Ark II: A Mobile Storehouse of Scientific Knowledge #SaturdayMorningCartoons
Of all the great, lost Saturday Morning shows, Ark II is the only one that features a futuristic RV that is a “mobile storehouse of scientific knowledge” roaming a post-apocalyptic landscape with some of the few remaining scientists. It’s a roving band of multicultural scientist heroes (and a talking chimp) here to bring hope to a hopeless world!
Surprisingly, the show holds up pretty well. Despite the low budget, the production values are quite good, and the Ark and its accessories are pretty impressive gadgets, even today. Probably the most impressive gadget – besides the Ark itself – was a genuine Bell jetpack. Filmation secured the services of a jet-pack and pilot for an afternoon, dressed the guy up like Terry Lester, and shot as much footage of him zooming around as possible, footage they later reused repeatedly throughout the series. Still – it was cool and undeniably real, instead of an unconvincing bluescreen or rear-projection effect.
Shot on location at the old Fox Ranch, the producers managed to evoke a fairly convincing post-Apocalyptic world, even using some decrepit sets left over from the original Planet Of the Apes features! And, as I mentioned in my Space Academy review, Bill Malone’s Robby the Robot guest starred in an episode, which is always a plus for me. The earnest young cast manages to play their underwritten roles with conviction, and, thankfully, the chatty chimpanzee (voiced by frugal Filmation head Lou Schiemer) is never all that annoying.
The greatness of Saturday Morning in the 70s never ends.
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