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Jonny Quest

Jonny Quest (often referred to as The Adventures of Jonny Quest) is a science fiction / adventure animated television series produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions, and created and designed by comic book artist Doug Wildey, about the adventures of a young boy who accompanies his father on extraordinary adventures. The first of several Hanna-Barbera action-based adventure shows, which would later include Space Ghost, The Herculoids, and Birdman and the Galaxy Trio, Jonny Quest ran on ABC in prime time for one season in 1964–1965. After spending two decades in reruns, new episodes were produced for syndication in 1986. Two telefilms and a spin-off series (The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest) later revived the characters for the 1990s.

Original 1964–1965 show

Inspiration

Jonny Quest was designed to evoke both the drama of a dramatic adventure radio serial, and the fantasy of a comic book. Unlike earlier H-B programs, violence was not shied away from, but used to add suspense and impact to the show.

The show’s most notable inspiration comes from the classic old-time radio serial Jack Armstrong. In fact, Hanna-Barbera had originally intended to produce an animated adaptation of Jack Armstrong. Hiring noted comic book artist Doug Wildey, H-B began negotiations with Jack Armstrong's copyright owners, and produced a short (approximately one-minute) Jack Armstrong test animation sequence in 1962. Negotiations fell through, and the Jack Armstrong project was retooled into Jonny Quest, an original series based on a similar idea. Scenes from the Jack Armstrong test film were incorporated into the Jonny Quest closing credits montage: they are the scenes of the red-haired boy and his father escaping from the African natives using a hovercraft. The test sequence and a number of drawings and storyboards by Doug Wildey were used to sell the series to ABC and sponsors.

Scenes from the abandoned Jack Armstrong test film.

Other acknowledged inspirations for Jonny Quest come from Milton Caniff’s adventure comic strip Terry and the Pirates (which was also a popular radio show), and the James Bond film Dr. No, which had inspired Joseph Barbera to develop an action-adventure program.

However, critics have also noted a very strong resemblance between Jonny Quest and Rick Brant, teen star of a boy's adventure series published by Grosset & Dunlap from the 1940s to the 1960s (in the genre of The Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, Jr., and others). The Rick Brant SCIENCE Adventures featured a likable teen hero, his science-researcher father, a tiny island installation, mystery stories oriented around science and technology, and such regular characters as a Race Bannon-like secret agent and a young Hadji-like pal, Chadha, from Calcutta. Nevertheless, the similarity between Rick Brant and Jonny Quest has never been officially acknowledged by Hanna-Barbera.

Characters, voice cast, and premise

  • Jonny Quest (or Jonathan Quest) is a ten- or eleven-year-old boy (his exact age is never stated in any of the show's episodes, though a 1964 ABC promotional trailer gives Jonny's age as eleven), the son of Dr. Benton Quest. Tim Matheson performed the voice for Jonny. In the sequel series The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest one episode reveals that Jonny's mother name was "Rachel" and that Dr Quest had named a time traveling machine after her.
  • Dr. Benton C. Quest, "one of the three top scientists in the world," and apparently something of a Renaissance man. He's Jonny's father. His scientific and technical know-how spans many fields. Dr. Benton Quest was voiced by John Stephenson for five episodes, and by Don Messick for the remainder of the shows.
  • Roger "Race" T. Bannon is a special agent / bodyguard / pilot from Intelligence One. Governmental fears that Jonny could "fall into the wrong hands" resulted in the assignment of Bannon to guard and tutor Jonny. Amusingly, whenever Race talks to Benton, he addresses him as "Doctor" or "Sir" in every sentence. Mike Road was the voice for Race Bannon.
  • Hadji is Dr. Quest's adopted son, an eleven-year-old Indian boy (his age was stated in one of the show's episodes, "Pirates from Below"). Hadji is seldom seen without his bejewelled turban and Nehru jacket. Hadji comes from Calcutta, India and sometimes displays hypnotic or telekinetic powers. Danny Bravo was the voice for Hadji. The character Hadji was noted as the first major non-white character to be presented as an equal, sympathetic participant in the stories in American television. In the sequel series The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest Hadji is not only reunited with his mother but also revealed to be an Indian Prince.
  • Bandit is Jonny's pet Pug,or a pug/french bulldog mix(French Bulldog has pointed ears). Bandit often provides comic relief in both the original and sequel series - one of the later episodes shows Bandit being bested by a "ghost cat"! Although at least once ("Skull and Double Crossbones") he was instrumental in foiling the bad guys. Bandit is a small white dog with black masklike coloration around the eyes (reminiscent of a raccoon)—hence the name "Bandit." Don Messick provided Bandit's vocal effects, which were combined with an archived clip of an actual dog's barking.

