Q is for — Jonny Quest, from the original Hanna-Barbera cartoon
I loved watching Saturday morning cartoons when I was growing up. It was so much fun to sit on the couch in my pjs and laugh to the likes of Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes, Tom & Jerry, the Jetsons, Scooby Doo, Josie and the Pussycats, and the Funky Phantom, to name a few.
One of my all-time favorites was Jonny Quest. Jonny Quest was different — full of excitement and adventure with much more realism and a fascinating scientific/techno slant. Jonny; his father, scientist Dr. Benton Quest; bodyguard Race Bannon; Hadji, an Indian boy adopted into the family; and cute dog Bandit traveled all over the world, usually either for Dr. Quest’s work or to investigate some dangerous or top secret situation that required his expertise. And what was really neat was that they used all these nifty gadgets like jet packs, videophone communicators, and hover crafts that were on the cutting edge of technology or beyond, at the time.
The cartoons weren’t without controversy, however. Some people objected to the use of firearms in the shows, the scary-looking monsters, and the dangerous and intense situations the Quest group ended up in, as well as the fact that some characters, mostly bad guys, actually died. It is NOT a cartoon for young children.
But for me, a tween craving adventure, the shows were thrilling trips to exotic locations, where peril and intrigue abounded, and kids my own age (Jonny and Hadji were 11) were right in the middle of the action. Humor lightened many of the episodes, and the strong family dynamic between the Quests, Hadji, and Race Bannon anchored them.
My favorites are Episode #3: The Curse of Anubis, about a cursed Egyptian tomb; Episode #1: Mystery of the Lizard Men, about villains using laser to destroy a moon rocket; and Episode #20: The Invisible Monster, about a rampaging creature made of electrical energy. The first two are exciting and funny, the third, eerily suspenseful.
My one complaint about the show (and my daughter’s, as well) is that there aren’t any girls. I would have liked it even more if Jonny had had a sister that shared in his escapades. As it is, the only female character that takes part in their adventures is Jade, a former love of Race Bannon’s with a shady past, and she only appears twice out of 26 episodes. Jonny’s mother died sometime in the past and is never mentioned.
A reboot of the show, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, made in the late 1990s, included the new character of Jessie Bannon, purportedly Race Bannon and Jade’s daughter. Unfortunately, I found this version to be a major disappointment with plots that were less coherent, less believable, and much darker, with little, if any, humor and without the warmth of the family unit so prominent in the original.