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Series / Quark

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Clockwise from top: Andy, Palindrome, Betty, Ficus, Quark, Gene/Jean, and Betty.

Quark: They're chasing us? Ficus, who are they?
Ficus: Well, commander, there are three possibilities. Either they are the dreaded Gorgons, in which we'll probably all be killed, or they're the allies of the dreaded Gorgons—
Quark: Ficus, I don't have time for long lists!
Ficus: —in which case we'll probably also be killed.
Quark: Ficus, what you're saying is that all possibilities end in our death.
— "All the Emperor's Quasi-Norms, Part 1"

Not a Ferengi bartender, nor a subatomic particle, nor a galactic president, but a 1970s sci-fi parody of StarTrek 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 note  working for the United Galaxies Space Station Perma 1. It regularly satirized StarTrek, 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, jointly second-in-command, navigators, and pilots of the ship. One of them is a clone of the other, but both insist it's the other. Both of them lust after Quark. Notably played by a pair of Doublemint gum twins.
  • Gene/Jean: Chief engineer, 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 Blood Knight 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:

  • Accidental Truth: In "All the Emperor's Quasi Norms", Zorgon threatens to kill Quark unless he reveals where "it" is. Having no idea what he's talking about, Quark plays for time by saying it is on a particular asteroid. Turns out the MacGuffin really is there, causing Quark to believe this is a case of Because Destiny Says So when he's told by the locals of a legend about a Stranger who will use "It" to defeat their enemy. But it turns out that "It" is just a worthless rock and the whole thing is a coincidence.
  • Affectionate Parody
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: In the final episode, their ship gets a new computer called Vanessa, which 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"
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: When the Head looks like firing him, Palindrome contacts his father for advice. Dad advises him to do what Palindromes have done for generations. Beg.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Zorgon has Quark listen to his daughter playing an instrument. Every time Quark likes what she's playing, Zorgon is shown wincing in disapproval, and every time there's something Zorgon likes it sounds awful to Quark.
  • All Hail the Great God Mickey!: "My ancestors were from a tribe called 'the Americans'. Archeological digs in California indicate they worshipped, and were ruled by, a fully clothed, giant mouse."
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Whenever Quark starts an episode griping about having to pick up garbage bags, he'll end up in a dangerous situation wishing he was picking up garbage bags.
  • Boldly Coming: Ficus is ordered to seduce Libido so they can escape. Turns out Vegetons mate by lying on their back with their limbs in the air.
    Libido: What now?
    Ficus: It's simple. We wait for the bee.
  • Bronson Canyon and Caves: Bronson Canyon is used for the battle between good and evil Quark.
  • Can Not Tell A Lie: Ficus is an emotionless plant, so he doesn't see the logic in sparing feelings that he doesn't have himself.
  • Captain's Log: As a parody of Star Trek, Quark had one every few minutes, often Lampshade Hanging whatever was happening
  • Catchphrase: The Head always signs off with "The Galaxy Ad Infinitum".
  • Chained Heat: Gene gets chained to Andy while trying to sneak off a Gorgon warship. At one point Gene tries to leap off a railing to attack some guards beneath, only to be left dangling when Andy refuses to follow.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe:
    • Parodied in "May The Source Be With You". To stop a Gorgon invasion, Quark is trusted with the Source, which can make anything possible as long as you believe in it. But as it's such a powerful weapon, the Source has been sealed up for 200 years and is now suffering from confidence issues.
    • Played with in "All the Emperor's Quasi Norms". Various lucky coincidences convince Quark the rock necklace he's wearing makes him invincible. However it's actually worthless.
  • Cool Starship: Subverted; they travel on a garbage scow.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Princess Libido, daughter of Zorgon, who wants to marry Ficus.
  • Death Trap: Zorgon loves these, and puts Ficus in one for a Cliffhanger.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?
  • Dropped After the Pilot: Ficus wasn't in the pilot — instead the science officer is Dr. O.B. Mudd, a crotchety one-eyed man who is never seen afterwards, having apparently been transferred.
    • Quark's alien pet Ergo is also never seen past the pilot.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Several elements in the pilot are quite different from the rest of the series.
