around collecting the garbage bags, and as all good spaceships do, got into adventures on a weekly basis. This was the basics of the plot as set forth in the pilot episode.

I'm not sure how well it did - but a couple of weeks later that little space opera came out - and after science fiction became all the rage - Quark went to series in February 1978 with a first episode called "May the Source Be With You." Yeah, they knew their target audience.

Before we get to the video segments - let's lay out the crew a bit so you'll know what you're seeing.

Adam Quark – Captain of the ship; fairly effective – not as much of a bumbler as Maxwell Smart, for example – hates collecting garbage.

Gene/Jean (Tim Thomerson) - a "transmute", with the appearance of a human male, but with a complete set of both male and female chromosomes. So, half the time he's a stereotypical gung ho man, and the other half he's stereotypically feminine, with a dubbed woman voice. He/she frequently switches personalities with no warning.

Betty I and Betty II (Trish and Cyb Barnstable) - the ship's navigators and pilots. They are completely identical, and one is a clone of the other. However, they both love Quark, and he is willing to reciprocate – but only with the human Betty. So, both identify the other as the clone when asked. They have a tendency to speak in unison since the same thought occurs to both at the same time.

Dr. O.B. Mudd (Douglas Fowley) – the ship’s doctor and science officer, a crotchety old man with an eyepatch. (Pilot only)

Ficus (Richard Kelton) – Humanoid vegetable science officer with no emotions – yes, he was definitely Spockeriffic. (Not in pilot, replaces Mudd in series)

Andy (Bobby Porter) A not very humanoid looking robot constructed by Quark and Dr. Mudd out of spare parts to serve as an assistant around the ship. Unfortunately he is neurotic and cowardly and not much help day to day, let alone in a crisis.

Back at United Galaxies Perma One you had:

Otto Palindrome (Conrad Janis) Quark’s fussy boss, forever trying to get him in trouble for some unknown reason – something I’m sure that would have eventually been explored had the show gotten a good run.

The Head  (Alan Caillou)  Palindrome's boss. He's a big head.

The show was silly fun but didn't make it in the ratings and was cancelled after only eight episodes. But let's see if we can get in a couple of good video clips.

Here's the opening to the show:

Here's a quick minute as Quark and his crew argue over who will take on a suicide mission:

Here's the end credits:

And here's another random couple of minutes.

And just for fun - a couple of NBC promos for the show - and a few others, all packed in to a minute and a half total running time:

It was a funny show - and unlike so many such series of the time - this one is actually available on DVD!

And sorry if you tuned in to this post expecting this guy:

Sorry pal! Maybe next year!

R you going to be coming back for tomorrow's post? I sure hope so, and until then you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. Quark, my fave Ferengi! I honestly never heard of this show. Intergalactic garbage pick up...I bow to you oh god of All Things Pop Culture. Sounds like I wold have enjoyed it though. The clips are awesome. ;) I have a lot to catch up on I see. I'm happy to be back, though.

    1. So glad to see you back! But your return bumped right up against me fading out for some travel - now we're both back and now I'M playing catch-up! Cheers!

  2. I remember that show "Quark" and my first introduction to Tim Thomerson. Sad I don't remember anything else... ever, wait what year is it? Somewhere I met Deep Space 9's Quark and he signed a button... fun stuff.

    Nice post, making it happen...Quite Well!
    Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]
    A to Z Co-Host
    My New Book:
    Retro-Zombie: Art and Words

    1. It was my introduction to Tim Thomerson too! I didn't see much else with him until Trancers in the mid 80's - but then he started working all the time. And you met the other Quark! Very cool!

  3. don't remember the show--but loved richard benjanin and his wife paula prentiss--they had a show together once, can't remember the name--loved the memoies

    1. He & She was the name of the Benjamin/Prentiss series. Quark was silly fun. Thanks for coming by!

  4. WOW! Impressed with your Q word...I've never seen the show but watching the clips...so corny! LOL. I'm a fan of Richard Benjamin and wife Paula Prentiss. Lynn, you are right about a show they did together, but can't think of it either.

    1. Thank you Luana! I've got to get over and catch up on commenting over at your two cool blogs! He & She was the series you're thinking of!

  5. Man, I loved this show. And I seem to remember Hans Conried being the voice of The Source. Or maybe a sound-alike. What do I know, I was only 11 at the time...

    1. It was indeed the real Hans Conreid as the voice of the Source - touted in a Close-Up in TV Guide that week! At that time I knew him best as Wrong Way Conway from Gilligan's Island!

  6. Craig, this is a great flashback. I was too young for this show, but it looks like one of the better attempts to make a sci-fi comedy. The first, of course, being "Red Dwarf."
    - Maurice Mitchell
    The Geek Twins | Film Sketchr
    @thegeektwins | @mauricem1972

    1. Well, this one can be caught up with - thanks to that DVD release. This probably did have some humor in common with Red Dwarf - nice connection! Cheers!