Television reboots are all the rage mostly because the entertainment industry prefers name recognition over original ideas. But there are some properties that truly deserve a re-look because they didn’t quite achieve their goal the first time around or they were cut short.
What Is It? A Saturday morning live action series that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world hundreds of years after a man-made environmental disaster caused society to crumble. A group of scientists have come together and built the high-tech vehicle Ark II that travels around the land seeking out pockets of survivors and trying to rebuild civilization based on peaceful and scientific principles.
When Did It Originally Air? CBS, 1976, 1 Season Totaling 15 Episodes
Where Did the Original Fall Short? It was a decent concept that was hampered by its kid-friendly concept and the budget/technical limitations of the time. It was also cut too short at only fifteen episodes.
Why Reboot It? Sci fi fans like myself who grew up in the 1970’s remember this as one of the few genre entries airing on television at the time and it actually holds up better than you might expect. Sure, the stories tended to be somewhat naïve and generally wrapped up with nice, pat endings (and they threw in the talking monkey for comedy relief). But it still managed to get some decent episodes in there and the Ark itself as well as the other hardware they had at their disposal was incredibly cool for a post-apocalyptic world. It would be interesting to see a revival done as a sequel to the original series, kind of an Ark II: The Next Generation (dispense with the monkey business, though). It could tap into some of the optimism of the original series while also exploring some of the moral quandaries faced when a peaceful solution is not a viable option. It doesn’t have to go dark and grim like so many shows these days, instead it could strive for a nice balance between the hopefulness of the original and the realism of a post-apocalyptic setting. The format of the show also offers plenty of flexibility for story-telling options that could work in standalone episodes as well as ongoing arcs. It would be perfect fit in the current television environment that could work in the expected 21st century genre elements while also bringing with it some retro charm. And the lack of name recognition wouldn’t hurt it (mostly just us old fogey’s remember the show), because it offers such a versatile format that the reboot could establish itself on its own terms. I know I would tune in, and I’m sure plenty more sci fi fans–young and old–would as well.
Where Can I Watch the Original? Unfortunately, the DVD set for this series (as well as the one that collects it with the two other Filmation sci fi shows Space Academy and Jason of Star Command) has gone out of print and you are at the mercy of Amazon Sellers who have jacked up the price of the set to ridiculous levels. But you can catch episodes of it on YouTube at this link. The one included below has Lost in Space veteran Jonathan Harris stopping by for the first of two guest appearances as the conniving Fagon.