Saturday, January 28, 2012

Johnny Bravo: a review

I have very mixed feelings about "Johnny Bravo".
You can’t really discuss this series in one go as you’re talking about two shows.

The first season (Van Partible's evil creation)
Originally created by Van Partible, it was the weird cartoon that made the 8-year-old me cringe and change the channel. Yeah yeah. I'm sure there's plenty of people out there who are gonna say "But... That's when it was good! It was an extremely witty show with plenty of pop culture references, guest appearances and all those clever jokes that went straight over the kids' heads!" I'm sorry, but... 

Just no. It wasn't just the jokes, the entire show went over my head. I just don't get why that particular season gets praised for things that would be called a lazy approach in any other series. The jokes were artificial and repetitive. And speaking of repetitive, ever noticed how Johnny would repeat one phrase or a girl's name over and over again? (Farrah Fawcett, anyone?) The pop culture references were very lazily done. "Deus Ex Machina" wasn't just done to death, it was "how the show rolls".  And I'm guessing when a writer didn't know what to do with an episode, they went: "Oh, I know! We'll add talking animals!"

I've seen better writing in "Cow & Chicken". Which is another show that makes no sense, has talking animals in it, but is actually entertaining.

Also, then art style looked kind of muddy and unpolished.

Seasons two and three (Kirk Tingblad takes over)
To the best of my knowledge, it was Kirk who pretty much rebooted the show. (Seriously, that guy's my hero! And his other work is pretty awesome as well)

Not only was the show now much more pleasant to look at (wonderfully arranged vivid colours, crisp and bold lineart. Nicely-stylized characters, whose looks reflected their personalities. What's not to like?), we also started to see signs of effort story-wise. For once the show actually had some decent pre-production done for it. Somebody actually took time to think of the world around Johny instead of just treating it as a background. 

We got some fun background characters, the existing ones got more define personalities.
Now at this point someone might say: "Johnny became stupid, which made the show offensively dumb!" 

Erm... no. Johny was pretty damn stupid before! He was too self-centred and self-assured to let it show as much, that's all. And he was also very sexist. Now he became something like a young version Homer Simpson. Much more likable, if you ask me! In fact, if you watched the show for long enough you'd notice that he's not entirely stupid. He can drive, read road maps, I'm sure he knows plenty about body-building. I thought it was a nice touch that he isn't just more stupid than Carl, for example. They're just good at very different things and each have their own way to handle the other.

I also liked the fact that Johnny's mom became a much more believable woman (with an interesting past, I might add). And little Susie was no longer boring. Gotta love Pops as well and the way he always managed to use Johny without him knowing.

The stories became a lot more fun. I loved the fact that predicting what happens in the next episode became pretty much impossible - gangsters, aliens, monsters. It could all happen. And the locations started to vary drastically, too.

Season four ...and the show is cancelled! (Van Partible returns, escorted by his insidious legion of chimpanzees armed with typewriters) 
No offence to any of the writers, but have you even read your own scripts? I think the inspiration for such masterpieces must either come from insomnia and a bitter underpaid life, or some illegal substance. 
So, the characters were "flattened out" once again, the horrid art style came back... You know the drill. I don't care that Van Partible is the original creator. He's created a terrible show that's blossomed into one of my favourite cartoons of all time in his absence. Then he came back and ruined it. Nothing more needs to be said here.

So... let's split this thing in two and rate it!

Series name: Johnny Bravo (Van Partible's run)
Foxy's rating: the only rating I can give this thing is: "What have I just watched?"
Expectations: none for the first season, very disappointed by the 4th.
Writing: Weird, very cutesy. It seems every episode contained a valuable lesson, or at least a "d'aww" moment. I never understood why this kind of show should. I also think that the numerous references to the"Twilight Zone" were more of a creative short-cut than an actual reference. 
Animation: Alright. Though the art style's unpolished and dull
Action: Nothing outstanding.
Drama:  Meh. Normally it's something along the lines of Johnny panicking about disappointing his mom and her comforting him afterwards, saying she'll love him no matter what. 
Humour: Weird.... Every now and then an animal in a business suit shows up or something like that.  I'm guessing you're meant to laugh at all the odd bits.
Worth watching: To my mind all its tapes, scripts and other relevant material should be carefully boxed up into a thick titanium crate and sent to the Sun. But... I'm pretty biased, and I exaggerate, so don't let my angry rant stop you from checking it out.

The best episode:
Well... It certainly won't be:
"Wilderness Protection Program—An elk pretends that she and Johnny are married elephants because she's on the run from some people she thinks are a mob out to take over the world." I have seen it. It's as good as it sounds. Okay, okay. Here's my pick for the best episode:
"Bravo Dooby Doo". It's a Scooby Doo crossover, which seems notoriously difficult to mess up. Both are Hanna-Barbera shows. I'll even say I enjoyed it.

(You can find a list of every JB episode with a short synopsis here)

Series name: "Johnny Bravo" (the reboot)
Foxy's rating:
Expectations: Exceeded. Though I expected disappointment at first.
Writing: Unpredictable, great character interaction, much more adventurous.
Animation: Bold, vivid, fun to watch.
Action: There is some. Although it's a show revolving around character interaction, you can expect an odd explosion or two. Either way, it's not all just people sitting around and talking.
Drama: Although some characters get quite dramatic every now and then, it's all for the viewers's amusement and never serious. You aren't forced to feel sorry for the character you've just been laughing at, nobody's trying to shove a supposedly valuable lesson down your throat. And the best part is, as a general rule, if there are any "D'aww" moments, they will have one hell of a twist.
Humour: "Dumb" show written by clever people. The scene in which Carl claims that a walnut and a glass of water that was powering his environmentally-friendly car is "the same energy that powers the Sun" is a good example. They've pretty much said: "nobody cares about technobabble." And there's still plenty of pop culture references floating around. This time they're actually funny.
Worth watching: Yes! In fact, I will take it as a personal insult if you're an animation fan and don't check out "Johnny Bravo" seasons 2 and 3.

The best episode:
Oh wow, now you're asking! Erm... This one!
"I Dream Of Johnny—Johnny goes to an Arab Convention with Carl, and finds a genie, that will grant him 3 wishes."
I would have suggested "Prep School Johnny", but I know it's gonna get an instant hate reaction from anyone British who despises any and all American attempts to re-produce something British, either in film or animation. Then again, "Get Stinky" is quite good as well! And "Full Metal Johnny". Gotta love sergant Trixie. Bah! just go here, pick an episode from seasons 2 or 3 that seems interesting and try to find the video!

Fan Love!
A cute wallpaper. I'm not sure I like the blurry/fuzzy effects effects, but all in all, there's just something nice about this image
A painting. For fans of the "fine art" look.
Shoes! commemorating the Brotherhood of the Gnu
Johnny in 3D! a pretty good model, if you ask me.
Johnny, sneaking. Once again, simply a nice picture of very reasonable quality.
Johnny Wesker Be warned. Apparently, this cannot be unseen.
Waiting in the Darkness For fans of that devious diva Mitzy!

Curious Finds
The origin:
"Johnny Bravo" was one of the shows that started in a pilot episode mash-up series called "What-A-Cartoon" . (Well, of course I find the pilot awful!)

There's a JB game out there
It seems so.

Johnny is an NPC in an online game
It seems Cartoon Network has made a game called Fusion Fall. Johnny is one of the NPCs, as you can see from this screenshot.

Oh, Johnny. No one knows how to impress women the way you do!

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