Johnny Bravo is an American animated television series created by Van Partible for Cartoon Network, and the second of the network's Cartoon Cartoons. The series centers on the title character, a muscular and boorish young man who tries to get women to date him, though he is usually unsuccessful. He ends up in bizarre situations and predicaments, often accompanied by celebrity guest characters such as Adam West or Donny Osmond. Pop culture references and sly adult-oriented jokes comprise much of the show's humor.
Partible pitched the series to Hanna-Barbera's animation showcase What a Cartoon!, basing it on his senior thesis project he produced while attending Loyola Marymount University. A pilot short aired on Cartoon Network in 1995, and was followed by two more shorts; the popularity of the shorts led to the network commissioning a half-hour series, which premiered on July 14, 1997. The series was renewed for a second season in 1999, during which Partible left and the show was retooled under the direction of Kirk Tingblad. In 2003, Partible returned to the series for a fourth season, restoring it to its original format and style. It ended on August 27, 2004, with a total of four seasons and 67 episodes.
Johnny Bravo the series was nominated for 4 Annie Awards, 1 YoungStar Award, and 2 Golden Reel Awards. The series is notable for helping launch the careers of several cartoonists, including Seth MacFarlane and Butch Hartman. Spin-off media include comic books, DVD and VHS releases, collectible toys, and video games.
The series centers on Johnny Bravo (voiced by Jeff Bennett), a muscular, boorish, and dimwitted self-proclaimed womanizer with a pompadour hairstyle and an Elvis-like voice. The series is set in Aron City, (a nod to Elvis Presley's middle name). Episodes typically revolve around him trying to get a woman to go on a date with him, though his advances are usually rejected and result in the woman in question causing him harm in a comedic way. Johnny's companions are Bunny "Momma" Bravo (Brenda Vaccaro), his lively, extroverted mother; and Little Suzy (Mae Whitman), a talkative and intelligent little girl from the neighborhood who has a crush on Johnny.
Recurring characters in the series include Carl Chryniszzswics (Tom Kenny), an eccentric and timid nerd who idolizes Johnny despite being bullied by him; Pops (Larry Drake), the greedy owner of the local diner who provides advice to Johnny; Master Hamma (Brian Tochi), a Japanese martial arts instructor who teaches Johnny; Donny Osmond (himself), a cheery and optimistic teen idol who irritates Johnny; and Jungle Boy (Cody Dorkin), a little boy who resides in the jungle with talking animals and possesses incredible strength.
Much of the series' humor is derived from celebrity guest star appearances and references to popular culture. For example; one episode of the first season is based around homages to The Twilight Zone, and in another episode, one of the Village People can be seen in the background. The series has had numerous guest stars, including Adam West, Shaquille O'Neal, Seth Green, and Donny Osmond. In the first season, creator Van Partible intended for the show's middle segment to be a form of "Johnny Bravo Meets...", a parody of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, which would features appearances from popular 1970s icons, but guest stars were used informally after the second season began. Many Hanna-Barbera characters had cameo appearances in the series, including the cast of Scooby-Doo, Speed Buggy, Jabberjaw, Fred Flintstone, Yogi Bear, The Blue Falcon, Black Widow, and Huckleberry Hound.
Adult humor is found in many episodes of the show. In one episode, when Suzy calls Johnny to ask if he wants to come over, Johnny nonchalantly tells her to "[call] back in 15 years when [she is] a co-ed." In regard to the adult humor, Butch Hartman stated "...being concerned with the content of the episodes wasn't our main focus", and creator Van Partible remembers that "No one was really watching Cartoon Network [...] As far as content, they were pretty lenient on all the kind of things that were going on."
While attending Loyola Marymount University, Van Partible produced his senior thesis project Mess O' Blues (1993), an animated short film about an Elvis Presley impersonator. Partible's animation professor showed the film to a friend who worked for Hanna-Barbera, and the studio loved the film. They asked Partible to develop it into a pitch for a seven-minute short, prompting him to sell the project to Hanna-Barbera.
For the new short, Partible revised his main character from Mess O' Blues, renaming him "Johnny Bravo" and making him "this '50s iconic James Dean-looking character that talked like Elvis." Voice actor Jeff Bennett was cast as Johnny, based solely on his young, hyped Elvis impression. Partible, with a small team of animators, animated the short themselves in-house at Hanna-Barbera using digital ink and paint.
The short, titled Johnny Bravo, was aired on Cartoon Network's animation showcase, World Premiere Toons, on March 26, 1995. Two more shorts followed: Jungle Boy in "Mr. Monkeyman" and Johnny Bravo and the Amazon Women.
The popularity of the shorts led to Cartoon Network commissioning a first season of Johnny Bravo, consisting of 13 episodes. The crew of the first season consisted of several writers, animators, and directors from World Premiere Toons, including Seth MacFarlane, Butch Hartman, Steve Marmel, and John McIntyre. Veteran animator Joseph Barbera also served as a creative consultant and mentor for the first season. Partible stated in a 1997 interview that the goal of the series was to have "animation reminiscent of the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons".
