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Jonny Quest

Entry updated 16 August 2021. Tagged: TV.

1. Animated tv series (1964-1965; vt The Adventures of Jonny Quest). Hanna-Barbera Productions/Screen Gems/Warner Brothers Television for ABC-TV. Created and designed by Doug Wildey. Directed by William Hanna, Joseph Barbera. Writers included Walter Black, Joanna Lee, Wildey, Herbert Finn, and Alex Lovy. Cast includes Danny Bravo, Cathy Lewis, Tim Matheson, Don Messick, Vic Perrin, Mike Road and John Stephenson. 26 25-minute episodes. Colour.

Eleven-year-old Jonathan "Jonny" Quest (Matheson) and his father Dr Benton Quest (Stephenson, later Messick), with bodyguard Roger "Race" Bannon (Road), go on various adventures for the US government investigating bizarre and mysterious happenings around the world. They are later joined by Hadji (Bravo) later, an orphan from Calcutta, India who saves Dr Quest's life and is adopted by him. Jonny is a very intelligent youngster who is adept at several disciplines including judo, and the handling of firearms. "Race" Bannon is also an agent for Intelligence One, an organization within the government which often handles more offbeat threats. Hadji sometimes appears to have mystical abilities including levitation, which may however be stage tricks. The team is based on Palm Isle in the Florida Keys. Adversaries include assorted Monsters including giant crabs and spiders, as well as electrical entities and living Egyptian mummies. Many opponents prove to be creature-costumed agents of unnamed hostile nations. One recurring Villain is Dr Zin, a typical Yellow Peril menace in the mould of Fu Manchu. Jade (Lewis) is an oriental agent/soldier of fortune/antiheroine (see Antiheroes) once romantically involved with Bannon.

Despite prime-time popularity, Jonny Quest was cancelled after only one season. Regular repeats, often on networked television, continued until 1972, when the series was attacked by parental watchdog groups for its violence, monsters and frequent deaths. The series was written to a higher level than many Hanna-Barbera productions; further sf elements included jet packs (see Flying). [GSt]

2. The New Adventures of Jonny Quest. Animated TV series (1986-1987). Hanna-Barbera Productions for syndication. Created by Doug Wildey. Executive producers William Hanna, Joseph Barbera. Cast includes Scott Menville, Don Messick, Rob Paulsen, Jeffrey Tambor and Granville Van Dusen. Thirteen 22-minute episodes. Colour.

This 1980s continuation of 1 above was released as part of the syndication package The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera. Apart from being significantly less violent and more child-friendly, this was essentially the mixture as before. One new team member was introduced for episodes #7-#13 of this series only: Hardrock (Tambor), a mobile stone man vaguely resembling the Thing from Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four. New Adventures was followed by two made-for-television animated features: Jonny's Golden Quest (1993) and Jonny Quest vs the Cyber Insects (1995), the latter introducing Jessie Bannon (see 3 below). [DRL]

3. The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest. Animated TV series (1996-1999; vt Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures). Hanna-Barbera Productions for the Cartoon Network. Created by Doug Wildey. Developed for television by Peter Lawrence and Takashi Masunaga. Directors included Davis Doi, Lane Falk. Writers included Glenn Leopold, Michael Ryan, Lawrence and Sam Groom. First season cast includes Michael Benyaer, Jesse Douglas, Robert Patrick, (Season One) J D Roth, George Segal and Frank Welker. Second season cast includes John de Lancie, Quintan Flynn, Robert Foxworth, Jennifer Hale and Rob Paulsen. 52 21-minute episodes. Colour.

This continuation is set several years after 1 above, with Jonny and Hadji now in their mid- to late teens. A new team member, more mature and intelligent than Jonny, is Jessica "Jessie" Bannon (Douglas), daughter of Race Bannon and (it emerges) Jade. Now relocated off the coast of Maine, the team faces somewhat more realistic adventures including searches for rare/unknown animals such as giant squid, and investigations of lost Cities and other ruins; Aliens also appear. The chief recurring villains are now Jeremiah Surd, paralysed years earlier by a team led by Bannon, and Ezekiel Rage, a former fellow agent of Bannon's who was left for dead on a mission. Surd attacks the team repeatedly with various schemes; Rage's greatest threat was an attempt to destroy much of the world through a nuclear terrorism plot. The team often operates from a high-tech catamaran called the Questron, carrying various smaller research vessels.

Of sf interest is the Questworld Cyberspace realm, a Virtual Reality accessible to both the Quest team and such opponents, as Surd. Questworld – admittedly inspired by the Cyberpunk novels of William Gibson and Neal Stephenson – was created by CGI and motion-capture effects which now seem crude.

Changes made after the delayed second season included recasting all voice actors and overhauling the premise to more closely reflect the 1964-1965 series' feel. Surd and Rage were killed off in favour of new adversaries including beings from other Dimensions, Monsters and such Supernatural Creatures as ghosts and demons (see Gods and Demons). Hadji (Paulsen) regained some mystical abilities, played down in the first season. Jessie was now said to be the daughter of Race (Foxworth) and Estella Velasquez rather than Jade, contradicting previous information. Dr Zin returned to torment the team; the final episode featured an especially violent battle between Zin and Dr Quest (de Lancie), culminating in Zin's apparent death.

Though popular among adult viewers, The Real Adventures failed to achieve the hoped younger-audience ratings despite a massive merchandising campaign by Turner Broadcasting whose dozens of Tied products included colouring books, sweatshirts, Videogames, breakfast cereal promotions, posters, wristwatches and a Comics series from Dark Horse Comics. A series of eleven short novelizations appeared 1996-1998 under the name Brad Quentin; three were by Terry Bisson. A much-discussed live-action film never came to pass, although the Jonny Quest character retains a considerable following. [GSt]


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