I can’t be the only one who made instant comparisons between this week’s episode of The Venture Bros. and the classic season 1 entry, “Tag Sale – You’re It!” The obvious link is Doc Hammer, who wrote both episodes. But more than that, the episodes contain the same ingredients for awesomeness — clever dialogue, a deceptively simple plot, tons of great cameos, and just enough intrigue to keep the overall story arc moving.
As for that deceptively simple plot, it pretty much goes like this — Dr. Venture, strapped for cash, converts his compound into Rusty’s Day Camp for Boy Adventurers. And unbeknownst to all but Brock, the Monarch seizes the opportunity to do some reconnaissance (do not call it arching!).
Working off that framework, “The Buddy System” is a parade of character vignettes and great jokes. There’s the Murderous Moppets, sent undercover by the Monarch to do some spying (just not very well). The Order of the Triad makes their less than triumphant return. Action Johnny is off drugs but weirder than ever (“he’s all kinds of crazy!”). There’s even a special guest appearance by another Jonny Quest character, Dr. Zin (just Dr. Z in this episode).
The brilliance of this episode lies in the brevity of the bits. There are so many characters here, none overstay their welcome. Of course, it helps that just about all my favorites (Hank, Dr. Orpheus, the Alchemist, and the Monarch) are present.
Oh yeah, and we meet a mysterious teenager, Dermott, who is the son of…? My guess is Brock (that’s how we’re being led at least), but I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough. In any case, he sure knows how to push Brock’s buttons like nobody I’ve ever seen. And Dermott sure did form a bond with Hank quickly (probably the best running gag in the episode was seeing Hank idolize the kid and giggle at all his sophomoric jokes).
Of course, no episode with Rusty Venture is complete without at least one major mishap. In this case, a stop at the E-Den biodome turns into the field trip from hell, as a wild gorilla disembowels one of the kids and beats Billy Quizboy within an inch of his life.
Capping things off, wiseass Dermott gets his comeuppance when he gets beaten on by Dean (after some rather ineffective training by Brock), who flew into a rage not seen since Ralphie pounded on Scut Farkus in A Christmas Story.
So yeah, “The Buddy System” rocked. It returned things to the silliness of previous seasons, but still kept the overall story moving forward. I’m sure at some point things will boil over and the Monarch will not be able to restrain himself from arching Dr. Venture anymore. And then of course there is the new mystery of Dermott’s dad.
Oh, and for the curious, this is the disclaimer in the commercial for Rusty’s Day Camp for Boy Adventurers: Camp size has been estimated based on a survey conducted in 1978. All camps created after cited survey have not been taken into consideration. Rusty’s Day Camp is a prvately owned camp. Therefore any and all children residing on the premises are to be considered trespassers. Rusty’s Day Camp holds the rights to prosecute any or all trespassers that do not uphold the rules and regulations stipulated in the supplied file entitled “I’m A Good Day Camper.”
Final grade: A
- “There are fully stocked vending machines right next to the gift shack. Why don’t you two get yourself and $8 bag of Combos.”
- “They’re not really a race, doc.” “Will you listen to yourself, Hitler!”
- “I’m 35 years old. I’m neither boy nor adventurer.”
- Seeing the Pirate Captain giving his speech while the canned pirate-y music played gave me wonderful flashbacks of The Curse of Monkey Island.
- Dr. Mrs. The Monarch’s new outfit – va va voom!
- “What is that?” “No doubt a recruitment center. Cleverly disguised as like the gayest day camp ever.”
- “Hey pop, can I show my new friend my bedroom? I’ve never had a friend in there. You know pop, I’ve never even had a friend.”
- “I’ll go change…into my gi!”
- “If you smoked, we’d know it because we have a smoke detector in every room.” “With fresh batteries!”
- “Brock, are your feet registered?”
- “How do you do a screen capture, it’s like Shift, Opti…ow, crap, I made an umlaut!”
- “I thought it’d be empty, with like a plaque that says how wonderful my dad was.”
- “Don’t move, they can smell fear.” “Can they smell urine?” “That’s like liquid fear!”
- Vintage Rusty Venture – abandoning Billy in the hands of the gorilla and saving his own ass.
- “You always wanted to be an adventurer. Not like answering trivia, is it boy?”
- “Oh come on Dean! At least keep your wrist straight!”
- “F&$%in’ knife!”
- So why would Sgt. Hatred get confused over his schedule? Shouldn’t he be on military time?
- Dammit! We almost got a full-on Brock killing spree, but he was stopped at one.
- Seeing the cloned kid Rusty cooked up was…creepy.