    • Ficus is absent, as noted in Dropped After the Pilot.
    • The Head has a noticeably different hair design, as well as detached hands that are never seen again afterwards.
    • Starting with episode 2, adventures would begin with Palindrome and the Head sending Quark on a mission. Here, the crew just happens to be on the path of the Monster of the Week, and Palindrome and the Head don't even get to them until after the resolution.
    • Andy's personality is very different, defined by his malfunctions and his crush on the garbage disposal unit rather than his cowardliness. Possibly Justified since Mudd is still tweaking his programming.
  • Evil Is Hammy: In "The Good, the Bad and the Ficus", a Negative Space Wedgie creates an evil version of our heroes.
    Quark: [calmly] Ficus, program Maneuver Plan Red. Jean, give me as much power as you can.
    Jean: Yes, sir.
    [cut to other ship]
    Evil!Quark: Ficus! Program Attack Plan Red! [grabs Jean's shirt] Jean, give me more power or I'll break your face!
    Evil!Jean: [grabs Quark's shirt] Commander, you're such a space-head, I'm taking over this ship!
    Evil!Quark: Try it, transmute, and you're space jelly!
  • 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"
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Clones and Transmutes are discriminated against. There's a social stigma against sleeping with clones, and Transmutes can be treated with outright contempt to their faces.
    • Zorgon is infuriated to find his daughter wants to marry a Vegeton. But when Ficus informs Zorgon he has no emotional response to his captain and the Bettys being fed to a lizard monster, he congratulates his daughter on picking someone with good Zorgon values.
  • Fanservice: The Bettys
  • Food Pills: Parodied when the crew eat a meal... by putting a hose to each person's mouth, through which a "pill" about the size of a fist is pneumatically rammed down their throats.
  • Geeky Turn-On: Ficus is unaffected by the Lotus-Eater Machine in "Goodbye Polumbus", until he sees a beautiful woman in Nerd Glasses with whom he can discuss E = MC Hammer. She gets extremely turned on by this, taking off her glasses and letting down her hair until she's on the verge of a Nerdgasm. Cut to her lying next to Fiscus puffing on a cigarette. And he hasn't even got to calculus.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Gene/Jean both sound the same.
  • Handshake Substitute: The Bettys slap hands and bump their hips together whenever they knock out a mook.
  • Honor Before Reason: After saving the galaxy from the Gorgons, Quark is offered command of his own starship. However he insists that his crew be promoted with him, as they deserve equal credit. "If they don't go, I don't go." So the Head not promoting Quark after all.
  • Humans Are Superior: Spoofed by Ficus, who is always able to turn these arguments around on Quark. For instance when Vanessa looks like making the crew redundant, Ficus concludes that humans are indeed superior, as no other creature could endure the Humiliation Conga that Quark has just undergone and still believe he's relevant.
  • Insane Admiral: Admiral Flint in "The Good, the Bad and the Fictus". After Quark's evil self goes on a rampage, he's convinced that Quark is a Gorgon sympathizer because of a school essay he wrote while seven years old saying the Gorgons were "funny".
  • Literal-Minded: Ficus
    Betties: Well, Ficus, how do we look?
    Ficus: Light passes through the retina to an optic nerve...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Multiarmed Multitasking: In the pilot there was Interface, a four-armed alien woman who controlled communications between ships.
  • The Needs of the Many don't outweigh the needs of those on top.
    Palindrome: Of course it would mean certain death for everyone on board.
    The Head: This is a tough one, Palindrome. But as you know, one of the responsibilities of those in charge is to order the sacrifice of the few, for the sake of the many.
    Palindrome: Yes, sir.
    The Head: Particularly when those in charge, are among the many.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: Couldn't avoid 'em as it parodied Star Trek.
  • Not so Dire: The pilot episode opened with a spaceship apparently engaged in a highly dangerous docking maneuver. Turns out it's just a glorified garbage scow picking up a load of trash from the other ship.
  • Oh My Aching Head: Dealing with Palindrome gave “the Head” migraines “the size of a super-nova!”
