Friday, December 14, 2012

ARK II (1976) Animated?

In 1976, Filmation produced its first live-action science fiction adventure, Ark II. This single-season, post-Apocalyptic kid's show (think about that for a second - that was the 70s!), chronicled the adventures of three multi-cultural/ethnic young scientists - Jonah (Terry Lester), Ruth (Jean-Marie Hon) and Samuel (Jose Flores) - who, accompanied by their talking chimpanzee, Adam, roamed the barren wastelands, bringing their scientific aid (and superior morality) to the ravaged remnants of humanity. Fun Saturday morning escapism, huh?

Anyway, at some point, Filmation considered reviving the series in animated form. To that end, model sheets were drawn up and the studio presented their proposal to CBS. For whatever reasons, the network didn't bite, and the designs went into the filing cabinet - later to appear as an "extra" on the Ark II DVD set from BCI/Eclipse.

As a fan of the original series, I kinda wish that Filmation had produced an animated continuation. In animation, the Ark II crew could have encountered menaces and environments (mutants and volcanoes and other cool stuff) beyond the meager budget of the live-action program....


  1. I enjoyed this show as well. It may have worked as an animated show or at least I would have watched it. I thought I remembered reading that even though Ark II only lasted half a season that it was actually shown on Saturday mornings for several years. I guess just showing the same half a season over and over.If they were okay with doing that it's a shame no one took a chance on making at least half a season of an animated version.

    1. Networks in the 70s rarely ordered more than 13 episodes of any Saturday morning show. Even the extremely popular Shazam only got six or so new episodes apiece for its second and third seasons.

      The thinking was that kids would put up with endless repeats a lot more easily than adults. Also the networks were skilled at repackaging shows to trick kids into thinking they were getting new programs (the "Adventure Hour," etc.). Finally, they believed there was a huge turnover as kids aged, so each Fall's incoming kneebiters weren't aware that they were getting repeats.

      There were exceptions: The Land Of The Lost got (if memory serves) 13-episodes for each of its three seasons - and that was an expensive show. But the usual network commitment was a mere 13 episode, and if it was popular, maybe a handful more for another season.

  2. Christopher, I agree, I would have watched an animated ARK II series season two myself as a boy in the '70s too.


  3. If they had done this as an animated show, they really should have gone all-out rather than just recycling designs from the live action show. Budget constraints wouldn't be a problem anymore in animated form. A bigger Ark with more gadgets would be good, rather than that poorly scaled drawing above where Jonah couldn't even have stood upright inside the Ark. How about an Ark Roamer The Star Trek cartoon took advantage of the less limiting format, showing us huge spaces inside the Enterprise and alien ships that would have cost a ton to build sets for, in addition to more alien worlds.

  4. I remember Ark II and Jason of Star Command with a lot of affection and nostalgia. While skimming youtube I found a short clip of Ark II with a bit of writing/directing blooper that was hilarious after I realized exactly what was wrong with what I was seeing!