Ark II (1976–1979)
|Genre||Adventure, Family, Sci-Fi|
Ark II is an American live-action science fiction television series, aimed at children, that aired on CBS from September 11 to December 18, 1976, (with reruns continuing through November 13, 1977 and reruns returning from September 16, 1978, through August 25, 1979) as part of its weekend line-up. Only 15 half-hour episodes were ever produced. The program's central characters were created by Martin Roth; Ted Post helped Roth develop its core format.
The opening titles for each episode, as narrated first by executive producer Lou Scheimer (using his then uncredited pseudonym Erik Gunden), then by the voice of Terry Lester, who portrayed Jonah, summarized the show's backstory:
For millions of years, Earth was fertile and rich. Then pollution and waste began to take their toll. Civilization fell into ruin. This is the world of the 25th century. Only a handful of scientists remain, men who have vowed to rebuild what has been destroyed. This is their achievement: Ark II, a mobile storehouse of scientific knowledge, manned by a highly trained crew of young people. Their mission: to bring the hope of a new future to mankind.
(Voice of Jonah): Ark II log, Entry Number 1. I, Jonah,...Ruth,...Samuel,...and Adam are fully aware of the dangers we face as we venture into unknown, maybe even hostile, areas. But we’re determined to bring the promise of a new civilization to our people and our planet.
Ark II had a racially mixed cast starring Terry Lester as Ark II's commander, Jonah, Jean Marie Hon as Ruth, José Flores as Samuel, and a chimpanzee named Moochie (owned and trained by Darrell Keener) responding to the name of Adam (voiced by Lou Scheimer). The show's premise was inspired by the story of Noah's Ark, and the characters were given names taken from the Hebrew Bible. It was set in a post-apocalyptic 25th Century (specifically, 2476, the show having debuted in 1976), after Earth's civilizations had been decimated by the effects of waste, pollution, and warfare, falling back to a civilization comparable to the Dark Ages. The surviving scientists pooled their knowledge and resources, training three young people (and the chimp, who was capable of speech and abstract reasoning) to search for remnants of humanity, reintroducing lost ideas as they traveled the barren landscape in the high-tech Ark II.
The show mentions a "headquarters" and that the crew are scientists. The titles "Commander" and "Captain" are both used to refer to Jonah. All the installments began and ended with numbered entries in the Ark II's log, which Lester, in character as Jonah, narrated in voiceover. Like other Filmation shows, Ark II also had a moral lesson derived from the preceding events seen in the episode. However, the epilogue log entry narrated by Jonah is used to deliver the moral rather than have any of the characters break the fourth wall (i.e. speak directly to the camera and TV viewers) to deliver the moral which was common in most Filmation shows.
In "The Launch of Ark II," the documentary filmed for the release of the DVD set, Lou Scheimer and others mention that the program was filmed during the summer of 1976 predominantly on location at Paramount Ranch near Malibu, California.
The series is best-remembered for its eponymous vehicle: a futuristic-looking six-wheeled combination RV and mobile laboratory. The 44 ft long vehicle was a fiberglass body on a 1971 Ford C-Series (C-700) cabover, by the Brubaker Group. The front end of the Ark II prop was later re-used as the nose portion of the Seeker spacecraft in the Filmation series Space Academy and Jason of Star Command.
It is sometimes incorrectly reported that the Ark II was built by Dean Jeffries, who constructed various fantastic vehicles for science-fiction films and television. These include the Landmaster for the film Damnation Alley, with which the Ark II is sometimes confused. In addition, the series also featured a jetpack called the Jet Jumper, and the Ark Roamer, a smaller, 4-wheeled all-terrain vehicle built by Brubaker from a modified Brubaker Box, a kit car using a 1968 Volkswagen Beetle sedan chassis. The Roamer was carried in the rear of the Ark II.
Guest stars included Jonathan Harris, Malachi Throne, Jim Backus, Geoffrey Lewis, Philip Abbott, Robert Ridgely, Helen Hunt, and Robby the Robot as the title character built by Samuel in the episode "The Robot." Helen Hunt appears in the episode "Omega." Actor Daniel Selby auditioned for the role of Samuel, but Jose Flores won the role.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|1||"The Flies"||Ted Post||Martin Roth||September 11, 1976|
|A group of feral children find ancient canisters of poison gas.|
|2||"The Slaves"||Hollingsworth Morse||David Dworski||September 18, 1976|
|Jonah is captured by a local baron while scouting a village.|
|3||"The Wild Boy"||Hollingsworth Morse||Susan Dworski||September 25, 1976|
|The crew of the Ark II befriend a feral man.|
|4||"The Robot"||Ted Post||Chuck Menville & Len Janson||October 2, 1976|
|Samuel constructs a robot with limited artificial intelligence.|
|5||"Omega"||Hollingsworth Morse||Bill Danch & Jim Ryan||October 9, 1976|
|The Ark II's crew discovers an enclave enslaved by a rogue artificial intelligence.|
|6||"The Tank"||Ted Post||Story by : Mark Jones & Michael Prescott|
Teleplay by : Mark Jones & Michael Prescott & Robert Specht
|October 16, 1976|
|A woman is kidnapped by a band of scavengers after she ventures into a valley filled with machines.|
|7||"The Cryogenic Man"||Ted Post||Martin Roth||October 23, 1976|
|Two cryogenically frozen men are revived.|
|8||"The Rule"||Ted Post||Martin Roth||October 30, 1976|
|The team comes across a settlement which has discarded the elderly and the weak.|
|9||"Robin Hood"||Hollingsworth Morse||Len Janson & Chuck Menville||November 6, 1976|
|The team must stop a war between a village lord and a modern-day Robin Hood.|
|10||"The Drought"||Ted Post||Martin Roth||November 13, 1976|
|The feral children from episode 101 return to steal the Ark.|
|11||"The Lottery"||Ted Post||Phyllis White & Robert White||November 20, 1976|
|The team encounter a community of "grasshoppers" as seen in The Ant and the Grasshopper.|
|12||"The Mind Group"||Hollingsworth Morse||Robert Specht||November 27, 1976|
|The team runs afoul of a group of psionic children.|
|13||"The Balloon"||Hollingsworth Morse||Story by : Peter L. Dixon|
Teleplay by : Peter L. Dixon & Robert Specht
|December 4, 1976|
|The team evacuates a plague-stricken village using a hot air balloon.|
|14||"Don Quixote"||Ted Post||Robert Specht & Len Janson||December 11, 1976|
|A "modern" Don Quixote believes that the Ark vehicle is a dragon.|
|15||"Orkus"||Henry J. Lange Jr.||Robert Specht & Chuck Menville||December 18, 1976|
|After discovering a community of self-styled "immortals", members of the crew begin to age rapidly.|
BCI Eclipse LLC (under its Ink & Paint classic animation entertainment brand), under a license it had obtained from Entertainment Rights, released Ark II: The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1 on November 7, 2006. The BCI Eclipse 4-disc set included many special features, and the episodes were presented uncut, digitally remastered and presented in their original production order.
Unlike many of the in-house Filmation DVD releases in Region 1 by BCI Entertainment’s Ink & Paint brand, this series was sourced from the original NTSC film elements, with correct speed and pitch.
Savor Ediciones, S.A. released Ark II: La Serie Completa as a 4-disc Region 2 DVD box set on May 20, 2009. Unlike the BCI set, this release only contains the episodes, no bonus features. Being a Region 2 release for Spain, the soundtrack is the dubbed Spanish version. Unfortunately, the original English soundtrack was not included, even as a secondary option. The discs are encoded in the PAL video format.