  • One-Word Title
  • Out with a Bang: In "The Old and the Beautiful", Quark has to have sex with an alien princess infamous for fatally wearing out her lovers.
  • 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.
  • The Paralyzer: Gamma guns freeze people in place.
  • 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.
  • Photoprotoneutron Torpedo: Episode 2 reveals that the crew's sidearms are called "gamma guns".
  • Planet of Hats: The Gorgons are all sort of a proud warrior race that's evil, too. For example:
    High Gorgon: 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.
  • Plant Aliens: Ficus, and presumably Vegetons in general, despite looking exactly like human beings. Ficus's role as The Spock of the crew is because he has no "animal emotions".
  • Silicon Snarker: Andy is this from time to time.
    The Bettys: [Captain Quark], we would follow you to the end of the Universe!
    Andy: I would follow you to the door.
  • Single-Minded Twins The Bettys often said the same thing at the same time. However in "The Old and the Beautiful", Quark puts them in charge of the ship during a space battle, and all they do is argue.
  • Slime Girl: Quark destroys the Lotus-Eater Machine in "Goodbye Polumbus", only to find the gorgeous woman of his dreams he's been smooching is the queen of the Clay People. He hastily beams up before she can show her gratitude for freeing her.
  • Space "X": All over the place.
  • Split Personality: Gene/Jean.
  • Straw Vulcan: Averted; a Running Gag involves Quark trying to argue with Ficus that Humans Are Superior due to their emotions. Ficus always ends up pointing out that Quark's reasoning is Insane Troll Logic.
  • Stripperiffic: When Ficus is asked to comment on the Space Clothes worn by the Betties, he says that they are terrible.
    Ficus: Where can they possibly hold their gamma guns, or protect themselves from the heat and cold? Look how little material there is.
  • Technobabble Satirizes it, naturally.
    Dr. Mudd: It's some kind of protein-hydrolizing amino producer!
    Quark: What does it mean?!!
    Dr. Mudd: I'm not quite sure... but it's got a nice ring to it.
  • That's No Moon:
    High Gorgon: I suggest you take a closer look at my space ship.
    Leader of the Spartans: A ship? We see no ship. All I see is a large maroon planet.
    High Gorgon: That is my space ship!
    Leader of the Spartans: [pause] Just give us a few minutes to move our things out of the palace.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: When a computer goes insane and tries to kill the crew, Quark disconnects the computer and throws it out the garbage chute. The episode ends with the computer floating through space singing "Born Free".
  • Tin-Can Robot: Andy.
  • To the Batpole!: In addition to elevators and stairs, the ship has special sliding tubes that allow crew members to descend to the deck immediately below quickly.
  • The Triple: Quark is usually briefed along with two other captains; the first two are given a glamorous assignment while Quark is either sent to pick up the garbage, or sent on a Suicide Mission.
  • 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.
  • Two-Part Episode: "All the Emperor's Quasi Norms", with the requisite Cliffhanger at the end of Part One.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Palindrome's father is played by the same actor.
  • The Unintelligible: Dink spoke only with xylophone beeps.
  • Unknown Phenomenon:
    Quark: What do you make of that?
    Ficus: A most fascinating phenomenon, but one which leaves the mind facing a myriad of possibilities, alternatives and conclusions that are at best strictly hypothetical with no sound basis in fact.
    Quark: In other words, you don't know.
    Ficus: That's what I said.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: Spoofed because no-one can convince Ficus that human love is an advantage.
    Quark: Ah, but as a plant, you can never love.
    Ficus: Yes, but as an animal you must endure the pain of love.
    Quark: That's true, Ficus, but the pain of love is what makes love so endearing.
    Ficus: Following your logic, Commander, the pain of a toothache would make a toothache endearing. The more painful, the more endearing.
    Quark: Starnote — I've just argued over the concept of love with a plant... and lost.
  • You Mean "Xmas": Christmas has become "Holiday Number 11".
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: Zorgon threatens to crush the Betties unless Quark talks. He does so, and Zorgon is so grateful he has all three chained up to be eaten by a lizard monster instead. Hey, this is him being merciful!
  • Zee Rust: Played for Laughs when they send a telegram. In the 23rd century.