May 07, 2022

KORG: 70,000 B.C.


KORG: 70,000 B.C.
(ABC, September 7-December 21, 1974)
Hanna-Barbera Productions
Jim Malinda – Korg
Bill Ewing – Bok
Naomi Pollack – Mara
Burgess Meredith – Narrator
            Korg: 70,000 B.C. was one of three “serious” programs made for ABC by Hanna-Barbera, as well as one of the studio’s rare live-action efforts. Created by Fred Freiberger, the series was meant to be an educational dramatization of Neanderthal life based on what science currently knew at the time. The American Museum of Natural History and The Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History served as consultants.

The family: Mara, Ree, Tane, Korg, Bok and Tor.

            The Neanderthals in question were the family of the titular Korg (Jim Malinda), comprised of his mate, Mara (Naomi Pollack), his brother, Bok (Bill Ewing), and children Tane (Christopher Man), Tor (Charles Morteo) and Ree (Janelle Pransky). They were followed on their adventures foraging for food to survive, making sense of the world through their limited understanding, and dealing with other people they might encounter. Burgess Meredith provided occasional narration to set the scene and give an educational explanation into the characters’ thinking. Despite all the attempts at authenticity, the characters did speak regular English to each other for the audience’s benefit.

Home sweet cave.

            Korg: 70,000 B.C. debuted on ABC on September 7, 1974. The series was written by Freidberger, Willie Gilbert, Bernard M. Kahn, Maurice Tombragel, Oliver Crawford, Peter Dixon, David Dworski, Len Janson, Ian Martin, Chuck Menville, Dick Robbins and Henry Sharp, with Freidberger and Myles Wilder serving as consultants. Hoyt Curtin and Paul DeKorte composed the music with Pat Abbott, John Norin and Bob Westmoreland handling the special make-up and hair. Unfortunately, Korg fared as poorly in the ratings as the other “serious” shows, Devlin and These are the Days; especially in light of the fact that more action-oriented prehistoric fare debuted in the forms of Valley of the Dinosaurs and Land of the Lost. It was cancelled after its sole season, although it remained on the network schedule until August.

On the hunt.

            Two board games were released based on the show; one by Milton Bradley in the United States, and the other by John Sands Pty, ltd. in Australia. A ViewMaster reel set was released with stills from “The Picture Maker”. A tin lunchbox was released by Thermos depicting the family fighting off a wooly mammoth and fleeing a volcano in the distance. Charlton Comics published a 9-issue comic book series that ran from 1975-76. In 2012, Warner Archive released the complete series to DVD.

“Trapped” (9/7/74) – Ree and Tor must fend for themselves when the rest of the family ends up trapped in a cave because of an earthquake.
“The Blind Hunter” (9/14/74) – Tor is forced to lead a blind hunter that captured him back to his tribe.
“The Exile” (9/21/74) – Korg believes he’s cursed when he accidentally kills a woodpecker.
“The Running Fight” (9/28/74) – A snake bite causes Bok to hallucinate and believe his family are enemies.
“Bok Loses Courage” (10/5/74) – Korg devises a sneaky plan to restore Bok’s confidence in hunting after he’s wounded by a bear.
“The Hill People” (10/12/74) – When a neighboring tribe loses one of their hunters, Bok finds himself competing against the brother for his widow.
“The Eclipse of the Sun” (10/19/74) – Tane and Tor believe they angered the sun god when an eclipse happens after they enter a forbidden valley.
“The Big Water” (10/26/74) – Migrating for a new food source, Korg’s family discovers the ocean and Mara’s ankle becomes trapped as the tide begins to come in.
“The Beach People” (11/2/74) – A local tribe watches in amusement as Korg’s family struggles to survive in their new environment.
“The Web” (11/9/74) – A spider’s web gives Korg an idea on how to defeat the bear that trapped his family in a cave.
“The Picture Maker” (11/16/74) – Korg’s family meets a mute boy who communicates by drawing with pictures.
“The Ancient One” (11/23/74) – Korg, Bok and Tane meet a tired old man who waits in his own grave for death.
“The Story of Lumi” (11/30/74) – Korg’s family takes in a lost girl during a drought, but when her relatives arrive to retrieve her they also take Korg’s water supply.
“Tor’s First Hunt” (12/7/74) – Korg and Bok decide that Tor is now old enough to join them on the hunt.
“The River” (12/14/74) – Mara is afraid to cross a wide river with the rest of the family after two failed attempts.
“Ree and the Wolf” (12/21/74) – The family is uneasy about the wolf Ree frees and befriends.

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