May The Source Be With You

QuarkThe approach of a gigantic Gorgon attack ship sends everyone aboard Perma One (give or take a small furry alien or two) swinging into action. The best United Galaxy captains are assigned to evacuate important heads of state and scientific minds from the station, and to relocate the most sensitive information to a safe location. Quark and his crew, on the other hand, are given the thankless (and, again, almost certainly suicidal) task of fending off the Gorgon advance, with nothing more than Quark’s garbage-collecting ship and a powerful sentient weapon known as the Source. The Source insists – in a voice that only Quark can hear – that belief in its power will shield him from all harm. Somewhere between watching his entire crew scatter or get captured, and being blinded by a laser blast to the face, Quark begins to realize that the Source is indeed with him – and that there’s a very good reason nobody has used it in over 200 years.

written by Stave Zacharias
directed by Hy Averback
music by Perry Botkin, Jr.

Cast: Richard Benjamin (Adam Quark), Timothy Thomerson (Gene/Jean), Richard Kelton (Ficus), Tricia Barnstable (Betty), Cyb Barnstable (Betty), Conrad Janis (Otto Palindrome), Alan Caillou (The Head), Henry Silva (High Gorgon), Hans Conreid (voice of the Source), Bobby Porter (Andy), Joe Burke (Gorgon Guard II), Chris Capen (Gorgon Guard I), Rick Goldman (Worker One), Vernon E. Rowe (Worker Two), Paul Schumacher (Gorgon Man), Melissa Prophet (Gorgon Woman), Larry French (Gorgon Assistant), Ann Prentiss (voice of Jean)

Notes: The series expands to a full-hour (the pilot was only a half-hour) with this, the first regular weekly episode of its extremely short run. A new title montage shows clips of the regular cast interspersed with very well-known NASA film animations of such subjects as the planet Saturn and the formation of the moon. The Barnstable sisters – more famous as the original Doublemint Twins than they were for this series – reverted to their real surname after using the stage name Barnett in the pilot episode. Where Tim Thomerson did both the masculine and feminine voices of his character in the pilot, here his feminine personality is dubbed over by actress Ann Prentiss. The sudden gender-switching of his character is toned down drastically here, leaning on dated sexist female stereotypes, whereas the pilot’s portrayal of his feminine personality was quite obviously based on gay male stereotypes, complete with a limp-wristed salute. (It’s entirely possible that NBC and/or its advertisers broke out in a cold sweat over that aspect of the pilot and insisted on the change.)

May The Source Be With YouAs if the title of this episode doesn’t make it clear, the influence of Star Wars – which premiered mere days after the Quark pilot episode in 1977 – is clearly on display here, from the Gorgons’ Vader-esque (but decidedly more velvety and less armor-y) helmets, to the spoof of Star Wars‘ seemingly endless corridor firefight (beating Spaceballs to the punch by almost a decade), to the music score’s obvious quotations of the movie’s Imperial March. Still, the classic Star Trek sound effects remain in use, and the new character of Ficus is clearly a spoof of Spock. Ficus is a member of the Vegeton species, and his skin is left temporarily discolored by brief exposure to extreme dry heat.

One other surprising Star Trek influence is the show’s more dramatic lighting, provided by cinematographer Gerald Perry Finnerman (1931-2011); frequently credited as Jerry Finnerman, he lit 60 of Star Trek’s 79 episodes, starting with The Corbomite Maneuver (the first regular episode filmed after Trek’s two pilots), creating that show’s signature ultra-colorful lighting scheme and its habit of soft-focusing close-ups on female guest stars; he had also been the lead cameraman for the series’ original pilot, The Cage. He was a frequent-flyer cinematographer on Kojak, the TV incarnation of Planet Of The Apes, Salvage One and Moonlighting, with numerous shorter stints on other high-profile series.

Andy the robot stays aboard Quark’s ship, while O.B. Mudd – May The Source Be With Youwho seemed to be his handler and perhaps creator in the pilot – has apparently gotten the transfer off-ship that he wanted. However, Andy also tells the Gorgons that Quark built him.

Guest star Henry Silva’s High Gorgon uniform is a humorous preview of his costume in the pilot movie of Buck Rogers In The 25th Century, in which he originated the role of Draconian warrior “Killer” Kane; while Kane appeared in further episodes of the series, Silva did not, handing the part off to Michael Ansara.