Jonny Quest (TV series)
- This article is about the TV series. For the character, see Jonny Quest (character). For other uses, see Jonny Quest.
Season 1's title card.
|Created by:||Doug Widley|
|Original release:||September 18, 1964—March 11, 1965; September 14, 1986—March 1, 1987|
|Run time:||25 minutes|
Granville Van Dusen
|Executive producer(s):||William Hanna|
|Music composed by:||Hoyt Curtin|
Ray Patterson (also supervising)
Gordon Hunt (voices)
|Animation director(s):||Charles A. Nichols|
|← Previous||Next →|
|Second title card|
Season 2's title card.
Jonny Quest, also known as The Adventures of Jonny Quest, is an American animated action-adventure television series produced by Hanna-Barbera (H-B) for ABC. It ran from 1964 to 1965, airing 26 episodes that spanned one season. The series was canceled due to the high production costs, but given another shot between 1986 and 1987, airing a second season of 13 episodes on The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera programming block in syndicated markets. It was also referred to as The New Adventures of Jonny Quest to distinguish itself from the original '60s series. The new season is a diluted version of the original series where the danger remains the same, but the violence has been toned down. As a result of being made in the 1980s, there was also a greater focus on the science-fiction and monster elements far removed from the original series' realism; believable or unbelievable as it seemed.
In the series, Jonny's widowed father, Doctor Quest, is a renowned scientist from Florida called on by the fictional U.S. government Intelligence One to investigate paranormal phenomena from a scientific perspective. Due to the danger that comes with Doctor Quest's missions, the aforementioned government assigns Race Bannon to act as Jonny's bodyguard and tutor, as the son tags along, although Race tends to spend more time acting as a sidekick to Doctor Quest. Suffice to say, it's more of a "Doctor Quest" show than a "Jonny Quest" show, but kids aren't going to relate to a bearded guy in his 40s. Other characters include Hadji, a streetwise Indian child who was adopted by Doctor Quest, and Jonny's yappy, pint-sized dog, Bandit.
In a surprising move for the second season, they are also joined by — wait for it — a giant living statue named Hardrock. Hardrock never appeared again after this season, though he was parodied in The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest episode "Rock of Rages."
Doug Wildey was assigned by Hanna-Barbera to create a series based on the radio drama adventure of Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy. A test film was made, but plans fell through when the studio couldn't get the rights; a couple of shots made it into the opening sequence of Jonny Quest. Wildey then went back and reworked the concept.
Wildey was influenced by Jackie Cooper and Frankie Darrow movies, along with the Terry and the Pirates comic strip, and at the behest of producer Joseph Barbera, the spy craze started by the 1962 James Bond film, Dr. No. According to Wildey, Barbera had seen that first film adaptation of the English superspy "and wanted to get in stuff like '007' numbers. Which we included, by the way, in the first [episode of] Jonny Quest. It was called 'Jonny Quest File 037' or something. We dropped that later; it didn't work. But that was his father's code name as he worked for the government as a scientist and that kind of thing." Apart from Quest File 037, another one of its working titles would have been The Saga of Chip Baloo, although Wildey did not see that one as a serious choice. The name "Quest" was selected from a phone book due to its adventurous implications.
In developing a pet for Jonny Quest, Wildey initially planned Bandit to be either a small white cheetah or a monkey. These ideas were overruled by Barbera, who insisted on making Bandit a bulldog. Unlike the other characters, who were designed by Wildey, Bandit was designed by animator Richard Bickenbach. Wildey added Hadji as a friend to Jonny, after being dissatisfied with Jonny going in adventures with a dog all the time. Hadji was created because Wildey also wanted to add a minority that would work other than just "a black kid from the ghetto", which in his word was "the usual-thing".
According to The Art of Hanna-Barbera book, Race Bannon's appearance was modeled after actor Jeff Chandler, while his full name was created by combining the names of Race Dunhill and Stretch Bannon, from Wildey's earlier comic strips. Joseph Barbera also wrote that Race resembled the title character of the Terry and the Pirates comic strip.
