I declared October “All Request Review” month here on Toonopolis, The Blog’s Saturday Morning Cartoon Reviews. Wow, that was a lot of capital letters in one sentence. This week, I opted for one that sparked a mini conversation over on Facebook and really inspired me. I am reviewing the Teletoon show Johnny Test this week.
This review actually caught me by surprise. I’ve watched plenty of Johnny Test over the years but upon re-watching some stuff with a more critical eye, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this show. I actually didn’t even realize that the show was still a ‘current’ show and was still actively putting out new episodes. Maybe it’s just because it bounced from Kids WB to Cartoon Network that I thought it moved into rerun syndication. Or maybe I just have a natural inclination to distrust anything from Canada (I blame South Park for that).
The voice cast is probably one of the best I’ve seen in these reviews. James Arnold Taylor, well-known as Obi-Wan on Clone Wars and numerous other roles, voices the young title character, Johnny. His range is amazing. The talking dog, Dukey, is given an awesome unique voice by Louis Chirillo, fairly new to voice acting. I am happy that he just talks normally and is not a Scooby-Doo/Astro type of clone with the stereotypical dog-lisp. I was very surprised to see that the dad in the show was voiced by Ian James Corlett, famous as Goku in Dragon Ball Z. Another example of the amazing ranges of these wonderful voice actors!
The show is very Western in that there is no continuous plot from episode to episode. They’ve found a good formula that plays with the Test surname of the family. Johnny’s twin sisters are super geniuses that experiment on (see: test) Johnny with crazy things (super-hero rays, awesome gadgets, etc). Hijinks ensue. There is a phenomenal cast of bad guys that appear in the show, including Dark Vegan (a Darth Vader spoof), Bling-Bling Boy (a bit of an evil-ish Richie Rich), Wacko (an evil toymaker, kind of a Willy Wonka-esque character), and more. The show uses a lot of pop culture parody, as is obvious by some of the villains.
One of the elements I really enjoy about the show is just the family structure of the Test household. Most of the time, stay-at-home dads are portrayed as bumbling, can’t-quite-hack-it guys (think Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom). In this family structure, the dad is more than capable of being a stay-at-home and the mom is a very successful lawyer. Being a stay-at-home dad married to a physician myself, I am very happy to see that non only is Hugh Test good at his job, it is not even used as a plot point. The Tests are just structured that way and it isn’t even an issue. This is great to see in a society still coping with the idea of men staying home with the kids.
Overall, I really enjoy Johnny Test. Much like my own writing with Toonopolis, the pop culture parody drives the comedic elements and each show still manages to have subtle messages and occasional lessons (of course, Johnny rarely truly learns his lesson, even with comeuppance). One of my favorite parody characters is Blast Ketchup (a jab at anime and Pokémon main character Ash Catchem). They created an entire spoof world called Tiny’Mon that throws plenty of jabs at how silly Pokémon and the various copycats really are (doesn’t stop me from playing them, though).
I am glad this show was requested. I might have missed out on watching it with my new “cartoon reviewer” glasses and not really explored the depths of how good it is. I’ll give Johnny Test 4/5 Giant Cartoon Mallets!