“The Venture Bros.” Season 1 – Great Characters, Villains and World…I Want to See More

The Venture Bros Episode 2

     I am so glad one of my friends recommended this show. A season done and I can’t wait to see what happens next. This is a show that celebrates and satires Super Hero stories as well as old adventure stories and old adventure television mysteries (think “Scooby-Doo”) suffice to say it has quickly become a favorite show. The greatest part of this show is really the  characters who define the mythos, which I will get into deeper in the review.

    The series was created back Jackson Publick who also wrote a lot of the episodes with Doc Hammer.

     The story involves the misadventures of the Venture Family as they get into a lot of trouble and face their enemies ranging from Baron Underbheit to the Monarch, though their greatest enemy is often themselves.

The Pros: The World – The world of “The Venture Bros.” is awesome! It is a world full of heroes, villains, secret agencies, androids and mysteries. There are super heroes and super villains and each has tons of henchmen to boot. Seriously, it is an awesome world.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack captures the pulpy nature of the show really well. It’s fast and snappy and reminds me of the old Adam West “Batman” and comics from that era….which captures the characters perfectly. J.G. Thirwell is awesome.

The Animation – The animation is awesome. It flows and has a pulpy feel to it that shows us each character and how they tick, from the Venture Bros. running at the beginning to the tall standing Brock to the slouched Dr. Venture. Character mannerisms are captured beautifully in the animation.

The Characters – The characters are the strongest part, with the minor one-shot characters being the only time the show really feels weak. The main characters though get some great exploration though.

Jonas Venture Jr. – Jonas Venture Jr. is Dr. Venture’s brother who breaks out of his body (he was eaten in the womb) and wants revenge until Dr. Venture apologizes and gives him half of all he has, showing he is more than just someone out for revenge and is smart and capable of growth.

Hank Venture – Hank is the jock of the Venture Bros. and idealizes Brock even though he is a complete dweeb. He’s usually always fighting his brother Dean. He is obsessed with blaming whatever happens on ghosts and is a lot like Fred from “Scooby-Doo.”

Dean Venture – Dean is the anxious nerd of the brothers who is the first to fall in love (Triana) and is the more sensitive of the two. He is the brother I like more as he has a lot more awareness of his surroundings, though he is just as much a danger to himself as Hank.

Dr. Venture – Dr. Venture is the cynical protagonist who only seems to really care about Brock. We never see him care about his sons except how he can use them to save himself and is a washed up has-been as he even sells a lot of his and his father’s stuff in an episode. He is a character who is apathetic and just doesn’t care. He does have a tender side though, as we see when he is in a relationship with Dr. Girlfriend.

Brock Samson – Brock is my favorite character on the show. The guy is unstable and a walking tank as it takes a lot to bring him down. We see that his one true love is Molotov Cocktease and that he is really doing his own thing most of the time when he isn’t protecting Dr. Venture and the brothers. He also has a good heart too as he helps an ex-military guy and his Bigfoot husband escape.

Old Team Venture – Old Team Venture is pretty great. Gentlman is probably my favorite of them and I can’t wait to see more of how the original Venture interacted with them.

The Villains – The main villains are awesome and each have distinct personalities and motivations, and they go way back, all the way to college in regards to their relationship to Dr. Venture.

Baron Underbheit – Baron Underbheit was a foreign exchange student who was Dr. Venture’s friend. Sadly the friendship when sour after he got his jaw blown off so now he hates him. They still can interact without killing each other though as he goes to Dr. Venture’s yard sale and the funeral of their mutual friend.

