Sunday, February 19, 2017

Nostalgia Theater: Ark II -- After the Apocalypse on Saturday Mornings

During the 1970s, dominion of Saturday morning kidvid was divided between production houses Hanna-Barbara and Lou Scheimer & Norm Prescott's Filmation. Both companies had a variety of offerings proliferating on the three broadcast nets, but while Hanna-Barbara tended to stay in the safe "funny animals, wacky teenagers" territory (with some exceptions), it was Filmation that tended to really swing for the fences in terms of experimenting with content, format, and putting a variety of different stuff out there, including live action kids' shows. One such effort was Ark II, which premiered on CBS in September of 1976. Here's the intro:

As you can tell from the vid above, Ark II was another entry in the well-worn catalogue of sci-fi shows foretelling some kind of nuclear or natural disaster that plunges humanity into a post-technology state. This was terrain that Planet of the Apes had turned into a cartoon show just one year earlier, and indeed, the concept was actually co-developed by Ted Post, director of the second Apes feature (the one that ends with the Earth going boom).

Unlike Apes though, Ark II had an essentially hopeful bent, with its diverse cast and premise of advanced scientists striving to bring the benefit of their wisdom and technology to the masses. Given that we currently live in a time where scientists' warnings about global warming are being dismissed as "just opinions" by the folks in charge, the idea that we'd actually listen to and trust scientists feels like the most unbelievable aspect of the whole thing.

Over the course of fifteen half-hour episodes from September through December of '76 (though reruns aired for another year), the brave explorers of Ark II (Terry Lester, Jean Marie Hon, Jose Flores, and Adam the Chimpanzee) encountered feral children, rogue robots, plagues, and more. It's quite dated now, but it exists today as a fascinating time capsule of an era when that kind of program was not deemed viable, but worth pursuing. Check out the first episode below:

One Year Ago in Nostalgia Theater: Harry and the Hendersons Hides Out in Primetime

Two Year Ago in Nostalgia Theater: WildC.A.T.s -- More Craptastic Saturday Morning Superheroes

Three Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: DuckTales! Woo-ooh!

Four Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: RoboCop: The Series -- The Future of Law Enforcement Gets Syndicated

Five Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: Night Man -- Marvel's Short-Lived Media Star

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