In an interview on the Amazing Heroes magazine, Wildey explained that he oversaw the writing of the show's scripts:
I hesitate to use the word "control." If there was a script that came in that I didn't like I would make it known and it would be changed. In that way I had control. However, in many instances myself and Barbera, or Barbera and the writer, would work together and one way or another it would be straightened out, at which point if I had a storyboard that I felt could be jazzed up from a visual standpoint and still keep the flavor of the writing I would do it, there was also some control there.
- Doug Wildey, Amazing Heroes #95
Jonny's mother died off-screen before the start of the series, with Wildey seeing no need to explain what had caused it, although the implication that foul play from his father's enemies may have had something to do with it. In retrospect, he wish he had after not realising he would be asked so many times about it.
Season two (1986 revival)
According to Joseph Barbera's interview with Comico, the 1980s revival may have been initiated due to the growing trend of action-adventure films taking place in exotic locales, such as Indiana Jones and Romancing the Stone, as well as interest in movie studios turning Jonny Quest into a live-action feature.
In the pre-production phase — which was overseen by Mark Young — the season was intended to last as long as 39 episodes, with more backstory given to Race and Jezebel Jade's relationship, and a recurring role for the new young female character, Jessie Bradshaw. The former never made it onto the screen as Jezebel Jade didn't make it into one episode, while Jessie only appeared in one. One could say the significant reduction in episodes stopped these plans from happening, while on the other hand, it seems more of a production issue. Delving into more fleshed-out roles and the larger presence of female characters seemed to be less important than Hardrock.
Both these scrapped ideas, however, were brought back and even merged into one for the 1993 television film, Jonny's Golden Quest; Race and Jade had been both partners for Intelligence One and married for a brief time, which led to the conception of another girl called Jessie, who then had a recurring presence in the next 1995 film, Jonny Quest Versus the Cyber Insects, and the 1996-97 sequel series The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, which removed the idea that Jade was Jessie's birth mother, so she could be reverted back to her original Eurasian appearance and role of mercenary/entrepreneur, and the new character of Estella Velasquez took on the mantle of a redheaded Caucasian who worked as an archaeologist.
The theme song and a lot of the score were composed by Hoyt Curtin, but he did not remain throughout the season, leaving Ted Nichols to take over, although only Curtin is credited. Curtin returned to his role by the second season. Also in the second season, Joanne Miller was the music coordinator.
- Tim Matthieson (season one) and Scott Menville (season two) as Jonny Quest
- Don Messick as Dr. Benton Quest and Bandit
- Mike Road (season one) and Granville Van Dusen (season two) as Race Bannon
- Danny Bravo (season one) and Rob Paulsen (season two) as Hadji
- Jeffrey Tambor as Hardrock
|Title||Number||Original air date|
|Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law: "Bannon Custody Battle"||1||December 30, 2000|
|Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law: "Return of Birdgirl"||2||September 18, 2005|
|Tom and Jerry: Spy Quest||3||June 9, 2015|
In the 1990s, there were several other animated revival attempts, including two televised films, and a 52-episode long TV series called The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest. And yes, the adventures on this last one are REAL. The length of episodes was not due to a high viewership, but because of a contracted order that was to coincide with a multi-million dollar marketing strategy that was expected to take kids by storm, but unfortunately failed to succeed. The partial reason as to why was due to an extremely troubled production from the beginning, requiring a complete overhaul in the middle of the series with a new crew.
Since the '90s, a live-action film adaptation has been in demand, but not enough for an official greenlight, and has simply languished in development hell. Multiple writers and directors have tapped into the project, including Fred Dekker, Richard Donner, Peyton Reed, Chris Columbus, and Robert Rodriguez.
