The original Jonny Quest animated series produced by Hanna Barbara was a ground-breaking piece of animation in America.Â It signified a change in action cartoons on television; permitting them to be longer, darker and more sophisticated.Â There was continuity among episodes, a strong cast of characters, half hour-long plots and, most memorably, lots of people dying rather violently (typically off-screen, of course).Â There was an attempt in the 80â€™s to recapture the glory of Jonny Quest, with a poorly animated television series and 2 TV movies.Â However, the show couldnâ€™t compete with the plethora of action cartoons on at the time, and honestly, the writing was almost as bad as the animation.Â After that, Jonny Quest became the thing of reruns, exclusively.
In the 90â€™s, Turner Broadcasting set up the Cartoon Network, a channel which initially reran Turnerâ€™s extensive library of Warner Brothers, Hanna Barbara and MGM animated programs, including reruns of the various Jonny Quest cartoons.Â Eventually, it began developing original programming which became very popular.Â As a means of hyping their upcoming Jonny Quest project, Cartoon Network did a weekend-long marathon saying â€œGoodbyeâ€ to Jonny Quest; the network vowing they would no longer rerun episodes of the show after the marathon.Â After that, Jonny Quest wasnâ€™t heard from again for over a year.
Then the teasers started showing up.Â â€œJQâ€ symbols appearing in places like jungles and crypts, hinting at something.Â Finally, Cartoon Network premiered their newest original series: the Real Adventures of Jonny Quest.
Initially, the new series took a different approach to Jonny Quest, with the moniker â€œThe Real Adventuresâ€ implying a different continuity.Â However, despite a few notable differences, the Real Adventures of Jonny Quest was most-assuredly a sequel to the first Jonny Quest series (though this wasnâ€™t made firmly apparent until the second season, but Iâ€™ll get to that in a minute).Â The show followed the same format as the original series, with the Quest Family and their bodyguard, Race Bannon (voiced by Robert Patrick in the first season), battling terrorists and other assorted villains across the globe.Â Joining Jonny, Hadji, Race, Dr. Quest and Bandit was Jesse, Raceâ€™s daughter.Â The character of Jesse was originally introduced during the 80â€™s series, as the daughter of Race and Jade (a returning character from all incarnations of Jonny Quest).Â The Real Adventures chose to ignore the 80â€™s series and concocted a new origin for Jesse, with her being the daughter of Race and an archeologist woman he had been married to.Â This new version of Jesse proved to be a much stronger character than the original, who was pretty whiney.
The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest had some excellent animation and some very dark story-telling.Â Staying true to the original series, villains died various gruesome deaths, typically off-camera, though the brutality was always implied by sound effects and reaction-shots.Â In one episode, poachers are stomped to death by stampeding elephants and one is even impaled across the rib of an elephantâ€™s skeleton.Â The Quest Family was situated in Maine, rather than Florida, though the move was eventually addressed in the second season.Â An extra element was added to the series, Quest World: a virtual reality world the characters could link into.Â Not unlike the Matrix, most of the Quest World plots revolved around characters being hurt in Quest World and having the wounds transfer to their physical bodies.Â Quest World was completely CGI, and while the CGI is primitive by todayâ€™s standards, it rarely failed to impress back in the mid 90â€™s.
The first season introduced a new rogues gallery to the Quest Family.Â The villains were layered; the writers straying away from 2-dimensional mad scientists and what-not.Â Ezekiel Rage, voiced by Michael Bell, was one of the better villains introduced in the series.Â He was a spy for the US whose entire family was killed in a car wreck during a mission.Â As the enemies opened fire on his family, he begged the partners to send him aid, but they refused, telling him he was on his own.Â Blaming the US government for the death of his family, Rage became a terrorist (and horribly deformed), bent on world destruction.Â He carried around at all times a tome called â€œthe Book of Rageâ€, which was eventually revealed to be a photo album containing pictures of his family.Â In my opinion, he was the best villain of the series and one they thankfully used sparingly.
Probably the most memorable original villain would have to have been Jeremiah Surd, voiced by Frank Welker.Â He was a terrorist who threatened to unleash an experimental nerve gas on a crowd of innocent civilians.Â Race Bannon, during his days with the CIA, was sent in to stop him.Â However, while Race was taking Surd down, Surd accidentally released the nerve gas on himself, crippling him from the neck down for the rest of his life.Â Surd eventually got hold of the Quest World technology and would continue to plague the Quest Family for the rest of the series.Â Surd was mostly memorable because he was in a LOT of episodes.Â The guy just wouldnâ€™t go away.
The first season featured numerous aesthetic differences from the original Jonny Quest series, like Race being a Texas good ole boy, and when coupled with the name â€œThe Real Adventuresâ€, many were left with the impression it was a completely separate continuity.Â The second season put those suspicions to rest, changing all the character designs to more closely resemble the original series (albeit with exceptions made for characters like Johnny and Hadji, who were older than they were in the old show).Â Most of the voice actors, including Robert Patrick, were also replaced with new and old actors who sounded like the original cast.Â Original characters from the first season, such as Surd and Rage, were imported into the second season as a means to bridge the gap.
Season 2 made numerous references to the original series, including the return of classic characters like Jade and Pasha.Â There were also short segments at the end of each episode which recounted Jonny Quest history and trivia, often using clips of the original TV series.Â However, the big throw-back to the old show was the return of the lead villain, Dr. Zin.Â Dr. Zin, the staple villain from both the original series and the 80â€™s series, had been noticeably absent from the first season of the Real Adventures of Jonny Quest.Â He was featured heavily in the last season, though, and starred in the series finale, along with the return of his notorious spider-tanks.
Cartoon Network really needs to put this series out on DVD.Â I havenâ€™t seen the show since it was on the original weekday version of Toonami (that was a long time ago).Â The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest was a dark, exciting animated series with some magnificent villains, character development and lots of nostalgia.Â One of the best original shows Cartoon Network ever developed.