Inspired by the original 1962 James Bond movie, Dr. No, influential American animator Joseph Barbera decided to develop a high-tech action-adventure series for television. Barbera produced a short two-minute story based on the US radio series Jack Armstrong but having done so he found that he was unable to make a deal with Jack Armstrong's copyright owners and the project was cancelled. Instead, Barbera hired noted comic strip artist Doug Wildey to develop a character who was originally called Chip Baloo before finally being named Jonny Quest, the name, allegedly taken from a phone book, being more symbolic of the type of adventures and mysteries that our hero would encounter.
Jonathan "Jonny" Quest is an 11-year old boy, the son of a widowed US government scientist, Dr Benton Quest, who, from his home base in the Florida Keys, sets off on adventures that take him all over the world. Jonny, who is proficient in judo, scuba diving and handling firearms, accompanies his father on these sometimes dangerous missions along with Special Agent Race Bannon, a street-wise orphan called Hadji and their pet dog, Bandit. There is a recurring villain in the form of Dr. Zin, an Asian criminal mastermind, but mostly the Quest team find themselves pitched against a different foe in each story. Jonny Quest first appeared on US television in 1964 but soon found itself the centre of controversy as many parents were concerned of the levels of violence for a children's cartoon series. Nevertheless, the series ran for two seasons. The closing credits include clips from the Jack Armstrong test film even though they do not appear in any Jonny Quest episode.
Published on December 28th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.