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Classic Jonny Quest
"Jonny Quest: The Complete First Season" DVD Collection

Jonny Quest: the Complete First Season
a Hanna-Barbera Golden Collection offering
Distributed by Warner Home Video, Inc., 2004
4 DVDs, Color, run time approx. 676 mins.

A Fan's Review by Lyle P. Blosser, © 2004.

Let me start by echoing the sentiments of the many Jonny Quest fans all over the globe:I've been waiting for something like this for a very long time! Video tapes and laser discs of about half of the 26 season one episodes of Jonny Quest have been available for quite a while, but to have the complete series in a single package such as this is very much appreciated by this long-time fan. The boxed set of 4 DVD discs is a wonderful release which I'm very glad to have in hand, and I'm sure it will be thoroughly enjoyed by legions of fans worldwide -- in every place the Quests visited, and then some. Fans of the show -- what are you waiting for? Buy this now!

I unhesitatingly recommend this collection; fans and students of the genre will not be disappointed. There are a few points (which I'll discuss below) which keep me from giving the maximum "100 percent satisfied" rating to this long-awaited release; but even with those issues, I still give it a rating in the 90s. For a rating reference, I would give a 50 if the package simply had all the episodes present, presented in a typical medium-quality video tape sleeve equivalent with picture and sound quality equal to the broadcast television over which the show was originally seen. I've added points for the excellent visual and auditory quality, creative packaging and presentation, and superb additional features. More on each of these in the text below.

Packaging

The packaging is visually appealing; bright and colorful and very creatively done. The design team that came up with this presentation has every reason to be proud of their accomplishments.

I have a few minor gripes, however. These aren't serious flaws by any stretch of the imagination, but deserve to be mentioned, if only in passing.
  1. The outer cover wrapping the inner fold-out book typically seen in multi-disc packages is a flimsy plastic shell. It's a bit tough to remove the inner packaging from this shell without damaging it. And it's hard to replace the inner packaging back into the shell. I think a more sturdy cardboard sleeve in which the inner packaging slid in and out of smoothly would've been better.
  2. I don't know if it's a production flaw or not, but the outer cover's images don't line up directly over the inner images as I expected them to. The images in my copy of the package are offset by about 2 millimeters, giving a kind of 3-D effect. It's actually kinda cool, once you get over the surprise of seeing it. The sample images I've seen at various sites on the web don't show this, making me think it was not planned. Follow this link to see what I'm talking about.
  3. The images on the front of the package are not based on models from the 1964-65 edition of the show. They're the "modernized" models used for the 1986-87 edition instead. These images are not as visually pleasing as the classic Doug Wildey-produced images would've been. (Note: Personal bias showing. Your mileage may vary.)

I was pleased with the verbiage on the back-cover; a fitting introduction to the package as a whole. I was also happy that a Doug Wildey-drawn image (which was originally offered as the design on a T-shirt promotion by Comico comic books) is shown. Compare the back and front images, and you'll see what could have been -- they should've (in my humble opinion) reversed the locations of the images (back image on the front and front image on the back).
Select the following links to see an image of the back cover and the package's spine, which features a prominent number "1" at the top. Does this mean more Jonny Quest season collections are planned?

Also nicely done were the inner "booklet" packaging and the discs themselves. The packaging lists the episodes on each disc, and includes a grouping of striking images from the episodes contained on that particular disc. The discs are imprinted with large character model images, and when you remove each disc, there's a character head model image underneath. Nice touches, all.

Select the following links to see images of the inner booklet pages; I'll leave the discs and disc holder pages as a surprise for collectors.
inside front cover
inside back cover
disc 1 contents page
disc 2 contents page
disc 3 contents page
disc 4 contents page

The episodes

There's much to like here. The episodes are presented in broadcast rather than production order, so fans can watch them as they were first broadcast. The title cards for each episode (some of which have been missing from recent re-broadcasts of the show) have been restored. The colors are just brilliant -- I think that the quality seen here is actually better than we saw it in the original broadcasts! Images are crisp and clear, with a minimum of the "fuzz" sometimes seen in other film to DVD transfers. There are a few spots with scratches and other imperfections present, but thankfully these are not extremely numerous or distracting. The sound quality also does not disappoint, making for an all-around enjoyable experience. These episodes are the heart and soul of the collection and it's good to know they're all finally available to fans of the show.

One fairly major nit to pick here: Afficianados of the show will discover that the correct end credits for all of the episodes are not presented here. It appears that the credits for the "Pursuit of the Po-Ho" episode were used for all the episodes. This is unfortunate, bordering on tragic (since the Doug Wildey signature/logo credit is missing), and is the biggest disappointment of the entire package.

How great it would have been to have the true credits restored -- this collection would truly have been the definitive Jonny Quest collection, worthy of the show's legacy. It's probably too much to hope for a revised edition, but if any of the powers-that-be out there are reading this, please consider fixing this if a re-release or re-printing of the collection is to take place!

The Special Features

A lot to like here, too! A lot of care was given in creating these extras, and the affection of the producers for the show is obvious. Well done! Below is a listing of the extra features (all on disc 4) with a few brief comments from yours truly.
  1. Double Danger: Special Version of This Episode with Quest Files: Fun, Facts, and Trivia (run time 25:16)
    The first produced episode, with informational nuggets popping up frequently at the bottom of the screen. Well written and interesting; and done with a touch of humor. While I already knew most of the information, I was surprised by several bits which I did not know! How cool is that? Plus, this edition has restored the actual correct end credits for the episode, including the famous Doug Wildey signature/logo. A shame the rest of the episodes didn't follow suit.
  2. Jonny Quest: Adventures in Animation (run time 15:30)
    This fascinating featurette used commentary from a number of well- and lesser-known persons from the world of animation, including Steve Rude, Lance Falk, Alex Ross, and more. Very interesting to hear their takes on how JQ changed the world of cartoons and, in some cases, their own careers. These guys are big fans of our favorite 'toon, and it shows. The interspersed episode clips that illustrate the topic being discussed rounded out this segment perfectly.
  3. Jonny Quest Video Handbook (run time 18:19)
    This section contained a number of menu selections covering the heroes, villains, allies, locations, and vehicles seen on the show, all illustrated with appropriate clips and narrations. Another nicely done feature!
  4. P.F. Flyer Sneaker Commercial (original spot run time :30)
    A much-anticipated inclusion in this DVD set, surprisingly presented in color! I had originally thought the spot was created in black-and-white (a clip once shown on the Cartoon Network website showed it in B&W). A real blast from the past for all you original fans out there! I wonder if I can find a pair of those sneakers...

Menus and Operations

Basic menu selections are available to choose the episode or feature desired, as is a "play all" option. I can't think of anything I'd really consider needing fixing; the episodes themselves are short enough that "scene selections" are not needed, nor are the more sophisticated "pan-and-scan" or "camera angle" features seen in theatrical productions. The motif of showing the menus as part of the vertol-jet instrument panel was a nice touch, too.

Summary

A quite enjoyable experience; restoring a presence that's been sorely missed for years. A few technical glitches stop this from being the absolute perfect DVD package, but I still highly recommend it, especially for fans who simply want to enjoy seeing the episodes again. Some of the adventures have not been seen for nearly 40 years, and it's high time they were generally available. Kudos and thanks to Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. for making this happen!






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