Lance Falk's Semi-Official JQ:TRA FAQ
The following was sent to Jonny Quest news group members on AOL.
Subj: Jonny Quest FAQ
Date: 97-08-06 04:37:20 EDT
TOP 14 MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT JONNY QUEST
1) Will there ever be any NEW episodes of Jonny Quest? and if not, why?
Not at this time, I'm VERY sorry to say. Why? It's complicated but it boils down to this: The show didn't get sufficient ratings to rationalize the expense of making any more episodes. Not by a long shot. JQ is a very costly series to make. The show didn't generate NEARLY enough money in merchandise either. These are the ONLY things that influence business decisions. (It's called "Show BUSINESS" for a very good reason) There were some major disasters caused by the Season One Team who contributed to the twin problems of ratings and poor merchandise performance. If the Season Two team got a shot at JQ first with all the Season One advantages of time, money, and artistic freedom, ALL the episodes and tie-in merchandise would have been a lot better. Not only that, there would have been 13 more episodes total to bring the total up to the planned upon 65. Season One blew so much time and money, 13 episodes were never started to take up SOME of the loss. In my humble opinion, odds are TRAJQ would have been a MUCH bigger success, enough for a Season Three renewal, almost certainly. Oh well.
2) What can I do to convince Hanna-Barbera or Cartoon Network to make more?
Hanna-Barbera would love to, but it isn't up to them. Only Cartoon Network can order more, so you want to contact them. The fact is, if the ratings and merchandise sales improve dramatically, that's really the thing to inspire more. Convincing Richard Donner to make a live-Action film would be a big help too and probably the smartest approach, because a Live Action film would all but guarantee more animated episodes. Your E-Mails, letters, petitions, etc. never hurt, but the bottom line is we need to convince Cartoon Network that the profit would make their investment look more worthwhile with Jonny Quest than a number of other projects they might consider doing. The 52 episodes right now have not done that.
3) Why does the show look and sound different half of the time?
The reason we changed the appearance and voices of the JQ characters for the Second Season shows was to get them more like the Classic series and the 30 years since then. We tend to refer to these as "Fixes" or "repairs" rather than "Changes" to steer the series back to its roots.
Nothing against Segal or Patrick (whom I really like in other things) but they sound very wrong as THOSE particular characters. (By the way, I helped Robert Patrick land his very first Cartoon Voice job (for a SWAT Kats episode). Clearly, I think a lot of him. He's just wrong for Race. I'm a Segal fan too, but not as Benton Quest.)
Imagine Batman suddenly speaking with a French accent. That's how strange Race sounded to us. Dr. Quest was old and bored sounding as well. This was very out of character as we have come to know those two.
Try to judge each episode on its own merits rather than in comparison to what you're used to. I'm almost certain that if Season Two aired first, most current Season One fans would be outraged by the very episodes they currently prefer. You might not think so, but it's true. (That's how we all felt here when we first heard "Race-Bob Bannon") When Season One first started to air, HB got a ton of "What the Heck happened to Race!?" letters, E-Mails, and phone calls. We Season Two people agreed totally.
The changes we made were NOT casual ones. It would have been MUCH easier to keep things the same, but OUR ENTIRE CREW felt these changes were essential to get JQ back to basics. There was never a question or disagreement about what we did. In fact, our efforts to correct the show have been applauded by the studio and every fan of the Classic show.
If management felt differently, we would have NEVER been given permission to take the time and money to re-do the character models, buy-out voice actor contracts, recast the show, etc etc. It was a big, expensive decision. It is unprecedented to change a show halfway through production. Clearly HB also felt VERY strongly that creative changes were essential. (I, for one am extremly grateful they saw the wisdom in agreeing to the necessity of the requested fixes).
There are 26 episodes of each season. All the Season One shows have been on and that's ALL that will ever have that particular look or sound. All the Season Two shows are also designed, voice recorded, aired, etc, so from now on, this is it. Any cries to "Bring back George Segal's Dr. Quest" or "Where's Race's accent ?" are pointless from here on out. Both Seasons will rerun for years, but don't expect any NEW Season One type shows. In the unlikely event we get renewed for more episodes, Season Three will be EVEN CLOSER to the Classic Series (Palm Key, Bandit's design, no Questworld, etc.) at least if I have anything to say about it (and it's very likely I would).
I thank all of you who prefer our stuff, of course, but I'm also grateful to ANYONE who watches and cares about JQ (even if you HATE Season Two).
4) Does Jessie like Hadji or Jonny? Does Jonny like Jessie, etc.......
