Review of "Jonny Quest: The Complete First Season" DVD Collection
By Craig Fuqua, © 2004 and 2006
Trust me, the DVD set is well-worth the wait and the price. Buy it now! It looks like the digital masters created by Turner Entertainment around 1996 were used for this set, which is great in terms of picture quality. Beautiful colors. You just don't realize how much purple was worn back then until you watch these old JQs! <g>
JQ fans will be happy with the packaging, which indicates a lot of effort on Warner Brothers' part. Pics are pulled from many different episodes and from a few publicity stills.
I'm very impressed with the special features on Disc 4, particularly with the "Jonny Quest Video Handbook" and its short subjects on the villains, locales, gadgets, each main character and so on. A lot of research and editing went into these pieces, and it shows the producers respected the series and wanted to honor it.
I was extremely surprised by the P.F. Flyers commercial ... it's in color! I'd only seen it in B&W before, and had read or was told that the commercial was filmed in B&W.
My critique tends to focus on the short-comings of the disks, but keep in mind as you read this, I'm very, very happy with the DVD set overall.
There are a few faults with the set that are part of the Turner masters shown on cable channels like Boomerang, but here's a major one: series creator Doug Wildey is not mentioned in the end credits for 25 of the 26 shows. The credits for "Pursuit of the Po-Ho" are used for all episodes except "Double Danger." "Po-Ho" is the only episode on which Wildey doesn't receive a credit. Also, Don Messick isn't listed with the main cast, even though he voiced Dr. Quest for 20 episodes. Obviously, this doesn't interfere with the enjoyment of the shows themselves, and the casual fan won't notice it.
A few of the stories also suffer from some severe "telecine wobble," notably the pilot, "The Mystery of the Lizard Men." You can get sea-sick on the dry-land scenes! The wobble is present in the 1986 syndication package, so either the same positive was used or the original negative stock was flawed or non-standard. You can see the wobble in the 1964 ABC preview in the lab scene, but it's hard to tell whether that transfer was just as bad. (Telecine is the most common process for videotaping filmed material.) There's also some bad wobble in "Pursuit of the Po-Ho."
This release undoes some of the faults in the Boomerang copies. The title card for "Mystery of the Lizard Men" and the title and opening pan for "Arctic Splashdown" are on the DVD. Finally, the episodes aren't time-compressed to 24 minutes, as they are on Boomerang, and the fade-outs and -ins for the commercial breaks between Acts 2 and 3 aren't blended together.
Two of the episodes have been censored for objectionable content -- for the first time since the 1970s, as far as I can tell. "Pursuit of the Po-Ho" and "Monster in the Monastery" both had lines cut from the English dialog. Censorship details.
For many, this will be the first chance to hear the Spanish versions of the audio tracks. They have the same sound effects and music as the English versions, meaning that audio layer existed separately. Be sure to listen to the voice-over during the main titles. "y Bandito!"
The stories are presented in broadcast order at their original runtimes of approximately 25:15, with seven each on Discs 1-3. The rest of the shows and all of the extras are on Disc 4.
I don't believe there are any Easter eggs on the DVDs, but if you browse the disks on your computer, you'll find some pictures and still videos of the cover art and the JQ logo on each disc. I can't tell what they're for.
I may be the only one bothered, but the Special Features on Disk 4 include a special presentation of "Double Danger" as "the first episode produced." While it's true this episode has the first production code of the series (Z-1) and was the first voice-recorded, the fact that it was the ninth episode shown indicates the animation wasn't finished until after the pilot, "The Mystery of the Lizard Men."
Warner Bros., if you're intending to re-release Jonny Quest on HD-DVD, please restore the original end credits to each episode, add the "bumpers" for the commercials breaks on at least one episode, apply some video-stabilization, and don't monkey (heathen or otherwise) with the dialog.
An R-2, NTSC, edition of the Jonny Quest DVD set was released in Japan on Nov. 19, 2004. Unlike the U.S. version, the disks were issued in individual keep-cases, with artwork much like the rare North American keep-case set. Exceptions being the addition of Japanese text, a different background color for the front-cover "explosion" art on each case, and a picture of a different character figure on each spine. There's also a nifty "J.Q." logo on the covers and spines.
The censored dialog is still missing on the English audio track, but not on the Japanese or Portuguese tracks or subtitles. Warner Bros. corrected a fault in the U.S. edits by finally removing Race's "ignorant savages" and "heathen monkeys" lines from the English subtitles on the Japanese set.
The special features are subtitled, but not dubbed, in Japanese.
Technical Details - U.S. Release
Suggested retail price: $64.92 $39.98
Street Date: May 11, 2004
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
DVD Regions: 1, 3 and 4 (these are the readings from the software DVD player on my computer)
Region 1: U.S., Canada, U.S. Territories
Region 3: Southeast Asia and East Asia (including Hong Kong)
Region 4: Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Central America, Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean
More details on DVD regions.
(No indication yet that the set has been released in PAL video format.)
Technical Details - Japan Release
Suggested retail price: 8,000 Yen
Street Date: Nov. 19, 2004
Languages: English, Japanese, Portuguese
Subtitles: English, Japanese, Portuguese
DVD Region: 2
Region 2: Japan, Europe, Middle East, South Africa
More details on DVD regions.
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