Gweekly goodness: Jonny Quest (1964)

mtdna says:

QuestI really enjoy Gweek, especially your recommendations section. I’d like to offer a recommendation of my own, the Jonny Quest TV show. Jonny Quest was a half-hour prime time cartoon that came out in the early ‘60s, produced by Hanna-Barbera. Unfortunately, like so many great shows, it ran for just one season, but you can see them all in a DVD box set, iTunes, or Amazon Instant Video.

Jonny Quest is about the adventures of an 11 year old boy (Jonny), who travels around the world with his father, Dr. Benton Quest, a top government scientist assigned to solve action mysteries and defuse threats perpetrated by the evil Dr. Zin. The show is aimed at boys Jonny’s age, and it has the whole package: high-tech gadgets, villains, guns, ferocious animals, and even seductresses. There are great sidekicks too -- Dr. Quest’s commando bodyguard, Race Bannon, Jonny’s Indian friend Hadji, and their feisty bulldog Bandit. Each episode takes the Quest crew somewhere exotic and exciting, from the Egyptian pyramids to the South American Andes and even out to sea. They face every challenge imaginable: flying robots, pirates, and giant genetically engineered lizards. Naturally the Quests and their team always come out victorious and unscathed.

The show has some highlights that aren’t part of the story lines, as well. For one thing, the political incorrectness of the early 1960s really shines through. The Quests unapologetically gun down bad guys, especially troublesome natives and commies, along with any menacing animals they run into. Don’t worry though, it’s so over-the-top it’s funny rather than offensive. And the animation is wonderful. It’s bold, sharply defined, and quite realistic, bringing you into the action much more than typical kids’ style cartoons of the time, flying you by the seat of your pants.

Any aficionado of Gweek is sure to enjoy this series.

Jonny Quest - The Complete First Season



        Jonny Quest (toy-mation version):

        Cowboy Bebop’s “Tank!” (live version):

  1. Jonny Quest was a poor imitation of Clutch Cargo.  In Jonny Quest, the mouths don’t even look superimposed.

    PS: Paddlefoot over Bandit, hands down!

    1.  Good God! Clutch Cargo was totally creepy. I think that was its main and only appeal for me. I liked watching those disturbing mouths move all around the faces. But that is the ONLY thing I can remember about it.

      1.  Having seen that short bit in Pulp Fiction where Butch is watching it before getting the gold watch, I have absolutely no desire to see any more of it.

  2. Ummm… not sure this show only ran for one season.  I think the available DVD set is only one season.  Either way, you should also mention that this show is largely the basis for The Venture Bros, one of the greatest shows of the modern animation era, and in fact the older drug-addicted Jonny Quest is a recurring character on Venture Bros.

    1. It ran for one season, unless you want to count the execrable 1986 and 1990s episodes.

        1.  Uh-uh. Sorry. Justin Bieber IS fucking Johnny Quest!!!!!!!!!! [But putting Jeff Goldblum next to him would be hysterically funny]

  3. JQ only ran for one season??? Gobsmacked. It was such an abiding part of my childhood, sustaining me through years of Saturday mornings! Coolest one was when they nailed the invisible monster after blasting it with paint guns to find out where it was. Definitely the inspiration for The Venture Brothers.

    1. I absolutely LOVE that episode! I still break out into sweat at the scene where Johnny’s jet pack malfunctions as the invisible monster “chuffs” closer and closer…

    2. Same principle as Thunderbirds, most people imagine it as this huge thing, but there were only a handful of episodes, and another handful of feature length ones.

  4. I used to be in love with all things JQ. First the original 70s series, then the hour long golden adventures of JQ (which I have only seen once), and finally The real adventures with Quest world and the new music:

    But I think I still like the music from the original series the best.

    1.  It was actually from the sixties. I am in my forties and we watched it as reruns in the seventies. Its an awesome show. My favorite is the gargoyle episode.

  5. In 1947, a series of science/electronic adventure books began, somewhat similar to the Hardy Boys. Beginning with “The Rocket’s Shadow” more than 20 books in the Rick Blaine series began, running to the late 1960s. At least two Jonny Quest episodes seem directly lifted from Rick Blaine novels, and the entire setup, including characters, is quite similar. If you enjoy JQ, you might have fun seeking out Rick Blaine books.

    1. Do you mean the Rick Brant Science Adventures by ‘John Blaine’?

      ETA; yes. The Rocket’s Shadow was a Rick Brant Science Adventure by John Blaine. I read that and several others. They were awesome and made me the teenage tinkerer that grew up into an adult who always has a tool in his hand.

  6. The Quest Documentary – essential viewing:

  7. And a shout out is required for Doug Wildey, the great comic artist who designed the Quest show.

  8. I remember, as a little kid, eagerly watching every episode in hopes of seeing the one with the sequences from the credits.

    It turns out that these (one shows Johnny flying some kind of hover-platform)  were trial footage made for the sales pitch.

    1. My favorite episode is the one with the spider robot, part of which was in the opening credits.

  9. I remember having weird nightmares about mummies, invisible cyclops-ghosts,& Lovecraftian frog-monsters all inspired by this show…(it was one of my favorites)
    p.s. go team Venture!

  10. the Jonny Quest theme has a well-earned place in the pantheon of great trombone lines.

