Has it really been almost two years since I last wrote about a new episode of The Venture Bros.? Yup, seems so. And now here we are, with 2012 winding down, and we finally have a new episode from Jackson and Doc -- "A Very Venture Halloween." It's the first holiday-themed installment of the show since "A Very Venture Christmas" all the way back at the end of season one in 2004. Alright, enough history -- let's get into it. This episode was damn good, and sets the table quite nicely for the upcoming fifth season of the show. For awhile I thought this was going to be a typically light-hearted standalone episode, but Doc Hammer (who wrote this one) took things in a very dramatic direction toward the end. Let's get the frivolity out of the way first -- Dr. Venture and Sgt. Hatred han...
I know from reading Jackson Publick's LiveJournal that producing The Venture Bros. this season has been an arduous task. He, Doc Hammer, and the rest of the AstroBase crew have been working on season 4 since at least summer 2008, and even at that there was a lengthy break in the middle and a shorter break before the season finale. While I give the guys all the credit in the world for busting their ass to produce one of my favorite shows, I can't help but wonder when burnout will start to set in. There's already talk in fan circles that "Operation: P.R.O.M." could just as easily be a series finale as a season finale. But speculation over the fate of the show can wait for another day. Let's first take a look back at the first-ever one-hour Venture Bros. episode and try to figure out w
For those who follow these episode recaps, apologies for missing last week's of "Bright Lights, Dean's City". Real life got in the way for the first few days and by the time it got to Wednesday it seemed a bit pointless to write a recap. But real quickly - it was probably a B-, if for no other reason than it felt like the lesser companion to "Everybody Comes to Hank's". It was goofy but I think I'm done with the whole Phantom Limb/Prof. Incredible duo for a bit. So on to "Assisted Suicide", in which Dr. Orpheus returns and the show hits a high mark. As self-contained episodes go, this was one of the best over the past few years. The dialogue was crisp and funny, and there was just enough emotional depth to make it more than fluff. And did I mention Dr. Orpheus? Because he never g
When I first discovered the secret of Hank and Dean Venture - that they're merely the latest in a series of clones whipped up by their father - I was pissed. Even within the kooky world of the Ventureverse, where henchmen die left and right, it seemed to devalue their value as people. It made for some good sight gags (particularly the death montage in "Powerless in the Face of Death"), but felt empty otherwise. I posted as much on Jackson Publick's blog, and he didn't take too kindly to the criticism. But I think what I objected to in truth was that having the boys as clones gave Jackson and Doc a sort-of Venture Plot Etch-A-Sketch, where they could simply hit Reset and still get to off them in increasingly gruesome ways. So when they removed that crutch at the beginning of this seas
One of the ways you can gauge the strength of a show's is not how well they produce original plots and storylines, but how they rework old tropes into an entertaining package. It's sort of like how Led Zeppelin made the blues into something you didn't have to force yourself to enjoy. The Venture Brothers did much the same in its first season by repackaging a litany of hackneyed cartoon plots from the '60s and '70s into a wholly fresh enterprise. Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer migrated away from that more obtuse approach as the series progressed, preferring instead to develop a more intricate, original mythology. Every once in awhile, however, Doc and Jackson kick it old school and produce a self-contained story that feels more like a fun one-off than a very important episode. "A
For the second episode of The Venture Bros.: Season 4.5, the action (and the comedy to a lesser extent) gets dialed back in favor of some really solid character development. It appears to breeze by but on closer examination a lot took place. Firstly, the boys are finally done with their bed-based education (via the "Nerd Pods") and are graduates. Of what, exactly, we're not sure, as we see when Billy Quizboy attempt to play the role of guidance counselor. To nobody's surprise, everyone but Rusty can see that Hank and Dean are ill-equipped to take on the real world. But really, does that make them any different than the rest of the cast? Have any of these people ever held down a legitimate job? Super scientist doesn't count, unless you really are one and not just saying it.
OK, so not every episode can be a stone classic. I said last week that I like the more self-contained Venture Bros. episodes and I stick by that. But this one felt a little disjointed until the last few minutes. Maybe it's Doc Hammer's approach to the source material. Don't get me wrong though, there were plenty of good moments and laughs. Maybe part of the problem is that with three separate storylines to focus on (Sgt. Hatred and Rusty trying to save the boys, the boys contending with a grief-stricken Henchman 21, and the Monarch in desperate need of some Benadryl), there was simply too much ground to cover. I'm not sure what I would've cut, but I think the Hatred/Rusty bit felt the most flat. After earning some redemption in my eyes over the course of the season, Sgt. Hatred wa
So hey, I'm a little late on this review. I know that seems inexcusable since it is the season premiere, but my damn DVR didn't record this when it was supposed to. And if it's not on my DVR, it doesn't exist. But enough of that...VENTURE BROS. IS BACK!!%$#! I think the question I asked as season 3 ended - in what direction do Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer want to take this show? - has been answered, at least on the basis of "Blood of the Father, Heart of Steel". They're going to get even deeper into the show's characters, while at the same time strengthening their geek cred. And we're also going to get plenty of laughs. So we got that going for us, which is nice. (more…)
I think I'm gonna need some more time to process the season 3 finale of The Venture Bros., but for right now I can't help but feel a bit let down. I think that's because Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer haven't yet figured out what they really want their show to be. Do they want it to be an homage/parody of the action/adventure genre, or do they want to fully invest in their own universe and mythology? All signs pointed to the latter as season 2 progressed, and that was reinforced this season with so many plot- and backstory-laden episodes. The laugh-out-loud moments decreased in general this year, but the payoff was ostensibly a series of richer stories and an opportunity to appreciate the show with more than ironic detachment. (more…)