The Venture Bros. Season 1
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Venture Bros, The: Season One (DVD)
Once a child prodigy, Dr. Venture now fails as both a scientist and father. Luckily, his twins, Hank and Dean are too stupid to care. And they've got their vicious, macho bodyguard, Brock, looking out for them. Together they'll get in all sorts of situations involving wild alligators, street ruffians, and booby traps. Brock really likes the booby traps.]]>
If Jonny, Haji, Race Bannon, and the rest of the Jonny Quest gang were idiots, their animated adventures might play out like The Venture Bros., a consistently funny spoof on '60s adventure cartoons from the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming. The premise should be immediately familiar and nostalgic for any Saturday morning TV aficionado who grew up in the '60s and '70s: Dr. Venture (James Urbaniak from Henry Fool) is an inventor, while sons Hank and Dean's insatiably curiosity lands them in hot water with supervillains, robots, magicians, and the like. Brock Sampson (voiced by the very funny Patrick Warburton of The Tick) is the good doctor's right-hand man, who rescues the boys with good old-fashioned manpower. The twist in The Venture Bros. is that every single character, down to the supervillains' henchmen, are complete and utter dolts, and their adventures are inspired more by foolishness, personal obsessions (for Brock, it's sex and violence, and for Dr. V, it's diet pills and a daddy fixation), or just plain cosmic weirdness than any sense of post-Kennedy-era adventure and derring-do. The result is subversive and occasionally shocking insanity (Dr. V loses his kidneys in the series opener "Dia de Los Dangerous"; Dean suffers an unmentionable personal injury in "Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean"; the boys believe that Dr. Venture's stomach tumor is actually a pregnancy in "Return to Spider Island"), but with enough flashes of surreal brilliance to make this a must-have for modern animation fans. The Season One two-disc set contains all 13 episodes, as well as two bonus episodes--the show's original pilot, "The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay" (for Hank and Dean, the secret is something decidedly salacious), and "A Very Venture Christmas," as well as a handful of deleted scenes. Commentary by the show's creators and cast can be heard on five episodes, including "Turtle Bay," and the extras are rounded out by "Behind the Scenes of the Live-Action Movie," a 20-minute mockumentary that features much of the voice-over talent dressed in some ridiculous costumes. --Paul Gaita
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But few cartoon shows can match the level of comic brilliance of "The Venture Brothers," which unabashedly spoofs "Jonny Quest" and other kiddie adventure fare. It's loaded down with hilarious writing, aspiring supervillains, adolescent humor and the most dysfunctional family ever to fly a superjet.
It's about the adventures of Thaddeus "Rusty" Venture, a has-been child genius who is still overshadowed by his adventurous dad's legacy. And he now has two dim teenage sons of his own, Dean and Hank ("Go Team VENTURE!"), as well as the nurturing robot H.E.L.P.eR. And finally there's his knife-wielding, lusty mullet-haired Swedish bodyguard Brock.
In the first episode, the brothers are kidnapped by the Monarch, a second-rate villain who desperately wants to be Dr. Venture's nemesis. Meanwhile, Dr. Venture has had both kidneys stolen, and Brock is apparently dead -- but he won't let a little thing like that (or the chupacabras) keep him from rescuing Hank and Dean.
In the episodes that follow, the Venture Brothers bravely (and stupidly) deal with the minions of the Monarch and steel-jawed Baron Ünderbheit, a crazed Walt Disneyesque mogul, their friendly neighbor necromancer, a broken space station, ghost pirates (both real and fake), testicular torsion, secret twins, yard sales, murderous robots, and a date gone wrong -- Dr. Venture ends up turning into a giant caterpillar.
There's also two extra episodes: the pilot, where thw twins get lost in NYC while a ninja tries to steal Venture's latest invention. And then there's the Christmas special, in which the Monarch riddles the Venture compound with explosives -- and a nasty Christmas spirit crashes the Christmas party to punish the wicked.
A series like "Jonny Quest" is just asking for a spoof, and "Venture Brothers" happily obliges. But in fact, it also mocks the Fantastic Four, Sean Connery, Christmas specials, and Germanic villains -- basically all unrealistic action-adventure. Where else can you find a villain's henchman arguing who would win in a "crazy fantasy fight-fight between Anne Frank and Lizzie Borden"?
It's full of adolescent gross-out humor (porta-potties), gory action (wrestling mummies and alligators), and the odd sex scene for Brock. But the genius is in the scripting, which is often crazy and unabashedly sarcastic: "With every fiber of my being I stab at thee, as long as blood flows through this heart I will hunt you down. I will be the stuff of your children's nightmares!" "What's he doing now?" "He's making his dramatic exit."
Patrick Warburton and James Urbaniak are simply brilliant as the indestructible Brock and the embittered Venture, with Michael Sinterniklaas as the naive Dean, and Christopher McCulloch doing many roles, most prominently Hank and the whiny-voiced Monarch. And Steven Rattazzi gets a special mention as the melodramatic necromancer/single dad Dr. Orpheus.
"The Venture Brothers" have exactly the kind of adventures that kids dream of NOT having, but for the grown-ups, it's a hilarious animated comedy. GO TEAM VENTURE!
To really appreciate this series you'll be best served having a working knowledge of comics and cartoons at least. It's not 100% necessary, but there are a lot of subtle (and not so subtle) gags that you'll only really "get" if you know of certain superheroes, or movies, etc. It's could still be funny even without knowing those things, it's just funnier if this sort of thing is spoofing your regular genres.
One thing to be aware of, if you're a purist who wants to watch in order including the pilot - it's on Disc 2 under Extras, something we didn't realize until we got to Disc 2 since we never did bother to read what the extras were.
This show both mocks and pays tribute to everything about superheros, comic books, and crime solving cartoon teens. It's all in good fun, but unlike a slapstick romp, the storylines are complex and layered and the characters well drawn and realistic. Well, as real as a human butterfly or a man with invisible limbs can be.
So put on your speed suit, comb out that mullet and enjoy the ride baby. Go Team VENTURE!!!