The Flies

Ark IIIn the 25th century, centuries of human progress have taken their toll. Pollution and war have left the Earth a desolate wasteland. The scientific community, reduced to a small enclave hiding away from the scavengers and savages that roam the planet’s surface, puts all of its hopes into a mobile laboratory called Ark II, commanded by Jonah and crewed by young scientists Ruth and Samuel, and the sentient chimpanzee Adam.

Word reaches the Ark II crew of a marauding band of orphaned children pillaging weaker communities and preying on travelers. The only group in the area that wields more power is a group of well-armed warlords. Jonah ventures out on his own, discovering that an adult named Fagon is guiding the Flies, and he discovers something else even more disturbing: the Flies’ most recent looting “find” includes at least one canister of a poisonous gas. With the children willing to do whatever Fagon says, Jonah knows time is running out to keep the Flies from stepping up from petty crime to something far deadlier – to themselves and to the warlords.

The Flieswritten by Martin Roth
directed by Ted Post
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Terry Lester (Jonah), Jean Marie Hon (Ruth), Jose Flores (Samuel), Jonathan Harris (Fagon),Tierre Turner (Tick), Malachi Throne (War Lord Brack), Lou Scheimer (voice of Adam)

Notes: Filmation Associates, famous for its numerous early ’70s cartoons (including Star Trek: The Animated Series), took The Fliesa bold step into live-action SF with Ark II. The centerpiece and home base of the show was Ark II itself, a custom-built vehicle on an existing truck chassis; contrary to urban legend, Ark II was a new vehicle, and was not the same vehicle as the Landmaster from Damnation Alley. Another new vehicle making an appearance here was the very real jetpack, developed and then abandoned by Bell Helicopter, which wound up in the hands of a hi-tech Hollywood prop rental service. It could only fly for thirty seconds before its fuel ran out, sending its pilot (a costumed stuntman, not actor Terry Lester) plummeting to the ground on at least one occasion. The production rented the jetpack for only eight of these brief flights, each of which was filmed by four cameras at the same time, ensuring a variety of stock footage. Ark II’s smaller “convertible SUV” The Fliesvehicle was called the Roamer.

Actor Jonathan Harris – famous for his role as the villainous (but hardly competent) Dr. Smith on Lost In Space, is the episode’s main guest star, but Filmation would hire him as the adult star of their next live-action genre show, Space Academy (which later morphed into Jason Of Star Command). Malachi Throne (a veteran of ’60s and ’70s TV fondly remembered for his appearances in early episodes of Star Trek) also guest stars.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Slaves

Ark IIJonah discovers a camp where a man named Baron Vargas has enslaved the people of an entire village, using “magic” to keep them under his power. As he is surveying the slave camp and working on a strategy to free its people, Jonah is captured by Vargas’ men and is put to work. He tries to lead a rebellion, but becomes the latest “victim” of Vargas’ “magic” – he’s dumped through a trap door and Vargas convinces the other slaves that he has turned Jonah into a chicken. Ruth, Samuel and Adam launch their own plan to free Jonah and the slaves, but they run the risk of being captured themselves.

The Slaveswritten by David Dworski
directed by Hollingsworth Morse
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Terry Lester (Jonah), Jean Marie Hon (Ruth), Jose Flores (Samuel), Michael Kermoyan (Baron Vargas), Michael Mullins (Gideon), Karl Lukas (Cyrus), Charles Wagenheim (Old Slave), Lou Scheimer (voice of Adam)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Wild Boy

Ark IIJonah descends underground to retrieve mineral samples from an opening in the Earth. As Samual and Ruth monitor his progress on the surface, they are attacked by a boy who can’t even speak, though the approach of riders on horseback scares off their attacker. The riders’ leader, Simone, warns Jonah and his teammates about the “wild boy” who attacks anyone who approaches the abandoned mine, and expresses her desire to capture and tame the boy by any means necessary. Jonah thanks her for the warning, and instead makes it a point to befriend the boy next time he appears. Ruth and Samuel name the boy Isaiah and begin to teach him the basics of life in their vehicle, but when he sees the ore samples Jonah retrieved from the mine, he goes berzerk and runs away. Can anyone tame Isaiah, or is he trying to warn both Jonah and Simone of a greater danger?

