Johnny must embark on a last minute road trip to the North Pole after forgetting to mail his Christmas list to Santa…
Johnny Bravo debuted on Cartoon Network’s short-form animation platform, World Premiere Toons, in 1995. Though it was later re-titled as the What a Cartoon Show! and then The Cartoon Cartoon Show, the format was the same, and Hanna-Barbera’s half-hour showcase for 7-minute cartoons by new artists also launched The Powerpuff Girls, Cow & Chicken, Dexter’s Laboratory, and Courage the Cowardly Dog, as well as the careers of people like Family Guy‘s Seth McFarlane and The Fairly OddParents‘ Butch Hartman.
Van Partible’s Johnny Bravo short – which saw the James Dean-inspired hero chase down an escaped zoo gorilla to win the heart of a lady – was among the first set of shorts to air, and its success also made it one of the first to be signed to a full order of TV shows.
However, it took two years to turn the promising short into a series, and it suffered extended breaks and significant character retooling between its four seaons. Unfortunately, the show now stands in the shadows of its aforementioned peers, but episodes continue to air on Boomerang, and Cartoon Network inducted Johnny into their “Hall of Fame” in 2010 with a Complete Season 1 DVD release.
Wanna know what pisses me off most about that new Yogi Bear movie? I could do a better Yogi Bear than whatever the hell Dan Akyroyd’s doing! No, I’m not saying I have any sort of career in voice-over work, I’m saying that almost everybody – yes, even you – does a better Yogi Bear than the one I’ve seen in those insipid trailers.
The Christmas decor at the Bravo’s house seriously kicks ass
That’s a pretty goddamned tragic predicament given Akyroyd’s elongated history with brilliant character work, and it’s made infinitely more bizarre once you see how fucking Justin Timberlake has virtually disappeared into an almost flawless Boo Boo?!
Johnny and Bunny Bravo are clearly taken with the spirit
I guess what I’m wondering is… if kids aren’t going to recognize Akyroyd’s name on the marquee anyway, or appreciate an accurate Yogi voice, then why bother with the half-assed Art Carney impression at all? Honestly, do they know about Ed Norton or care about The Honeymooners?
Alas, Johny’s forgotten to mail he and his mother’s Xmas letter to Santa
I’m not even really sure why I have a frame of reference for either since both Yogi Bear and The Honeymooners premiered long before I was born. And yet somehow I do…
The post office mocks any prospect of getting the letters to Santa on Dec. 24th
Strangely enough, both shows aired almost regularly during my childhood, and yeah, I watched both a fair bit. (Although, I do feel like it was MST3K that gave me more of an appreciation for the pop culture of their day, because both shows probably wouldn’t have been all that important to me without their say so.)
Suzy’s got a plan…
That said, what I love about cartoons, both old and new, is that they can re-caricature prolific celebrities well after their popularity is over. For instance, most of what I know about Abbott & Costello came from Looney Tunes, and eventually I tracked down some of their films based off of the inspiration they provided for something else I loved. So BAM: A rewarding discovery for me!
Unfortunately, it involves stowing away on an airplane. Can you tell this cartoon was probably made before Sept. 11th?
Which (FINALLY!) brings me to A Johnny Bravo Christmas. I don’t mean to sound curmudgeonly, but I honestly have no idea if kids at the turn of the century realized that Johnny was doing a wonderful impression of Elvis Presley. And does that even matter? Yeah… I think it does.
Creator Van Partible makes no secret about being inspired by Hanna-Barbera
Elvis was obviously a city-clearing, giga-ton of a celebrity, yet he was gone long before I was born. I’ve never gone out and listened to his music, and I’ve never so much as watched a biography about the man. It was cartoons that gave me a ridiculous amount of Elvis context. Even through parody I have a ridiculous amount of insight into his life and work.
You can see even more HB in the animals stowed in cargo
What I find so strange about this idea is that kids just ten years younger than me never had those cartoons. Did a child watching turn-of-the-century cartoons have any idea who Presley is?
Whoops, the gang deplanes a bit early
I honestly don’t know, but when I saw Jeff Bennet’s comedic characterization of Johnny Bravo – which took a fairly serious idol seemingly beyond reproach and turned him into a lovable, showboating narcissist – I thought it was brilliant!