According to Jonny's file (read by government agent Corvin), his mother is dead (first episode, "Mystery of the Lizard Men"). The Quests have a compound in the Florida Keys (on the island of Palm Key), but their adventures take them all over the world. The Quest team travels the globe studying scientific mysteries, which get them into scrapes with foes that range from espionage robots and electrical monsters to Egyptian mummies and pterosaurs. Although most menaces were unique to the episode, one recurring nemesis is known as Dr. Zin, an Asian mastermind. The voices of Dr. Zin and other assorted characters were done by Vic Perrin, who is best remembered as the "Control Voice" for the original The Outer Limits television series. Race Bannon's mysterious old flame, Jezebel Jade, also occasionally appears.

Music

The memorable percussion-heavy big band jazz theme music for the 1960s series was written by Hoyt Curtin. For the new animated version, the music was later adapted for orchestra and added major dramatic and intriguing tones.

Network run and Saturday morning rerun

Jonny Quest first aired on September 18, 1964 on the ABC network, in prime time, and was an almost instant success, both critically and ratings-wise. It was canceled after one season, not because of poor ratings, but because each episode of the show went over budget. Notably more realistic and detailed than previous Hanna-Barbera prime time programs such as The Flintstones and The Jetsons, Jonny Quest required an attention to detail that ABC was unable to afford. Like the original Star Trek television series, this series would be a big money-maker in syndication but this avenue to profits was unknown when the show was canceled in 1965. Reruns of the show were broadcast on various networks’ Saturday morning lineups beginning in 1967.

The "classic" series was released to DVD as Jonny Quest: The Complete First Season in 2004.It should be noted that the Jonny Quest DVD set contained some minor editing of the episode "Pursuit of the Poho" (Race Bannon taunts a tribe of "Indians" by appearing to them as their water god, "Get a good look at Aquezio, you heathen monkeys."), as well as use of the same set of syndicated credits for all episodes.

Comic books

A Jonny Quest comic book (a retelling of the first TV episode, "Mystery of the Lizard Men") was published by Gold Key Comics in 1964. Comico began publication of a Jonny Quest series in 1986, with the first issue featuring Doug Wildey's artwork. The series was written by William Messner-Loebs and ran for 31 issues, with 2 specials and 3 "classic" issues drawn by Wildey retelling three of the Quest TV episodes ("Shadow of the Condor", "Calcutta Adventure", and "Werewolf of the Timberland"). The series attracted Doug Wildey for several more covers, as well as Steve Rude, Dave Stevens and other famous artists. The series also spun-off a 3-issue series named Jezebel Jade which told the story of Jade's relationship and adventures with Race Bannon. Joe Kelly, who wrote a 2004 comic mini-series starring fellow Hanna-Barbera action property Space Ghost for DC Comics, is set to write a similar series about Jonny Quest.

