Venture Bros., The: Season Two (DVD)
How do you launch a second season of a series when you concluded the previous one by murdering the title characters in cold blood? As is often the case on The Venture Bros.
, Adult Swim's hilariously funny poke at '60s adventure cartoons like Johnny Quest
, the answer comes down to: weird science. It would be a crime to reveal how Hank and Dean Venture's beleaguered dad, Doc Venture (voiced by James Urbaniak) brings his hapless offspring back from the grave, but suffice it to say that the boys are back by the end of Episode One ("Powerless in the Face of Death") and making life miserable for their dad and bodyguard Brock Sampson (Patrick Warburton) shortly thereafter. But Team Venture's exploits share the spotlight this season with the misery of their main antagonist, the Monarch, who struggles to reclaim his lady love, Dr. Girlfriend (voiced by series co-creator Doc Hammer) from the suave Phantom Limb (also Urbaniak). Over the course of the sophomore season's thirteen episodes, the Monarch endures countless humiliations in the name of love (not the least of which is a disastrous double date with Dr. G and Limb in "Victor. Echo. November), while the Venture boys encounter countless historical figures (not the least of which is a thinly disguised Scooby-Doo and friends), screw up their own dates, and generally make a mess of things in their own cheerful but ridiculous ways. Meanwhile, the Ventures' neighbor, the overwrought Dr. Orpheus (Steven Ratazzi), also gets his own story arc, in which he re-assembles his "team" of vampire hunter Jackson Twilight and sexually ambiguous monk The Alchemist (voiced by Dana Snyder of Aqua Teen Hunger Force
), with disastrous results. Exceptionally sharp writing that's rich with pop culture references and excellent voice performances make this series one of the smartest and funniest in Adult Swim's anarchic stable; here's hoping the network doesn't allow another two years to pass before they greenlight a third season.
The two-disc set offers raucous commentary by Hammer and co-creator Jackson Publick on all 13 episodes (Urbaniak and Michael Sinterniklaas, who voices Dean Venture, join them for several commentaries), as well as a barrage of deleted scenes from each story, and an amusing mock behind-the-scenes look at Astro-Base Go, the orbiting moon station where Hammer and Publick create the series with the help of SoulBot, a big-hearted robot which also lends its bloops and bleeps to the Ventures' mechanical assistant, H.E.L.P.E.R. Praise should also go to the exceptional packaging art and menu design (which feature Publick's character sketches), which evoke the series' retro feel with style. -- Paul Gaita