Ark II 1.9 – The Wild Boy

Resuming our visit to the 25th Century, we pick back up with the cast of Ark II with another Star Trek-lite outing that has a feral kid played by Mitch Vogel and some mysterious glowing rocks that pose a threat to everybody. We saw Vogel a couple of months ago in an episode of Isis that aired the previous season.

And speaking of seasons, we’ve now synched up our viewing so that we’re watching all three of Filmation’s live action shows that aired during the 1976-77 season on CBS. Unfortunately for the company and the network, the lineup was not a success. As I mentioned previously, writing about the final episode of Land of the Lost, ABC completely dominated Saturday mornings that season with Scooby Doo, Dynomutt, and The Krofft Supershow. NBC was a very, very distant third and CBS somewhere in between.

Watching them all together, Ark II is by leagues the best of the three, and it’s weird just how much better the special effects are. It’s tough to explain how, but it really looks like the flying effects in the superhero shows, which were never all that great in the first place, took a quantum leap backward. Meanwhile this show uses primitive-but-effective lasers and color negatives and simply looks like it just swallowed the budget of its predecessors. And while the stories are certainly not edge-of-your-seat thrilling, they are much more thoughtful and interesting than what I expected, and our son really is enjoying installments like tonight’s.

Isis 1.5 – The Outsider

This episode starts out like a standard Shazam! “kids just need to be accepting” morality tale before transforming into a po-faced and completely unbelievable ecological story. A scene where Isis stops a runaway bulldozer entertained Daniel, while I wondered whether Hollingsworth Morse had used the same hillside location where he had shot the H.R. Pufnstuf opening credits six years before.

In the cast, both Mitch Vogel, who played the red-haired hillbilly who is teased by the school jocks, and Harry Hickox, who played the developer, were nearing the ends of their acting careers and would leave the business before 1979. Vogel had played the orphan kid taken in by the Cartwrights in the last couple of seasons of Bonanza and Hickox had a deep list of small parts dating back to the early ’50s. We’ll see Vogel again in another Filmation show before long.