Controversies

In the 1970s, Jonny Quest became one of the main targets of parental watchdog groups such as Action for Children's Television (ACT). With its multiple on-screen deaths, murder attempts, use of firearms and deadly weapons (especially by "children" -- notably Jonny), frequent use of racial stereotypes, and tense moments, Jonny Quest was decried as the epitome of what was wrong with Saturday morning cartoons, regardless of the fact that it indeed was not an original Saturday morning cartoon. The reruns were taken off the air in 1972, but returned to Saturday morning, in edited form, periodically afterwards. Reruns also appeared on Cartoon Network in 1993, and last aired on May 4, 2003. It currently runs every night on the Boomerang Network, in unedited form.

The New Adventures of Jonny Quest

By the mid-1980s, the edited episodes of Jonny Quest (each episode was missing about five minutes of footage edited for time constraints and content) were part of the syndication package The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera. Thirteen episodes were produced in 1986 (although some sources state 1987) to accompany the originals in the Funtastic World programming block. These episodes were referred to simply as Jonny Quest on their title cards, and were noticeably less violent and more “kid-friendly” than the 1960s originals, and introduced the new characters Hardrock, an ancient man made of stone, and a young girl named Jessie Bradshaw, the daughter of a family friend, as a counterpart for Jonny. Hardrock did not return in any later versions of the program, without background alteration.

A feature length animated telefilm, Jonny's Golden Quest, was produced by Hanna-Barbera for USA Network in 1993, which again pitted the Quest team against Dr. Zin, who murders Jonny’s mother in the film. Jonny’s Golden Quest also revised Jessie as Race’s young daughter, and she would appear as a character in all subsequent versions of the Jonny Quest property. A second telefilm, Jonny Quest vs. The Cyber Insects, was produced for TNT in 1995, and was promoted as being the final iteration of the “Classic Jonny Quest”. Although based on the original series, the characters look very similar to the New Adventures of Jonny Quest series, considering the fact that Race, Dr. Quest and Hadji were all played by the same voice actors.

The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest

The new Quest series, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, premiered on all three major Turner Broadcasting entertainment networks (Cartoon Network, TBS Superstation, and TNT), and met with mixed ratings and reviews. The characters were aged, with Jonny, Hadji, and Jessie becoming teenagers, and Dr. Quest and Race entering middle age. Dr. Quest's compound inexplicably seems to have moved to a rocky island off the Maine coast.

Production on the series had been problem-laden since 1992, and when it was finally broadcast, it featured two different versions of the Jonny Quest universe: the first batch of episodes (referred to as the “Season One” episodes) gave the Quest team a futuristic look, while the second batch (referred to as “Season Two”) harkened back to the original 1960s episodes. Several of the “Season One” adventures in this series took place in a cyberspace realm known as "Questworld", depicted using 3-D computer animation. Regardless of their labeling, both the “Season One” and “Season Two” of The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest aired during the 1996 – 1997 television season, and the show was canceled after 52 episodes (26 of each type). A live action movie was planned to debut following the series premiere but never materialized.

The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest was to return in the late 1990s on Cartoon Network, due to popular demand. The show was part of the original Toonami rotation when the block launched on March 17, 1997 and aired consistently on Toonami until September 24, 1999. Then continued to air reruns on and off in other formats until December 14, 2002.

It is unknown if a DVD release of this series will be available at some point.

Feature film

On August 7, 2007, it was announced that Warner Bros. is developing a live-action film based on the series and characters. Adrian Askarieh and Daniel Alter will produce and the script will be written by Dan Mazeau. The scheduled release date is 2010.