All the J & J or H & J romance stuff is blown way out of proportion. (but I love you all anyway.) There's even a net page about romance in JQ. We occasionally hint that one day, (MANY years away in the fictional life of these characters). these characters might think in terms other than brother and sister ways. JQ is an action-adventure show. not mystery, environmental, or romance. (when it moves into those areas, it's off-concept.) We see Jonny, Jessie, and Hadji as being on the brink of those kinds of feelings, but for now, it's a sibling-type thing between them. If you look for romantic clues and see them, you're probably seeing what you WANT to see rather than what we are DOING. Jonny hugs Jessie in "Undersea Urgency" to comfort her like a sister. J & J kiss in "Ghost Quest" because they were possessed. Jessie seems jealous of Hadji sometimes but she's really watching out for her "brother" when she sees him attracted to a bad girl. ("Bangalore Falcon" and "Eclipse"). She had the same reaction to Jade & her dad in "Diamonds and Jade" She was being PROTECTIVE. IF you do want to see that sort of take on these characters, feel free to read or write your own Fan Fiction about those things we're not going to do, new shows or not. Sorry if I broke the romantic hearts of anyone out there with this answer!
5) Why did Jessie act like a "wimp" in "Undersea Urgency"?
(Well, I gotta disagree with this persistent comment. But you deserve some information because this comes up a lot.) It was something to make the episode even more intense than it was. Also I had a welcome opportunity to portray these characters as HUMAN BEINGS. Jessie is in no way a wimp for having problems under such EXTREME circumstances. Any kind of Phobia is an involuntary, psychological CONDITION. (as opposed to a FEAR) It has nothing to do with courage, logic, or anything rational. A loose definition for Phobia is "An Unreasonable, Uncontrollable Fear". Uncontrollable, is the key word. WE ALL HAVE SOMETHING LIKE THAT. For some it's insects, rodents, or reptiles. For others it's high places, the dark, drowning, flying, and so on. The bravest people you've ever heard of have something that makes them very uneasy. (Heck, even Indiana Jones has a Snake Phobia. Is he a wimp? I think not, bucko!) Experts have told me the same during my research. Professionals with hazardous jobs have shared their own phobias with me too. It's a real thing.
Jessie has a Phobia about being on the ocean floor in a collapsing, enclosed structure where she could be crushed, electrocuted, freeze, burn, run out of air or drown any second, with no apparent way out or even a way to communicate with the outside world. All while running from superhumanly powerful and savage, two hundred pound amphibious monsters who will shred her living flesh like a buzzsaw if they get half a chance. (as she witnessed them doing to Zegler with her own eyes). Could happen to anyone! Her reaction's understandable to me. Afraid? Who wouldn't be? She'd be crazy or incredibly stupid NOT to be scared. We have more respect for her than that.
This brings me to a closely held belief about fear and courage. I really think bravery isn't about a lack of fear, it's about OVERCOMING AND CONTROLLING your fear to do what you must. Indy going into the snake pit, when we knew snakes terrified him, showed a lot more real guts than if he just went down there unconcerned about snakes at all. My favorite example is in "Aliens". Ripley could have gotten off the planet, but she CHOSE to face her worse nightmare by going back ALONE into Alien territory because it was the only way to save Newt (the little girl). Now THAT'S brave! Maybe the bravest action in movie history!
In Jessie's case, she really pulled herself together when she had to to get her and Jonny out of the Underwater city. Jonny had to give her a little nudge now and then to keep her going, but nothing else). By the way, because Jonny had to deal with Jessie's emotional condition, he was able to distract from his own fears by concentrating on HER.
6) How can I contact the actors or anyone else on the show?
Write a letter to the actors like this:
Frank Welker (or whoever) C/O Hanna-Barbera Voice Recording Dept. 3400 Cahuenga Blvd. Hollywood CA, 90068
(This is for Hanna-Barbera shows ONLY. You would need different addresses for Disney, Warner Bros.,etc.)
The Voice Dept will forward any fan letter to the person for you. How's that? If you send anything to Quinton F., Jennifer H., Frank W., Robert F., or Rob P., please say hi from me. (I didn't work with the other cast).
The non-actor letters get sent to the same address but send them C/O Hanna-Barbera Publicity Department etc. and not Voice Recording.
7) Where's the sound track album advertised in the end credits?
To the best of my knowledge, it does not exist. I even went to the official Rhino Records outlet here in LA and they told me there wasn't one. (I want it too, gang!) Rhino released an album called "Toon Toons" which has the theme of Classic Quest. They also have a multi-CD collection called "Pik-A- Nik Basket" which has a nifty selection of music from Classic JQ among a ton of themes and background music from other old HB shows. There are constant rumors about some "friend of a friend" seeing the Quest soundtrack, but sadly there isn't one. Period. A real shame. I have no idea why they keep running that advertisement for a non-existent product in every episode. Crazy, isn't it?
