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Thursday, May 15, 2014

'Jonny Quest: The Complete Eighties Adventures' DVD: Excellent Equal Parts 'Scooby-Doo' and 'Venture Bros.'

Jonny Quest: The Complete Eighties Adventures
Warner Archive's recent 13-episode 2-disc DVD release of the 1986 series "Jonny Quest: The Complete Eighties Adventures" is an awesome reminder of the "good ole days" before cartoons had to be edgy and remakes of classics particularly had to ramp up the darkness. This series is much more true to the original "Quset" from the '60s than the uber-hilarious Adult Swim series "The Venture Bros." that offers a twisted version of these relatively kind and gentle shows.

Both the '60s and '80s incarnations of "Quest" provide elementary-school aged boys a look at their version of an Utopian existence. The titular character is a roughly 12 year-old lad who travels the globe having wonderfully perilous adventures with his crusader/scientist father Dr. Quest. Saving said parental unit and/or the world on numerous occasions is a nice bonus regarding this exciting existence.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of scenes from an episode of the new "Quest" includes every element that makes this show fun. It is also exciting to see a Borg-like creature appear in this pre "Star Trek: The Next Generation" era.

These global adventures allow Jonny to play with the various forms of hovercraft and other cool tech that his father invents and uses to fulfill his missions. Redesigning the Quest aircraft from the original series to have a smaller jet that can detach and fly off on its own in case of emergency a year before Gene Roddenberry updates The Enterprise with the same technology in "Next Generation" especially cool.

The new series also retains Quest bodyguard/assistant Race Bannon and the Indian boy Hadji, who serves as Jonny's companion/partner in boyish mischief. Hadji also brings limited magical powers, that include an ability to levitate, to the table.

An early episode both brings back "Quest" nemesis Dr. Zin and introduces Jonny's female counterpart, Jessie Bradshaw. This one starts with Jessie alerting Team Quest of the current nefarious scheme of Zin.

A later episode introduces Hardrock, a.k.a. Monolith Man, to the series. The team discovers (and revives) this ancient stone android in a lost city that is 10 miles below the surface of the earth. He surfaces (of course, pun intended) to join the battle for good out of a sense that supporting those missions fulfills the purpose for which he is created. A scene in which Hardrock, Jonny, and Hadji watch the "Godzilla" cartoon series from the '70s is very cool.

The pilot episode clearly establishes that the new "Quest" is true to the spirit of the original. This one revolves around Dr. Quest's contract to discover the source of attacks on radar bases taking the team to a mysterious island inhabited by cloned hybrid prehistoric creatures.

Another particular fun (but very politically incorrect) episode has the quest (of course, pun intended) for a sunken WW II-era German submarine resulting in our gang being sent back in time and battling comically savage pygmies. Suffice it to say, the stereotypical evil German scientist does not fare very well.

Episodes that are reminiscent of "Scooby-Doo" series include ones that involve the appearance of aliens and ancient warriors to thwart noble efforts and conceal less noble ones. The evildoers would have gotten away with it too if not for those meddling kids (and their dog).

A personal favorite of the eight episodes watched for this review is an homage to a film classic. The aptly titled "Vikong Lives" offers a very condensed version of "King Kong."

This one starts with the current client of Dr. Quest expressing strong anger regarding the speed at which the latter is retrieving Viking artifacts. Things heat up (of course, pun intend) when this effort leads to defrosting a giant ape whom the ancient Vikings trained.

Ala the promoter in Kong, the client demands that Vikong be captured and returned to the states to be exhibited. The child-friendly outcome is similar to that of "Kong."

The bottom line is that they simply do not make them like "Quest" anymore but should; the show is quasi-campy and hokey but not annoyingly so. It further demonstrates that entertainment need not rely on being outrageous.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Quest" is encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.