Saturday, July 07, 2012

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Ark II: "The Wild Boy" (September 25, 1976)

This week on Filmation's post-apocalyptic Saturday morning TV series Ark II,  Captain Jonah (Terry Lester) and his crew conduct a geophysical survey in Sector 14, Area 31.  The mission is to discover “rare minerals.”  But before long, a primitive-appearing young human, Isaiah (Mitch Vogel), interferes with their work, and Jonah is nearly trapped in a dark cave.

Local villagers warn the Ark II team that Isaiah is dangerous and that they plan to “put him in a cage and take him out to the great desert.”  Rather than allowing this exile to happen, the crew attempts to befriend the wild boy.  Isaiah is welcomed aboard the Ark  II vehicle and taught how to operate the craft's systems.  However, when Isaiah spots the recently mined crystals, he grows violent and angry, and runs away.

Soon, Isaiah's reasons are all too clear.  The crystals release a dangerous gas that sucks up oxygen, making the Ark II crew suffer from lassitude and fatigue.   While Jonah and Ruth go off to find Isaiah, Samuel loses control of the Ark II, and Jonah must re-board it while the great vehicle is in motion.

Isaiah reveals that his parents died in the cave where the minerals were recovered, and now he fears both it and the crystal.  Understanding this, the villagers make peace with Isaiah and welcome him into the family.  Jonah, meanwhile, arranges for the cave with the dangerous minerals to be permanently sealed.

The twin lessons on Ark II this week are “trust and affection can accomplish more than fear,” and, no less important, even evolved, peaceful folks like Jonah and Ruth can “still learn from those who haven’t had,” the same level of education.

In less didactic terms, “The Wild Boy” is a cool episode of this 1970s Saturday morning TV series for a few reasons.  The first is that this story provides for the closest thing to a car chase we  get on the program's roster.  Samuel loses control of the Ark II, and Jonah and Ruth must catch up in the Roamer and board the craft in motion.  This sequence is well-shot, and amps up the action quotient of the episode and the series considerably.

Secondly, and I know this probably seems minor, but this episode features a great aft-to-fore pan of the interior Ark II set.  It’s one thing to see the set in close-ups, or in establishing shots.  It’s quite another to track the whole set, and see the breadth and scope of it.  It’s really an impressive design, and so far as I can discern, this is a new shot.

Next Week: Robby guest stars in “The Robot.”


  1. Hi John,

    While I've had this series on DVD for about three years now, I have yet to watch this episode. These postings are appreciated. I think Ark II is a superior 'Saturday morning' show. As a matter of fact, I think it's perhaps the strongest series of the Filmation SF live-action pack: Ark II; Space Academy; and Jason of Star Command. (I'm sure I've missed some, but these are the 'big three'. Jason may be the most outright fun.)

    I remember seeing a photo, years ago, that had been taken behind-the-scenes on Ark II. It showed director Ted Post, a CP-16 camera (16mm), and Robby the Robot. The episode was "The Robot"....

    Like any good blogger who posts regularly, and intelligently, on 'old' shows, you make your readers want to re-explore those episodes.


    1. Hi Barry,

      Thank you for commenting on this week's Ark II review.

      I agree with you about Ark II being a superior "Saturday morning" show. And that context that you (rightly) name is the key. You always have to keep one eye trained on the fact that this is a low-budget series made for children (and thus forgive some of the overt moralizing) and then one (appreciative) eye on the things the show accomplishes well. I enjoy Ark II, in other words, for what it is: a well-done Filmation kids show from the 1970s.

      I would love to see that photo of Ted Post and Robby the Robot!

      Thank you for your comment about good bloggers. The compliment is much appreciated, and I'm really enjoying your comments here.

      All my best,

  2. Anonymous2:27 PM

    John excellent review of "Wild Boy". I think this episode, complete with the 'car chase' you nicely described and the showcase of the Ark II interior set production design will win over anyone that was not fortunate enough to have seen it first-run Saturday mornings in '76 as we did as children. I am glad that you posted the screencap of Jonah using the handheld laser tool. It was certainly an extremely different laser gun, but interesting part of the ARK II equipment.


    1. Hi SGB:

      I was surprised to see the car chase stunt in this episode, but pleasantly so. It was well-done, and wholly unexpected on a low-budget program, indeed. I also loved that shot of the Ark II interior -- sans cutting!! You really do get to see how great the interior set was.

      You're right about the unconventional laser too. There was definitely a lot of ingenuity behind Ark II, and I appreciate that level of invention! Next week's episode, with Robby, is really good. Another one, "Omega" comes up soon, and it too is a strong episode...

      Great comments!