TV Guide Review

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The following appeared in TV Guide. The citation is Kaplan, James (1996-08-24). "Family pages - Jonny Come Lately". TV Guide Vol. 44 Issue 34, p45.

Jonny Come Lately

Hanna-Barbera really, really wants you and your kids to see its new The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, which premieres August 26 on three (1) networks: TNT, TBS, and the Cartoon Network. HB, of course, are the folks who revolutionized (or devolutionized, by some lights) cartoons in 1957, with a new, flat-looking style of animation, bringing us, over the years, such indelible pieces of Americana as Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, and The Jetsons.

And Jonny Quest. Jonny first came on the air in 1964. Hanna-Barbera made 26 original episodes that season--the same ones we've seen, over and over, for more than three decades. More episodes were made in the late '80s, but Quest fanatics--known in the toon world as, I swear, Fan-boys or (in derogatory fashion) Skippies--insist you don't want to pay any attention to those.

The original Jonny's claim to fame was as the first cartoon ever to depict realistic human characters in an action-adventure format. It was an OK show, with the trademark Hanna-Barbera flatness but without the saving humor of the other HB product.

Move over, old Jonny! The Real Adventures is a whole new ballgame, from the NYPD Blue-style drums of its theme song to a virtual reality segment called "Questworld." Jonny's 13 now, instead of 10, hunky rather than punky, and he's moved from the periphery to the middle of the action. "We decided to make the show more Jonny-centric," says Fred Seibert, president of Hanna-Barbera, who's given all this a good deal of thought. "If you analyze the original show, you'll see it's really the Dr. Quest and Race show. Jonny was just hanging out -- after all, what can a 10-year-old do? He can't even ride his bike out of the neighborhood."

Dr. Benton Quest is older now, too, and a bit creakier. Race Bannon, though still as dashing as ever, is a dad! His daughter, Jessie, is on the scene to supply some conflict and -- although there's no hint of this yet -- maybe even a love interest for Jonny.

In the premiere episode, about a ghost pirate ship, the animation of the characters is still fairly flat, but the sound effects and backgrounds are state-of-the-art. The writing is miles deeper and darker than on the old show. Jonny's turbaned companion Hadji quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson! And Jonny's dog Bandit is nowhere in sight -- though we're assured that he's on tap (with a less annoying bark, one hopes).

To what do we owe the pleasure of Jonny's return? "Through the history of TV, there have been waves of audience interest in action-adventure," Seibert says. "Starting in the late '80s, there has been real sustained interest. We were looking for a marketplace entry."

Spoken like a CEO. Here's a critic/dad talking: Your kids could do a lot worse than The Real Adventures.

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