Dr. Girlfriend – Dr. Girlfriend is awesome! She was a powerhouse who hooked up with the Monarch and has been the only one holding his operation together. We see her good side countless times though, from her relationship to Dr. Venture to her sadness at the Monarch for when he turns on her. I’m glad she’s sticking around as she is easily the most competent character on the show besides Brock.

the Monarch – the Monarch is an awesome villain! This is a guy who lives by his obsession against Dr. Venture but has everything going against him as he has the maturity of a child and it is that that pushes Dr. Girlfriend away into the Guild of Calamity’s and Phantom Limb’s arms. This is what ends him up in prison with no allies and only his obsession against the Ventures to sustain him. Though he is given depth even then as he likes Hank and Dean and helps them get out of prison (though sadly his minions kill them anyway).

The Satire – The satire is brilliant in this! From the villains and heroes all knowing each other in college, the parent and obsessive issues they all have as well as the Villains have to live by rules laid down by the Guild. Superheroes are satired, mad scientists, villains, pulp and comic stories, etc. Each episode is really worth a second watch and I look forward to Season 2.

   This is a solidly amazing show that knows exactly what it wants to be (a satire and celebration of the pulp genre and the many forms it takes) and an exploration of characters, while always never forgetting the comedy that defines it. If I were to think of any con it would be that some threads get dropped (the Guild and their place in this world, Hank and Dean need more development, etc.). The older characters are fantastic though and even Hank and Dean have their comedic moments leaving only the one shot characters who are joke as the only major con. Regardless, this is an amazing show that I highly recommend.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

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The Venture Bros. – Special – “A Very Venture Christmas” – Crazyness and Warped Reality

A Very Venture Christmas

    “A Very Venture Christmas” is a trip that is a lot of fun, but doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s “Inception” with non of the narrative consistency. It is a lot of fun but the fact that it is 20 minutes of chaos really brings the story and jokes down, merely making it enjoyable rather than good or great.

     The episode was directed and written by Jackson Publick.

    The episode involves a Christmas Party thrown at the Venture Compound, but all is not as it appears to be and the Monarch hatches a plan.

The Pros; The Venture Compound – The best parts of the series are in the Venture Compound as we see the Monarch has placed a bomb underneath the house that is set to go off when the baby Jesus is put in the cradle. We also see overprotective Dr. Orpheus and all Old Team Venture appears.

Okay: Krampus – He just kind of shows up. Great design though. I like that Hank and Dean were the ones who summoned him too.

The Cons: The Beginning and End – The beginning is play of “The Christmas Carol” with Dr. Venture talking to death and flying around the city thanking everyone, and the finale scene is them crashed in the Middle East waiting for Palestine or Israel to show up to get them out so they can trade tech. with them. Overall this felt like a clip show more anything else.

  This is an episode that is fun if you are already into the show, but can skipped if you are following the main narrative. It is outside the ending of Season 1 and is very much, just a special. You don’t really learn anything knew about any of the characters, but it is fun to see them all together.

Final Score: 7 / 10

The Venture Bros. – Season 1, Episode 13 – “Return to Spider-Skull Island” – Family and an Unexpected End

Return to Spider-Skull Island

      This is an episode that I consider a favorite, not for the overall story narrative, which is inconsistent, but for the Monarch scenes and for the unexpected ending that leads to great introduction to Season 2. It does have problems but these elements help elevate into an episode that is worth seeing again.

      “Return to Spider-Skull Island” was directed and written by Jackson Publick, with Doc Hammer as a co-writer.

    The story involves the brothers running away and ending up in prison with the Monarch while Dr. Venture must face his younger brother he hate in the womb who has escaped from him fully grown and wants revenge.

The Pros: Jonas Venture Jr. – The character is a super genius whose body never grew beyond that of a baby, even though he aged. He’s a great antagonist and when Dr. Venture finally apologizes and gives him the the old Venture Compound on Spider-Skull Island, it is pretty sweet. I like the character.

Dr. Venture – Dr. Venture once again shows he can be a good guy as he atones for something he only remembers in dreams, of eating his twin in the womb. This episode humanizes him a lot, including the ending.

The Minions / Henchmen – I really like these two guys as they are the only ones still following the Monarch and even manage to succeed in killing the Venture Bros. that he asked them to do (though it was an accident). I’m glad these two stuck around.

