Panama City Times Herald Review
The `Quest' continues
He's smart, athletic, fearless and impulsive - and he's fought more weird villains in his 14 years than most people fight in a lifetime. He's got a Sikh buddy named Hadji, a bulldog named Bandit, and an egg-head father who drags him around the world to investigate ``unusual scientific occurrences.'' He's Jonny Quest, and he's back from cartoon limbo in a record-breaking new primetime animated TV series. The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest simultaneously premiered on TNT, TBS and the Cartoon Network in August - the first time in history a television series would air 21 times each week on three different networks. ``We have recaptured the excitement that made the classic Quest so popular with its fans,'' said Fred Seibert, president of the show's producer, Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc. Jonny Quest premiered on ABC's primetime schedule in September 1964, and it sporadically appeared in reruns on the ABC, CBS, and NBC Saturday morning schedules through 1980. (That means 1964's 11-year-old Jonny would be 43 now, but maybe that's being too technical.) In 1987, 13 new episodes were produced to complement the original 26 shows on TNT and Cartoon Network. A two-hour special, Jonny's Golden Quest, was produced in 1993 for the USA network; and another two-hour movie, Jonny Quest vs. The Cyber Insects, ran on TNT in 1995. Older fans will recall Jonny's battles against the Lizard Men, the Invisible Monster, the Robot Spider or Dr. Zin and his ferocious Komodo dragons (and they'll want to watch for the return of Dr. Zin in the new adventures). But the one thing older viewers won't recall is a marketing mania associated with Jonny Quest. That's something new for the 90s' version. In fact, a June 1995 edition of the Wall Street Journal reported that industry experts called the new Quest one of the ``properties to watch'' in 1996. ``The new series is the beginning of what will be a multi-faceted global programming, marketing and merchandising effort,'' Seibert said. Look for action figures, books, comics, video games, clothes, wrist watches, balloons, party goods, phone cards, book-and-tape sets, battery-operated toothbrushes - more Quest stuff than you would ever need. The new series takes the best elements of the old - global adventures, cutting-edge technology and good-spirited teamwork - and updates it for the 1990s. The now-teen-age heroes are caught up in extraordinary dangers both in the ``real'' world and in virtual reality. New to the team is Jessie Bannon, daughter of the adventurer Race Bannon - who accompanied Jonny and his dad, Dr. Benton Quest, on their original adventures. The voice of Jonny is provided by J.D. Roth, host of numerous children's game shows like Fun House and Masters of the Maze. Older viewers might recognize the voice of movie actors George Segal (from The Owl and the Pussycat, The Black Bird) as Dr. Quest, or Robert Patrick (the T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day) as Race. The classic Quest series was created using traditional ``cel animation,'' in which thousands of drawings are made on clear acetate sheets and are photographed in sequence to simulate movement. The new show combines cel and computer animation, and boasts digital color, computer compositing and a wide range of modern special effects. Much of the computer animation involves ``Questworld,'' a virtual-reality gateway to other dimensions where our heroes can exhibit super powers. The producers see this as an extension of today's technology, much as classic Quest episodes involved then-cutting edge gadgets like hydrofoils, snowmobiles and lasers. ``Jonny Quest was the first action-adventure cartoon series on TV,'' Seibert said. ``It ran on all three major networks and cultivated an audience of fanatical viewers, which remains loyal to this day.'' ``The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest'' airs weekdays at 7 a.m. and Saturdays at 5:30 p.m. on TNT; weekdays at 3:35 p.m. on TBS; and weekdays at 7 p.m. and midnight on Cartoon Network. All listings are Central Time.