Ark IIwritten by Susan Dworski
directed by Hollingsworth Morse
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Terry Lester (Jonah), Jean Marie Hon (Ruth), Jose Flores (Samuel), Mitch Vogel (Isaiah), Jean Sarah Frost (Simone), Lou Scheimer (voice of Adam)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Robot

Ark IIThe Ark II crew enjoys a little bit of downtime. For Jonah, Ruth and Adam, this means fishing, though they’re slightly annoyed that their expert fisherman, Samuel, is spending his free time inside the Ark, working on his hobby project, a huge robot named Alpha-1 (or, to Samuel, “Alphie”). When toxic gas is detected in the air, and Jonah and his friends see strange behavior in people exposed to the gas, the vacation is over. Jonah orders Samuel to shut Alphie down because there’s serious work to be done. Alphie has other ideas, however, and escapes from the Ark. Now Jonah has to contend with a toxic gas and an escaped robot on the loose, either one of which could do serious harm.

The Slaveswritten by Chuck Menville and Len Janson
directed by Ted Post
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Terry Lester (Jonah), Jean Marie Hon (Ruth), Jose Flores (Samuel), Al Dunlap (Brant), Elizabeth Cheshire (Nestra), Lou Scheimer (voice of Adam / voice of Alphie)

Notes: If Alphie looks familiar, it’s because he’s as close as anything in Ark II gets to being a genuine sci-fi icon: he’s better known as “Robby the Robot,” an invention of MGM’s prop shop for the 1956 movie Forbidden Planet. He has appeared in dozens of other productions since, including Lost In Space, Twilight Zone, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Ark II’s Filmation stablemate Space Academy.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Omega

Ark IIJonah brings the Ark II to a screeching halt when he sees an old man laying in the dust. This man has escaped from a society that was thriving only three weeks ago, until the reactivation of a 21st century computer led to the entire community falling under the computer’s mind control. The computer, called Omega, has a much easier time taking over the minds of the young, but with more time and effort it can control anyone’s mind. Marcus is the last holdout, and his granddaughter is already under Omega’s control. Jonah makes it his mission to free these people by deactivating Omega at any price… but before he can even start, Omega already has control over Samuel.

The Flieswritten by Bill Danch & Jim Ryan
directed by Hollingsworth Morse
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Terry Lester (Jonah), Jean Marie Hon (Ruth), Jose Flores (Samuel), Harry Townes (Marcus), Helen Hunt (Diana), Lou Scheimer (voice of Adam / voice of Omega)

Notes: Yes, it’s that Helen Hunt (of Mad About You fame), though it’s far from the young actress’ first role – she had been acting professionally for three years by the time of her appearance in Ark II. Veteran character actor Harry Townes was a fixture of the golden age of TV, guest starring in Twilight Zone, The Invaders, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, One Step Beyond, Inner Sanctum and Tales Of Tomorrow. He also appeared in The Outer Limits, the original Star Trek, Planet Of The Apes, Buck Rogers, and The Incredible Hulk. He died in 2001.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Tank

Ark IIAs the Ark is on the move through a valley filled with the remnants of machines of war, Samuel and Adam spot a girl being chased by a ragtag band of scavengers. Jonah and Samuel rush to her aid, but are brought up short by an amazing sight: one of the seemingly abandoned tanks is on the move. The distraction doesn’t stop the scavengers, however: they kidnap the girl, go to her village and demand a heavy ransom – most of that village’s food crops for the next year in exchange for her safe return. Jonah notices that one of the village’s young men is the one who was driving the tank. Jonah and his team offer their help in rescuing the girl, but to do so, Jonah may have to overcome his aversion to using the tank as the weapon is was meant to be.

