Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Review

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The following appeared in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on July 30, 1996. The citation is Storey, Michael (1996-07-30). 'Jonny Quest' returns in enlightened form. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Style, p. 3E


PASADENA, Calif. -- Here's good news for those of you yearning for a retro fix of a classic cartoon you grew up with: Jonny Quest is back, taking names and kicking animated backsides.

"The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest" will simultaneously debut Aug. 26 on TNT, TBS and the Cartoon Network. Fred Seibert, president of Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, told TV critics at the annual summer press tour that this would be the first time in television history that a series will air 21 times each week on three networks.

"Jonny Quest" was the first action//adventure cartoon series on TV," Seibert noted. "It eventually ran on all three major networks and cultivated an audience of fanatic viewers which remains loyal to this day."

"Jonny Quest" debuted Sept. 18, 1964, on ABC with "Mystery of the Lizard Men" and ran on that network's prime-time schedule for one season. It aired Saturday mornings on CBS from 1967-70; ABC from 1970-72 and NBC 1978-80.

"Jonny Quest vs. the Cyber Insects," a two-hour movie, premiered on TNT in November.

The new series will air on TNT weekdays at 7 a.m. and Saturdays at 5:30 p.m.; weekdays on TBS at 3:35 p.m.; and weekdays on the Cartoon Network at 7 and 11 p.m.

For those who've somehow missed out on the fun, "Jonny Quest" has been updated for the '90s. The series is billed as a mystery/adventure featuring teen-age heroes caught up in dangers in the real world and in virtual reality.

Jonny (voiced by "Masters of the Maze" host JD Roth, originally voiced by Tim Matheson) travels with his father, Dr. Benton Quest (veteran actor George Segal), on globe-trotting investigations of unusual scientific phenomena.

The group also includes Hadji, an Indian boy, bodyguard Roger "Race" Bannon (voiced by Robert Patrick of "Terminator II") and Jonny's dog, Bandit. Jessie Bannon, Race's daughter, will have an increased role in this age of enlightenment. Jonny and the team solve crimes and mysteries and take on super powers when they travel to the virtual reality "Questworld."

Seibert said "The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest" was "our attempt to tell kids there is an adventure series they can identify with very directly. It features a real boy and his friends at its core, not a superhero."

"There was a real family feeling about it," Segal added, speaking about his voice-over duties. "I'd never seen this stuff before. That was quite remarkable."

Several older TV writers who grew up watching the original "Quest" were concerned about the changes Hanna-Barbera was making to update the series. Seibert noted the differences.

The new series will be more sophisticated, intended for kids and their parents. It'll feature a "grittier, more life-like" look. Where the old show revolved around what the adults were doing, the new series will center on the adventures of Jonny, Hadji and Jessie. Jonny has also aged to 14; classic Jonny was only 11.

There were no girls in the original, so Jessie (who's 15 and more mature than Jonny) has been added. She considers Jonny her best friend. Hadji will have a driving interest in all things spiritual, especially Sikhism, Buddhism and Yoga. He's about 16.

Finally, the original "Quest" was done using traditional cel animation. The new show will use a combination of cel and computer animation which will give it film-quality digital color and a wide range of special effects.

Seibert said changes were made with great care and he was "no longer worried about disappointing the cult fans, because they will have the same feeling for those characters that they had originally."

Seibert had one final word for parents about the action content for the series. He said Hanna-Barbera had talked with consultants and child psychologists to try to find what's appropriate for children.

"The simplest (concern) is that we don't scare children and give them nightmares," he said. "Also, we show the real results of conflict. When the boat whacks across somebody's shoulder, we show that it hurts. This is a lot better than doing it and (having the character) get up and continue into action."

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