When the Saturday morning series Ark II debuted in 1976, it bore little more than a slight resemblance to its biblical counterpart. Sure, there was a post-apocalyptic world and a small group of survivors determined to repopulate the earth. And yes, they had an Ark of sorts, alhtough this one was a tad more advanced than its gopher-wood constructed ancestor. It was more of a high-tech Land Rover on steroids. Missing, however, were the countless pairs of animals – although to their credit, they did have a monkey. Regardless, Ark II made enough of an impression on young tykes in the 70s to stick around for a few years on television, then live on in their collective memories for decades beyond.
Each episode’s opening gave the viewer plenty of 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.”
The Ark was commanded by the able Jonah and his two young assistants, Ruth and Samuel. The trio was accompanied by wise and friendly chimp named Samuel, who was capable of speech. The group had a few methods of transportation available during their exploratory adventures. The Ark served as their main vehicle and contained a scientific laboratory. The smaller Ark Roamer, a futuristic Jeep, helped them canvas the rougher terrain. And when that failed, they donned a device certain to get the attention of every kid watching, a jetpack.
Ark II was produced by Saturday morning heavyweights Norm Prescott and Lou Scheimer. Both men founded Filmation Studios in the early 60s, producing such classic shows as Shazam!, Groovie Goolies, Archie’s Funhouse and many others. Surprisingly, only fifteen episodes of Ark II were produced, all of which were shown on CBS during 1976. The show proved popular enough for those episodes to be rerun over the next few years, where they built a steady following of loyal fans who still fondly remember the ambitious, though short-lived science fiction series.
If you remember watching Ark II in your youth, we hope you’ll take a moment to share your memories in our comments section, as we tip our retro hats to one of the many shows that once made Saturday mornings special.