May the Farce Be With You

on June 23, 2008 by Steve Simels
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Caught Get Smart over the weekend, and I have little to add to my colleague Pete Hammond's review except to say that it (the movie, not the review) isn't egregiously stupid, that Anne Hathaway could have me if she played her cards right, and that despite its blockbuster success since Friday, I have absolutely zero interest in the sequel (Get Smarter?) said success will doubtless engender. Okay, all that plus I hope that Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, who created the original tv show, are making lots of money from the big screen adaptation.

Still, I just might be interested in a film version of another TV genre spoof one of those two comic geniuses had a hand in. That of course isn't Mel's short lived 1975 Robin Hood parody When Things Were Rotten, a series which not only failed to live up to the comic promise of its theme song (" They laughed, they loved, they fought, they drank, they jumped a lot of fences. They robbed the rich, gave to the poor, except what they kept for expenses") but was later recycled into the extremely lame 1993 feature Robin Hood: Men in Tights, about which the less said the better.

quark.jpg

Actually, I'm referring to Buck's Quark, a sci-fi sit-com starring Richard Benjamin that aired on NBC for half a season in 1978. One of three post-Star Wars cash-ins on the Peacock Network back in the day -- the others were the execrable update of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979-81) and Jack Webb's pre-X-Files Project UFO (1978-79), which behooves revival -- Quark was a loving insiders parody of sci-fi film and TV in general, and Star Wars and Star Trek in particular. Benjamin's titular hero was the captain of an intergalactic garbage scow; his crew included twin bimbos called The Bettys, one of whom was a clone of the other although neither would admit which. Tough guy comic actor Tim Thomerson played Gene/Jean [sly David Bowie reference], a humanoid alien with a full set of male and female chromosomes who'd switch personalities at the drop of a hat, and Richard Kelton was Ficus, a sentient vegetable who functioned as the show's Mr. Spock. Here's an excerpt that should give you an idea of the flavor of the thing. As you can see, apart from being pretty funny, the show had special effects that weren't half bad for the period . None of the episodes have ever been on tape or DVD, alas, but you can find video links to all eight of them over at this semi-official fan site. In the meantime, I really think somebody's missing a very lucrative boat by not bringing the show to the big screen. Seriously -- if a crappy old Japanese cartoon show like Speed Racer can get the blockbuster treatment, imagine what somebody like Jack Black could do in the role of a futuristic garbage man. Or twin Uma Thurmans as the clone sisters....

Tags: Get Smart, Anne Hathaway, Mel Brooks, Buck Henry, When Things Were Rotten, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Quark, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Star Wars, Star Trek, Speed Racer
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