Hank and Dean Venture – These two run away from home when they think Dr. Venture having a baby will replace them. It’s funny and sad that they think that and it is great to see them end up with the Monarch who actually likes the two of them and gets them out of prison.

the Monarch – The Monarch’s human side is revealed a lot in this as we see him teach kids to not end up in prison as well as doing his schemes via his minions/henchmen. He actually wins in one of the schemes too, though I think he’d regret it if he knew as he came to like Hank and Dean.

Accident Competency / Tragedy – The Monarch ends The Venture Bros. Though it is after he made peace them and came to like them. He’s still in prison and he only did it because Dr. Girlfriend mind controlled him to blame them. Tragedy all around.

The Cons: Narrative Structure – The episode feels all over the place, and the brothers running away doesn’t completely mesh with the Jonas Venture jr. plotline. Each feels like it could have been it’s own story and that they should have remained separated.

 This is an episode worth seeing, though it isn’t as strong as it could have been. Both plots deserved their own episode really and doing it all at once ends up bringing both stories down as we never get to explore the different brother relationships or the Monarch’s life in prison.

Final Score: 8.4 / 10

The Venture Bros. – Season 1, Episode 10 – “Tag Sale – You’re It!” – Of Rivalries and Has-Beens

Tag Sale - You're it!

   “Tag Sale – You’re It!” is a chance to see more of our characters interact with one another as well as see the legacy Dr. Venture in a way has left behind as well as funny antics by both the Monarch and Dr. Orpheus.

   The episode was directed by Jackson Publick and written by Doc Hammer.

  The episode involves Dr. Venture hosting a yard sale where all his old enemies and rivals come to buy his technology. Things soon unfold as the Monarch plots chaos to get into Dr. Venture’s lab.

The Pros: The Yard Sale – The Yard Sale is fantastic! Pete and Wizkid are looking to form an evil team. We meet Dr. Girlfriend’s old partner Phantom Limb, Baron Underbheit and Richard Impossible show up and quite a few others we have never met. They are all a lot of fun.

Dr. Orpheus – This guy spends the episode harassing super villains in order to a nemesis and rival. Sadly to no avail though, as none of them have a personal reason to hate him. Also, he’s Dr. Orpheus. Even when he’s a dick, he’s still the best person on Team Venture.

Monarch Henchmen – These two are funny. At one point one them buys a lightsaber and finds that Dr. Venture jipped him as when he attacks Brock it just goes through Brock and doesn’t hurt him. These two are great and I’m glad the show kept them around.

Dr. Girlfriend – In this we see how much Dr. Girlfriend cares for the Monarch as Phantom Limb from the Guild and offers to make her a member as she once held more power than she does now. I like how she stood her ground. We also see her soft side again when she feels bad for Dr. Venture and sees the echoes of the great man he once was.

the Monarch – The Monarch feels bad for Dr. Venture! We also see how good he is at causing chaos when he causes the fight that allows him to get into the Venture Compoud where it is very under-dramatic. He is disappointed in his arch-nemesis countless times and just feels bad for him, even as he affirms revenge once more at the end, showing just how deep his obession goes.

Okay: Team Venture – Team Venture is largely the ones spectating. We have Hank Venture start a business with Dean as one of his employees but it not go anywhere when brawling breaks out and Brock is just in charge of security and really doesn’t do anything noteworthy.

This was a great and fun episode. I like the sadness Dr. Girlfriend and the Monarch feel in Dr. Venture’s lab as they realize just how much of washed up has-been he’s become. This of course doesn’t stop Monarch with his obsession as he vows revenge as upstairs the boys watch him and Dr. Venture suggests calling the cops nonchalantly. It’s a great scene and was a big reason I like the episode so much.

