October 10, 2012

Our next Showcase will be... Quark!


So we're planning out our next few showcases, and Noel suggests Quark. Immediately, I'm thinking the guy from that one Star Trek spin-off must've gotten his own spin-off. "Great. I'm going to spend the next two months following the adventures of an intergalactic bartender." - which could actually be fun if they did it in the spirit of the classic Tom Cruise film Cocktail "Bode's, Omega, ooh, I wanna take ya. Centaurus, Andromeda, come on pretty mama..." Turns out (much to my relief) Quark is actually a sci-fi themed comedy series from the late 70s starring Richard Benjamin (last seen on the back of a carton of milk, I believe).

It's safe to say I know nothing about this show. The bouncy opening theme sounds like a disco version of Star Trek, which makes you want to wear a white rayon suit and snort cocaine, but do so in your parent's basement. The visuals also suggest a heavy Trek influence, but I fully expect that every sci-fi show/movie of the era will be ripe for the picking. In fact, I did a little recon. The pilot aired May 7th, 1977, three weeks before a little George Lucas film called Star Wars changed cinema - and lightened my Mom's purse - forever. The series was eventually picked up, with the first episode airing in February 1978. I'll save it for when we get there, but the title leaves no doubt that they were cashing in on Star Wars-mania.

After a rather lengthy stretch of animated series, which I enjoyed immensely, it's nice to get back to live-action. The fact that this is the first real comedy we've tackled is also exciting. Buckle-up, Showcasers, we're about to get warped.


Quark is a series I first heard about when its entire 8 episode run was released on DVD a couple years ago (which I'm glad I picked up then, as it's quickly gone out of print and shot up in price on the secondary market). I bought a copy shortly before Tony and I started this blog, but ultimately held off on watching it because I figured this little project of ours would be the perfect way to explore it in detail.

There's not a whole lot to say about the opening of Quark. Basic disco synth music with generic paintings of planets and a basic plastic ship model. The cast looks fun, especially the promise of Tim Thomerson and the Double-Mint Barnstable twins, but their outfits (at least on the men, given the glittery bikini suits the twins wear) are again generic scifi jumpsuits, and topped with gloriously poofy 70s hair. I'm iffy about Richard Benjamin as the lead. He was fine in Westworld, but hasn't really excited me much elsewhere. I'm more intrigued by the presence of character actor/jazz musician Conrad Jenis, who I fondly remember from Mork & Mindy.

I get the generic aspect of things, because I know this is a full on spoof of science fiction from Buck Henry, described as being in the same style and tone of his co-creation Get Smart. I loved Get Smart as a kid, and grew into loving his screenwriting work, as well (especially Graduate and What's Up, Doc? - Candy is also fascinating, though a scattered failure with a troubling perspective on its subject). I'm eager to see what he does with things, but the spoof aspect isn't sold by the opening sequence at all. It just looks like a basic scifi vehicle, putting the focus on the cast, but with nothing that shows who those people are as characters. Other than the twins, nobody stands out in any way, nor do we get any sense of the tone of the series or the setup of its story. Remember the classic opening to Get Smart, which told you right up front who this guy was as he had to go through an elaborate series of doors just to get to a phone booth that dropped him into the adventure of that week? Yeah, we totally don't get any of that here.

It's a bland opening, but I am looking forward to the show. We've been at this site for over a year now, and I'm thrilled we've finally gotten to the first project I wanted to cover for it.

Tune in this Saturday as we dive into the pilot episode.

The Quark dvds are now out of print, but if you'd like to get a used copy so you can watch along with us, check out Amazon.

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