    It ran for only one year in prime time but ran almost every year after in re-runs on Saturdays mornings which was how I encountered it. It persisted until, I guess, too much of it didn’t meet evolving children’s TV standards.

    Watching it today I notice all the economies the animation had to make to get it done, but i still enjoy it.


  11. In 2008 Hallmark did this pretty cool Jonny Quest Christmas ornament:
    With Jonny wearing a jetpack fighting off a pterodactyl.
    A month after Christmas, I found 4 of them remaindered in Hallmark for a buck each.
    Gave two to friends of mine who were JONNY QUEST fans, kept two more to use as geocache trinkets or whatever.   Which I haven’t used, they’re still around here someplace.

    But they’re still only going for $4 on Amazon…

  12. Just had to pipe in… the music was SPECTACULAR. I was all of 9 years old in ’64, and I knew the score was really something special.

    Some of the episodes scared the living bejeesus out of me. The invisible cyclops they revealed by covering with paint… full shivers-up-the-spine terror. 

    It was very cosmopolitan… Hadji, an extremely rare non-white, non-Western character, was essentially just a cool kid. No different, just another one of the gang. Very good lesson at an early age.

    1. Hadji, an extremely rare non-white, non-Western character, was essentially just a cool kid. No different, just another one of the gang. Very good lesson at an early age.

      This. I’m sure that there must have been a few non-white characters that were part of a popular cartoon series’ main cast between Jonny Quest and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head.

    2. Very true about Hadji! 

      JQ had to be the first kids’ cartoon to attempt to realistically depict such a wide range of international characters – Arabs, Chinese, Japanese, Latinos, Indians, Pacific Islanders, natives of the Americas, etc.  A Norwegian dwarf. 

      And yes, the jazzy score and incidental music were fantastic!

  13. The battle  between life partners Dr Benton Quest and Race Bannon for custody of Jonny and Hadji was movingly presented in Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law.  Strangely this was never actually referred to in the original series.

  14. “it’s so over-the-top it’s funny rather than offensive”
    Is that the barometer of offensive these days?

  15. …as a couple commenters have already mentioned, the episode with the invisible monster was one of my favorites.  it wasn’t until years later that i realized it was an “homage” to what became one of my favorite movies: forbidden planet.  cheers!

  16. Johnny Quest was one of the cartoons shown on the banana splits show. It must have been early 70s; during the 60s our parents didnt like us watching the UHF stations for some reason.  When boingboing ran a trailer for kick-ass featuring hit-girl slaying bad guys to the tune of the dickie’s version of the banana splits theme, i became a chloe moretz fan. i hear there’s going to be a kick-ass II.
    – arbitrary aardvark

  17. Good memories from the old days when cartoons could not be watched at the drop of a hat. And the music is phenomenal. If I hadn’t lost my hearing I would go buy it right now. (Mentally starting up the brass section in my head – buh-bup-bup-bah-buh-bah!)
     When I reached high school age my friends and I used to wonder why Johny looks more like Race than his own “father.”

  18. I watched Johnny faithfully, I was his girlfriend in my mind. I was only a little girl too.  I watched The Venture Brothers just for the memories of Johnny & Hadji.. 

  19. I was totally in lust with Johnny. And I hadn’t even quite hit puberty. One season? Really?? And it was a prime time show too, as I recall, something like 6:30 pm central, back before “family time” or whatever the fuck it was that completely killed early prime time.

    1. WOW! Thank you for that link – I’ll NEVER buy this now. I’ll remain happy with my childhood memories of this great cartoon intact.

        1. Plus, I heard it wasn’t anything actually racist, just that he had recently had occasion to meet Hadji’s mom, and he described her as “down for anything, a real freak. Prime “Race”-bait!”

  20. Not only are there a couple of bowdlerized moments on this DVD set, but for some unknown reason, they used the same end credits at the end of every episode on the set, despite each episode having distinct credits; also unfortunately, they used the only version that didn’t have creator Doug Wildey’s stylized signature. That said, the episodes are brilliant in their own special way. I’m shocked that Hollywood hasn’t already made a horrible live action adaptation of this property. Not that I want them to; just surprised they haven’t.

  21. Dr. Quest and Race Bannon with jetpacks, flying around and fighting a shrieking giant pterodactyl with a bazooka represents to me the absolute pinnacle of awesomeness during my boyhood.

    It’s still the most amount of WIN ever accumulated in a single scene in any media.

  22. I’d like to add a recommendation for the 1980’s comic book series from Comico, if you can find it in some obscure corner of the internet. Great art and stories, very true to the spirit of the TV show.

  23. Dayum!  Nobody’s mentioned JADE!!!  What about Jade, Race’s “friend”?  She suddenly shows up the day Dr. Zin installs an impostor for Race (even bitch-slapped him for not holding his fork and knife like an American!).  Jonny and Hadji have to piece together clues that Race left behind, but Jade knows in an instant that something is wrong.  

    Later, when Jade states she knew all along, the boys ask how.  All she says is something like, “It’s just one of those things that women know.”  I was somewhere between 5 and 9 yrs/old at the time.  To this day, I still wonder if that episode might have prematurely kickstarted my hormones.

  24. My favorite memory of Jonny Quest was when Race Bannon was voted Mother of the Year by fans of the Cartoon Network.  And of course the episode where Jonny and Hadji discover the world’s greatest lubricant…

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