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Quark: They're chasing us? Ficus, who are they?
—"All the Emperor's Quasi-Norms, Part 1"
Not a Ferengi bartender, nor a subatomic particle, but a 1970s sci-fi parody of Star Trek from Get Smart co-creator Buck Henry. It was basically the US-version of Red Dwarf, but with only eight episodes.
The show was set on the United Galaxies Sanitation Patrol Cruiser, a garbage scow working for the United Galaxies Space Station Perma 1. It regularly satirized Star Trek, Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Flash Gordon. The characters were:
- Adam Quark: The Captain, who longs for glamorous assignments, but ends up picking up garbage bags. Often gets into adventures without meaning to.
- The Bettys: The Bridge Bunnies, navigators and pilots of the ship. One of them is a clone of the other, but neither one will admit which. Both of them lust after Quark. Notably played by a pair of Doublemint gum twins.
- Gene/Jean: Number Two, with the twist that he's a "transmute," with both male and female chromosomes (and both sets of hormones). Thus, as Gene, he's a Jerkass, but as Jean (complete with a female voice), she's a Technical Pacifist.
- Ficus Pandorata: The Spock taken to the extremes, he's a "Vegeton," a member of sentient plant race. He always speaks with Spock Speak, has no emotions at all, cares about no one, and breeds by pollinating.
- Andy: A Cowardly Sidekick Robot Buddy, he was basically a stupid Marvin.
- Otto Palindrome: The Obstructive Bureaucrat who is in charge of Perma 1. He loves making Quark miserable.
- Dink: The Non-Human Sidekick for Otto, he was basically Cousin It from The Addams Family IN SPACE.
- The Head: The Bad Boss crossed with a giant Rubber Forehead Alien, Otto answered to him, and he frequently assigned Quark to bizarre jobs.
Quark has examples of:
- Actor Allusion (the episode "Goodbye Polumbus" was a reference to Goodbye Columbus which actor Richard Benjamin [Quark] played the lead)
- Affectionate Parody
- AI Is a Crapshoot (in the last episode, their ship gets a new computer called Vanessa, while proceeds to turn crazy and try to kill them in a parody of 2001: A Space Odyssey and the Star Trek episode "The Ultimate Computer")
- Captain's Log (as a parody of Star Trek, Quark had one every few minutes, often Lampshade Hanging whatever was happening)
- Cloning Blues (the Bettys are both in love with Quark and don't know which is the original)
- Cool Starship (subverted: they travel on a garbage scow)
- Death Trap (Zorgon loves these and Ficus ends one episode in one)
- Evil Overlord (Zorgon the Malevolent, Most Vicious Gorgon Space Pirate and Half-Brother to the High Gorgon Himself)
- Evil Twin (the whole cast except for Ficus got them when they passed through a black hole, in a parody of the Star Trek episodes "The Enemy Within" and "Mirror, Mirror")
- Fan Service (The Bettys)
- Friday Night Death Slot
- Gender Blender Name (Gene/Jean both sound the same)
- Hey, It's That Guy! (Correct me if I'm wrong, but would Otto Palindrome be a descendant of Fred Mc Connell?)
- Lotus Eater Machine (in "Goodbye Polumbus," the Gorgons' machine designed to drain the minds of brilliant scientists traps the crew in their own fantasies, in a parody of the Star Trek episode "Shore Leave")
- MacGuffin (in "All the Emperor's Quasi-Norms," Zorgon demands Quark tell him where "it" is. Quark, having no idea what "it" is, lies. We never find out exactly what "it" is, but Quark ends up with a worthless rock necklace.)
- Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter (Princess Libido, daughter of Zorgon, who wants to marry Ficus)
- Meaningful Name (parodied - Ficus is a plant, Palindrome's first name is one, Gene/Jean has male and female chromosomes in their genes, Andy is an android, etc.)
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous (in the pilot there was Interface, a four-armed alien woman who controlled communications between ships)
- Negative Space Wedgie (couldn't avoid 'em as it parodied Star Trek)
- Overnight Age-Up (in a parody of the Star Trek episode "The Deadly Years," Quark due to some Applied Phlebotinum starts aging two years for every hour)
- Perpetual Poverty (when Palindrome and the Head have to send a telegram to Quark in the pilot, they end up spending the entire episode arguing about the cost of sending it and trying to reduce the number of words)
- Planet of Hats (The Gorgons are all sort of a proud warrior race that's evil, too. For example:
"People of Spartan, this is the High Gorgon. I command your unconditional surrender. You shall be treated with compassion, honor and patience. You have twenty seconds before I blow you out of the galaxy."
- Techno Babble (satirizes it)
- The Force (parodied, along with Star Wars, in "May the Source Be With You.")
- Twin Threesome Fantasy (both Bettys love Captain Quark, but there's a stigma against sleeping with a clone, so since he never knew which one was a clone, he couldn't sleep with either)
- Science Marches On (see above, re: sending a telegram. In the 23rd century.)
- Despite the fact that "telegram" is an archaic term, the general principle of keeping messages short to save on costs is one that will probably be with us for many centuries to come. Today, in the early 21st century, users of cell phones typically keep text messages as short as possible so as to fall under their calling plan's texting limit, to the point of using standard abbreviations. The cost per bit of sending a transmission across interstellar distances would have to be enormous.
- Single-Minded Twins (the Bettys often said the same thing at the same time)
- Small Annoying Creature (Ergo, Quark's pet, a one-eyed blob)
- Split Personality (Gene/Jean)
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute (Ficus wasn't in the pilot - a Dr. O.B. Mudd, a crotchety one-eyed man, was. He was never seen or mentioned afterwards, though.)
- That's No Moon:
High Gorgon: I suggest you take a closer look at my space ship.
- The Unintelligible (Dink spoke only with xylophone beeps)
- Tin Can Robot (Andy)
- You Mean "Xmas" (Christmas has become "Holiday Number 11")