Ark II premiered in September 1976, when I was four years old (I was born in 1972), so I might have been a little young to pick up on the show, but it continued to air on CBS until 1979, and in syndication into the 1980s, so I should have picked up on it somewhere, but apparently didn't. When it first came out, me and my family had no television, and by that time, had moved out in the country. It also had to do with having no CBS affiliate where I lived (this time, back in the city) once my family had a television in 1978.
Strangely I didn't discover Ark II until 2004, when I was wanting to learn more on what Filmation had done besides the Star Trek animated series, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Ghostbusters (the '80s animated that forced the the cartoon adaptation of the movie franchise to be entitled "The Real Ghostbusters"), and Fat Albert. Ark II popped up and I liked the description, and the scenes included. I then discovered this series would be available on DVD, so a few years later I picked it up and was amazed! I was expecting to be embarrassed and feeling it would appeal only to '70s kids, but that wasn't the case at all. This is by Filmation, and I always dug that rotating "Lou Scheimer" and "Norm Prescott" banner that you see on all the Filmation productions from 1969 to the 1981-82 season (until the 1973-74 season, you'd see this on the closing credits, after you see it at the beginning credits, like you do Ark II). That was done so they received equal billing for production.
I can't help but think of Ark II as Damnation Alley for kids, although the movie adaptation of 1967 Roger Zelazny short story-turned-1969 full-blown novel did not hit the theaters until the following year, 1977, but there are similarities: a post apocalyptic theme, similar looking land vehicle (contrary to popular belief, the Ark II was not reused for the Damnation Alley film, they are different, despite their similarities), and the fact these land vehicles were used to help save civilization. Also the vehicle for Ark II was simply reused the following year for the spacecraft on Space Academy.
Ark II consists of Terry Lester as Jonah (he was 26), Jean Marie Hon as Ruth (she was 21), Jose Flores as Samuel (he was still a minor then, I doubt he was over 15), and a chimpanzee (that talks, with voice courtesy of Lou Scheimer himself) as Adam. As you guess, all the characters are Biblical, but the show itself isn't overly religious so anyone, regardless of religion or not should enjoy this. This is the world some 500 years later, pollution and wars taking its toll on the environment, causing civilization to revert back to the Stone Age. So it takes some highly trained young scientists to undo the wrong. You see civilizations with societies that justify slavery, who are unjust, who treat the poor and handicapped as outcasts, those who refuse to open up to the outside world regardless how much they outside help they need, and so on.
Guests include Jonathan Harris, who many of you know as Dr. Zachary Smith on Lost in Space, and a then-13 year old Helen Hunt. Even Robby the Robot makes an apperance he (first appeared on Forbidden Planet, and even appeared on an episode of Lost in Space). The two episodes with Jonathan Harris, I keep thinking that he'll state that his "delicate back is a disaster area", or "the pain, the pain", or calling the Robot names. That never happens, after all, this is not Lost in Space. Harris also appeared on another Filmation creation: Space Academy.
I have noticed recycled sound effects that I've heard on Star Trek (but then I also watched movies predating Star Trek using those same sounds, so obviously they came from a sound library), not to mention, some of the episodes using the same incidental music you hear on the Star Trek animated series (another Filmation creation).
I like the fact there's only 15 episodes, sometimes better one season, than a bunch. This DVD set also includes an episode listing, plus tons of bonus features, including the "Launch of Ark II", which is about the making of the Ark II with Jean Marie Hon, Lou Scheimer, and Richard A. Rosenbloom (Terry Lester was obviously not present due to his passing). Plus you get treated with opening themes to many other Filmation productions, such as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, The Ghost Busters (the original 1975 live action, and the 1980s animated that forced the other Ghostbusters to be called "The Real Ghostbusters"), Space Academy, Flash Gordon, and more (no Fat Albert, no Archies, no Star Trek animated, probably because BCI/Entertainment Rights don't have legal propert of those shows).
Because Ark II was on a limited budget, don't expect much change in the scenery from one episode to the next, but it's still lovely scenery (it's semi-desert, it's all filmed in Southern California). The picture quality isn't digital DVD perfect, but you don't expect it to be for something dating back to 1976. But that's what I like about watching TV shows or movies from the 1970s: the technical limitations of the era (that's why I have a problem with the CGI updates on the original Star Trek series that I've been seeing on television of late, OK, so that's from the 1960s, but still). Ark II is quite dated, but in this case, "dated in a good way", meaning, "couldn't have came out from any era other than the 1970s", where they show the futuristic clothing and hairstyles that obviously look dated, but not in such a ridiculous way that I've often seen movies, TV programs and commercials from the 1980s (not to mention hairstyles and clothing from that era, that I, growing up in the 1980s, was embarrassed of even then).
I can't say I had fond childhood memories of Ark II as I don't recall seeing it the first time around (or in syndication in the 1980s), but I'm glad I discovered this TV series. But isn't it nice to watch something from that era that you don't recall seeing the first time around taking you back to that time? That's what Ark II does for me. It comes to show you great programming was had even on the short budget those folks at Filmation had.