In September 30th 1960 a milestone in animation history was made when Hanna-Barbera’s The Flintstones premiered on ABC. It ran for six season and opened the door to other prime time series from Hanna-Barbera The other series were Top Cat (1961), The Jetsons (1962) Where’s Huddles (1970) and Wait Till Your Father Gets Home (19702). But it was the series that premiered on September 18th 1964 that is one of the most celebrated and influential animated series to come from Hanna-Barbera. Jonny Quest only ran for one season with 26 episodes but the influence of that series is still being felt today. The DVD packaging refers to the show being season 1 but there was only one season and should be referred as the complete sereis. It does contain all 26 produced episodes in the correct aired order,
- Mystery of the Lizard Men
- Arctic Splashdown
- The Curse of Anubis
- Pursuit of the Po-Ho
- Riddle of the Gold
- Treasure of the Temple
- Calcutta Adventure
- The Robot Spy
- Double Danger
- Shadow of the Condor
- Skull and Double Crossbones
- The Dreadful Doll
- A Small Matter of Pygmies
- Dragons of Ashida
- Turu the Terrible
- The Fraudulent Volcano
- The Werewolf of the Timberland
- Pirates from Below
- Attack of the Tree People
- The Invisible Monster
- The Devil’s Tower
- The Quetong Missile Mystery
- The House of Seven Gargoyles
- Terror Island
- Monster in a Monastery
- The Sea Haunt
The show was designed by two great artist that were working for Hanna-Barbera at the time. Doug Wildey and Alex Toth defined the look of the show that raised the bar from the standard look of other Hanna-Barbera shows of the time. Being a prime time show the animation while still limited was far superior to the usual Saturday Morning shows of the time. The style and the lush backgrounds were also one of the things that was allowed with the shows higher budget. Hoyt Curtin who did much of the music for Hanna-Barbera used a Jazz band for the series and created the memorable music for the theme that is still identified with the series. The other thing that made the show stand out from other Hanna-Barbera shows was the use of the stylized title cards used for each episode and they set the tone for each episode. Wildey was also the main writer of the series and wrote 20 of the 26 episodes. He was the guiding light that drove the series to be more like a live action adventure that was animated. The show has really stood the test of time and is probably one of the best remembered of the golden age of Hanna-Barbera period. It was certainly the most influential for sure.
Warner Home Video has released a four disc set containing all 26 episodes in a nice box set. The quality of the shows are quite nice considering the limitations of standard definition. Considering that the show was shot on film it could have a high-definition transfer if the original materials still are available. Maybe someday this could happen but for now we at least have a nice version available.
The video preserves the original 1:33 aspect ratio of the original source. The colors are strong and the black levels are quite good. There are some inherent flaws in the original source material such as scratches, dirt and minor damage. The picture thankfully does not suffer from over processing or heavy DVNR that sometimes plagues animation. There are no glaring compression artifacting or bit rate issues with the discs. Overall short of a real high-definition restoration this is probably the best the show has look.
The audio is Dolby Digital 1.0 mono sound that is really the best way to do a mono track. The audio is really pleasing and naturally captures the original source material. Dialog is clean and natural sounding and the music sounds natural also. There is no high-end breakup that can happen if the mono track is not mastered correctly. Overall a pleasant-sounding track.
Disc 4 has the special features for the set.
Jonny Quest Files: Fun, Facts and Trivia (25:18) This feature plays the episode Double Danger with an onscreen text video over the episode with information about the making of the show and other facts. It’s a nice feature that is kind of like a commentary but with just information on-screen.
Jonny Quest: Adventures in Animation (15:30) This feature interviews animators and artist that were influenced by the show. There are interviews with Brad Bird, Alex Ross, Steve Rude and many others. This is a really nice feature that shows how influential the show was to other artist.
Jonny Quest Video Handbook (18:19) This feature has 10 selections of charters and other things like gadgets and locations that has clips from the shows and talks about each subject. This is pretty filler type stuff and is not really going to add to much to what most people know about the show.
P.F. Flyer Sneaker Commercial (00:30) This is probably the most fascinating special feature because this has some new animation to an existing scene from the show to promote P.F.Flyer shoes and a secret decoder ring that you could get if you bought the shoes during the promotion.
Trailers There are four trailers for other animated series from Warner Home Video. The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo Where Are You? The Jetsons, and Samurai Jack.
The only real gripe that I have with this set is while there is some good special features there could be so much more that could have been done. There should have been some commentary tracks because at the time of the release (2004) there would have still been some of the original creators still alive. Sadly Doug Wildey had passed away in 1994 but there were many others that would have love to probably do it. They could have also done a retrospective of Wildey and talked about the comic series from Comico that was done in the 1980’s that had Wildey do both covers and draw a three issue series of his favorite episodes in comic form. Because the comic was a licensed property from Warner Bros they have the rights to use any of the images from the comic. They could have also done a very nice still gallery of production art and design guides from the show. They really missed a great opportunity to make this a really great edition.
So as an added bonus to this review I have collected model sheets, stills and some of the Comico comic book covers to show the missed opportunity that Warner Bros did on this collection.
While the most important part of the DVD is the episodes that are really good quality to the overall set, but it really could have been a great edition. It was a really missed opportunity that if was redone today could not be done as well because of the passing of a number of creators of the show and the comic books. It would still be great if Warner Bros would do a high-definition upgrade to Blu-Ray but sadly that will never happen.
The set is still HIGHLY RECOMMENDED buy and while it has a list price of $39.99 (which is a LOT cheaper than the original list price of $64.92 back in 2004) is a great deal even with the good but not great special features it is a great addition to any animation collection. If for some reason you have never seen the show here is the opening credits that will show you the high quality of the show. There were later versions of the charters rebooted by Hanna-Barbera but the quality of those incarnations pale in comparison to the original series and are best avoided.