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STUDIO: Sony Pictures
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 222 minutes
• Unrelated Previews
• 2 Minisodes
A 70s sitcom that spoofs Star Trek… but not nearly as effectively as Shatner’s toupee/legacy does.
Created by: Buck Henry
Actors: Richard Benjamin, the Doublemint (all the way! what does it mean?) Twins, Tim Thomerson, Richard Kelton, Conrad Janis, Alan Caillou
A crew of garbage collectors aboard the United Galaxies Sanitation Patrol Cruiser is assigned suicide missions by a big giant head called: The Head (but not THE Big Giant Head). The Captain, the titular Adam Quark, is played with shaky authority by Brynner-survivor, Richard Benjamin. The Doublemint Twins support as one whole character (Betty and clone of Betty), and Tim Thomerson flipflops as “two” characters (one Transmute with a full set of male and female chromosomes) in a single body. The weirdness doesn’t end there… The one-eyed crotchety scientist from the pilot episode is replaced (without explanation) by a plant-evolved Spock wannabe with no discernible alien qualities besides Boring (budget didn’t allow green makeup or face bumps, I guess). Andy, the cowardly and self-deprecating Android, rounds off the hapless crew in the year 2222.
Quark & Co. encounter evil versions of themselves, a virus that causes premature aging, hallucinations on a fantasy planet attempting to trap them, a HAL-inspired ruthless computer, a war-mongering race of space-douche known as the Gorgons (Gorgons. Klingons. Get it?), and many other Star-Trekkin’ subgenre tropes. Ambitious, considering the entire series seemed to be produced with the budget of a single Buck Rogers episode.
It’s cute, if dated. The pilot premiered before Star Wars hit the scene and then continued the year after as a mid-season replacement. I wonder how much “Sci-Fi is hot” zeitgeist affected that scheduling. Funny enough, for me, the strongest episode involved Hans Conried voicing a bodiless faith-based power known as “The Source”.
Richard Benjamin doesn’t quite have the chops as a leading man to hang the series on. In the realm of TV spoof series, he’s certainly no Don Adams (Get Smart!) or Leslie Nielsen (Police Squad!), or even David Rasch (Sledge Hammer!), for that matter. But he directed My Stepmother is an Alien. I believe a certain 12 year old fledgling DVD reviewer wore the heck out that taped-off-HBO-flick’s VHS cassette. Or at least certain sections. And for that, Mr. Benjamin, I salute you. But it still doesn’t erase the fact that I’d rather have had Trancer-tracker, Jack Deth, as the Cap’n instead.
Quark is a step above Far Out Space Nuts, Gilligan’s Planet and Naked Space (sorry, Leslie), but a step below Carpenter’s Dark Star or Flesh Gordon and possibly Conehead bits from SNL. Watch Spaceballs, Hitchhikers Guide, or Red Dwarf, or even better, Galaxy Quest, instead. It’s no Space Truckers, that I can assure you. I <3 me some Space Truckers. Quark‘s a time capsule, not a must-see… unless you’re in a nostalgic mood and have a few hours to kill between intergalactic garbage-collecting missions (which seems to be my lot in life as a DVD reviewer)… In that case, go where only a few have gone before. The show did get canceled after 8 episodes, after all.
Lacking. Nice that they crammed all the episodes on one disc (as a video/audio loss wouldn’t be too much of an issue with this low-budget series), but there isn’t a single useful bonus feature. No retrospective interviews. No context. No surprise. They included some Minisodes (4 min version) of I Dream of Jeannie and Fantasy Island. Um… ok. Why not use your time wiser and unravel the mystery of why Buck Henry needed Mel Brooks to succeed @ television after his The Graduate career high point?