"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."
Ark II was set in a post-apocalyptic world where the crew of
a land vehicle, the Ark II, traveled across the country, righting wrongs they
encountered, promoting peace and understanding, and defending those unable to
defend themselves. As you might guess, this was a powerful job in a barbaric
world recovering from devastation from polluters.
The leader Jonah (played by
Terry Lester), along with Ruth (played by Jean Marie Hon), Samuel (played by
Jose Flores), and Adam, a talking, intelligent chimpanzee, traveled the
wastelands in what was actually one of the better kidvid shows of the time. Most
shows had direct morality lessons and these were often hollow and ill-conceived,
being the sorts of lessons that only liberals in Hollywood seem to feel are
vitally important. Fortunately, these weren't usually pounded into the viewer's
head and the ideas were fairly harmless, being the concepts promoted by the
Carter Administration, namely peaceful negotiations through any conflict without
ever using the threat of violence and preservation of the environment, also at
practically any cost.
Where the road bandits were the threat in the world of
"Mad Max", those that liter were the evil ones in Ark II. In the end, the near
total lack of action and constant sermonizing quickly bored most audiences. The
studios were fast to cancel the show. This CBS series, produced by Lou Scheimer
and Norm Prescott, lasted only one season in 1976, during which it benefited
from a good cast of guest stars including Jim Backus, Helen Hunt, Jonathan
Harris, and the famous "Forbidden Planet" creation, Robby the Robot.
The Ark II
itself was a modified recreational vehicle equipped with what was then the
latest technology. Its crew also used the "Ark Roamer", a smaller, jeep-like
vehicle, and jet packs to get to areas the Ark II couldn't go. In fact, the
gadgets were the real hit of the series, the jetpack being as much of a symbol
of the show as the actual Ark II.