Cultural impact

  • In 1991, Hi-Tec Software published Jonny Quest in Doctor Zin's Underworld, an officially licensed Jonny Quest platform game for the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64 home computers.
  • In Channel Chasers, an animated film featuring characters from the Fairly OddParents television series, Timmy Turner uses a magical remote control to go inside the "TV Universe," where all the shows seem to be parodies of real TV shows and meets characters such as Jonny Hunt (Jonny Quest).
  • In 1994, The Simpsons episode "Deep Space Homer" featured an astronaut named "Race Banyon" who is similar in appearance to Race Bannon except with dark hair instead of white.
  • Another notable Jonny Quest parody is the Freakazoid! episode "Toby Danger in Doomsday Bet" (1995), a self-contained cartoon short featuring several members of the original voice cast.
  • The title and main character of the animated series Johnny Test can be looked upon as parody/homage of Jonny Quest.
  • Several elements of Pixar’s The Incredibles (2004) animated feature film show direct inspiration from Jonny Quest, particularly a one-eyed robot who comes in a flying saucer shaped craft, and terrorizes the populace the same way Dr. Zin’s one-eyed spider-like robot does in the 1964 episode “The Robot Spy.” Similarly in 2003, the Samurai Jack episode "Chicken Jack" also featured this type of robot.
  • There is a Less Than Jake song, “Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts” [sic], from their 1995 Pezcore album. This song was based on a hometown fan who had the nickname of "Johnny Quest".
  • The popular Brazilian pop rock band Jota Quest's name (Portuguese pronunciation of the abbreviated form J. Quest) is inspired by the series.
  • In the episode "Wishbones" of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, after Billy wishes for an adventure, he, his dad, and Irwin, are shown impersonating Jonny Quest characters while exploring a tomb. Billy is Jonny, Irwin is Hadji, Saliva (Mandy's dog) is Bandit, and Billy's dad is Dr. Benton.
  • One episode of Evil Con Carne features a boy named Max Courage (a parody of Jonny Quest) and his father Dr. Courage (a parody of Dr. Quest). A parody of the theme music from the classical Jonny Quest series is played throughout the episode.
  • The Venture Bros. heavily satirizes Jonny Quest. The direct allegory has Dr. Thaddeus "Rusty" Venture as Dr. Benton Quest, his bodyguard Brock Samson as Race Bannon, and his sons Hank and Dean as the Quest boys (although the Hardy Boys are also a strong inspiration). However, flashbacks reveal that Rusty originally had a Jonny/Benton-esque relationship with his father, a truly talented and respected scientist, and present-day Rusty is actually portraying Jonny as a bitter, washed-up child star of super-science coasting on the fame of his late father. While writing the first season, the creators of the show realized that Cartoon Network owned Jonny Quest and they could use the actual characters in the show, vaguely connecting The Venture Bros. to a near-future date in the Quest "universe". The episode "Ice Station Impossible" had Race Bannon killed in combat with snakemen (his last words being "Tell Jonny I love. . . "), and "Twenty Years to Midnight" features an adult Jonny as a strung-out drug addict living in the bathysphere from the original Jonny Quest episode "Pirates from Below", apparently living with a paranoid fear of his father. Bannon's image was not nearly as tarnished - he was killed in official government action, only to be knocked out by a passing plane, his body and all its gadgets later to be found by a group of children. His Venture Bros. counterpart, Brock Samson, admitted to working with him a few times and referred to him as 'One of the Best'. In "Fallen Arches", Rusty excitedly unveils his new invention, the "walking eye"—a classic icon of Jonny Quest's bizarre future science—but has trouble coming up with any use for it (besides looking cool). In "The Doctor is Sin", an adult Hadji appears as a married, competent, hard-working engineer employed by Rusty's twin brother, Jonas Jr. He tries to take care of Jonny out of pity, but has to keep him in his office to prevent angering his wife. Venture later "borrows" Jonny for a "Boy Adventurers' Day Camp", where he suffers a nervous breakdown in front of other children while lamenting his father's putting him in danger on a weekly basis. He later attempts to convince Dean Venture to leave with him under the belief that Dr. Venture plans on killing them both, and finally leaves the compound screaming upon seeing Dr. Zin.
  • In Adult Swim's Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, a speculated homosexual relationship between Dr. Quest (voiced by Neil Ross) and Race Bannon (voiced by Thom Pinto) was the basis of the "Bannon Custody Battle" at the time when Bannon was clashing against Dr. Quest for the custody of Jonny Quest (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) and Hadji (voiced by Wally Wingert). This was later discovered to have been a plot by Dr. Zin to get to the kids using a robot duplicate of Race Bannon while the real one was on vacation. A later episode, "Return of Birdgirl", took the allusion further by dealing with Dr. Quest and Race trying to marry. In some episodes, there were other appearances of minor Jonny Quest characters ranging from the Lizard Men from "Mystery of the Lizard Men" (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker), the mummy from "Curse of Anubis," a yeti from "Monsters in the Monastery," a gargoyle from "The House of the Seven Gargoyles" (voiced by Billy West), the robotic spider from "The Robot Spy," etc.
  • In the 2005 film Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story, Stewie mentions that he had a job at the Quahog Airport. The following cutaway shows Stewie admitting Jonny and Dr. Benton Quest on board the plane while Hadji was "randomly selected" for additional screening.
  • Hadji Singh appeared briefly in the first book of Greg Cox's Eugenics Wars duology, at a conference held by Khan Noonien Singh. The cameo made an offhand reference to Benton.
  • Matt Fraction's spy-fi comic book series Casanova features a genius villain going by the name of Sabine Seychelle, who works with a large Indian bodyguard named Samir; Fraction recounts his inspiration for them in the text column at the end of Casanova #4 that "I liked the idea of Johnny Quest, all adult and crooked. The son of an adventure scientist and his bePolo'd sidekick would grow up...how, exactly? Bent, I supposed. Weeeird. The kind of guy that would create phenomenal machines...and then sleep with them three at a time."

