Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

'Quark' is a show that should stay lost in space

Quark: The Complete Series (1977)
Starring: Richard Benjamin, Timothy Thomerson, Richard Kelton, Patricia Barnstable, Cyb Barnstable, Conrad Janis, Bobby Porter, Alan Caillou and Ross Martin
Director: Hy Averback
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

Some televisions shows die a premature death, undeservedly cancelled because for whatever reason there was no audience for the show. The latest of these is "My Own Worst Enemy", but there are dozens upon dozens of quality shows that died early in the 50-year-plus history of network televison in the U.S.

"Quark", a shortlived 1977 sci-fi comedy show, is not one of these.

Every episode of "Quark", including the pilot--eight in total--is available on DVD. It's a nice-looking package, and it was a decent looking show. The sets were nice, the costumes were nice... the primary target of "Star Trek" was evident throughout--but the scripts simply weren't funny.

The set-up was good--the show followed the adventures of the unfortunate Adam Quark and his bizarre crew of misfits as they traveled the galaxy on a space-faring garbage scow, the bravely collect trash where no-one had collected trash before; the characters had the potential of being sufficiently weird--such as Science Officer Ficus, an overly logical humanoid plant played by Richard Kelton; the all-in-one "transmute" who keeps switching between his/her male and female halves played by Tim Thomerson; the ship's navigator and her clone, played by twins Patricia and Cyb Barnstable; the heroic, dedicated and perpetually unlucky Commander Quark himelf, played by Richard Benjamin--but neither the set-up nor the potential of the characters was never fully realized because of the bad writing.

Hardcore sci-fi fans may find a chuckle or two early on, but it isn't until the last three episodes that anything that a general audience will find remotely funny starts to happen. (The one exception is the "Star Wars" spoof in the second episode, "May the Source Be With You". The whiney superweapon in that episode was pretty good.)

The best part of the show is the interplay between Richard Benjamin and Richard Kelton. There's a goofy Kirk/Spock vibe in the realitionship between these two characters, the actors have a good sense of the comedic, and it helps make even the lamest episodes watchable. But then we've got Tim Thomerson who is so bad that it's hard to imagine that this is the same guy who will go onto be so hilarious in "Trancers" and "Dollman"... of course, it's not entirely Thomerson's fault. The material he's working with is truly awful. The rest of the cast do little more than take up space, and they are neither good enough nor bad enough to really warrant any particular attention.

Don't believe the hype about "Quark"--I did, and I wish I hadn't--and don't rely on fond memories you may have of catching part of an episode as a young kid. This is NOT a show that will stand up to your memory of it.

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