And these animals ain’t sticking around for any Xmas carols
I suppose it doesn’t matter much, because Johnny’s a pretty great character regardless. He’s chock full of, ahem, bravado, and consistently motivated by naivety, which moves him at the speed of silly. I fell in love with the guy from the moment I first saw him in his premiere short on the World Premiere Toons show back in 1995, which you can see below (although mirrored backwards…to thwart the YouTube overlords, I suppose.)
That said, I never actually got to see too much of Johnny Bravo, since by the time the full series finally premiered it was nearly two years later and I was jettisoning into my late teens. (So, ya know…women, alcohol, drugs.)
Johnny and Suzy get aboard another plane
From what I read, Johnny Bravo fell upon numerous delays, which kept the series from running consistently in spite of its popularity.
Tragically, their directions are revealed to be by way of a cereal boxtop
And yeah, if you look at the show’s seven-year run, only four seasons were actually produced, often with a two year gap in between. I know it’s cable, but who do you think you are, Johnny? The Sopranos?!
Donny knows the way
I do appreciate the oddball celebrity cameo of Donny Osmond, whom I – and I’d assume most people watching the show at the time – knew only as a punchline. But Donny takes it all in stride, poking fun at himself, and dressed in his 70’s boy-band attire to boot.
Arrival by CRASH
Either way, it’s a pretty great half-hour as Johnny, Littile Suzy, and newcomers Donny Osmond and the wacky pilot make it to the North Pole in time to get the letter to Santa.
Oh thank The Good Lord Sears for flying reindeer
Unfortunately, it’s revealed that Johnny’s Mother’s wish list is essentially Johnny’s wish list. Worse still, Santa informs them that he’s already matched all gifts to their recipients and the elves are on leave until next Christmas. All that’s left? Two lumps of coal – boo hoo.
A year’s supply of hair gel, a pink Cadillac, these are a few of my favorite things
Johnny has no choice but to donate his lump of coal, all Santa has left to give at the final hour, to his mother… because what the hell else is he gonna do?
However, all is not lost! Suzy and the pilot are telling tales of Johnny’s selfless dilemma.
They tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and they tell two friends…
Word gets around town on the acts of this notorious womanizer and the entire Town of Aron City heads over to the Bravos’ to party down!
Presents take a backseat to the women attending the shindig, and Johnny gets to do what he does best. Make women physically uncomfortable.
Yes! Upon rattling off several other “True Meanings of Christmas,” the very first from Lil’ Suzy’s lips is “the birth of the baby Jesus.” Religion had the most noticeable presence in A Charlie Brown Christmas and it’s diminished exponentially in mainstream Xmas television ever since, so I honestly feel like Johnny Bravo’s acknowledgment is more than a little ballsy.
Of course Santa’s here, as he’s the overreaching goal of the entire episode. Yet, as with most TV specials, he proves to be rather powerless, thus forcing Johnny to look within himself for a Christmas solution. However, Johnny Bravo’s chalk-arched depiction of the North Pole is among more unique I’ve ever seen.
Gorgeous Northern Lights
Basically, watching this special was like getting to see something I’d always wanted to find fifteen years ago. It’s a quick-paced, irreverent half hour, and the only reason it appeared even slightly dated to me is because, from what I hear, many episodes of the show were animated using traditional ink and paint instead of the digital tech employed today. It’s still fast, just not as fast as shows that air on the network today. (Adventure Time comes to mind.) For me it straddles the line between nostalgia for and the future potential of the animated medium as I saw it a decade ago. I wanted desperately to be a Johnny Bravo fan, but ultimately didn’t get the chance, due to odd production schedules and the rotten act of aging. As such, it was pretty great to see this special for the first time.; however, it’ll undoubtedly prove infinitely more awesome for those who are revisiting it.
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If this weren’t for the blog, I’d almost be pissed at myself… Okay, I walked into an empty TJ Maxx this Black Friday, saw Cartoon Network Christmas – Yuletide Follies on sale, and scooped it up without a second thought. Five bucks for Xmas specials from Johnny Bravo, Dexter’s Laboratory, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Ed, Edd, and Eddy, and several others? Why the hell not?! I take the cellophane off, look online… this thing is ridiculously out of print, and selling for around $100 used! Don’t pity me just yet, because there’s pretty much no other way for you to pick up A Johnny Bravo Christmas. Johnny Bravo: The Complete First Season is available on DVD, but the special didn’t air until the 3rd. And seeing as how the first season was released almost a year ago, with no follow-up since… I’m not sure what your chances are for ever obtaining it. Ummm, maybe try Dexter’s Lab? Sorry, guys – I got nothin’.