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Johnny Bravo Back to Its Roots, Then to "Hollywood"

by on February 16, 2004

Show: Johnny Bravo
Episode: #55: “Johnny Bravo Goes To Hollywood”
Airdate: FRIDAY, February 20th, at 8 PM (encore at 11:30 PM) ET.

Seth MacFarlane states that no show is as lucky as Family Guy is at this current time. But that’s not true…

ImageBack in 1997, after only 13 episodes, the original Johnny Bravo crew left Cartoon Network, all going in their own directions. Van Partible took a breather, Seth MacFarlane worked freelance and then headed to FOX, and Butch Hartman and Steve Marmel took their projects to Nickelodeon. It was assumed that the series was done for.

However, 2 years later, Cartoon Network gave the show a reboot, headed up by Jed Spingarn, Russel Calabreese, Gary Hartle, and Kirk Tingblad. Many fans were up in arms over this version of the show, which watered down the plots (and characters) and made a decidedly 18-34 show more appropriate for children, essentially turning off the original fans completely. This format ran for 39 episodes and fizzled out with a mere whimper.

Again, most people assumed that this was the end. But somewhere along the line either Van Partible came to Cartoon Network or Cartoon Network came to Partible, and now– incredibly– the show is back and on top of its game. “Johnny Bravo Goes To Hollywood” backpedals to the original show’s lightning-fast timing and pace, not spending too long on any joke or exposition. The way comedy should be (in my opinion). However, Partible has kept one of the “new” characters, Carl, for future episodes. Make of that what you will.

ImageThe plot is pretty simple. A rather ambiguous hollywood producer scopes out Johnny at a movie theater and gets him a gig at a new (extremely bizzare) movie called “Lunchlady S’Uprise!” Johnny doesn’t even spend more than 5 minutes in Hollywood before finding out he’s already lost his job, and needs to find a way to stay in pictures before his time in the spotlight ends.

The designs have somewhat settled into a comfortably pleasing mix. They’re not terribly lumpy like in Partible’s episodes, but they’re not horrendously tightened like in Spingand’s episodes. All of the hilarious poses from the original series have returned with plenty of new moves. The incidental designs have really been an improvement as well. They’re still generic women but they don’t look like bad webcomic characters anymore. Ex-Disney/Simpsons boarder Dan Haskett does good work with the art direction.

Partible had done two previous specials for the network and they lacked a lot in the actual jokes. With the new season, Partible has brought aboard Billy & Mandy writer Craig Lewis to co-write, and it was a great decision. Craig is the right man for the job. He’s used to zany plots and quick pacing. Almost too quick.

In fact, the episode almost becomes TOO chaotic near the end of the first act, when Johnny meets celebrities Don Knotts, Alec Baldwin, and Jessica Biel, who sing one of the lamest songs Cartoon Network ever recorded. And I include the Brak Presents The Brak Show Starring Brak songs. You just have to experience it for yourself. Strive to survive it, people. Strive to survive.

If you get beyond that scene, the special is pretty good, a big leap over the previous two, and a very good omen for the new season of Johnny Bravo, which should arrive in the next few months. For now, though, just enjoy Bravo’s 15 minutes of fame. If you’re one of the original diehard fans, you’ll be pleased. If you’re a fan of the Spingand episodes, first kill yourself, then die, then jump off a cliff and destroy your manparts. Then be killed by the Highlander. You’ll probably still enjoy the new season.

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