WildBrain, Netflix bring back Johnny Test

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The series found a new audience on the streamer because of its light-hearted style, and now it's getting a refreshed look for two new seasons and an interactive special.

Three IP owners, four original broadcast networks, and now a streaming audience to boot – 15 years after its premiere, Johnny Test continues to resonate with new audiences.

After concluding its original run in 2012, the series has continued to build an audience on Netflix, which has now commissioned IP owner WildBrain to create two new seasons for the animated series.

The first of the two new seasons will bow in 2021, and pick up where the original left off, with precocious Johnny going on madcap adventures with his talking dog and genius twin sisters. The new show will also try its hand at interactive content with one 66-minute special.

In the interactive special players have to help Johnny make it home before dinner while overcoming different zany obstacles. The studio chose to try out the interactive format to up the show’s production value and modernize the brand, WildBrain president Josh Scherba told Playback’s sister publication Kidscreen. In keeping with this, WildBrain’s Vancouver studio is evolving the show’s look beyond its Flash-animated roots to better connect it with kids looking for more refined style, and is using modern Harmony animation software to produce the series in 4K.

Aimed at kids six to 11, the 2D-animated show ran for six seasons. It was created by Scott Fellows (Big Time Rush) for Warner Bros. Animation and originally aired on Kids WB in 2005. Johnny Test has since aired in more than 50 countries, and has been a top-rated show on Cartoon Network, Teletoon and Nickelodeon. Netflix has been streaming it in the U.S. and Canada since 2010, and under the new deal it will launch the old version of the show internationally.

“Kids around the world have grown up with Johnny Test, and we see new audiences discovering the show on Netflix every day,” says Curtis Lelash, Netflix’s director of original animated series.

Cookie Jar Entertainment picked up the series from Warner Bros. in 2006, before the IP was again transferred to a new owner when the Canadian prodco was acquired by WildBrain (then DHX) in 2012. WildBrain then made a sixth season of the show before the now-117 x 30-minutes series came to an end.

But the over-the-top action-comedy series continued to cultivate new audiences on Netflix, which motivated the streamer and WildBrain to bring the series back, says Scherba.

“Our strategy as a studio is to balance our new properties with our existing IPs,” says Scherba. “This show continues to have an audience, and bringing it back now and through Netflix lets us build its reach.”

While Johnny Test may have passed through different companies over the years, its focus on slapstick humour, over-the-top scenarios and wacky characters has helped it to keep finding new audiences among kids, says Fellows, who has always been involved as a producer on the series.

“The show has international legs, and remains relevant because we always kept it light-hearted and full of physical gags,” says Fellows, who is serving as the showrunner and exec producer on the new seasons. “Kids have a lot of issues and things they’re dealing with—like awkwardness and feeling small in a big world—and this show is a block of time where they can have fun and be free from anything heavy.”

This story originally appeared in Kidscreen