Final Score: 9.3 / 10

The Venture Bros. – Season 1, Episode 9 – “Are You There God? It’s Me, Dean” – The Politics of Super Villainy

The Venture Bros S 1 E 9

     This is the episode where we see the rules that make up super villiany here in the Venture Bros. Universe. From the rules the Guild of Calamitous intent set down, to the politics within as who is put in the book and just how small the Monarch’s goals are in the whole scheme of things. This is an episode that is a lot of fun. The side story with Dean Venture is even great in its own way.

    “Are You There God? It’s Me, Dean” was written by Doc Hammer and directed by Jackson Publick.

    The story involves Team Venture’s capture by the Monarch where they about to be executed but are saved due to a technicality when Dean must be treated for Testicular Torsion so their deaths are put on hold until after the surgery can be done.

The Pros: The Guild of Calamitous Intent – The Guild passed a whole bunch of rules to combat and rivalries between different members and its fun seeing those rules play out between the Monarch and Dr. Venture.

Dr. Girlfriend – Dr. Girlfriend is clearly bored as she expected to be taken advantage of by Brock and is sad when he doesn’t.

Pete White and Master Billy Quizboy – These two save Dean’s life, and make a lot of jokes during the process. These two are great minor characters.

Brock – Brock takes out the Monarch’s lair and even embarrasses the Monarch as he points out that the Monarch can’t even succeed in revenge and shows just how incompetent his organization is as there isn’t time to just do revenge against Dr. Venture so a lot of the day everyone just sits around the base.

the Monarch – The Monarch spends a lot of this episode trying to corrupt Hank to no avail and later being embarrassed in front of Dr. Venture when it is revealed that Brock is single handily bringing down his fortress. One of the funniest moments is when Brock asks why he hasn’t thought bigger and done World Domination, which embarrasses the Monarch further.

Okay: The Venture Family – Whether it is Hank, Dean or Dr. Venture they are just kind of there. Getting more of Doctor Venture’s backstory as a member of the Guild of Calamitous Intent was cool but they mostly exist as a joke to show the Monarch is a joke and Dean’s condition being a joke.

  This was a good episode that had a lot of great things in it. I like Brock taking out the Monarch’s lair and the Monarch’s attempt to corrupt Hank as well as all the technicalities that make up the Guild of Calamitous Intent…but the episode could have been much more than it was. We still don’t really know how the Guild functions or the different villains relationship to it.

Final Score: 8.6 / 10

The Venture Bros. – Season 1, Episode 8 – “Mid-Life Chrysalis” – Brock Finds His Groove and Dr. Girlfriend Rocks

the-venture-bros-mid-life-chrysalis

    “Mid-Life Chrysalis” manages to be a very heartfelt drama keeps the drama and heart up consistently, even with Dr. Venture being transformed into a giant caterpillar. Dr. Girlfriend and Brock Samson are easily the best parts of the episode and make it a favorite.

   The episode was directed and written by Jackson Publick, with Doc Hammer as co-writer.

    The story involves one the Monarch’s plans to turn Dr. Venture into a butterfly by having Dr. Girlfriend seduce him to inject him with a substance that will transform him. Elsewhere Brock must renew his licence to kill after he is pulled over with an expired licence.

The Pros: Dr. Venture’s Mid-Life Crisis – Dr. Venture is called grandpa by two military pilots which throws him into a mid-life crisis. His approach to this is hilarious as he throws on a wig and a suit out of the 70’s. We also learn he is only 43. In the end he falls for Dr. Girlfriend who is on a mission from the Monarch to seduce him and is transformed by her into a caterpillar. He never blames her even when she is the only suspect and we see he genuinely cares for her (he knows her has Charlene) which is sweet and she turns him back.

The Messed up Mind of the Monarch – The fact that the Monarch used his girlfriend to seduce another guy is kind of messed up on its own but when you add him masturbating to them making out you see just how twisted this guy is. He and Dr. Venture were made for one another as both don’t really consider the lives of those around them, just their vendettas and goals.

