seawasp (seawasp) wrote,

Jonny Quest and Mighty Max!

We've been re-watching the original Jonny Quest episodes. This was a pretty fun show, and given the 40+ years since, there's other aspects of it that become even more fun to watch.

One of the REALLY different aspects of it, compared to other cartoons -- and even to a lot of the prime-time TV shows shown in the 80s, for that matter -- is the body count. I have NO IDEA how many people Jonny himself has killed; I counted at least three in one episode. Race Bannon SLAUGHTERS people (in one episode, he wipes out a whole jeepload of baddies by deliberately tossing a live grenade into the vehicle) wholesale.

It is also very hard to ignore the implications that Race and Dr. Quest are LOT closer than just employer and employee, or even just regular friends.

One really nice thing about this series is that Jonny and Hadji are clearly still KIDS. They do really well when on their own, but they are still not matching the adults one-on-one (at least, the competent adults, rather than the cannon fodder that exist to be humiliated and killed like flies).

Seeing the old Jonny Quest episodes has made me remember an unfairly-forgotten OTHER blond boy hero.

Originally inspired by some rather clunky toy sets, Mighty Max may have been the most clever kid's cartoon I ever saw produced here. Featuring Max, wisecracking young kid saddled with a magical transdimensional key in the shape of a baseball cap, and assisted by the ancient avian sage Virgil and the immortal warrior Norman, Max dealt with world-threatening monsters and madmen every episode, adversaries usually sent or manipulated by the demonic Skullmaster (voiced by the incomparable Tim Curry), who wants the Key for himself (so that he can rule the universe, naturally. We know how that goes). Max was a sort of kid version of MacGyver combined with Dennis the Menace, in a world where adults could actually be sensible; his mother is a sort of modern Indiana Jones who may worry about her kid, but doesn't waste time trying to fight against his destiny to be "The Mighty One" (a title uttered in all seriousness by both Virgil and Norman, despite Max's small stature and lack of reverence for the whole situation). While not coming close to the body count of Jonny Quest, the show still tried to maintain some of the seriousness of the threats that Max faced, and did so with cleverness and humor and sometimes even scientific and geographic accuracy. (oversimplified, but still much better than in many other shows.)

Speaking of accuracy, this is one of the hysterical parts of watching the old Jonny Quest: the stereotypes and simply WRONG depictions of other parts of the world and other people. They're so wrong, in fact, that they're just plain funny. (For instance, Bavarian-style castles in places as far separated as Norway and Tibet, or Pteranodons "extinct for a million years" who take multiple hits from a bazooka, and who are capable of picking up and carrying men and vehicles, or... well, it's just REALLY FUNNY.)

Sadly, though the original Jonny Quest is available on DVD, neither the new adventures of Jonny Quest (the Cartoon Network version), nor Mighty Max, is available today...
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