The Fliesteleplay by Mark Jones & Michael Prescott and Robert Specht
story by Mark Jones & Michael Prescott
directed by Ted Post
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Terry Lester (Jonah), Jean Marie Hon (Ruth), Jose Flores (Samuel), Marhsall Thompson (Baxter), Chris Nelson (Zachery), Tony Ballen (Roman), Bonnie Van Dyke (Jewel), Lou Scheimer (voice of Adam)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Cryogenic Man

Ark IIThe Ark arrives in time for the unearthing of two cryogenic capsules buried in 1986; Jonah and his crew volunteer their technology to help revive the two men frozen inside. Despite their cryogenic capsules nearly failing during power-up and revival, the two businessmen from the 1980s survive and awaken. One of them wastes no time in trying to sell the locals on his miracle chemical which will supposedly grow healthy crops in the more dire of conditions. There’s a reason this chemical was phased out before 1986, but of course no one alive in the 25th century remembers that.

The Flieswritten by Martin Roth
directed by Ted Post
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Terry Lester (Jonah), Jean Marie Hon (Ruth), Jose Flores (Samuel), Jim Backus (Arnie Pool), John Fiedler (Norman Funk), Chuck Comisky (Jeb), Lou Scheimer (voice of Adam)

Notes: Jim Backus is easily the highest-profile guest star of Ark II’s entire run. TV audiences remember him best as Mr. Howell from Gilligan’s Island.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Rule

Ark IIEn route to investigate a small group of cave dwellers to see if their quality of life can be improved, Ark II is attacked by scavengers. The shields are activated and the attack is thwarted, but Jonah and Samuel worry about Ruth, who is doing her own scouting in the Roamer vehicle. The Roamer does indeed run into trouble in rocky terrain, and Ruth is knocked out cold. Adam runs for help, while Ruth is carried to safety by a young man from a community which is harshly ruled by his father. As leader of this community, Martin fiercely applies “the rule”: the infirm and disabled cannot contribute to society, and must be cast out before they drag the rest of the community down. When Martin’s own son is injured, the rule applies to him as well – until Ruth and her friends from Ark II help him prove his worth.

Ark IIwritten by Martin Roth
directed by Ted Post
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Terry Lester (Jonah), Jean Marie Hon (Ruth), Jose Flores (Samuel), Philip Abbott (Martin), Davis Roberts (Mr. Jackson), Kenneth O’Brien (Rufus), David Abbott (Jeff), Lou Scheimer (voice of Adam)

Note: Philip Abbott and David Abbott, playing a father and son in this episode, were a real-life father and son who appeared in the same show on more than one occasion.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Robin Hood

Ark IIWhen Jonah hears of a war heating up between two communities – one of which is led by a man who has assumed the mantle of Robin Hood – he cuts short Adam’s driving lessons and positions Ark II between the battling factions and raises its shields, preventing them from fighting. But the vehicle can’t stay between the enemies for long. Jonah takes off to try to talk to “Robin Hood” to bring him to the table for peace talks, but while he’s gone the rest of his crew is captured. “Robin”‘s enemies have control of Ark II and intend to put its power to use as a weapon.

written by Chuck Menville & Len Janson
directed by Hollingsworth Morse
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Terry Lester (Jonah), Jean Marie Hon (Ruth), Jose Flores (Samuel), Richard Angarola (Lord Leslie), Johnny Ark IIDoran (Alan), Victor Rogers (Robin Hood), Alfie Wise (Big John), Lou Scheimer (voice of Adam)

Notes: This is one of the very few times in the series that any of the people visited by Ark II have motorized vehicles. The three-wheeled all-terrain vehicles used by Lord Leslie’s entourage, though very common now, weren’t a common sight in 1976. Also not common sights then, now or in the future: the Robin Hood costume and Lord Leslie’s very glittery, wizardly robes, both of which remained unnaturally clean in the desert-like dust of the post-apocalyptic future!

