In the 60's, when you wanted a cartoon that showed different parts of the world, comedy, and THE OUTRIGHT MURDER OF SOMEONE ON EVERY EPISODE, there was only one show to watch...Jonny Quest
In the mid 60's, the television landscape was pretty balanced with the old "family values" shows like "Dick Van Dyke" and "The Andy Griffith Show" as well as "The Flintstones", the first animated show in primetime. In an ever changing world however, people were searching for a program that meshed the action of that dashing rogue James Bond and with the moral fiber of "Leave It To Beaver".
This is the one where Ward takes Beaver to school in a supersonic jet. Don't bust balls, it was a lost episode...
Dr. Benton Quest: With a birthname that meant he got beat up ALOT as a kid but also deemed he would be a scientist in the future, Benton Quest studied hard and earned his doctorate just about the time that the government came knocking. Offering Quest free funding for his crazy ass experiments, they reserved the right to call him in on weird ass occurances that the military was lacking in skill to handle. Taking them up on their offer, the recent widower decided getting a nanny for his young son would scar the boy somehow and decided to bring him along as Dr. Quest galavanted all over the world, facing dangers and hazards that would have had the good doctor facing charges of child endangerment nowadays.
You can't observe this highly toxic chemical from over there, Jonny. Don't be a pussy like Race.
Jonny Quest: The young protagonist of our story, young Jonny tries on a daily basis to deal with the fact of being a ten year old boy, given access to hoverbikes, never having to attend school, and trained in the use of a bolt action rifle while other kids his age were screaming and wetting themselves over the Beatles. Thumbing through applications for boarding schools were put on hold as Jonny and his makeshift family went to the most remote locations in the world and faced deadly situations that his father usually ended up dragging him into.
JONNY: "So you agree he's gonna get me killed, right, Race? Just wanted to make sure I wasn't going crazy. How you doin' over there, Hadji?"
Roger "Race" Bannon: Try to imagine an American version of James Bond, without the incessant need for shaken vodka drinks and skilled enough to both teach a young boy important life lessons while ending the lives of underpaid henchmen at the same time. A member of "Intelligence One", the government assigns Bannon to watch over Dr. Quest and his son for protection, taking him away from usual missions involving attending fancy dinner parties overseas and killing foreign dignitaries with a salad fork.
That punch is the last good thing you're going to feel. Sucks to be a bad guy sometimes...
Hadji Singh: Basically doing Race's job of saving Dr. Quest from an assassin while they were in Calcutta, instead of Race disembowling young Hadji for showing Race up, Dr. Quest adopts Hadji. Hadji is the second most talented member of the team whereas Race would either brutalize or murder to get out of a sticky situation, Hadji uses his special abilities to get out of trouble:
Levitation - to lift himself or Jonny into the air, turning them into a "Duck Hunt"-esque target for the bad guys, except for the fact that gun totting goons in the 60's were easily distracted so it actually was pretty effective.
Snake Charming - to drive out poisonous snakes left frequently left for them in their hotel rooms, vehicles, gym bags, etc. (Comfort Inn has a "no poisonous snake guarantee" on each of their hotel rooms or your money back AND free continental breakfast if you survive. Food for thought)
Slight of hand / Appear and Disappear - the age old trick of pulling coins out of little kids ears or in Hadji's case, tossing a handkerchief over a guard's gun and making it disappear while the guard wonders why he didn't shoot the kid for approaching him. (I DO NOT condone shooting children, but this guy is paid to watch over prisoners and plug 'em if they get too close. What is his value?)
Bandit: Of all of the cartoon dogs that deal in any kind of villain thwarting, this mutt is the most useless of the bunch. No more than a half ass ADT system that detects people / animals approaching and craps in the Questjet if you don't walk him, the dog with the mask fetish usually would get into situations that required saving him, the comic relief on a show where a lot of serious things were happening and could've easily cost someone their life dealing with his shennanigans.
The Carlos Mencia of the dog world but I don't want to see Bandit put to sleep. Hint hint...
Besides squaring off with the standard villains and Scooby Doo like bad guys that dress up like creatures to freak out the locals, Dr. Quest did have a specific archenemy that had a serious hard on to see good ol' Benton crash and burn.
Dr. Napoleon Zin: a brilliant scientist in his own right, Zin just hated letting all of his genius go to waste "helping others" and "benefitting mankind" so he basically decided to acquire his own wealth and power while trying to bitchslap his total opposite Dr. Quest every chance he got. Never actually meeting Quest, the two would usually exchange heated words with one another over two way video screens after Quest thwarted Zin's plans. Zin employed a number of different henchmen and cohorts to help with his plans but had a horrible employee turnover rate as either Zin would murder them in a double cross scheme or the members of Team Quest would get around to doing them in.
