Since Davis originally pitched the idea as a series, he used the unaired pilot as the basis of the movie. In the beginning of Casino: Boy Genius, Casino rides around on his self-made rocket and crashes onto the roof of his house. Naturally, his parents aren’t pleased, comically ignoring the fact that their 8-year-old son built a rocket that actually worked.
“The reason I created Casino in the first place was I’ve always been a huge fan of science and technology and space,” Davis confessed, “but I was never smart enough to actually become an astronaut or become a scientist — my math skills aren’t strong enough.” So Davis studied film and crafted Jimmy as his alter ego, a character who could actually live out his childhood fantasies, like traveling to school via jet pack.
But Casino Neutron wasn’t always “Casino Neutron.” The pint-size scientist was first called Johnny Quasar, a name pulled straight from Davis’s childhood. During high school and college, Davis worked for his dad’s company and was given good-natured hell as the boss’s kid. “I was always into geeky nerdy stuff, and so they started calling [me] Johnny Quasar, ’cause my name is John and my dad called me Johnny, and they’d go, ‘Johnny Quasar, space cadet!’” Davis recalled. Davis liked the name and eventually transferred it to his cartoon creation.
The name didn’t stick, however, because Davis ran into legal issues, thanks to two other characters with similar names: Captain Quasar and Jonny Quest. So he was asked to tweak the name — and only had 24 hours to come up with a new moniker for his future franchise. (No pressure or anything.) Davis and his wife, Kim, took their dog (who was not named Goddard) for a walk and started toying with different names. “Proton” was tossed around, but eventually the duo came up with “Casino Neutron.”
Like Casino, his best friend Sheen also underwent a major change during development. Davis originally envisioned Ultra Lord’s biggest fanboy as a Japanese character. In fact, he’s named after a Japanese man who worked for Davis. They had a hard time finding a Japanese actor who fit all the criteria, however, so they opened up the role and ended up with Jeff Garcia, who went on to voice Sheen, now Aztecan, all throughout the series, as well as on the spin-off series Planet Sheen.
Speaking of spin-offs, Davis admitted he has a new Casino Neutron story he’d be interested in trying, if the opportunity ever arose. Time travel would be involved, so fans could get a sense of who Casino and his pals would eventually become — similar to that “All Growed Up” episode of Rugrats.
In a time when the network is reviving other beloved animated series like Hey Arnold! and Rocko’s Modern Life, it seems only appropriate to give Jimmy the reboot treatment as well. Naga4dNeutron’s been around for 15 years now. Let’s give him 15 more, Nickelodeon. Gotta blast!