Also, unless you are doing macro close-ups, you don't really need the "Multipixel Filtering" checked on.
So in the RG window, when you choose "Production Quality", look lower a bit, and UNcheck the "Multipixel Filtering" option.
It helps speed things up a SLIGHT bit
Also, like Nem said, good lighting is one MAJOR key to a quality render out of Maya.
Israel "Izzy" Long
Motion and Title Design for Broadcast-Film-DS