Saturday, August 13, 2011

Saturday School: Ark II (1976)

Filmation had hit its first pothole with their live-action line in 1975, as Ghost Busters & Uncle Croc's Block were both cancelled after 1 season. The studio forged ahead with their 4th entry for CBS, Ark II, but it too would end up a 1-year wonder.

Soap star Terry Lester (Young & the Restless) was cast as Jonah, the pilot of the title vehicle, and leader of a roving research team in this futuristic sci-fi series, set in the 25th century, but nowhere near where Buck Rogers had been, and Buck would later surface over on NBC 4 years later. All of the central characters, including a talking chimp named Adam (voiced by co-executive producer Lou Scheimer), were named after Biblical characters from the Old Testament, but insofar as I knew, there weren't any plotlines with Biblical connotations.

Anyway, uploaded the series premiere, "The Flies", with guest stars Malachi Throne (ex-It Takes a Thief) and Jonathan Harris (ex-Lost In Space), who had co-starred on Uncle Croc and would headline Ark II's replacement, Space Academy, the following season. The opening, unfortunately, has been edited off.

The fact that Ark II had failed suggests that the live-action movement had already peaked, and, in terms of scheduling, things would be back to normal by the start of the 80's.

Rating: B.


magicdog said...

I remember this show fondly!

It's a shame it didn't do well. Perhaps if the show had been retooled, it could have thrived in prime time. I did think the chimp, "Adam" was a bit of overload, however!

It's weird how I remember certain elements of the series like a chess board used to disable an artificial intelligence unit, a vapor pit which caused premature aging and an episode in which "useless people" (elderly and disabled) were cast out of the tribe (but proved how they still had skills and wisdom to save the day).

Sure there were lessons to be learned on this show, but no worse than other shows which did the same.

Sadly, I heard Terry Lester has since passed away.

hobbyfan said...

Consider that in 1976, "Land of the Lost" was in its 3rd & final season (original series), and at the time it was the only other sci-fi live-action series on Saturday mornings. It simply was a little too deep for the audience of the period. Would it have worked in prime time? I don't know.

magicdog said...

I don't know if it had to do with being "too deep" for audiences. I can't help but think it's the fault of suits who think kids would rather watch cartoons rather than a live action adventure show. Ironic, since their parents (like mine) used to watch live action kid shows on TV back in the 50s and enjoyed them just fine.

Yes, I still do think the show could have worked on prime time with a bigger budget and keeping "Adam the chimp" quiet. I also think it's among the most "rebootable" shows of TV's past.

hobbyfan said...

Today, a reboot of Ark II would have a CGI Adam and a more multi-cultural cast.