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TV REVIEW : Animated Jonny Returns in 'Golden Quest'

April 09, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

"Jonny's Golden Quest," a two-hour animated movie-for-television airing on the USA Network (at 10 a.m. today and Saturday at 1 p.m.), brings back the popular cartoon figures Jonny Quest; his father, Dr. Benton Quest; Hadji, his East Indian pal; their bodyguard, Race Bannon, and their miniature bulldog, Bandit, in a new adventure so far-fetched it makes the original series look like a docudrama.

"The Adventures of Jonny Quest" debuted in prime time in 1964, and played on Saturday morning through 1981. One of TV's first animated adventure programs, "Jonny Quest" pitted its scientist-heroes against an assortment of mad scientists, werewolves and abominable snowmen.

The new version has been thoroughly Indiana Jones-ified, and the Quest Team uses more high-tech gadgets than Batman--laser guns, flying boogie boards, scooters, vans, a memory projector, a "Star Trek"-style talking computer, etc. Jonny and his friends use this arsenal to fight Dr. Zin, a Ming the Merciless type who's devised a convoluted scheme involving clones, "replicant" monsters and a stolen formula for synthesizing gold.

Computer animation enables directors Don Lusk and Paul Sommer to include images of moving machinery and tracking shots in perspective, but these showy visuals can't disguise the basic silliness of the sprawling plot.

Writers Mark Young and Sean Roche have have added female characters to the previously all-male cast: Race's ex-wife, Jade Kenyon; Jessie, a spunky adolescent love interest for Jonny; and Jonny's mother, "world-ranked biologist" Rachel Quest. Rachel's murder by Zin is treated with an appalling lack of sensitivity, although the filmmakers try to compensate with a leaden subplot about Jonny and his father being unable to communicate.

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