THE VENTURE BROS. S1
Reviewed by: JimmyO
What's it about
A couple of naďve (well, maybe dumb) teenagers and their super-scientist dad fend off evildoers; usually inadvertently. Lucky for them, Brock Samson is there to protect and to serve in his own brand of badass justice. GO TEAM VENTURE!
Is it good movie?
It’s hard to imagine that a series could base itself entirely as a “spoof” of another popular show and still be this entertaining. Back in the Sixties, Jonny Quest was all the rage. It was one of the most beloved cartoons on television. I dug the show when I discovered it in reruns, because unlike Scooby Doo, the monsters were real; yet they both were favorites of mine. Both of those shows have had a resurgence of sorts in the past few years. And that cult status is proven with the wonderfully insane The Venture Bros. of the famed Adult Swim on Cartoon Network. In one of the most inventive and entertaining cartoons of resent years, the Venture family keeps the excitement of Jonny Quest, yet does so with tongue firmly in cheek while mixing pop-culture trends and the spirit of the series it is paying homage to.
The Venture family includes; Dr. Thaddeus Venture (James Urbaniak), a man living in the shadows of his deceased superhero dad, Jonas; his two sons, Hank and Dean (voiced respectively by Chris McCulloch and Michael Sinterniklass) who seem to be completely oblivious to the constant dangers that surround them. And finally we have the bodyguard Brock Samson (Patrick Warburton) who makes every other tough guy on TV look like a mama’s boy. In one episode, his “License to Kill” expires and it takes every little bit of patience he has, not to kick some ass and take names. And lest I forget, instead of a dog or some other goofy animal, we get H.E.L.P.e.R. (“Humanoid Electric Lab Partner Robot”) who is the loyal R2D2 like sidekick, but with feelings. The wonderful thing about this group of eccentrics is that they usually have no idea that all their arch-enemies are looking to destroy them. They are more interested in doing the occasional good deed or creating some crazed new invention. Or, of course, dealing with a yard sale. The main driving force for Dr. Venture is simply that he must out do his deceased father.
This first season (13 episodes) is a terrific introduction to each of the characters with some of the major villains including The Monarch (also Chris McCulloch) and Dr. Girlfriend (Doc Hammer). In “Die de los Dangerous”, The Monarch kidnaps Hank and Dean but can’t get in touch with their pops, so he continually leaves messages. When he gets no reply, he develops sympathy for the boys because obviously their father doesn’t seem to care (although, we all know dad has issues of his own). The fun never stops, leaving no stone of pop culture left unturned. There is a barrage of references from The Six Million Dollar Man to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. We even get a glimpse of the “Necronomicon” looking just like it did in The Evil Dead and the “Zuni Fetish Doll” from the cult classic Trilogy of Terror. Christopher McCulloch (aka Jackson Publick) loves this stuff and fills it into every episode in fun and clever ways.
Aside from the witty dialogue and the “Questworthy” action, this thing looks great. The animation is fantastic and has the look and feel of what it pays homage to. They also pay tribute to other classics with the animation, especially notable in the Scooby Doo and the “Pirate Ghosts” inspired, “Ghosts of the Sargasso”. Also giving this a classic cartoon vibe is the groovy music by J. G. Thirwell. The sound fits and makes for a very cool cartoon. And just in case you are wondering? This ain’t for kids. The sex jokes and the bloody violence are here too. Although, keep in mind that this airs on the Cartoon Network, so it’s not that bad.
Video / Audio
Video: “Presented in Glorious Extra Color” this baby looks great in it’s 1.33:1 Standard, 4:3 Transfer; although each episode begins in “widescreen”.
Audio: The music and Brock beating people to a bloody pulp sound great in Dolby Surround Stereo 2.0.
This sweet 2-disc set comes with a damn good collection of extras for a television show... golly jeez, they are neat!
Disc 1 includes the episodes; "Dia de los Dangerous!", "Careers in Science", "Mid-Life Chrysalis", "Eeney, Meeney, Miney... Magic!", "The Incredible Mr. Brisby", "Tag-Sale -- You're It!", "Home Insecurity" and "Ghosts of the Sargasso"
Disc 2 includes; "Ice Station -- Impossible", "Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean", "Past Tense", "The Trial of the Monarch" and "Return To Spider-Skull Island".
The goodies include a couple of extra episodes; we get the Pilot: The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay (25:04) which has the same energy as the later ones but you can tell they were experimenting more with the animation. There is also Commentary on this episode from Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer. They have a lot of fun with this and are very vocal about why they changed certain things; hard to animate. They also talk about how they met, described as a “love story”. This is funny stuff; both the episode and the commentary.
Next Bonus Episode: A Very Venture Christmas (11:21). It’s shorter but it pays a little bit of a tribute to A Christmas Carol, among other things. This will be a fun watch around the holidaze! My kind of Christmas episode; it’s must see TV. The “special presentation” thing at the beginning is freakin’ hilarious. Some of you may not recognize it but if you’re of a certain age… trust me, it’s funny!
And just in case you want more commentary; you got it. The following episodes include more commentary from Doc and Jackson: “Mid-Life Chrysalis”, “Eeney, Meeney, Miney… Magic”, “Tag Sale – You’re It”, “Ghosts of the Sargasso” and Return to Spider-Skull Island”. Doc and Jackson are very funny and much of the time they discuss things that have nothing to do with the episode they are watching. Some of their conversations are about Halloween costumes (dueling Mayor’s from Jaws) or having an espresso before doing the commentary. Very funny stuff and you can see their love for pop-culture all over these. Highly recommended!
Next we get Deleted Scenes from the following episodes; “Dia de los Dangerous” (:34), “The Incredible Mr. Brisby” (1:07), “Are You There God? It’s Me Dean. (1:17), “Past Tense” (1:43), “The Trial of the Monarch” (:52) and “Return to Spider-Skull Island” (:43). They are not the completed scenes; they are animated storyboards with voiceover work. Here are some pretty funny moments and it’s a cool way to show them.
And for all of you who are wondering about a live action movie; Behind the Scenes of the Venture Bros. Live Action Movie (21:22) is a “mockumentary” with the “actors” taking about working with the other actors, shooting some of the more elaborate scenes. In other words it’s a joke folks. This is pretty funny but after awhile it gets to be a little “too much” and loses its humor; but still worth a look.
And finally we get Animating Hank and Dean (4:27) which is kind of like the “Behind the Scenes” but shorter, therefore it is funnier. Loved the “motion-control” suits; black body suit with ping pong balls attached (at least that’s what it looked like). It is also narrated by “Pete White” and “Billy Quiz-Boy”. Good stuff!
If you’re a fan of off-kilter, yet still accessible goofy fun; then team up with the Venture Brothers. This is some of the best animation on television, especially if you are a closet Jonny Quest fan. The pop-culture references are fast and furious, so fast that you probably won’t catch them in one watch. And there are a few fun ones for all the “horror geeks”, including yours truly. So if you haven’t seen it yet over at Adult Swim, this is at least worth a rent. But if you’re a fan, get out to your local DVD retailer (see DVD Release Dates) and spend that hard earned cash because you won’t be disappointed. And if you don’t; Brock Samson will be very, very angry… and you won’t like him when he’s angry!