At some point before season four of The Venture Bros. gets underway, I’m going to run a countdown of the top 10 episodes from the first three. And right now I can’t think of any reason why “The Lepidopterists” won’t be on that list. With a few exceptions, I’ve been thoroughly entertained by all of this season’s episodes, but this one had me laughing out loud as much as when I discovered the show sometime around the beginning of season one. And that’s definitely saying something.
To start, the cold open here is one of the funniest of any show I’ve ever seen. We join the action right where “Tears of a Sea Cow” left off – with the Monarch’s flying cocoon hurtling toward Spider-Skull Island and a showdown with Dr. Jonas Venture, Jr. JJ doesn’t quite get what’s going on (“not sure what the flying pine cone is all about, but I’ll give Mr. Evergreen a run for his money!”), but once he does he unleashes the mighty Ventronic, in one of the greatest sequence in this show’s brief history. The animation and music were perfect in this Voltron homage.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m going to hell for laughing at all the Ned jokes but damn if they aren’t some of the show’s best ones. I almost lost it when I saw that Ned’s portion of Ventronic was a clown head, and the interior looked like a pre-school playroom (I love the “Ned #1” floor tiles).
So anyway, Ventronic wipes the floor with the flying cocoon, which is apparently a violation of the agreement between the Guild of Calamitous Intent and their arches. While JJ tries to work through the bureacracy involved between the Guild and O.S.I., the Monarch sends Henchmen #21, 24, and 1 carry out a “Dark S7 maneuver”. So who is #1? He’s Scott Hall, of course, and 21 and 24 are convinced that this over-eager henchman is dead meat walking. And they’re not shy about telling him either. It’s a funny gag but does border on the obnoxious toward the end.
Back on the island, JJ finally gets the help he’s looking for, in the form of two mysterious men named Mr. Doe and Mr. Cardholder. They are lepidopterists of a sort, and they’ve recruited none other than Brock Samson to help Jonas with his Monarch problem. Jonas doesn’t really care for the whole costumed aggression thing, thinking that it’s a relic from the ’60s. But he goes along with the whole thing just the same.
The B storyline concerns the Sea Captain, who walks the dreaded path to addiction via a hankering for tranquilizer darts. Not the best storyline ever but it’s amusing enough and doesn’t detract from the main show.
Back on the cocoon, the Monarch gets the news he’s been waiting for all season – thanks to a loophole in Guild guidelines, Jonas’s over-aggressive attack (a la Ventronic) means the Monarch is now free to arch Rusty Venture again. Sweet! Before that, though, he must try for one more attack on the island. But JJ is waiting for him, and is packing a rather large late-’60s ultra death ray. The outcome of this battle involves a bit of trickery that I (or Dr. Girlfriend for that matter) never thought the Monarch capable of. Oh yeah, and #1 does get killed when Brock finds him and pummels him mercilessly.
I’m running out of ways to praise these episodes, but this was truly a gem. It had TONS of action, which has been all to infrequent lately. There were plenty of laugh-out-loud lines as well. And for good measure, there were some key story arc developments that weren’t beaten over our heads, such as the resumption of the Monarch/Rusty rivalry, and the strange appearance of Brock to aid someone other than Rusty (is O.S.I. up to something?).
Oh, and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch not only takes her old name back, but dons the old costume as well. What’s up with that?
Final grade: A+
- “No time for inappropriate and baffling sing-song, Neddy.”
- “What the f*$@ is that?!” “Um, I think it’s a giant robot with an ice cream cone for one of its arms, I think.”
- “No no word!” “Yes it is, Neddy.”
- “I gotta ask this – is there a reason you always use 21 and 24?” “I know it sounds crazy, but they both have that rare blend of expendable and invulnerable that makes for a perfect henchman.”
- “When you were a kid, did you ever make G.I. Joe hump Rainbow Brite?” “Yeah?” “He’s what their kid would look like.”
- “Me and my associate are amatuer lepidopterists.” “Youuuuuuu want to see my stamp collection?” “Only if we were philatelists.” “Which we aren’t, Mr. Smart Guy.”
- “I like the cut of this guy’s jib.” “I like the cut of his hair.”
- “Which one of you idiots broke my wife?”
- “If that were a woman, I’d marry it.” “And I’d jeopardize our friendship by nailing your hot wife.”
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