Jonny Quest: Season One (DVD)
Baby boomers of a certain age, and anyone fond of classic Hanna Barbera cartoons, might find the 40-year-old episodes in Jonny Quest: The Complete First Season
an exciting blast from the past. Five years before Hanna Barbera made a comedy about amateur youths solving exotic mysteries in Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
, the animation giant captured a more serious spirit from a different era in Jonny Quest
. The series played on primetime television--a very big deal for animation at the time--in 1964, and was infused with energy from sundry pop trends as well as cold war paranoia and a prevailing belief in limitless technology (largely inspired by America's race to the moon). Part intelligence thriller, part science fiction, Jonny Quest
made a child's adventure out of thwarting international espionage and sabotage with super-computers, state-of-the-art transportation to every corner of the planet, an apparently bottomless budget for building fantastic weapons, martial arts, and more. The fact that schoolboy Jonny, as well as his best friend, Hadji, and canine companion Bandit, were having adventures akin to those of James Bond was terribly exciting.
Young Jonny (voiced by actor Tim Matheson, later a co-star of Animal House and The West Wing) is the motherless son of government scientist Dr. Benton Quest. The latter conducts all manner of research from a remote island, where he lives with Jonny, Hadji, Bandit, and chief assistant Race Bannon, a rugged fellow who tutors Jonny but also provides muscle when the group is on assignment anywhere from the Arctic to Calcutta. The original 26 episodes (on four discs) find the team battling conspirators amidst half-sunken pirate ships in the Sargasso Sea (in the pilot, "Mystery of the Lizard Men," sans Hadji), working undercover to stop a Jahilipur manufacturer of fake gold ("Riddle of the Gold"), and foiling an effort to steal an experimental, "mind-numbing" drug (and passing off a Race look-alike as the real McCoy) in "Double Danger." (The last introduces Race's hottie girlfriend, Jezebel Jade.) The slow, deliberate animation (even more stiff than Scooby) can get a little wearing, but the uniqueness of Jonny Quest as a genuine adventure-drama makes this collection a must. --Tom Keogh