So The Orville is getting a lot of flak from critics for not being the Star Trek parody that it was advertised as, but rather just...Star Trek with some jokes. io9 even had a list of five science fiction comedies they thought were better than The Orville. They just left one out, the one that made the most sense: Quark, an actual parody of Stark Trek that aired for one season on NBC in 1978.
What is Quark, you might ask? Well, you might as well watch the first episode, but if you really want me to answer it then: it’s a show about Adam Quark (Richard Benjamin, best known for being in Westworld), the captain of, well, a garbage scow (in SPAAAACE) that ends up getting into quite a lot of trouble. He’s joined by his pilots and navigators, the Bettys (played by one set of Doublemint Twins; one of them is a clone, but they don’t remember which); Gene/Jean, a “transmute,” who is both male and female (but is really just the source for “men are angry, women are sensitive” jokes); Ficus Pandorato, a Spock-like “Vegeton”; and Otto Palindrome, the bureaucrat in charge of giving out assignments.
Needless to say, reading all of that, you might think the show might not be all that funny. And parts of it are certainly cringe-worthy (the Gene/Jean jokes gets old fast), but it also offered up some smart comedy in the form of pastiche. After all, it was created by Buck Henry, the co-creator of Get Smart, which smartly parodied the spy genre. Now Buck Henry was parodying the space genre and the show pulled out all the stops...by making fun of pretty much everything it could, including 2001: A Space Odyssey, Flash Gordon, Lost in Space, and Buck Rogers.
The show wasn’t on for long, however, lasting a total of eight episodes before being canned. Why? Well, it was also on at the same time as Wonder Woman and Donnie & Marie, which basically meant that nobody watched it. Thankfully, all episodes are up on YouTube right now.