August 17, 2004

O.K. This is the Pops

Skads of uninteresting trivia and assorted nonsense before I take the rest of the week off from the blog to do actual work. See you next week!

Quests with Guns.jpg

Over the weekend, I picked up Jonny Quest: The Complete First Season (1964) for the five year old and, if truth be told, for his father as well. I loved the show as a kid, but aside from certain impressions, could hardly remember it -- unlike, say, Scooby Doo, many of whose plots I remembered quite vividly. One element of Jonny Quest I did recall was the end theme -- there's a sequence in which some people (more on that here) -- presumably Dr. Quest (Jonny's father) and Race Bannon (an agent assigned to act as Jonny's bodyguard) flee into their sleek airplane, the door sliding shut behind them just as spears rain down on the plane's skin. I always half expected the door to just as quickly slide open, and for Race to stand there with a machine gun, mowing down the natives. That didn't happen, but the episodes are far more violent than today's watered down cartoons.

The show was produced in 1964, but it definitely has a pre-Peace Corps feel, to say the least. In an episode involving South American aborigines, Race refers to them as "savages" several times (and not in the antiquated anthropoligical sense of the word -- a savage being someone dependent upon a hunter/gatherer economy as opposed to barbarians who had some agriculture or husbandry, right on up to civilized man living in cities) and "devils" at other points. So why would I expose the five year old to it?

It's one of the few action cartoons I know of that doesn't patronize children, making them either helpless buffoons or comic relief of lesser intelligence than the animal sidekicks. Jonny and his Indian pal Hadji are smart, resourceful, brave and tough. They respect adults, different cultures (Race's remarks notwithstanding), and are curious about the world around them (okay, their world includes volcanoes, living dinosaurs, gargoyles, World War I fighter planes, cavemen and Egyptian temples, but the point stands).

I could probably go on and on about the Dr. Benton Quest character -- a scientist who speaks obscure Amazonian languages and designs ray guns, the nearly all purpose expert not seen since the days of Athanasius Kircher, but instead I'll turn to the plot of one of the episodes, The Curse of Anubis, which was the five year old's favorite (it has a mummy in it!), the first one we watched. In it, Dr. Ahmed Karim, an Egyptian archaeologist plots a crime -- the theft of an idol of Anubis -- which he will pin on the Americans Benton Quest and Race Bannon. Here's a synopsis:

An Egyptian national who wanted to blame the theft of valuable archaeological finds on an infidel outsider to unite the Arab nations. Unwisely, he chose Dr. Quest to be that outsider. You think we would have known better, acquainted as he was with Dr. Quest (he even considered him an "old friend"!)

So let's see -- we have a man of totalitarian ideas using trumped up charges against outsiders to further his political agenda, while being fully aware that he himself is the true criminal. Hm. Can't imagine that happening anywhere in the world.

NOTE: Because I really don't have time this week for upkeep of the blog, I'm closing comments -- I've had a fair number of spammers lately, and dealing with them is a pain in the ass. I'll reopen ideofact for discussion when I start posting again...

Posted by Ideofact at August 17, 2004 12:30 AM