TV on DVD Review: Cartoon Network Hall of Fame: Johnny Bravo -- Season 1 (1997)

Now Available to Own

Although he tells the crowd to “leave the super-heroing to me,” when blonde-haired, muscle-bound, Nicholson sunglasses wearing, Elvis voiced Johnny Bravo reveals that his main skill is the ability to comb his hair “really fast,” the people of Aron City wonder just how on Earth he'll be able to stop a burglar.

Yet similar to the fact that having a black belt in every type of martial art won't help make his fall from a commercial airliner sans parachute any less painful when he hits on the “air waitress,” what Bravo lacks in ability he makes up for with tenacity for whatever challenge he faces on a weekly basis, which generally seems to consist of chasing anything in a skirt that has the misfortune of crossing Bravo's path.

Whether he's cruising for chicks among Scooby Doo's Mystery Gang or taking advantage of young red-headed Suzy's worshipful crush on him to try and get close to her cousin Farrah Fawcett or the girl's schoolteacher by happily consenting to be objectified for show and tell, Bravo never lets a thing like boyfriends, beatings, bad taste or really bad manners get in the way of trying to “bag a babe.”

In the blisteringly funny thirteen episodes that comprised the first complete season of this Cartoon Network Hall of Fame series created by Van Partible, it becomes quickly apparent just why the show caught on thanks to its uniquely clueless mama's boy lead and the show's willingness to experiment in a post-Simpsons world with pop culture and humor aimed to attract a much wider audience than most animated series that aired on the cable channel.

With Family Guy and American Dad series creator Seth MacFarlane serving as a cartoonist and/or scribe on some of the earliest and most memorable episodes that incorporated music, surprise plot twists, and celebrity participation that found Donny Osmond appearing as Bravo's nanny and Adam West as a crime-fighting TV host that influenced his work on Family Guy, Bravo becomes particularly fascinating to watch for MacFarlane's fans.

Incorporating bonus features including a behind-the-scenes informative featurette chronicling how Bravo came to fruition along with pencil tests and a MacFarlane temp track for his outstanding work on one of the first season's highlights -- “The Sensitive Male” -- the two-disc set boasts two or three mini-storylines within each episode. Overall, it's at its best when centering completely on the comic goldmine that is Johnny Bravo and less when focused on other characters like Jungle Boy whom I read was phased out during the following season.

Johnny Bravo
, unlike other '90s animated series hasn't aged in the slightest thanks to its inspired riffs on American cultural touchstones and its timeless, wildly inventive lead voiced by Jeff Bennett that in any format other than animation would've threatened to grow as tired as another '90s novelty throwback character, Austin Powers. In other words, we'll leave the super-heroing to Bravo who remains as cool as those trademark shades.

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FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.