Its 11:20 pm
When I was growing up I watched a lot of cartoons. I really enjoyed the action themed ones like “Spider-Man”, “Space Ghost” and “The Superfriends“. I also enjoyed a show that was different then the others because the adventure lasted the whole show. Other shows would jam 2-3 smaller stories but “Jonny Quest” wasn’t built that way,featured one single adventure per show. I hadn’t seen “Jonny Quest” for decades but when we heard from our deep cover asset “MP” that Warner Brothers Archive was releasing the Jonny Quest series on BluRay,I told the cheetah to get ready for some action!!
Jonny Quest was created by famed comic book artist Doug Wildey who had been drawing since World War Two and ended up working for Atlas Comics.
Wildey was inspired by the old radio and movie serials in developing “Jonny Quest”.
In fact Jonny Quest was the first of the famed Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the 1960s…shows such as The Herculoids and Birdman and the Galaxy Trio and many others would soon follow “Jonny Quest”.
But what made “Jonny Quest” stand out was it was made for and placed in primetime TV on ABC where it ran for its one glorious season in 1964-65. This was the third cartoon that Hanna-Barbera made for an adult audience with “The Flintstones” and “The Jetsons” being the other two.
The concept of the show on paper seems pretty exciting and innocent. Jonny Quest is the 10 year son of famed scientist Dr. Benton Quest. Jonny’s mother had died from a undisclosed illness and it really shaken Dr. Quest. So much so the US government assigned a guardian and protector for Jonny. The government was afraid that if something were to happen to Jonny,Benton Quest would be of no use to them.
Benton Quest had a sharp inventive mind who wanted his inventions used for peace and the betterment of mankind. While he did dote on Jonny,it seemed that Race was more of a father figure as the pair are shown playing,training and tutoring Jonny on his school homework.
Jonny himself has a thirst for adventure and knowledge. As with most youngsters,he is a bit rash and impulsive. While Jonny is very smart,he is distracted and sometimes his grades suffer a bit. But what do you expect from a kid who is saving the world on a weekly basis? While Jonny’s mother is never mentioned in the series,if it had continued and Jonny allowed to mature,it would have been interesting to see how the show would have handled it.
The assigned guardian was Roger “Race” Bannon,a man with a shadowy past and of immense skills in both protecting life and also acting as a tutor for Jonny and his Indian brother Hadji,who is about 11 years old.Race is a excellent driver,mechanic and tactician.
He is very loyal to the Quests and never talks down to Jonny and Hadji,they have saved the two men many times and have earned Race’s respect.
Hadji was adopted by Dr. Quest during an adventure in India (Calcutta Adventure) Hadji appeared in 25 of the 26 episodes,he wasn’t featured in the first episode. Hadji is also skilled in sleight-of-hand and its hinted more then once that Hadji may have magical abilities as some of his “tricks” are pretty wicked. Hadji is slightly more grounded then Jonny and was inclined to think a little carefully then to rush headfirst into danger as Joony was. It was implied that Hadji was a little better student then Jonny in terms of doing his homework.
The last member of the Quest team is Jonny’s bulldog puppy,Bandit. Bandit causes a lot of ruckus but he also did his part to save the day. Little known fact….Bandit wasn’t the first choice as Jonny’s pet. Wildey originally suggested a CHEETAH!!! Ha!! Now wouldn’t that have been bad ass or what???
The Quests lived on a small private island off the Florida coast which had a harbor,a airport and helipad.
Thus the Quest team could spring into action using a various array of boats and planes.
The show sounds pretty straight forward,doesn’t it? A tight knit family saving the day and turning the bad guys to the authorities…except “Jonny Quest” wasn’t that simple.
This show had sharp teeth…..the violence is actually quite stunning even 56 years later.
People get killed in some pretty nasty ways….ships blown up,missiles exploding,grenades landing in their laps,eaten alive by crocs!!! This was no kids show despite having Jonny and Hadji as the main attactions. I admit,I was really shocked because I didn’t remember that when I watched the show. But watching it now…..holy crow!!
At the beginning of the episode,some James Bond like villain or a lesser verison would commit a crime that could threaten the peace or even the world. The government or an “old friend” (who wasn’t always so friendly) would request help and the Quests and their friends would respond all over the world to help avert the crisis of the week. Bandit would bark his fool head off and henchmen would try and silence Jonny and Hadji…they in turn would have to spring into action to rescue Benton and Race….then scramble those foursome up and repeat the plot in the next episode!!
Characters also smoked on the show including the lovely and mysterious Jade who was a Quest ally and a former lover of Race Bannon. She saves the day when Race is kidnapped and replaced by a double. Jade kisses Race and knows the real Race is in trouble. When Jonny asks how Jade knew,she says “There are things only a woman can tell about a man”.
The voice acting for “Jonny Quest” is famous for have Tim Matheson (Animal House) voicing Jonny. He was 17 years old when he was cast in the role and he is really good,he used a higher pitch and sounded very hyper in the action scenes as most 10-11 year olds would be.
Mike Road was a veteran character actor with a ton of credits under his belt including several guest spots on many Warner Brothers TV western shows like “Lawman“. Mike would go on and voice many Hanna-Barbera action cartoons. On “Jonny Quest”,he voiced Race Bannon and showcases that very distinctive voice that would be heard on many other cartoons.
John Stephenson and Danny Bravo voiced Benton Quest and Hadji while veteran voice actor Don Messick handled Bandit and various other animals and villains along with Jack Webb regular Vic Perrin whose voice was heard on the original “Outer Limits” show.
The opening theme music by Hoyt Curtin is among the best in TV history,animated or live action. At 1 minute 10 seconds,its also one of the longest as well but it kicks ass!! The score for the entire series is outstanding,fast paced and has a upbeat jazz beat heavy on the brass.
All in all,”Jonny Quest” is a interesting hybrid of a kid’s show with mature adult themes that needs to be seen to be believed.
“Jonny Quest” includes all 26 uncut episodes and has good special features including a trivia filled episode and an shoe ad.
You can buy a copy of “Jonny Quest” by going to the website of Warner Brothers Archive.
The cheetah and I both gave this BluRay release a big thumbs/paw straight up!
Have you ever watched “Jonny Quest”,if so….drop a comment and share your thoughts!!