Jonny Quest is an 11-year-old boy who's father, Dr. Benton Quest works for a government agency. Assigned to guard Jonny against "falling into the wrong hands" is Roger "Race" Bannon. Jonny's best friend and eventually his brother, Hadji, also lives at the Quest Compound. And it wouldn't be a Hanna-Barbera cartoon without a dog, in this case, Jonny's pet bulldog, Bandit.
Scientist Dr. Benton Quest travels all over the world investigating unusual phenomena assigned to him by the government. Accompanying him is his son’s government-assigned bodyguard, Roger “Race” Bannon, his son Jonny, Jonny’s dog Bandit and Jonny’s best friend, Hadji Singh. The assignments often and easily turn into mysteries and adventures usually due to some pretty shady characters trying to harness the phenomenon for their own personal gain, and sometimes outright world domination.
To say this cartoon is groundbreaking would be one of the biggest understatements off all time. The cartoon aired in the 1964-1965 television season in prime time on ABC. The element that immediately made it stand out from the rest of Hanna-Barbera’s cartoons and pretty much every cartoon produced up until that point was its realistic style and detailed animation. The show was a tribute to the early adventure serials and movies, but unlike them, there were no limits on the fantastic. Hollywood special effects couldn’t make a giant spider-robot, but they could draw it, no problem. That allowed the show to feature so many great looking creatures and vehicles and gadgets, and many of them are still remembered to this day. The show also had something that other cartoons hadn’t had up until that point: it’s tone. Previously, cartoons were, for the most part, slapstick comedy. So when Jonny hit the airwaves with it’s muted colors, dark shading, creepy music, and threatening realistic-looking bad guys, kids AND adults sat up and took notice. This was one show that had both young and old on the edge of their seats.
During Jonny’s many adventures, it was usually Jonny and Hadji that stumbled unknowingly into finding out that there were sinister forces at work behind the scenes. Most often, they would confuse the bad guys with the tricks that kids their age would play. Tripping them, distracting them while driving, causing them to step on trap doors. Sometimes the boys would even have to rescue Race and Dr. Quest from their enemies. And what would a good guy be without an archenemy? There was an evil scientist named Dr. Zin that caused most of the trouble for the team. Each time they would narrowly escape, but so would Dr. Zin.
Incredibly, the series only had 26 episodes, yet somehow lives in syndication as we speak. It paved the way for many cartoons to follow, namely all of the HB superhero cartoons such as Space Ghost, Blue Falcon, Birdman, the Herculoids and that would arguably lead to HB producing versions of “real” superheroes, the Justice League of America, known in the Hanna-Barbera world as The Super-Friends. That show was what got a very young me into comics, and here we are. Everything comes full circle.
Looking back, Jonny Quest was the innovator of action cartoons. Without him, cartoons would not be the same as they are today. It was that show that taught everyone that a cartoon could be more than Tom & Jerry or Bugs and Daffy. It could be a show that both parents and kids could watch together and both take away something totally different, an idea that is prevalent in animation to this very day. The show was such fun for the same reason any good action movie or TV show is. It’s got an interesting story, some very colorful characters, thrills, mystery, humor and most of all, heart.
In 1986, Hanna Barbera made some new episodes of Jonny Quest. The animation was a bit simpler, but the spirit was still there. They added these shows into the mix with the regular Jonny Quest episodes in syndication. Later, a few TV movies were produced that gave us some important history, like what happened to Jonny’s mom, and some surprises, like Race having a daughter he’s never met, Jessie). In 1996 & 1997, 52 episodes of a new show, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, aired. The show updated everything for the modern era, even including a VR environment called “Quest World”. There have been stops and starts on a live-action Jonny Quest movie for years. The latest version is the closest we’ve gotten yet, as in 2016 Warner Brothers hired Christ McKay to direct the project based on a Robert Rodriguez script.
No matter your age, it's my firm belief that you will enjoy this show. It's a shame that it only had 26 episodes because I believe we would've gotten a lot more in-depth characterization and history from the series. 55 years after it was made, the series still works when you watch it today.
Jonny Quest:The Show That Changed It All
Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
Acting - 9/109/10
Music - 10/1010/10
Production - 10/1010/10
User Review( votes)