In popular culture
- The second episode of Freakazoid! had a segment called "Doomsday Bet," for a one of Toby Danger backup segment, which was a comedic spin on the Jonny Quest property, with Don Messick, Scott Menville, and Granville Van Dusen playing their doppelgangers.
- In The Fairly OddParents TV movie Channel Chasers, Timmy zaps himself into a parody of Jonny Quest called Jonny Hunt. Jonny and his family are riding a riverboat in the jungle trying to escape a giant scorpion-looking robot. Timmy, who is dressed like Jonny Quest, saves them from certain doom by using his magic TV remote to get rid of it. The team thanks him and invite him on dangerous missions in which he'll get to use deathly weapons. As a parting gift, Timmy takes back a bazooka, which blows up half his house by accident as Jonny Hunt plays on his TV. At the end of the movie, Timmy uses a Jonny Hunt lunchbox as a time capsule, which his kids dig up 20 years later.
- In the Recess episode "The Coolest Heatwave Ever," Gus revealed that he and his lieutenant father saved the world's economy after they captured DeSilvo while skiing in the Alps. They were also chased by DeSilvo's henchmen referred to as "frogmen" and Gus owned a Bandit-esque dog called Hoodlum. After DeSilvo was captured, Hoodlum barked, causing Gus and his father to laugh.
- The series is parodied in the Mike Tyson Mysteries episode "My Favorite Mystery." Season three occasionally used an opening sequence with scenes from "My Favorite Mystery." Mike Tyson Mysteries was a co-production between Williams Street and Warner Bros. Animation and aired on Adult Swim.
Venture Bros. connection
The Cartoon Network/Adult Swim series The Venture Bros. was a homage and parody of the series, with Dr. Venture and Brock Samson acting as parallels to Dr. Quest and Race, and Hank and Dean, the sons of Dr. Venture, were modeled after the adventurous spirit of Jonny (with Dean physically resembling him, combined with Fred Jones from Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!). The sons also had a dog called Scamp, who was based on Bandit. As time went on, the series was in fact to be revealed to be set within the same universe, with Brock and Race retconned to be working for the same organization. Adult versions of Jonny and Hadji later appeared, along with a semi-retired Dr. Zin (with Dr. Quest having died), although by that point Cartoon Network believed that further use, especially with Jonny Quest, was "screwing with licenses". The names were then changed, blurring their shared universe somewhat.
- "Escape to the House of Mummies Part II:" There's a Jonny Quest-esque lunch box; Brock looks like Race wearing a red shirt.
- "Fallen Arches:" Dr. Venture has a robot spy from the government.
- "The Doctor is Sin:" Jonny and Hadji (called Rajni) cameo. Raj is an office worker for Jonas Venture, Jr.
- "The Buddy System:" Jonny (now called Action Jonny) guest stars. Bandit and Dr. Quest are referred to.
- "Dr. Quymn, Medicine Woman:" The "Q" insignia on Dr. Qymn's jet is in the same style as the original Jonny Quest logo.
- "Orb:" The Rusty Venture cartoon has a Jonny Quest style intro.
In one-shot comic adapting the first episode was published by Gold Key Comics in 1964. In the 80s, an ongoing Jonny Quest comic book series was finally published by Comico, which lasted 31 issues, along with several other limited series and specials.
- Olbrich, David W. "Doug Wildey, an interview with the creator of Jonny Quest" Amazing Heroes #95 (ISSN 0745-6506), May 15, 1986, p. 34. Archived on July 8, 2011.
- Sennett, Ted (October 30, 1989). The Art of Hanna-Barbera. Viking Studio Books. Retrieved May 27, 2023.
- Barbera, Joseph (May 1, 1994). My Life in 'toons: From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century. Turner Publishing, Inc. Retrieved May 27, 2023.
- Hammer, Doc (July 31, 2018). Go Team Venture!: The Art and Making of The Venture Bros., page 61. Dark Horse Comics. Retrieved November 12, 2021.