Ark II

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 litter 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.