Classic Jonny Quest
Jonny Quest Season 1

© 1998-2007, Lyle P. Blosser

Here are links to brief summaries (with some additional comments, including flubs and trivia items) of the original 26 episodes of Jonny Quest from the 1964-65 season on ABC, listed in the order they were broadcast (according to TV Guide). Information on technical details such as production codes, working titles (when known and where different from the final title), original and rerun air dates (according to TV Guide) is included on each individual episode page.

Thanks to Jim Alexander for providing the TV Guide clippings seen on the individual episode pages!

Jonny Quest's place on Television
Jonny Quest debuted on Sept. 18, 1964 at 7:30 pm Eastern on ABC. It remained a Friday night favorite until Dec. 31, 1964 when it was moved to Thursdays at 7:30 pm Eastern. The first episode was "The Mystery of the Lizard Men" and television cartoons were changed forever. The last first-run show ("The Sea Haunt") was aired on March 11, 1965 ; the last prime-time rerun (also "The Sea Haunt") was broadcast on Sept. 9, 1965. But, despite its brief one season initial run, Jonny Quest was far from finished!

Jonny Quest as Classic Television
It's amazing to think that Jonny Quest was only on the air for one season in primetime, but has retained wide interest to this day. Some of that is due to the many seasons of re-runs it has enjoyed. But, why so many re-run seasons? What makes the show a classic? Scroll down for a few thoughts.

Select a link from the list below to see details for the episode.
  1. The Mystery of the Lizard Men
  2. Arctic Splashdown
  3. The Curse of Anubis
  4. Pursuit of the Po-Ho
  5. Riddle of the Gold
  6. Treasure of the Temple
  7. Calcutta Adventure
  8. The Robot Spy
  9. Double Danger
  10. Shadow of the Condor
  11. Skull and Double Crossbones
  12. The Dreadful Doll
  13. A Small Matter of Pygmies
  14. Dragons of Ashida
  15. Turu the Terrbile
  16. The Fraudulent Volcano
  17. Werewolf of the Timberland
  18. Pirates from Below
  19. Attack of the Tree People
  20. The Invisible Monster
  21. The Devil's Tower
  22. The Quetong Missile Mystery
  23. The House of Seven Gargoyles
  24. Terror Island
  25. Monster in the Monastery
  26. The Sea Haunt

What makes the classic "season 1" Jonny Quest so good?

There are quite a few points that, in my opinion, come together to make Jonny Quest such a well-remembered and well-respected show. Rather than discuss those points abstractly, I'll use an episode as an example and use specific content from that episode to illustrate.

The Robot Spy episode has numerous examples of what, IMHO, makes the classic 1964 Jonny Quest series stand head and shoulders above other animated shows (and even some live action shows). This, for lack of any better term, I call "less is more". The show's writers and artists collaborated in the use of dialogue and scene layout to create a world that feels much, much richer than it was drawn. Other shows have attempted to capture this feeling by drawing scenes so full of detail that they appear cluttered and, actually, more unrealistic. Jonny Quest takes the opposite approach, by letting the viewer's imagination fill in the scenes instead. Following are some examples from The Robot Spy episode that show what I mean:
  • When Race hauls the robot spy device back to the warehouse, we see the backs of Dr. Quest and a soldier watching as Race drives the sand truck into the building. Then Dr. Quest says, "Lower away!" and we imagine Race (now off-camera) complying and gently lowering the robot to the floor.
  • When Dr. Quest is preparing the para-power ray gun for use against the escaping robot, he gives urgent commands: "Jonny, hook in the power line", "Race, turn on the generators" and "Hadji, you handle the hydraulic pressure". During all this, we see a brief scene of Jonny nodding his head as he gets his instructions, and then it's back to Dr. Quest at the console. But the feel of the scene is much more dramatic; we see in our mind's eye Jonny, Race, and Hadji moving quickly to accomplish their tasks.
  • There are numerous scenes when the character speaking is "off camera", and we simply see others listening to the speaker. But the words carry the scene; we don't need to see the speaker to hear those words, and it sets the scene for the next speaker's words, which are often delivered by someone "on camera" listening to the first speaker.
  • Also, there are a number of examples when we see the speaker from behind, and see the face of the listener. About the only motion is the speaker's head gently bobbing as he speaks. Much less complicated than drawing mouths that match the words being spoken, yet equally (if not more) effective!
It is writing and artistry like this that make Jonny Quest feel so realistic -- and a lot of what we experienced during the show was provided by our imaginations!

Note that there are still lots of details in The Robot Spy, but they are small rather than over-large. Some examples:
  • When Bandit spots a jackrabbit in the desert, we see:
    1. the rabbit's nose wrinkling as he sniffs the air in Bandit's direction. The only reason this is even noticed at all is because almost everything else in the scene is absolutely still.
    2. the hair on Bandit's back is raised, making his outline appear slightly ragged.
  • When Dr. Quest admonishes the boys to keep the noise down, the camera is focused on Jonny and Hadji. When the view shifts back to Race and Dr. Quest, we see the good doctor turning back toward the robot craft. In our minds, however, we see what happened before, Dr. Quest turning from the craft to speak to the boys. Subtle? Sure, but effective.
  • After the para-power ray brings down the robot's escape craft, the camera cuts to a shot of Dr. Quest with his face buried in his hand. No words are spoken, but we certainly feel the intensity of the moment, and the great relief coursing through the scientist at another disaster averted.
The rest of the episodes are full of these details and scene techniques; next time you watch an episode, try to find some -- you'll be amazed at how many there are!

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