Brock Samson’s Training Montage – This is done in the style of an 80’s sports montage with Hank and Dean as Brock’s trainers, though in the end it doesn’t matter as the guy who administers the test was a kid who Brock had babysat when he was younger.

Brock Samson – In this episode we see that even though Brock is unhinged he’s by the book and won’t raise a hand unless he has a licence to kill. For this reason he spends the episode getting back into his groove so he can renew his licence.

Dr. Venture – Dr. Venture is both a creep and a sweet guy as we see him have a level of awareness around Dr. Girlfriend that he doesn’t have around anyone else…he really did care about her which is both sad and kind of sweet.

Dr. Girlfriend – Dr. Girlfriend shows she’s more than just a tool when she ends up falling in love with Dr. Venture and saving him from mutating into a monarch. She shows that she isn’t all about the vendetta and also cares about Dr. Venture (which makes sense as Dr. Venture is much kinder to her than the Monarch is).

   This was an amazing episode that hits all the right notes. I felt bad for Dr. Venture (which is hard to feel) and felt bad for Dr. Girlfriend as she is as much a pawn to the Monarch as all his other minions as all he lives for is revenge against Dr. Venture. In this we see that characters can become more and just how connected or not connected they are to their different identities.

Final Score: 10 / 10

The Venture Bros. – Season 1, Episode 7 – “Ice Station – Impossible!” – A Satire of “The Fantastic Four”

Ice Station - Impossible!

   “Ice Station – Impossible!” is an outright satire of “The Fantastic Four” as it takes a realistic approach to what would happen if actual humans received the conditions that the Fantastic Four receive. Dr. Venture is of course along for the ride and we are introduced to Pete White and Master Billy Quizboy. We also get another great Brock B story to round things out.

    The episode was directed and written by Jackson Publick.

    The episode involves Richard Impossible pulling together a think tank for his organization, while elsewhere Hank is infected by a substance that will turn him into a human bomb unless they can find Richard Impossible’s secret base.

The Pros: Pete White and Master Billy Quizboy – These two are brought into Richard Impossible’s think tank along with Dr. Venture to create products for Impossible Industries. We never see what they do exactly as it soon becomes about the Impossibles and not what the mission actually was.

The Impossibles – The Impossibles are tragic as Richard is a controlling tycoon who keeps them all locked away, Sally just wants to be free even as anytime she feels her skin turns invisible revealing the flesh underneath, her special needs brother Ned becomes the Thing and has a good heart and Cody just catches on fire when ever he is any place too hot. They are a tragic family and I’m glad she escapes with Dr. Venture.

Richard Impossible – Colbert is great at playing this stuck up git as we see him attempt to kill Dr. Venture by leaving him out in the arctic to die and later when he mocks them all for trying to save Hank when it substance wore off since it was never tested on humans. He did make a great antagonist for the episode.

Dean Venture – Dean is fascinated by what Hank is going through and doesn’t panic until Brock mentions that Dr. Venture probably wouldn’t be able to fix it. Seeing his detachment is fascinating though as it seems to be a coping mechanism for him.

Brock Samson – Brock finds the agent who was trying to rescue the serum before he dies and spends the episode getting Hank to safety and calming him down as well as explaining how he’d kill Hank so he wouldn’t feel pain if it ever came to it, voicing he had considered and thought about that possibly occurring.

Hank Venture – Hank is understandably reacting to everything and from this we see that he is at peace with dying.

Dr. Venture – Venture is a sleeze. He is all about hooking up with Sally until her condition is revealed and doesn’t even seem to appreciate her for her mind as he can’t stand how she looks when her skin turns invisible. The guy is shallow, one good thing is he did try to save his son Hank with the Think Tank.

   This was a solidly great episode though I wouldn’t call it a favorite. The humorous moments don’t quite reach the jokes of the first 3 episodes, though the satire of the “Fantastic Four” is great, especially as it relates to body horror and how it reveals that Dr. Venture is not a deep character. I definitely recommend this episode.

Final Score: 9 / 10