Let’s take a look back to 1977 for Throwback Thursday, ScienceFiction.com’s ongoing column dedicated to the great science fiction of the past. Or rather, in the case of the television show “Quark”, the notable but mostly forgotten science fiction of the past that just needed a little bit more time to hit its stride. But I think since Seth MacFarlane’s ‘Orville’ is about to hit the small screen, why not look at an older show which had a similar premise of spoofing sci-fi.
I know what you’re thinking, though. ‘Quark’? Is it the backstory of everyone’s favorite Ferengi bartender in DS9? Nope. It’s about a man named Adam Quark and his adventures as the captain of what essentially equates to an interstellar garbage truck.
And before you think that’s a ridiculous concept, I think it’s pretty important to let you know that it was created by Buck Henry… you know, the guy who wrote the classic Dustin Hoffman movie, ‘The Graduate’, and co-creator of the genius TV show ‘Get Smart’ with comedy legend Mel Brooks.
But even with creds like that, I would still describe ‘Quark’ as a show that just needed to hit its stride, because it’s first few episodes are near-misses of funny television, but still interesting to watch.
The show basically parodies sci-fi, from ‘Star Wars’ (even in episode titles like “The Source Be With You”), ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, and ‘Star Trek’ much the same way ‘Get Smart’ spoofed spy shows. It features a sardonic captain named Adam Quark who continually gets roped into saving the galaxy despite being a garbage man, a ‘”transmute” which switches gender stereotypes that often make him/her contradict him/herself in a character that would probably be problematic today but still sort of interesting to watch, clone Betty’s who both love Adam and claim to be the original, a cowardly robot, and my favorite character, a plant named Ficus which is basically what I think Spock should have been.
The characters are what the make the show more than the ridiculous plots, and for that alone, this show holds a special place in my heart. That being said, it can be a bit of a slog to get through the episodes, so I would suggest not binge watching them, but enjoying them like a 30-minute fine wine whose flavor you’re not quite sure of every now and then. Enjoy!