Quark - From The Land Of Forgotten Television

Quark is an American science fiction situation comedy starring Richard Benjamin broadcast on NBC. The pilot first aired on May 7, 1977, and the series followed as a mid-season replacement in February 1978. The series was cancelled in April 1978. Quark was created by Buck Henry, co-creator of the spy spoof Get Smart.

The show was set on a United Galaxy Sanitation Patrol Cruiser, an interstellar garbage scow operating out of United Galaxies Space Station Perma One in the year 2226. Adam Quark, the main character, works to clean up trash in space by collecting "space baggies" with his trusted and highly unusual crew.

In its short run, Quark satirized such science fiction as Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Flash Gordon. Three of the episodes were literal satires of Star Trek episodes.

The series won one Emmy Award nomination, for costume designer Grady Hunt's work in the episode "All the Emperor's Quasi-Norms, Part 2".

A deep space phenomenon threatens to destroy the galaxy, and Quark's ship is the only one in the area. Palindrome and The Head instruct Quark to go on a suicide mission to save their civilization, but he's so far away they can only contact him by telegram. The two of them argue over telegram costs and spend most of the episode trying to reduce the number of words in the message so as to keep the cost down. Meanwhile Quark and company accidentally save the day anyway. Ficus was not a part of the cast in this episode, and the "science guy" role was held by Dr. O.B. Mudd, a crotchety one-eyed old man played by Douglas Fowley. It is mentioned that Mudd and Quark built Andy together. Mudd never appeared or was mentioned again in the series, and no explanation was given for his departure from the show, other than a gag about transferring. The Barnstable twins are credited with the last name "Barnett" in the pilot. - Source

It's hard to believe with all of the science-fiction and fantasy shows that are on the air today, sci-fi was considered to be television poison until recently. 'Land of the Giants' in 1968 was the last space fantasy series to last more than a few weeks until 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' debuted almost twenty years later.

The networks would put a science fiction or horror show on almost every season, from 'Planet of the Apes' to 'Voyagers', and they all failed. (Battlestar Gallactica lasted two years, but only because the ABC kept pulling it, revamping it, and revamping it again.) This was proof, the networks said, that the genre was dead. The fact that almost all of these shows were truly awful had no bearing on the argument.

After his excellent series 'He and She' was cancelled in 1968, Richard Benjamin embarked on a career as a writer/director for motion pictures and television movies. None of them big hits, but many of these b-films produced in the Late Sixties/early Seventies (and I can't remember a single title as I write this) are quite entertaining. As an actor, he appeared in several good films, including the hit 'Westworld' in 1973.

Richard Benjamin's return to series television seemed like a sure-fire hit. 'Star Wars' was an unparallelled cultural phenomenon in late 1977 and the networks were sure that science-fiction was back for them in a big way. Rather than risk a huge investment on a hour-long serious science-fiction project, NBC wanted a half-hour comedy that was set in outer space. A perfect vehicle to replace the under-performing 'Sanford Arms' that was killing their winning Friday night line-up of Chico, Rockford, and Quincy.


1978 Quark TV show articles

Although few seem to remember it, the short-lived TV series "Quark" was a favorite of mine. It ran only three months, from February to March of 1978. Like "Star Trek" on laughing gas, it parodied not only that show but sci-fi movies as well.

Below, a still from the pilot, which featured a character dropped for the regular series; Dr. O. B. Mudd was a crusty, eccentric scientist that was replaced by the Mr. Spock-like Ficus, to much better effect.

Below is an article I clipped from the Macon (GA) Herald TV guide supplement, on February 24, 1978.


The Barnstable Twins

Cyb (Priscilla) Barnstable graduated from the University of Kentucky B.A. (Major: Speech/Drama). She moved to N.Y. and signed with Eileen Ford's Ford Modeling Agency. She modeled in N.Y. and internationally, appearing in Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Mademoiselle, Glamour, Brides, GQ, Redbook and Good Housekeeping. Filmed numerous commercials, most notably, as one of the "Doublemint Twins" and "Toni Twins". She studied acting at the Herbert Berghof Studio and Wynn Hammond Studio. Co-host, with her twin sister Patricia Barnstable, of the Barnstable Brown Kentucky Derby Party, the annual fund-raiser to benefit Diabetic Research. Currently is a commercial acting teacher at SMC, Pierce College.

Lovely, sunny, and vibrant blonde bombshell Patricia Barnstable was born on May 23, 1951 in Louisville, Kentucky. She's the identical twin sister of Cyb Barnstable and the daughter of Dale and Wilma Barnstable. Patricia graduated from Seneca High School in Louisville, Kentucky in 1969. In 1971 she was entered into a beauty contest by her mother; she won the title Miss Kentucky in said contest and was the fifth place runner-up in the Mis USA pageant. Barnstable attended the University of Kentucky, where she earned degrees in both speech and theater. Patricia began her career in show business in 1972 along with her sister Cyb singing and dancing in Bob Hope's last USO Christmas tour of Vietnam. Moreover, both siblings appeared in TV commercials for Doublemint Gum and are featured together on the covers of a handful of national magazines that include Redbook and Good Housekeeping. Patricia and Cyb both portrayed spaceship pilots named Betty -- one's a clone and the other is human -- on the hilarious, but sadly short-lived science fiction comedy series "Quark." In addition, the Barnstable sisters also acted together on episodes of the television shows "The Love Boat" and "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" as well as the made-for-TV movie "Operating Room." Patricia is the co-founder of the Barnstable Brown Foundation along with her sister Cyb and mother Wilma; this organization has raised over $2 million for Diabetes Research. She's the mother of a son, Christopher. Patricia still lives in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky and serves along with her sister Cyb as hostess for the annual Kentucky Derby Eve party. - Source