RACE: "...then he should hire more henchman. I went through the last twenty without breaking a sweat."
JONNY: "...I just asked if you had anymore gum..."
HADJI: "Sim sim sala fucking sociopath!"
As mentioned before, there were only a handful of cartoons in that magical prime time hour (The Flintstones, Top Cat, The Jetsons) which dealt in a slightly more grown up humor at times to give the adults something to enjoy along with the kiddies that watched.
For the record, Fred Flinstone, Top Cat, nor George Jetson ever killed a man.
Out of the 26 original episodes of Jonny Quest, only five ot those episodes did not involve someone dying by the hands of the bad guy, or more shockingly our heroes. But it's the 60's and the ABC network was looking for something with a bit of an edge to it, something kids would talk about tomorrow around the sandbox.
THE MYSTERY OF THE LIZARD MEN
A group of terrorists with a giant ass laser are hiding in a ship graveyard in the Caribbean and use it to destroy a shipping boat as well as a fishing boat that wandered into their area. When Dr. Quest and the boys arrive and uncover their plot, a wacky boat race takes place but ends when Race attempts a "flying ollie" in his boat but lands on a pair of Lizard Men and crushes them to death. Not to be outdone, Dr. Quest
uses a garden variety mirror to reflect the laser fired on their boat, frying the Lizard Men lightly on all sides.
ELIMINATION TOTAL: THE ENTIRE LIZARD MAN ARMADA & UNFORTUNATE SAILORS COMBINED: 55
An assassin sent to kill Dr. Quest lobs a grenade onto the boat he's sailing on but Race finds the grenade and lobs it back, the assassin watching the grenade bank off of an ice floe before landing in his little raft and sending him to assassin hell
ELIMINATION TOTAL: UNCOORDINATED ASSASSIN: 1
*But in Race's defense, the assassin did nothing to escape the raft or knock the grenade away.
THE CURSE OF ANUBIS
A mummy returns to life when a villainous businesman tries to steal treasures for himself and after the slowest fucking chase sequence in recorded history, the mummy gets the villain and causes a cave in that kills the villain
ELIMINATION TOTAL: EGYPTIAN DOUCHEBAG & LONG DEAD MUMMY: 2 (Though he was already dead...)
RIDDLE OF THE GOLD
Good old Dr. Zin is running a gold counterfeiting ring and after having a subordinate he thought was too greedy killed with a poison injection lighter (whoa), his television image scowls at Dr. Quest as they unravel his scheme and Zin's lead henchman is mauled by a tiger he had chained nearby to taunt
ELIMINATION TOTAL: GREEDY BAD GUY & A BAD GUY WHO CHAINED UP A TIGER: 2
TREASURE OF THE TEMPLE
Showing up at a temple in Yucatan at the same time as a ruthless treasure hunter (imagine his embarrassment), our boys evade the bad guys who meet an unfortunate end in a canoe chase and some hungry crocodiles that tear the treasure hunter and his associate to shreds
ELIMINATION TOTAL: TWO WANNA BE INDIANA JONES' : 2
A ruthless criminal mastermind making a deadly nerve gas in the mountain ranges of Calcutta tries to rub out the gang but ends up getting buried in an avalanche, brought about by a device created by Dr. Quest (who was worried someone would use the device for just this sort of thing. Damn.)