Johnny Bravo premiered on July 14, 1997, and the first season completed production in December of that year.
After the first season, Johnny Bravo was put on hiatus, until it was picked up for an unexpected second season in 1999. Van Partible left production and Kirk Tingblad took over as director, leading to a major retooling in the show's visual style, tone, humor, and characters. The show retained this format for the third season.
The series sat in limbo once again until it was renewed for a fourth season in 2003, which aired in 2004. The final season of the series returned to the humor of the original shorts and first season of the series, although the Jungle Boy characters from the first season never returned.
From September 15, 2005 to June 1, 2008, Johnny Bravo aired in reruns The Cartoon Cartoon Show, along with segments of other Cartoon Cartoons from that time period, including Dexter's Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls. In 2012, the series aired in reruns on the revived block Cartoon Planet until February 8, 2014 when the block was discontinued.
On January 21, 2008, the series began airing in reruns on Cartoon Network's sister channel Boomerang; the occasion was marked by a 3-hour Martin Luther King, Jr. Day marathon. Reruns of the series was removed from Boomerang on January 4, 2015 along with Ed Edd n Eddy and Dexter's Laboratory before the rebrand.
On the long lasting impact of the show, writer/director Butch Hartman states:
|When Johnny Bravo first came out, I don't think a lot of people didn't have high hopes for it, and I think it was really cool that prove exactly what kind of character he was. No one really thought it was going to go anywhere. Not only has it gone somewhere, it's actually still around, it's very iconic now, 15, 16 years later.||”|
The title character is considered "iconic", and his catchphrases are relatively common in popular culture.
The show's creative team went on to create many successful television series throughout the 1990s and 2000s, including writer Seth MacFarlane, creator of the popular animated series Family Guy. Shortly after the series' first season was completed, writer/director Butch Hartman left to work on Nickelodeon's Oh Yeah! Cartoons, from which those shorts spun off his own success, The Fairly OddParents. Steve Marmel, writer for Johnny Bravo, has been a producer and writer for The Fairly OddParents since its premiere in 2001. In addition to Johnny Bravo, director John McIntyre directed episodes of several other Cartoon Cartoons, and more recently served as a supervising director on Cartoon Network's original series The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack.
JBVO: Your All Request Cartoon Show is a short-lived programming block that aired Sundays on Cartoon Network from April 2, 2000, to May 21, 2001. It was hosted by Johnny Bravo, along with some infrequent guest stars such as Chicken (from Cow and Chicken). Callers would write into the show via mail or through the Cartoon Network website to call the show and request a cartoon from Cartoon Network's cartoon library, which would then be played, with an exception of half-hour-long shows. Notably, one caller of the show requested an episode of Dragon Ball Z. Being that it was a half-hour long, Johnny regretfully had to fast-forward through the entire episode with Johnny providing only expositional commentary. Afterward, Johnny apologized to the caller for the inconvenience.
There was also a similar spin-off of the JBVO concept itself entitled Viva Las Bravo, a summer block that aired from 2005 to 2006 on certain European variants of Cartoon Network. Every day Johnny would announce three cartoons, with the one getting the highest votes via email or on CartoonNetworkHQ.net would be shown for two hours the next day. He would also constantly appear in commercial breaks, cracking jokes or answering humorous emails and phone calls.
A video game titled Johnny Bravo In The Hukka Mega Mighty Ultra Extreme Date-O-Rama! was released on June 9, 2009 for the Nintendo DS and PlayStation 2. The PlayStation 2 version was released exclusively in Europe and Australia by Blast Entertainment, while the DS version was released in North America by MumboJumbo.
It was reported in 2002 that Warner Bros. had secured the rights for a live-action Johnny Bravo feature film "as a potential starring vehicle for Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson".However, no further developments regarding this project have been announced, although it's likely that Warner Bros. ceased the production of the film after the lackluster performance of The Powerpuff Girls Movie.
A TV movie, Johnny Bravo Goes to Bollywood, aired in 2011.
Warner Bros. stated in an interview that they are "...in conversations with Cartoon Network" for DVD collections of various cartoons, among which is Johnny Bravo in 2006.Johnny Bravo: Season 1, a two-disc set featuring the complete first season which contains all 13 episodes, was released by Madman Entertainment in Australia and New Zealand (Region 4) on October 10, 2007. On November 4, 2009, the complete second season was released. MVD Company Limited also released Season 1-5 in 2009.
A Region 1 release of the first season, with different cover art and new special features, was released by Warner Home Video on June 15, 2010. The release is first in an official release of several Cartoon Cartoons on DVD, under the "Cartoon Network Hall of Fame" name. The other three seasons have yet to be released, despite many requests from fans of the show and Cartoon Network.
The PlayStation 2 version of the video game Cartoon Network Racing contains the episodes "Doommates" and "Johnny's Telethon" as unlockable extras.