Cover of the Ark II DVD set.
|Created by||Martin Roth|
Jean Marie Hon
Adam the chimpanzee
(owned and trained by Darrell Keener)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||15 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||22–24 minutes (without commercials)
30 minutes (with commercials)
|Original run||September 11 – December 18, 1976|
|Related shows||Space Academy|
Ark II is an American live-action science fiction series, aimed at children, that aired on CBS, beginning on September 11, 1976 and ending on December 18, 1976 (went into reruns through November 13, 1977, but was returned on September 16, 1978 and ran all the way through August 25, 1979), as part of its weekend line-up. Only 15 half-hour episodes of Ark II were ever produced. The program's central characters (see below) 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.
The show 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 (owned and trained by Darrell Keener) responding to the name of Adam. The show's premise was inspired by the story of Noah's Ark, and the characters were given names taken from the Hebrew Bible. The show's setting was 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 level 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) 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.
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 titular vehicle: a futuristic-looking six-wheeled combination RV and mobile laboratory. The vehicle was built from a fiberglass body on a garbage/dump truck chassis by the Brubaker Group. 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. 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.
In addition, the series also featured futuristic inventions such as 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 Volkswagen Beetle chassis.
The series featured memorable guest stars, including Jonathan Harris, Malachi Throne, Jim Backus, 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.
Four years after Ark II ended, Terry Lester, who played Jonah, went on to greater fame as the original Jack Abbott on the long-running soap, The Young and the Restless. He played that role until 1985; the role was recast four years later with actor Peter Bergman. Terry Lester died in 2003.
|Title||Original Airdate||Director / Writer(s)||#|
|"The Flies"||September 11, 1976||Ted Post/Martin Roth||101|
|A group of feral children find ancient canisters of poison gas.|
|"The Slaves"||September 18, 1976||Hollingsworth Morse/David Dworski||102|
|Jonah is captured by a local Baron while scouting a village.|
|"The Wild Boy"||September 25, 1976||Hollingsworth Morse/Susan Dworski||103|
|The crew of the Ark II befriend a feral child.|
|"The Robot"||October 2, 1976||Ted Post/Chuck Menville, Len Janson||104|
|Samuel constructs a robot with limited artificial intelligence.|
|"Omega"||October 9, 1976||Hollingsworth Morse/Bill Danch, Jim Ryan||105|
|The Ark II's crew discovers an enclave enslaved by a rogue artificial intelligence.|
|"The Tank"||October 16, 1976||Ted Post/Mark Jones, Michael Prescott, Robert Specht||106|
|The crew refits an old military tank as a farm tractor.|
|"The Cryogenic Man"||October 23, 1976||Ted Post/Martin Roth||107|
|A cryogenically frozen man is revived.|
|"The Rule"||October 30, 1976||Ted Post/Martin Roth||108|
|The team comes across a settlement which has discarded the elderly and the weak.|
|"Robin Hood"||November 6, 1976||Hollingsworth Morse/Len Janson, Chuck Menville||109|
|An act of civil disobedience goes awry.|
|"The Drought"||November 13, 1976||Ted Post/Martin Roth||110|
|The feral children from episode 101 return to steal the Ark.|
|"The Lottery"||November 20, 1976||Ted Post/Phyllis White, Robert White||111|
|The team encounter a community of "grasshoppers" as seen in the Ant and the Grasshopper.|
|"The Mind Group"||November 27, 1976||Hollingsworth Morse/Robert Specht||112|
|The team runs afoul of a group of psionic children.|
|"The Balloon"||December 4, 1976||Hollingsworth Morse/Peter L. Dixon, Robert Specht||113|
|The team evacuates a plague stricken village using a hot air balloon.|
|"Don Quixote"||December 11, 1976||Ted Post/Robert Specht, Len Janson||114|
|A "modern" Don Quixote believes that the Ark vehicle is a dragon.|
|"Orkus"||December 18, 1976||Henry J. Lange Jr./Robert Specht, Chuck Menville||115|
|After discovering a community of self-styled "immortals," members of the crew begin to age rapidly.|
|"The Secret Sea"||Unproduced||Russell Bates (outline only)||116|
|While investigating ocean life, Jonah and Samuel are mistaken, by coastal cave dwellers, for "sea spirits."|
BCI Eclipse LLC, 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 in production order. But as of 2009, this release had been discontinued and was out of print, as BCI Eclipse ceased operations.
- Ark II at the Internet Movie Database
- Ark II at TV.com
- Ark II at Retro Junk (has the intro video)
- Unofficial Ark II Appreciation Site
- Ark II at 70's Live Kid DVD
- Memorable TV: Ark II episode guide
- Ark II at OldFutures.com