ELIMINATION TOTAL: CRIMINAL MASTERMIND AND TWO SLOW ASS HENCHMAN ON SKIS: 3
Dr. Zin, still with a bug up his ass about Dr. Quest screwing with his gold scheme sends a double of Race in to eliminate the team and swipe a precious flower he would use in his schemes. Trapping everyone in a temple that's going to explode, a slow witted guard watching them falls for the "bench rammed into your jaw, breaking it in several places" trick, escaping and leaving the guard to perish
ELIMINATION TOTAL: BAD GUY WITH GLASS JAW: 1
SHADOW OF THE CONDOR
Dr. Quest and the bunch make an emergency landing in the Alps and meet up with an old German pilot that swear he's not a Nazi but challenges crack pilot Race to an old fashioned dogfight in biplanes. Race's plane, without any weapons and the German pilot with ample machine gun turrets. The pilot is also an accomplished hunter of the aforementioned condors that hang out around his castle and when the pilot moves in for the kill, Race dips him out and a condor strikes back for his homies, ripping the wing of the German pilot's biplane and sending him to his fiery doom
ELIMINATION TOTAL: GERMAN PILOT WHO CLAIMED NOT TO BE A NAZI: 1
SKULL AND DOUBLE CROSSBONES
Once again looking for treasure, Team Quest is double crossed by their cook who's working with a bunch of pirates who want the treasure for themselves. It looks like everyone's gonna survive this one as the pirates, once thwarted flee...until the local navy shows up and "accidentaly" hits their fuel tank
ELIMINATION TOTAL: MEXICAN PIRATES PLUS ONE DOUBLE CROSSING RAT BASTARD: 15
Our heroic team stumble across a voodoo scheme that is actually covering up a villainous industrialist and his hidden submarine base. When Race manages to locate the submarine base in a sub of his own and the many workers trudging about, he fires two missiles that level the base
ELIMINATION TOTAL: NON UNIONIZED UNDERSEA WORKERS: ...GONNA SAY 50
A SMALL MATTER OF PYGMIES
Jonny, Hadji, and Race run afowl of a bunch of pygmies after saving one from a panther attack
Which Race shoots
On prime time television
But not convinced it's dead...he puts a bullet in it's skull
ELIMINATION TOTAL: A PANTHER THAT'S JUST HUNTING FOR FOOD: 1
DRAGONS OF ASHIDA
A totally insane old professor friend of Benton Quest's is growing oversized komodo dragons and when Quest pays him a visit, he just has to stop the nutty professor. In an escape from the crazy professor's komodo dragon leading henchman, one of the dragon's is crushed beneath a boulder while the other is tricked into falling from a very high cliff. Returning to his boss to report the death of the dragons, the crazy professor, the professor tells the henchman to stop being such a bitch, the henchman responding by tossing the professor into a pit of hungry dragons
ELIMINATION TOTAL: WACKADOO PROFESSOR & STEROID INDUCED DRAGONS: 3
TURU THE TERRIBLE
Searching for a valuable mineral in the Amazon Jungle, Quest and pals run across a pre-existing illegal mining operation, run by an old man in a wheelchair. Preparing to kick the shit out of him, a giant pterodactyl that's his pet makes them change up their strategy, using grenade launchers and battering the ancient bird until it falls into a tar pit. Unwilling to lose his pet, the old man rolls into the pit with him...as Quest and Race watch.
*Priceless quote* QUEST: "I wish we could've saved him." (Which they could have by running over and preventing him from rolling into the tar pit)
ELIMINATION TOTAL: WHEELCHAIR BOUND ILLEGAL MINE OWNER & PET: 2
THE FRAUDULENT VOLCANO
Dr. Zin, knowing there's no way Dr.Quest would ever find out about his newest operation opens up shop in a volcano which starts acting up, worrying the locals on the island and prompts them to call...who else? A worker escaping from Zin's volcano is hunted down and forced to fall to his death by hench dudes in REALLY cool hovercars. Later on in the episode, those same dudes are pursuing our heroes who go into a tunnel and these guys show their incredible piloting skills by flying the hovercars into the side of the mountain instead of flying into the tunnel in pursuit
ELIMINATION TOTAL : MORONIC HOVER CAR HENCH DUDES & SLAVE LABORER: 7
PIRATES FROM BELOW
Pirates...who are below...are using subs to do their dirty work and of course Dr. Quest steps in to combat them. Running into an enemy sub, the Quest underwater rover has a lovely pair of "pincer" claws for moving rocks on the seabed floor. So instead, the pincers are used to snap the enemy sub in half, decompressing the bad guy. In retaliation, the bad guys plant an underwater mine on the rover but Race turns the tables and attaches the mine to the enemy ship, a large "arrrr" let out as they expired
ELIMINATION TOTAL: HALF A DECOMPRESSED HENCHMAN PLUS PIRATE PIECES: 21
THE INVISIBLE MONSTER
A colleague of Dr. Quest's (doesn't pay to be this guy's friend, does it?) is experimenting with super science and he accidentaly creates a creature that's a cross between a Pac Man ghost monster and a really pissed off milkshake. The lactose tolerant killing machine is made of pure energy and when it touches someone, they go all "negative" and are atomized. After destroying the professor's lab, the creature atomizes him as well as a man servant that was busy elsewhere in the compound and probably wishes he'd stayed busy.
ELIMINATION TOTAL: FRIEND OF DR. QUEST AND HIS MAN FRIDAY: 2
THE DEVIL'S TOWER
Attempting to recover a special device of his design that's tied to a balloon, Quest and crew track to a really tall mountain where it landed called the Devil's Escarpment. Getting up tp the top, they find a bunch of prehistoric man that live there and yet another Nazi pilot who'd been stranded on the top of the mountain for almost two decades. Demanding the plane the gang used to get to the top, they give it up and try to make their way down on their own but the Nazi pilot isn't having any of that. Using Quest's plane and a box of hand grenades, he pelts Quest and the gang and tries to knock them off of the mountain pass and all is going well until he embeds one of the grenades in the wing of the plane, joining Hitler in the handbasket.
