Sunday, December 15, 1996

The `Quest' continues

Tony Simmons
Education Editor
   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.



© 1997 The News Herald