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Drought

Ark IIArk II investigates an area that hasn’t seen a drop of rain in over a month. A Morse code message flashed in a mirror warns Jonah and his crew to stay away; instead, Jonah and Ruth scouut ahead in the smaller, more agile Roamer. Samuel and Adam find Fagon and his gang of Flies nearby, and shares Ark II’s water supply with them before being lured outside by a cry for help. Once none of the Ark crew is aboard, Fagon hijacks the vehicle. Jonah straps on the jet pack to follow it. A nearby tribe is discovered to have a cloud-seeding device that could end the drought almost instantly, but instead they worship it – and plan to sacrifice Ruth and Samuel to it.

Ark IIwritten by Martin Roth
directed by Ted Post
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Terry Lester (Jonah), Jean Marie Hon (Ruth), Jose Flores (Samuel), Jonathan Harris (Fagon), Tierre Turner (Tick), Richard Balin (Witch Doctor), Lou Scheimer (voice of Adam)

Notes: Fagon and the “Flies” were last seen in the first eisode of the series. Jonah’s comment about the jet pack’s low fuel is an in-joke about the prop’s inability to keep its wearer airborne for more than 30 seconds.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Lottery

Ark IIArk II explores a desert area bordering something that the local call “the forbidden zone,” where Jonah and Ruth watch as two men are prodded into the zone and vanish without a trace. When a third person is forced toward the zone, Jonah dons the jet pack and stops him from entering, demanding to know what’s going on. He learns that the leader of the young man’s village, Kane, has decreed a brutal form of population control: a lottery is held to determine which member of the community will be banished to the forbidden zone to ensure that there are enough resources left for rest of the village. The seemingly random bursts from a volcanic steam vent choose those who will be banished… except that Adam finds evidence that Kane has control over those burtsts, ensuring that those who oppose his laws are always the ones to be exiled. Ruth slips into the next party of exiles sent into the forbidden zone, and she finds herself in a strange dark voidi with the others who have been sent there against their will. But how can Ruth and the others be retrieved?

Ark IIwrittten by Phyllis & Robert White
directed by Ted Post
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Terry Lester (Jonah), Jean Marie Hon (Ruth), Jose Flores (Samuel), Zitto Kazann (Kane), David Goldmund (Steven), Eric Boles (Borg), Jim Boles (Benjamin), Lou Scheimer (voice of Adam)

Notes: Samuel’s laser gear uses advanced 25th century Nixie tubes to display numbers. Two weeks after he made it dangerously obvious that he couldn’t drive the Ark, Adam has mastered the controls of the Roamer.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Mind Group

Ark IIActing on information that three children with unusual telepathic powers have gone missing from a nearby village, Ark II ventures into dangerous territory. Jonah brings the vehicle to a stop when all of the members of his crew hear one of the children talk in their minds. (Just to be sure, Adam looks under the table, but doesn’t find anyone there.) The children have been capture by Warlord Brack, someone who Jonah knows all too well from a previous encounter. One of the children escapes and Jonah takes him back to the Ark, where Ruth learns that the children have powers of telekinesis as well as telepathy. Brack lies to his remaining captives, convincing them that the Ark II crew are even worse than he is. After Samuel, Adam and Jonah take the Roamer to look for the other children, Ruth finds herself in trouble, and trusting in the children’s telekinetic abilities is her only hope.

The Flieswritten by Robert Specht
directed by Hollingsworth Morse
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Terry Lester (Jonah), Jean Marie Hon (Ruth), Jose Flores (Samuel), Malachi Throne (War Lord Brack), Johnny Avery (Aaron), Dawn Lyn (Bina), Billy Simpson (Caleb), Lou Scheimer (voice of Adam)

Notes: A valuable lesson from this episode – telepaths can always talk with their mouths full. For once, a science fiction series manages to not treat a force field as a miraculously selective porous surface: the whole complication of the plot is that there’s limited air in the space inside the force field. Brack was last encountered in the series pilot, The Flies, alongside the only other recurring characters in the series, Fagon and Tick (who reappeared in The Drought).

