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Series / Ark II

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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 Twenty-Fifth 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.
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Ark II was a television program produced by Filmation as part of their Saturday Morning live-action children's block on the CBS network in The '70s, along with Shazam and The Secrets of Isis. It follows the adventures of a group of Science Heroes who travel through post-apocalyptic landscapes in a highly advanced mobile laboratory, trying to rebuild human society after pollution has decimated the world. Fifteen episodes were produced in 1976, though it continued to run in syndication until 1979.

Notable for featuring Jonathan "O the Pain!" Harris in a couple of episodes, as well as an appearance by a tweenage Helen Hunt.

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"These are the Tropes of the 25th Century:"

  • Actual Pacifist: As is true of all the heroes in Filmation's live-action shows, none of the main characters here carry weapons, and they never engage in fisticuffs nor any form of violence, not even in self-defense; the only thing they have with which to defend themselves is an extremely bright, hand-held light.
  • Adventure Towns: Well, "towns" might be too strong a word for the little hamlets and hovels that exist in the show, but that's the general intent.
  • After the End: In a variation, The End is caused by resource mismanagement and pollution rather than War, as befitting the environmental awareness movement of The '70s.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Master Computer in "Omega". Subverted with Alpha I in "The Robot"; Jonah thinks the robot has gone haywire, but it hasn't.
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  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Fagan and his Flies capture the Ark II in "The Drought".
  • Biblical Motifs: All four of the main characters (and not a few of the guest characters) have Biblical names. Oh yeah, and there's an "ark" in there somewhere as well.
  • Captain's Log: Jonah sets the scene.
  • Cargo Cult: In "The Drought", a group worships a small capsule as a rain god. Ironically, the capsule actually contains a device which can bring rain, but the group doesn't know this.
  • Civilized Animal: Adam the chimpanzee not only speaks, but can drive and utilize the Ark II's high-tech gizmos.
  • Clarke's Third Law: The Ark II crew use this to their advantage in "The Slaves". It pops up in other episodes too, often with the crew and their devices being mistaken for gods or, more commonly, devils.
  • Cool Car: The Ark Roamer. The Ark II itself could be called a Cool RV.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones / If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: Fagan, the Anti-Villain of "The Flies", threatens a rival gang with a canister of poison gas; the rival responds by using Fagan's child gang as human shields. True to the trope (not to mention the show's idealistic tone), Fagan can't go through with it.
  • Exty Years from Now: The show takes place in 2476.
  • Green Aesop: The point of the show overall, though not necessarily the focus of the episodes individually.
  • Human Popsicle / Fish out of Temporal Water: Arnie Pool and Norman Funk, cryogenically frozen in the 1980s, in "The Cryogenic Man". They also turn out to be Corrupt Corporate Executives.
  • Jet Pack: the Jet Jumper, which was a genuine, working jet pack flown by a stuntman. You can tell it was real by how huge and bulky it was, compared to more typically-streamlined Hollywood portrayals.
  • Large Ham: Anyone who has seen an episode of Lost in Space will know what to expect whenever Jonathan Harris appears on screen. Not that this is a bad thing, mind you.
  • Lottery of Doom: "The Lottery", fittingly enough.
  • Ludd Was Right: The attitude of the village leader in "The Tank". "All machines are forbidden here... because they're evil." Understandable; he blames machines for the pollution which has devastated the world.
  • The Medic: Ruth's primary job in the group.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Don Quixote, natch, in the episode of the same name.
  • Opening Narration: provided again by Lou Scheimer.
  • Science Hero: All the main cast. Even the chimp.
  • Short Runner: Ran a single season.
  • Shout-Out: Fagan's child gang The Flies, an obvious reference to Lord of the Flies.
  • Space Clothes: The Ark II uniforms are white Spandex, contrasting with the peasant rags worn by everyone else.
  • Stock Footage: Most of the vehicle shots. This trope is a given for Filmation, but it might be more noticeable in this show than others due to the Adventure Towns set-up; it's obvious that the Ark II, Ark Roamer and Jet Jumper always seem to be moving through the exact same scenery regardless of where the episode takes place. The Ark II, in particular, has an odd habit of driving through wooded Southern California hills in one shot, before suddenly appearing out in the Arizona salt flats the next, then teleporting right back to the SoCal hills again.
  • Teen Genius: Samuel is the youngest of the group.
  • Title, Please!: as with most of Filmation's live-action shows, there are no episode title cards.
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