ELIMINATION TOTAL: NO LONGER STRANDED BUT EXTRA CRISPY NAZI PILOT: 1
THE QUETONG MISSILE MYSTERY
A devious foreign power with the plan to launch a destructive missile...well, you know who's going to put a stop to this. A snoopy pair of photographers that stumble onto their base get decimated by floating mines, set off by a henchman with an old fashioned plunger detonator. After screwing up the villain's plans, a race through the mined water infuriates the villain in his pursuing boat and when his henchman on the plunger fails to kill our gang, the villain shoots the henchman dead...and he falls on the plunger, blowing up his old boss.
ELIMINATION TOTAL: STEREOTYPED ASIAN CRIMINAL MASTERMIND & HENCHMAN PLUS SNOOPERS: 4
THE HOUSE OF SEVEN GARGOYLES
A reclusive professor with some scientific breakthroughs is target by yet another criminal mastermind and he uses a midget that he disguises as one of the gargoyles at the top of the professor's castle to spy on him. Dr. Quest arrives and all goes south, the midget gargoyle wanting to get paid immediately for his services. The mastermind shows he's all heart by delivering a sniper shot through the perched midget's heart which if that didn't kill him, the fall from the top of a castle did. Closing in on the mastermind, a chase starts on the water to get to the bad guy's escape sub. His henchman provide cover fire to help their boss avoid Quest and Race, just enough cover fire to bring an avalanche of rock down on the mastermind, the henchmen and the escape sub.
ELIMINATION TOTAL: CRIMINAL MASTERMIND & HENCHMAN UNAWARE OF THE TERM "AVALANCHE": 3
TERRROR ISLAND (MOST BRUTAL)
On a remote island near Hong Kong, a scientist is developing giant sized insects and crabs simply because his wife told he couldn't and would never amount to anything. He shows her by making a giant crab which unfortunately escapes captivity and eats a startled guard. Traveling to the island to shut shit down, the crazy scientist plans to eliminate the meddling Americans...but Race Bannon is working for you, it's a guarantee you're going home alive. With a discarded assault rifle, Race brings down a water tower on four unsuspecting guards and crushes them to death, has a grenade hurled at him but returns it to the guards that tossed it (and they look at it in wonder as it kills them quickly). And finishes off his death march by killing one last guard with a ricochet off of a nearby bulldozer.
A cartoon, y'all.
And the scientist, who did a great job of securing his monstrosities is attacked by a Godzilla like beast that escapes its pen, walks into a power station and kills itself and him.
ELIMINATION TOTAL: SORRY ASS GUARDS PLUS AN EATEN ONE & CRAZY SCIENTIST: 10
MONSTER IN THE MONASTERY
When a bunch of Yeti attack a village in the Himalayas, here comes the Quest Squad to handle business, Jonny and Hadji quickly discovering that they're just a bunch of criminals wearing Yeti suits. This time, it's Jonny and Hadji squaring off with full grown men with automatic weapons and while one would normally fear for the pre-teens, Jonny's been watching Race over the years. Dousing a stairwell of literally one hundred steps with lamp oil, the head thug slips down each of the stairs before barreling over the edge of a cliff and falling to his death, garnering a "gosh" from Jonny before he continued on. When Race and Dr. Quest finally meet up with the boys, they return to the scene of the fake Yeti battle to find all of the disguised goons dead. Seems the real Yeti didn't get royalties from the thugs and he took it personal.
ELIMINATION TOTAL: YETI FAKERS PLUS JONNY'S FIRST KILL: 10
TOTAL NUMBER KILLED IN THE 1ST SEASON OF JONNY QUEST: 196
Growing up in the late 70's, I caught the reruns of this show and they were re-edited for the violent content so it wasn't until my later years that I came to take in all of the carnage.
But did this unedited stuff affect any kids that were watching back in the 60's? A boatload of censors made note of the violence when the original series ended and was shown on Saturday mornings in reruns, prompting it to have the violence skillfully removed
I have to applaud this show, simply for the balls that it took to put something like this on television in the first place, let alone at a time when "family TV " was scheduled to be played. But it is the story of a hard working father, his precocious son, their f-ing deadly bodyguard and an adopted mini David Copperfield without the creepy eyebrows.
They just had to eliminate a criminal mastermind or henchman every now and then to save the world...
Quite the interesting family night, no?