I was four years old when this was on Television, yet I remember several episodes plain as day. That was how exciting I found young Jonny Quest to be and how enveloping the inventions and science fiction to be, even as a preschooler. I also remember being excitedly scared by some of the more fantastic elements of the show...like "Turu the Terrible" and "The Invisible Monster!" This was the kind of stuff an eventual reader of Hardy Boys, Tom Swift and Danny Dunn books craved before books began to seep into my life. Now that these DVD's have been issued, it's a safe bet to say they will have a permanent space on my DVD shelf.
So why not a perfect 5 stars? We'll get to that. First the plusses. These were, more than anything else, adventures for boys. Jonny and Hadji were always there when the brilliant Dr. Benton Quest got a call to rush from Quest Laboratories in the Florida Keys to some far off country, travelling on the most recent invention. Lasers and Space Flight were frequent resources for story lines, and as a 4 year old want-to-be astronaut, it made it seem like anything was possible. Of course, this was the era of cold war politics, so the villains were often foreign guys with creepy accents. (Think Dr. Zin.) One of the frequent reasonings for Dr. Quest to have to go out on one of his missions was to make sure that these innovations didn't fall "Into the wrong hands."
But it also meant that Jonny (and, by proxy, I) were able to visit Tibet, the Arctic Circle, South American rain forests and other exotic (and real!!) locales before I even entered school. Looking at these 40 year old episodes anew, it's amazing that Jonny looks like he could be drawn today; an inquisitive eleven year old in black shirt, blue jeans and sneakers, he could be from anywhere USA even now. And who wouldn't want to have an extended family with a cool an adoptive brother as Hadji (one of animation's -- or, for that matter, all of prime time's -- minority main characters), a tutor as devoted as teacher/bodygaurd Race Bannon or a dad as equal parts brilliant to understanding as Dr. Quest? Add that the animation was far more real looking than the club footed dopiness of "The Flintstones" or the animals acting like people of "Top Cat," (Bandit never suddenly started to ask for treats...) etc, and the world of Jonny Quest was something that we all could slip in to.
In the pre PC world, Jonny could react exactly as a kid could when first confronted by an inquisitive girl (in "The Dreadful Doll"). No matter how you slice it, a kid his age would be flustered and annoyed by a female his age making inquiries. By the time the "New Adventures" came out, Jonny had to have a female foil, and my response was just what Jonny's would have been had he been a typical (read: real) 11 years old..."Ick!" And can you imagine a show today with a broad base of young watchers where the Father character smokes? (Dr. Quest enjoys a pipe in one of the episodes.)
Which leads to my short list of minuses. Coloration throughout the set is really good, but sometimes oversaturated, and in "The Werewolf of the Timberland," White Feather's skin is in two different colors! Also of dubious note, what happened to Doug Wildey's credit? It seems to only show up during "Double Danger," otherwise I seem to get the impression that the end credits were remastered from one episode then taped onto the end of all the episodes for DVD transfer.
And the worst offense...what heathen monkey was responsible for editing the dialog out of "Pursuit Of The PoHo"? Is this from the same brain trust that wiped out explosions and gunfire from classic Warner Brother cartoons and then blacklisting Speedy Gonzales for being stereotypical? If I emerged unscathed from that kind of language as a 4 year old, why am I expected to be offended by it now? If that was the root case, why not edit out the smoking, the shooting, the animal cruelty and the really obvious stereotypes from the Cold War era? It's enough to make me want to wave my hands while muttering "Sim Sim sala Bim" and to thusly wipe all of you ignorant savages of the face of the Cartoon Network.
OK, end of rant.
Those are all just me carping. If you were at all enthralled by "Jonny Quest" in 1964 or its countless repeats on Saturday Mornings, you need to have this. As soon as the exquisitely James Bond-ish musical theme comes up (Hoyt Curtain's music for this series was light years beyond most TV shows, and even today's), you'll be back in your PF Flyers and ready for more adventures for boys.