The series was originally part of a series of shorts on Cartoon Network's animation showcase series World Premiere Toons (also known as the The What a Cartoon! Show.) The popularity of the shorts led to the network commissioning a full series for the show, which premiered on July 14, 1997. The series was renewed for multiple following seasons and finally ended its official run on August 27, 2004.
The series was the second series to be spun from World Premiere Toons, and is the second series under Cartoon Cartoons (a collective name for early Cartoon Network original series). A spin-off of the series, JBVO, was unsuccessful and ran for one season. Many of the writers and directors on the series went on to become famous for their own projects (writer Seth MacFarlane for Family Guy and writer/director Butch Hartman for The Fairly OddParents). Johnny Bravo is today considered a classic Cartoon Network series, the title character is labeled as "iconic", and his catchphrases (including "Wooaahh, Mama!") are relatively common in popular culture. Reruns of the show are played on Boomerang.
An television movie titled Johnny Bravo Goes To Bollywood was made and aired in India in 2009, and in August 2010 in the United Kingdom. A 70-minute movie with the same title aired in Australia on November 20, 2011.
As of March 30, 2012, this series has returned to Cartoon Network in re-runs on the revived block, Cartoon Planet.
The series takes its roots from a senior thesis project creator Van Partible did for Loyola Marymount University, about an Elvis Presley impersonator. Mess O' Blues (1993) was shown by Partible's animation professor at the college to a friend working for Hanna-Barbera Cartoons at the time. The studio loved the film and asked him to develop it into a pitch for a seven-minute short. Partible sold the project to Hanna-Barbera shortly afterward. The short would be aired on Cartoon Network's new animation showcase, World Premiere Toons. Also known as the What a Cartoon! Show, the series' short cartoons (three per half-hour episode) mirrored the structure of a theatrical cartoon, with each film being based on an original storyboard drawn and written by its artist/creator.
Partible initially roomed with Craig McCracken (creator of The Powerpuff Girls), Paul Rudish (a designer on that series) and Genndy Tartakovsky (creator of Dexter's Laboratory.) The only two cartoonists fresh out of college were Partible and Seth MacFarlane. Partible changed his character from Mess O' Blues around so that "he would be more of this '50s iconic James Dean-looking character that talked like Elvis". Partible picked voice actor Jeff Bennett to play Johnny Bravo solely based on his young, hyped Elvis impression.
The short, Johnny Bravo, premiered on World Premiere Toons on March 26, 1995, and involved Johnny trying to score with a zookeeper girl by capturing a runaway gorilla. Partible, with a small team of animators, animated the short themselves in-house at Hanna-Barbera using digital ink and paint (the latter shorts and seasons 1 and early season 2 of the series would instead use the traditional ink and paint and film camera.) Two more shorts on the program followed (Jungle Boy in "Mr. Monkeyman", and Johnny Bravo and the Amazon Women) and the shorts were so popular that Cartoon Network commissioned a first season of series based around Johnny Bravo, consisting of 13 episodes.
The crew of the first season of Johnny Bravo consisted of several writers, animators, and directors from World Premiere Toons, including the aforementioned MacFarlane and Hartman, Steve Marmel, and John McIntyre. Veteran cartoonist and animation legend Joseph Barbera was also a creative consultant and a mentor for the first season of the series. Partible stated in a 1997 interview that the goal of the series was to have "animation reminiscent of the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons".
The series premiered on July 14, 1997 and the first season completed in December of that year. The series was put on hiatus, until it was picked up for an unexpected second season in 1999. During that season, the show undertook a major creative re-tooling, in which new characters were introduced, re-designs of characters with new personalities were prevalent, and the tone and humor of the show changed considerably. Some of the changes the show experienced during the re-tooled version were the heavy emphasis on Johnny's stupidity, the removal of the Jungle Boy characters and new catchphrases. Most viewers did not take kindly to the changes while others thought the show greatly improved and took off with a slapstick style. The show kept this format until the series' third season ended in 2002. 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). The show was cancelled officially in late 2004. Reruns premiered on Cartoon Network's sister network Boomerang and the series returned for a short time to Cartoon Network in November 2009.
Today, the series is often labeled a classic of the late 1990s Cartoon Network cartoons (the collective Cartoon Cartoons). For a short time, a live-action film starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in the title role was rumored to be in production. The catchphrases of the show are relatively common in popular culture. After the series ended in 2004, The #5 Kellogg's Chevrolet was given a special paint scheme with Johnny Bravo on the hood. It was driven by Kyle Busch in the 2005 Sharpie 500 NASCAR race. 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.||”|
A large majority of the show's creative team has gone on to create many successful television series throughout the 1990s and 2000s (decade), most notably writer Seth MacFarlane, who is the 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.
