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Warner Home Video presents

Jonny Quest (1964)

"It wasn't anything serious... just a little old time bomb."- Jonny Quest (Tim Matthieson)

Stars: Tim Matthieson, Danny Bravo, John Stephenson, Don Messick, Mike Road
Other Stars: Henry Corden, Vic Perrin, Cathy Lewis, Doug Young, Everett Sloane
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild animated violence)
Run Time: 10h:55m:09s
Release Date: 2004-05-11
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+B+A- C+


DVD Review

Warner continues to roll out titles from their classic animation library with another installment in the Hanna-Barbera Golden Collection. Jonny Quest would be Hanna Barbara's fourth prime time animated series, following The Flintstones, The Jetsons and Top Cat. Debuting in September, 1964, Jonny Quest was a new approach for Hanna-Barbara, in that it was to portray realistic-looking characters in real world settings, as opposed to the "cartoon" characters that were the norm for animated works at that time.

The original concept for the show was to do an animated version of the popular Jack Armstrong radio program, and the idea was pitched to comic strip artist, Doug Wildey, who based his treatment on the Milt Caniff comic, Terry and the Pirates. Its deviation from the standard cartoon fare gained the show a loyal audience, and despite lasting only the 26 episodes contained here, the show became the first animated series to run on all three major networks, when it moved from its prime time slot to syndication on Saturday mornings. The franchise was expanded for an additional 13 TV episodes in 1986, two feature-length movies (Jonny's Golden Quest and Jonny Quest vs. the Cyber Insects) and a 52-episode run in 1996's Real Adventures of Jonny Quest.

The show revolves around the globe spanning adventures of Dr. Benton Quest, a leading world-reknowned scientist who works for the U.S. government, and his son Jonny, as they travel to exotic locales to deal with the week's assignment. The Quests are accompanied by Roger T. "Race" Bannon, a secret service agent who works as their bodyguard and the boy's mentor and guardian, Jonny's adopted brother, Hadji, who has mystical powers, and the Quest's pet bulldog, Bandit, who gets into trouble more often than not, but also saves the day on occasion. Dr. Quest is called on to investigate strange occurences the world over, and to come up with solutions to problems on their top secret missions. Their travels pit them against an array of nefarious villians and creatures, from savage pigmies to an invisible energy-absorbing being to spy robots or prehistoric animals, but their most evil opponent is Dr. Zin, a madman intent on taking over the world, and who has a special vendetta against the Quests.

It is not hard to understand the appeal of this series for imaginitive youngsters, even by today's standards. Jonny Quest provides ample adventure and intrigue, and doesn't really play down to a younger audience, although each episode usually slips in a some scientific or historical facts along the way. In addition to the truer to life design work and concepts (which includes people actually dying as a result of their actions), the series also featured a number of futuristic gizmos—jet packs, video phones, hovercrafts, computers, hydrofoils—all the stuff James Bond wouldn't be found without, and was the first animated series to include such things as lasers and computers. While the character development isn't that deep, there is enough background to solidly identify the major players, and the assortment of opponents and storylines—although some are better than others—help minimize the feeling of repetitiveness. The writing does a good job of maintaining suspense, and the exotic locales and side characters add interest to the stories.

The episodes are presented virtually uncut, with the exception of a few lines of dialogue (assumedly deemed too offensive these days, despite the same lines being present in the subtitles) and a standardized end credit sequence. The "season one" title on this release is a bit of a misnomer, since this DVD collection contains the entire run of classic Jonny Quest episodes, so this is sure to please all but the most picky fan.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Image quality is generally quite good, especially considering the vintage. Color is punchy, but not overly saturated, black levels are strong. There are numerous, but relatively minor print flaws, mostly scratches, dust marks, and gate wobble, but aside from age related effects, the only real gripe with the transfer is the near constant mosquito noise.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Mono audio is clean for the most part, with good spectral coverage, and dialogue is easy to understand. There are a few places that seem a little oversaturated when the musical cues kick in, but nothing really unexpected.

Audio Transfer Grade: A- 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 26 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Samurai Jack,Scooby-Doo Where Are You?.
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Digipak
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Trivia and background info
  2. Vintage TV commercial
Extras Review: Like the other titles in Warner Home Video's Hanna Barbara collection, Jonny Quest comes housed in a gatefold digipak containing the discs and episode listings, which slides into a transparent plastic sleeve. While the packaging looks impressive, I find these sleeved cases difficult to open, and the cardboard cases are prone to easy damage. The discs are single sided and numbered, and each bears artwork for one of the Quest characters.

There are selections for each episode, but no internal chapter stops.

Jonny Quest has been adorned with a nice bonus features set found on the fourth disc, beginning with Jonny Quest Files: Fun, Facts and Trivia, which presents a Pop Up Video style trivia notes against the series' first produced episode, Double Danger.

Jonny Quest: Adventures In Animation (15m:14s) is a mini documentary featuring interview clips from various industry people who reflect on the influence the series had on them, and point out some of the unique aspects that they found appealing.

The Jonny Quest Video Handbook contains clips with bigraphical and trivia information, divided into ten categories, including the principle cast along with the gadgetry, allies, villians and locations seen throughout.

The P.F. Flyer Sneaker Commercial is an advertising tie-in to the series, featuring the cast wearing the footwear and donning their secret decoder rings. A very cool inclusion.

Trailers for the first sets of The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Samurai Jack and Scooby-Doo Where Are You? are also present.

Extras Grade: C+

Final Comments

For many who grew up with it, Jonny Quest is their most revered Hanna-Barbara title, and this release does the classic series justice. Those new to the show should also be pleased by the quality of presentation and the welcome supplements. Grab your decoder ring, and sit back and enjoy as the Quests travel the globe in search of adventure.

Jeff Ulmer 2004-08-05