8) What episode are some scenes in the opening credits from? I've never seen them in any show.
Some of that footage was from an early animation test and never meant to be part of an actual episode. A shot or two were removed from episodes before they were on the air. The Classic JQ has a few scenes in its closing credits not from any episode either. It drove me crazy trying to figure it out when I was a kid, so I know exactly how you feel! (I eventually found out it was more test footage used to sell the show, but not from an actual episode. Jonny Quest tradition, I guess!)
9) Do you or anyone else at HB read fan fiction or look at fan art?
Sorry, we cannot read or look at fan stuff, for complex legal reasons. NO EXCEPTIONS, Sorry. This is an Iron Clad Rule, without ANY way around it.
I think it's GREAT that fans are inspired enough to create material. Keep in mind that EVERYONE in Animation (heck, everyone in the ARTS, Musicians, actors, etc) started out by creating what they wanted out of love and fun. They got better through practice and hard work and eventually were good enough to earn a living by doing what they love. EVERYONE! and we number in the tens of thousands. (writers, artists, everyone creative) There's a chance for ANYONE if they get good enough. Practice, Growth, Study, and Tenacity can move mountains. Believe it. I started in the Hanna-Barbera stock room and worked very hard to move up. It's worth the effort! We were ALL struggling fans at one time.
10) So Lance, why don't you like Questworld?
This is a complicated answer and I apologize in advance for its length.
IMHO, It's very off-concept for the JQ series and undermines its greatest feature: "A strong connection to reality". At the heart, Jonny Quest is a lot more like Indy and Jurassic Park than Tron.
The best thing about the whole JQ idea was that it presents an ALTERNATIVE approach to action cartoons. No wild powers, fancy costumes, or unreal locations. Jonny and his family seem more heroic because they confront the unknown with nothing more than great courage, determination, natural human abilities and some cutting edge, but theoretically possible gizmos. They travel to places you can find on a map. Because of this, JQ is much more real and exciting. The adventures could almost be true and the danger is easier to believe in. It's the only adventure cartoon to do this.
Questworld violated all that and made Jonny Quest like hundreds of other fantasy-based shows, stripping it of its one special and unique edge.
It's not that I don't like computer animation, it just ain't Quest. It was a huge huge misjudgment. The VR idea would make a fine series on its own, but it does not belong here.
From a production standpoint, it was an enormous pain. From a story standpoint, it meant cutting out a fifth of every episode to make room for something which really shortchanged our stories.
My last, and perhaps best argument is what I call the "Holodeck Syndrome" and my biggest QuestWorld objection by far:
Doug Wildey created the JQ characters for ACTION ! Jonny, Dr. Quest, Hadji, (and now Jessie) are trained by Race, a martial arts expert. The first JQ, "Mystery of the Lizard Men" (from 1963) shows Jonny, and Hadji learning Judo from Race in their first on-screen scene. The show concept was designed to take those characters to real and exotic places around the world. Yet, QuestWorld has 'em sitting in comfy chairs in Maine like a bunch of couch potatoes. A huge waste of the actual idea of those characters and the series' opportunity for Globe-Hopping.
As wasteful as, oh, let's say..... having a gigantic spaceship with a well- trained and technologically advanced crew explore the wonders of the galaxy by spending a lot of time indoors playing interactive movies.
Another QuestWorld / Holodeck shared problem: Almost every time it's featured in an episode, it turns out dangerous. Any Father or Starship Captain would surely pull the plug after the third or fourth time it came close to killing the user. If not, I think they'd look stupider each time they allowed the "Entertainment system" to be used. Think of a car stereo that, once in a while, tries to steer your car into oncoming traffic. I think it's fair to say that the car would be gotten rid of. That's my exact reasoning for Jessie's actions in "Thoughtscape". She'd had enough of Surd (as had we all). Surd was a villain who could be beaten just by rebooting a computer. Pretty lame. OK, now let me at that Holodeck! KABOOOOOOM! Either idea would make a decent series on its own, but in Trek or Quest, it's counter to the very concept of physical action and the show's basic premise.
Not unlike Batman pausing during a moody and intense chase scene to perform a musical number.
We did as good a job as we could on QuestWorld, but make no mistake, we were FORCED to include it in the Second Season.
11) Are there any plans for a JQ movie? Who would star? Live action or animated?
Director Richard Donner (Superman: The Movie, Lethal Weapon) has the rights to make a live action feature film but he isn't doing anything with them right now, and does not plan to for years at least, if ever. There are great candidates for Jonny, Jessie, and Hadji but by the time the movie gets made, they would all be too grown up! The potential J, J & H are probably about five years old right now, totally unaware of the big break in their future. I've heard Claire Danes, Devin Sawa, etc. recommended by fans. Great suggestions, but by the time the movie is underway, they'd be too grown up. (At least it didn't happen when Macauley Culkin was the right age and popular. Whew! That was a close one!)
