Monday, May 6, 2013

What Might've Been: Quark (1977)

In the 60's, Buck Henry helped Mel Brooks create Get Smart. To date, it happens to be the most successful venture for either man in television. Henry, on his own, followed with Captain Nice a year and a half later, but that failed to win viewers. After making some appearances on Saturday Night Live, Henry landed another series. However, Quark was a victim of bad timing.

Quark was a series comeback vehicle for Richard Benjamin (ex-He & She), cast in the title role of an operator of.........a garbage scow. Well, no one would ever suspect that a galactic garbage truck would save the universe now, right? Of course not, and that was the whole point. Adam Quark answered to a snarky politico, Otto Palindrome (Conrad Janis), and had a bizarre crew, which included a humanoid plant, an android, and a sort-of-transgendered fellow with a split personality (Tim Thomerson). Throw in the Barnstable twins as dual navigators, and, well, it seemed as though Henry was aiming for the Star Trek crowd, as the pilot for this series aired a few short months before "Star Wars" made sci-fi cool again. However, it took a year before Quark would return to begin a weekly run, and that was where NBC made their mistake, waiting too long to take advantage of a potentially hot commodity.

Cancellation, however, was good for Conrad Janis, as he'd soon return as Fred McConnell on Mork & Mindy, but these days is better known for having moved on to conduct orchestras in real life.

Following is a sample episode:

The bottom line is that Quark was one of those shows that was ahead of its time, and when NBC finally got it on the air, viewers opted to ignore it. Their loss.

Rating: B-.

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