The show is currently airing on Boomerang every Saturday & Sunday at 10:00 PM EST And all week long at 9:00/9:30 PM EST.
In 2009, IGN ranked Johnny Bravo #71 for its Top 100 Animated Series list.
- Johnny Bravo (voiced by Jeff Bennett and Marc Silk impersonating Elvis Presley) — The muscular main protagonist of the series. His middle name was rumored to be Boston. He has incredibly narcissistic and dim-witted traits, though still hardly the only questionable figure in town, which lead to a severely incorrigible inability to attract women, becoming a running gag throughout the series. He claims to dislike his "best friend", Carl Chryniszzswics. The inspiration for Johnny may be as a male representation of the "dumb blonde", being as he usually is the clueless butt-of-the-joke, with the notable exception during Cartoon Network The 1st 13th Annual Fancy Anvil Awards Show Program Special: Live in Stereo, during which Johnny served as the host and was very witty and suave. The character is memorable for his incredibly quick movements (usually done while trying to impress women), which were accompanied by the loud crack of a whip sound effect. Johnny's catch phrases are "She wants me!" and "Wooaahh Mama!" after women beat him up for refusing to leave them alone. He dresses in a skin tight black t-shirt and blue jeans. Three running gags are his trademark sunglasses, which he always wears, never revealing his eyes; breaking the fourth wall and Johnny being beaten up by women, who reject him. The name "Johnny Bravo" dates back to an episode of The Cheyenne Show, and was also Greg Brady's would-be stage name in an episode of The Brady Bunch. However, Van Partible stated in an interview for Cartoon Network that he also derived the name from his full given name, "Efrem Giovanni Bravo Partible." It has also been said that his birthday is on Valentine's Day and he likes Kung-Fu chick shows. When voicing Johnny Bravo, Jeff Bennett made his voice sound like that of Elvis Presley.
- Bunny "Momma" Bravo (voiced by Brenda Vaccaro) — Johnny's mother. She has had a lively past and sometimes reveals a surprising hidden talent. The show's original format portrays her as a calm, nurturing woman, but was made into a louder, more extroverted character once the show was retooled. She's very dedicated to her son, but as a result of her awareness of his low intellect and womanizer attitude, does not always treat him and his problems seriously. Like Johnny, Bunny has her own trademark sunglasses which always cover her eyes. Bunny hopes that Johnny will find that special someone he's been looking for. Bunny is mostly referred in the show as "Momma" by Johnny, who pronounces it in an Elvis-esque manner.
- Little Suzy (voiced by Mae Whitman as a child and Pat Musick as an adult) — A little red-haired, intelligent girl from the neighborhood (often called "Little Neighbor girl" by Johnny), who is very cunning and talkative. In many episodes, Suzy is shown to have a major crush on Johnny (although the feeling is not mutual). Her parents were never shown, but she is often shown to be related to big time celebrities. For example, it was revealed in an episode during her birthday that Farrah Fawcett is her cousin. She also has a crush on an 8-year-old country music singer Lonnie Dash. In the early series, Suzy was more of a cute-type character with a round head, while in the retooled series, she is thin-looking and more grown up. Suzy has many interests (such as selling lemonade and participating in the Buttercup Scouts) and has proven to be very successful in most of those interests. It is very obvious that Johnny finds Suzy annoying as he won't even go to her birthday parties or school dances.
- Carl Chryniszzswics (voiced by Tom Kenny) — A local nerd, also known as Carl Shocker, considered by many (especially Johnny) to be extremely annoying. He is Johnny's "best friend". He is a local genius and geek, who is very intelligent, but somewhat eccentric and timid. He was introduced after the show's retooling following the end of the first season, and seems to be Johnny's only friend, although Johnny often denies that. Carl sometimes uses Johnny for his experiments' sake. Carl really likes Johnny and he continues to hang out with him, even after all of the mean things that Johnny does to Carl and says about him. Carl remained in the show after the return to the original style, but was relegated to smaller roles.
- Pops (voiced by Larry Drake) — The greedy owner of a local diner. He often gives tips and advice to Johnny; however, his advice often turns out to be useless, sometimes provoking trouble for Johnny. His diner's chili is made from rather suspicious ingredients and he serves food made from many animals, such as possums, pandas, cougars, seals, horses, and bald eagles. Like Carl, Pops was introduced in season two after the show's drastic retooling and remained even after the return to the original format, although he was relegated to brief cameo roles.
- Master Hamma (voiced by Brian Tochi) — A Japanese martial arts instructor. Johnny has taken, and failed, several of his martial arts classes and frequently ruins Hamma's life trying to learn his lessons. Like Carl and Pops, Master Hamma was introduced after the series was retooled. His rival is another martial arts instructor named Panteen Claw who has a daughter named Ting.