I still really believe the battle to convince Richard Donner to tackle the Quest film is the BEST way to jump-start more animated episodes. The Batman films are the real reason Warner Brothers keeps making Animated episodes. It would be the same for Jonny Quest.
12) How long does it take to make one episode of Jonny Quest?
1st Season, up to 3 years. 2nd Season, about six months. The first batch took so long, ours had to be rushed through. Our first show was finished in six months from scratch, then one a week after that for 26 weeks. (Whew!) A fast but fun ride while it lasted. I wish we had a BIT more time, but that's always the way. "No art is finished, merely abandoned."
13) What happened to Jonny's mother? How did she die?
Two versions of Rachel Quest's demise have been told. Once in Issue #2 of the Comico JQ comic book series a decade back, and the other in the TV movie from the early 90's called "Jonny's Golden Quest" . HOWEVER.....
Both versions are entirely wrong, inaccurate and inconsistent with the clues in the first Classic episode (which I'll get to in a minute).
Just so you know, Jonny's Golden Quest is SO WRONG about EVERYTHING, it can never be considered data. That way lies madness. It's version of Jessie, Dr. Zin and Jade are especially incorrect. They are well made and fun to watch but not considered accurate by any means.
Which also goes for the other TV movie "Jonny Quest and the Cyber-Insects", and also The 86' Jonny Quest series. These events never happened to our characters. They are "what-if" stories and in no way, part of Official Jonny Quest history.
So, what IS the Official version?
Most of the answer you need is in the first few minutes of the first JQ ever: "Mystery of the Lizard Men" (1963). There's a scene between Corbin (Race's superior officer) and another Intelligence One agent. The scene is set on a private airplane and we see it before we ever actually see the Quest family. A file folder is read by Corbin to explain to the other agent (and the audience) to our cast of regulars. Between the lines, the scene explains precisely WHAT happened to Rachel Quest. (Just not HOW, WHEN, WHY, or, BY WHOM it happened). In that quick scene, Race Bannon's specific place and role with Quest family is spelled out. "Jonny Quest 101", I call it.
Rachel was somehow used as a lever against Dr. Quest by an unnamed, unfriendly foreign power. Rachel somehow died as a result. Race was officially assigned by Intelligence One as a bodyguard, tutor, all-around watchdog for Jonny, so the boy would not be used as a pawn the same way as his late mother.
That's pretty much it. The name Rachel came from Golden Quest (I think) but we liked it enough to use in "Edge of Yesterday". Contrary to public perception, we don't toss out stuff just because we can. We do it when it doesn't work with Classic JQ or just to our tastes (Surd's "Bum-in-a-Boiler" look for example).
If I ever get another crack at that show, I'll fill in the gaps Re: Rachel and also tie-in a few more things from the Classic series. I hope I get that chance.
14) Who is LFMOA and why the heck does he think he can answer our questions?
I'm Lance Falk, a huge fan of the series for about 30 years. I'm considered by HB personnel as THE JQ expert. I've worked on several incarnations of the show in a number of capacities (designer, development artist, writer, model organizer, Producer in training, etc.). I was hired for the Second Season particularly because of my familiarity with the thirty years of JQ history and handle on that kind of material in general.
During the Second Season, I did a lot of various jobs, but made my biggest contribution as the author of the episodes: "Rock of Rages", "Race Against Danger", "Undersea Urgency", (Co-Wrote)"Nuclear Netherworld", "Other Space", "Thoughtscape", "(co-wrote) Diamonds & Jade", "General Winter" (which I was an Associate Producer on), and "The Robot Spies".
Former HB President Fred Seibert has said repeatedly (both privately and publicly) that our numerous lunchtime conversations about JQ convinced him to push TRAJQ to Cartoon Network in the first place. (The most noteworthy of these was at a JQ panel during last year's San Diego Comic Con) That should count for something, right?
I was also a good friend of Doug Wildey, the actual Creator and Producer of the Classic Jonny Quest Series back in the 60s. We used to talk for hours and hours about the series. (Sadly Doug passed away a few years ago which is why I remade him as the character of Jonny's Grandfather in "Nuclear Netherworld"). I hope these credentials satisfy you Quest fans out there!
And I hope this FAQ answers most of your burning questions.
Lancelot (your Palm Key Pal)
© 1997 Lance Falk
Lance Falk has been a designer in the animation business since 1986, bouncing between Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. He has also written a half-dozen SWAT Kats episodes and nine Real Adventures of Jonny Quest. He currently lives right near the epicenter of the famous Northridge earthquake and shamelessly spoils his two dogs, Winston and Peaches.