Episode guide

1964 – 1965

  1. ”The Mystery of the Lizard Men” (first episode, Hadji does not appear)—Dr. Quest is called in when several boats and ships are destroyed by a mysterious light beam.
  2. "Arctic Splashdown" (first appearance of Hadji)—Jonny and company head for the Arctic to trace a missile that went off course.
  3. "The Curse of Anubis"—An old friend summons Dr. Quest to Egypt, informing the Doctor that he's uncovered the fabled lost city of Ghiva.
  4. "Pursuit of the Po-Ho"—A friend of Dr. Quest's is taken prisoner in the jungle by the dreaded Po-Ho tribe.
  5. "Riddle of the Gold"—Dr. Quest tries to solve the "Riddle of the Gold" being mined from a vein in India that was supposedly tapped out years ago. Dr. Zin makes his first appearance.
  6. "Treasure of the Temple"—The Quests set out on an archeological expedition to the lost city of Malatan. Someone doesn't want them to be there.
  7. "Calcutta Adventure" (origin of Hadji)—In India, Dr. Quest aids locals who have contracted a mysterious illness.
  8. "The Robot Spy"—Dr. Zin's UFO transports a giant spider-like robot with which he hopes to obtain information about Dr. Quest's para-power ray gun.
  9. "Double Danger" (Jade episode)—Dr. Zin wants to use a Race Bannon impostor to steal the formula for a tranquilizer which could hypnotize whole cities.
  10. "Shadow of the Condor"—On a trip to South America, the Quests' plane develops engine trouble over the Andes and they are forced to land at the home of a mysterious German Baron.
  11. "Skull and Double Crossbones"—The Quests tangle with pirates searching for sunken treasure.
  12. "The Dreadful Doll"—Dr. Quest is called in when a young girl falls under the spell of an apparent voodoo curse.
  13. "A Small Matter of Pygmies"—Jonny, Race and Hadji are taken prisoner by a tribe of hostile pygmies.
  14. "Dragons of Ashida"—An old scientist friend of Dr. Quest's has been conducting experiments with lizards-resulting in an island full of dragons.
  15. "Turu the Terrible"—In the jungle, the Quest party encounters a pteranodon.
  16. "The Fraudulent Volcano"—Dr. Quest is called in to investigate a volcano that is behaving abnormally.
  17. "Werewolf of the Timberland"—The Quests go in search of a rare type of petrified wood in an area where they are warned about a prowling werewolf.
  18. "Pirates from Below"—Jonny and Race are captured by pirates who are hijacking Dr. Quest's new undersea crawler.
  19. "Attack of the Tree People"—A fire on the high seas forces the Quest party to abandon ship, and Jonny and Hadji are marooned on an island.
  20. "The Invisible Monster"—A scientist's experiments have gotten out of hand-he calls for Dr. Quest's help after he unintentionally creates an invisible energy beast.
  21. "The Devil's Tower"—The team tries to recover an instrument-laden weather balloon when it lands atop a remote mountain peak.
  22. "The Quetong Missile Mystery" (title card shows "The 'Q' Missile Mystery" for the 1964-65 season's re-run of this episode)—The police commissioner of Quetong calls in Dr. Quest to investigate the strange disappearance of four of his men.
  23. "The House of Seven Gargoyles"—The Quests visit a colleague in his castle in Norway.
  24. "Terror Island" (Jade episode)—In Hong Kong, Dr. Quest is kidnapped by a mad scientist who turns ordinary animals into giant monsters.
  25. "Monster in the Monastery"—The Quests travel to a Himalayan village where the natives live in a fear of terrifying snow creatures.
  26. "The Sea Haunt"—The Quest team boards a seemingly deserted ship on the Java Sea, only to learn that an amphibious creature has attacked the crew, killing the captain and sabotaging the ship. The Quest family eventually forces the monster off the ship with a combination of fire, strong light, flares and a harpoon gun. Possibly the most frightening episode of the original series.