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Balloon

Ark IIAdam spots a balloon trapped in a tree, with a message attached, printed in Greek. Samuel begins working on a translation while Jonah and Ruth scout ahead in the Roamer, only to have the way back to Ark II blocked by an avalanche. Samuel finishes translating the message and warns his friends that they’re walking into an isolationist village whose population is falling to an infectious disease. The messages, sent by the father of the village’s leader, ask for help from the outside world, something forbidden by the leader’s laws. Even when Jonah promises that the Ark’s advanced medicines could save lives, his help is refused – and then he finds that even he isn’t immune.

teleplay by Peter L. Dixon & Robert Specht
story by Peter L. Dixon
directed by Hollingsworth Morse
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Ark IICast: Terry Lester (Jonah), Jean Marie Hon (Ruth), Jose Flores (Samuel), Guy Stockwell (The Leader), John Beal (Grandfather), Christian Juttner (Ben), Del Monroe (Masked Man), Mel Novak (First Guard), Lou Scheimer (voice of Adam)

Notes: Guy Stockwell (1934-2002) appeared in dozens of TV series and movies, among them Land Of The Giants, Voyagers!, Knight Rider and The Wild, Wild West. He appeared in an episode of Quantum Leap with his younger brother, Dean Stockwell.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Don Quixote

Ark IIArk II moves into an area where unexploded bombs from an ancient war have been detected. Jonah safely detonates one of them with a remote electromagnetic device, leaving a huge crater in the landscape but harming no one. But there’s a witness to this explosion: a man in homemade armor, on horseback, raises his jousting lance and charges toward the Ark. All he collides with is the vehicle’s force field, but that only slows him down: he thinks he’s Don Quixote, and his sidekick, reluctantly playing the part of Sancho Panza, apologizes profusely to Jonah. The Ark continues in its search for another unexploded bomb, finding it at the heart of a nearby village. The slightest jolt could set it off – such as a jolt from a self-styled knight errant who’s convinced that Jonah is the Black Knight.

Ark IIwritten by Robert Specht & Len Janson
directed by Ted Post
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Terry Lester (Jonah), Jean Marie Hon (Ruth), Jose Flores (Samuel), Robert Ridgely (Don Quixote), Vito Scotti (Sancho Panza), Lou Scheimer (voice of Adam)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Orkus

Ark IIRuth and Adam look for signs of toxic waste, but are warned away from a bubbling pond by a group of old men – who claim that they were young men only a day ago before they inhaled a toxic gas. Ruth and Adam begin to show signs of rapid aging as well. As Jonah and Samuel try to find an antidote to reverse this unnatural aging, something probes Ark II with a form of energy that simply passes through the Ark’s outer skin, and then addresses Jonah. Introducing itself as Orkus, the disembodied voice offers an antidote to help Ruth and Adam, but insists that Jonah bring Ark II to a specific location. Not trusting Orkus, Jonah goes to the specified coordinates via jet pack instead, finding a shielded amphitheater where Orkus holds court. None of Orkus’ people age or die, and suffer no hardships, thanks to a series of machines called the Providers. But the Providers themselves need something: the energy stores that keep the Ark moving. Jonah must decide between the lives of his friends, or the end of Ark II’s mission.

written by Robert Specht & Chuck Menville
directed by Henry J. Lange, Jr.
music by Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael and Horta-Mahana

Cast: Terry Lester (Jonah), Jean Marie Hon (Ruth), Jose Flores (Samuel), Geoffrey Lewis (Orkus), William Benedict (Malcolm), Monie Ellis (Alicia), Lou Scheimer (voice of Adam)

Notes: Bearing more than a slight resemblance to a number of classic Star Trek episodes, Orkus wraps up the series. This Ark IIepisode reveals that Ark II has a self-destruct mechanism (an odd feature for “the last mobile storehouse of scientific knowledge”), and presumably it’d pack quite a wallop if allowed to explode. Depending on one’s interpretation, there’s a possibility that Orkus and his people played some role in the downfall of human civilization, which they claim to have witnessed in the early 21st century. Be on the lookout for a bunch of people in vaguely Greek-like robes, hanging around a simple gazebo fashioned out of ordinary garden lattice and glass globes, for they will be the death of us all.

LogBook entry by Earl Green