- Jungle Boy (voiced by Cody Dorkin) — A little boy with incredible strength, who lived in the jungle with talking animals (similar to Tarzan). He shares a bitter rivalry with King Raymond (voiced by Mark Hamill, similar to Kerchak). His appearances on the series were short-lived and he and the other animals were removed from the show after Season 1.
The series had many recognizable hallmarks, whether it is running gags or the humor revolving around Bravo's bravado itself.
Pop culture references
The series was abounding in pop culture references. The original short that preceded the series, Mess O' Blues, was based around an Elvis Presley impersonator. Johnny Bravo lives in "Aron City". Aron was Elvis Presley's middle name. Even from the first season, creator Van Partible intended for the show’s middle segment to be a form of "Johnny Bravo Meets...", intended as a parody of The New Scooby-Doo Movies. An entire episode of the first season of the show is based around homages to "The Twilight Zone’’ (or, as the show dubs it, The Zone, Where Normal Things Don't Happen Very Often.) In that episode, which consisted of three Twilight Zone parodies, opened and closed by the words of a narrator, and would consist of Johnny encountering something strange, for example, being at the mercy of a boy who can seemingly alter reality at will, or fighting a personal war with a clown trying to damage a plane's wing (only to discover he was one of two clowns kept to "balance" the plane) - the episode also included a talking doll that attempted to commit murder.
Johnny makes a references to Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, in an episode when he enters a bar announcing, "Heeeeerrreeee's Johnny!"
Johnny sings the first few lines of the Depeche Mode song "Just Can't Get Enough" in "A Johnny Bravo Christmas", as well as several other songs, films, and other TV shows. Also in the intro video the text "Johnny Bravo" can be seen written in the same font and style as the Back to the Future logo. As a testament to the show's pop culture references (which lasted for the show's entire seven-year long run), one of the Village People can be seen in the background of "The Island of Beautiful Men" in the series’ third pilot episode, Johnny Bravo and the Amazon Women.
The episode "The Hunk At The End of This Cartoon" is a direct parody of the 1971 book "The Monster at the End of This Book".
In the episode "A Johnny Bravo Christmas", a male pilot is named "Shirley". A reference to the famous joke in the film "Airplane!"
In "Chain Gang Johnny", the warden twice references a famous line from the movie "Cool Hand Luke"
Much of the humor of the series revolves around the antics and dimwitted-ness of Johnny himself. The entire series revolves around Bravo's undying desire to go on a date with a woman, and most women beat him up when he asks them. In turn, Bravo asks them in a very confident, almost cocky manner. Johnny also has been seen to do absurd things just to see a woman. Though narcissistic, Johnny has a relatively innocent nature, which, in conjunction with his lack of intelligence, can occasionally land him in the middle of others' dastardly plots (where he often remains oblivious even as they unfold). When Johnny enjoys something, usually something he tastes or sees, he often exclaims enjoyment by saying, "Mmm, (object)-y!" This joke was introduced and was most prevalent in the second season. This is similar to one of Homer Simpson and Pee-wee Herman's catch phrases.
Sly adult humor is found in many early episodes of the show. In one episode, when Little 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."
The series has had numerous guest stars, which include: Don Knotts, Jessica Biel, Alec Baldwin, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Rick Springfield, Luke Perry, Farrah Fawcett, Vendela Kirsebom, Adam West, Dionne Warwick, Jack Sheldon, Mick Jagger, Richard Simmons, Joey McIntyre, Mr. T, Mark Hamill, Shaquille O'Neal, Donny Osmond, Seth Green, Allyce Beasley, Curtis Armstrong, Chuck D, Jeffrey Tambor, Tia Carrere, and Laraine Newman. Initially, the goal of the first season of the show was to have popular 1970s icons (such as Osmond and Fawcett) to appear on the "Johnny Bravo Meets..." middle segment of the show, but guest stars were used informally after the second season began.
The episode[which?] featuring Adam West inspired Seth MacFarlane, who also wrote the episode, to incorporate a similar character into Family Guy. Other, more famous Hanna-Barbera characters have appeared in Johnny Bravo Episodes, including the cast of Scooby-Doo, Speed Buggy, Jabberjaw, Fred Flintstone, Yogi Bear, The Blue Falcon, Black Widow, and Huckleberry Hound.
JBVO: Your All Request Cartoon Show
JBVO: Your All Request Cartoon Show was a short-lived television series on Cartoon Network. The series aired on Sundays 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 in to 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 in 2005 and 2006 in 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/phone calls. Copyrigh: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Bravo