Saturday, August 11, 2012
Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Ark II: "Don Quixote" (December 11, 1976)
This week’s episode of the Filmation 1970s series Ark II, called “Don Quixote,” follows roughly the same outline as the episode “Robin Hood.” Only here, the crew of the titular vehicle encounters literary and mythic personalities who are not merry men, but rather based on Cervantes’ The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha (1605).
Specifically, Jonah, Ruth, Samuel and Adam cross paths with two post-apocalyptic personalities who knowingly have cast themselves as the chivalric Quixote and his loyal squire, Sancho.
The conflict of the week occurs when this (confused) new age Quixote sees Jonah not as a hero, but as his most dangerous nemesis, the Black Knight himself. Thus Quixote seeks to interfere with Jonah’s mission to detonate two unexploded pre-apocalypse bombs in an ancient battle area.
Adding some comic relief to the episode, Quixote also sees the talking chimpanzee, Adam, as a damsel he can protect and love, Lady Marguerite.
Finally, Quixote is recruited to the Ark II’s noble cause when the crew contextualizes the un-exploded bomb as a “serpent” the knight must defeat in combat. Quixote actually proves helpful too, during the climax, because his metal knight’s armor can help to limit the range and power of an explosion, if one should occur.
Played more lightly than “Omega,” and “Robot,” and without the sharp social commentary of “The Cryogenic Man,” this installment of the Saturday morning series wouldn’t rank amongst the show’s best.
Nor is it the worst, however.
The final message of “Don Quixote is something akin to “use your imagination, but also see things through the eyes of others.” That’s appropriately didactic for children. Yet it’s probably even more commendable that Ark II would name-check Don Quixote in the first place, no doubt causing a spate of little ones to ask their parents about the character and his story, or perhaps even visit a nearby library to find out even more about him.
I must say, I appreciate the fact that over its run, Ark II has showcased a very literary, cerebral bent, alluding to Scripture, Dickens, the Robin Hood legends and Cervantes. That’s an unexpected (adult) pleasure of revisiting the Saturday morning series today.
Next week, the final Ark II episode: “Orkus.”