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TV: A Trashy Little Space Opera Called Quark

May 4th, 2007 · 1 Comment · Comedy, Culture, Journal, Science Fiction, TV, Video

Richard Benjamin in QuarkYeah, I’m still getting caught up with everything I put on the back burner in the lead-up to this week’s Partly Dave Show. So instead of our usual high-minded Ocelopotamus programming, here’s something fun for a Friday that I’ve been saving up for a while.

For literally decades now, I’ve been dying for the chance to revisit Buck Henry’s sci-fi spoof Quark, staring Richard Benjamin as the commander of an interstellar garbage scow, just to see if it’s anywhere near as funny as my sixth-grade self thought it was.

With everything else I’ve been finding there, I had a random impulse to search YouTube for it, and sure enough, there’s a complete episode, broken up into three chunks.

In addition to Benjamin as Adam Quark, the ship’s captain, the crew featured Ficus, the half-human, half-vegetable first mate (“As a Vegeton, I remain cool and crisp even when being crushed by walls”); Gene/Jean, the Transmute who arbitrarily switches genders; a pair of blow-dried clones who are both named Betty, played by the Doublemint Twins (seriously); and a cowardly robot named Andy.

Needless to say, as a kid who loved Star Trek, Star Wars, and spoof comedies like Young Frankenstein, Love at First Bite, and (who could forget?) the Richard Benjamin vehicle Saturday the 14th, this show rocked my world.

As a grownup, my verdict is a little more mixed. It’s not exactly Young Frankenstein, but it does have its clever and inventive moments, and unlike so many sitcoms from the 70s (and afterwards), there are actual jokes and gags written right into the script. The cast are just good enough to sell it, and 70s camp value makes up for the dry spots in the script.

Best of all, it’s the episode that has the brilliant little gag that has stuck in my head all these years.

Ficus, the ship’s Vegeton first officer, has been charged with gaining the cooperation of sexed-up space princess Libido, who fortunately has the hots for him. They attempt to seduce each other, but Libido is frustrated that he doesn’t seem to be responding.

Ficus: Libido, this is where we’re going to have a problem. You see, where I come from we don’t kiss, we pollinate.

Libido: Pollinate? [A pause while she thinks it over.] Can I do that?

Ficus: Watch what I do and repeat after me.

[He lies down on his back on the floor, and raises his arms and legs stiffly in the air.]

Now watch carefully, and listen. [In a high-pitched, rising voice] Beeebeebeebeebeebeebeebeebeebeebee! … Can you do that?

Libido: Move over! [She joins him on the floor in the same posture and begins to imitate the sound he’s making.]

Together: Beeeeebeeeebeebeebeebeebee …

Ficus: Is it good for you?

Libido: Uh, I — I think so. Is this what you Vegetons find pleasurable?

Ficus: It would appear so.

Libido: What do we do now?

Ficus: [In his best Leonard Nimoy deadpan] We wait for the bee.

Here’s Part One of the episode:

And here are links to the other two parts (the hardcore pollination scene is in Part Two):

• Quark Episode — Part Two
• Quark Episode — Part Three

Also: a clip of Quark’s ship actually collecting some garbage.

The episode above apparently arrived on YouTube courtesy of this site, which is fairly amusing in its own right. (Also available in blog.)

UPDATE: After I wrote up this post I found the Quark motherlode. (Scroll down to the bottom of that page for all 8 episodes of the show.)


One Comment so far ↓

  • Aaron

    Wow! The dad from “Mork and Mindy”–AND Joan Van Ark! This show was truly an embarrassment…of riches, that is! :-)