1986 – 1987

  1. "Peril of the Reptilian"—Mysterious attacks on military installations in the South Pacific lead Dr. Quest to evil Dr. Phorbus, who has engineered prehistoric remains into mutant dinosaur-like "reptile-men" to help him rule the world.
  2. "Nightmares of Steel"—Sheik Abu Saddi asks Dr. Quest for help in dealing with a vicious marauder band who have developed robot horses from stolen from the sheik.
  3. "Aliens Among Us"—A matter transportation device invented by Dr. Quest is stolen by apparent aliens.
  4. "Deadly Junket"—Dr. Zin once again causes problems when he kidnaps Dr. Bradshaw to work on an anti-missile system
  5. "Forty Fathoms Into Yesterday"—After being thrown back into the year 1944, the Quests discover that a time machine discovered aboard a submarine is being used by a German scientist to change the course of history.
  6. "Vikong Lives"—While in the arctic, the Quests' discover an ape-like creature being frozen in the ice.
  7. "The Monolith Man"—Hardrock, a living rock joins the Quest team.
  8. "Secret of the Clay Warriors"—The Quests' receive a plea for help from an archaeologist friend, they arrive to help end the reign of terror by ghostly clay warriors.
  9. "Warlord of the Sky"—An evil scientist plans to rule the skies with an incredible flying craft called the Dreadnought
  10. "The Scourge of Skyborg"—Race tests a new computerized autopilot (CAP), and runs afoul of Skyborg, a renegade half-man, half-robot, who pits Race against CAP in a battle to win the Quests freedom
  11. "Temple of Gloom"—Hadji's old teacher is being forced by the evil Deprave to disrupt a peace conference.
  12. "Creeping Unknown"—A monster made of plants terrorizes the area near a swamp.
  13. "Skullduggery"—Dr. Zin is behind a plan to use tokens of power to gain mastery over the world.

DVD releases

On May 11, 2004, Warner Home Video released the first season of Jonny Quest on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time. It is unknown if the second season (1980s episodes) will be released at some point.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date Additional Information
Jonny Quest- Season 1 26 May 11 2004
  • Jonny Quest Files
  • Jonny Quest Video Handbook

References

See also

External links

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