The Venture Bros.

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The Venture Bros.
The Venture Bros logo.svg
Genre Action
Adventure
Science-Fiction
Dramedy
Dark Comedy
Created by Jackson Publick
Doc Hammer
Voices of James Urbaniak
Patrick Warburton
Michael Sinterniklaas
Christopher McCulloch
Doc Hammer
Steven Rattazzi
Dana Snyder
Composer(s) J. G. Thirlwell
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 63 (and 1 pilot and 3 specials) (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Jackson Publick
Keith Crofford
Mike Lazzo
Producer(s) Rachel Simon
Running time 22-24 minutes
Production company(s) Titmouse, Inc.
NoodleSoup Productions
World Leaders Entertainment
Astro Base GO!
Broadcast
Original channel Adult Swim
Picture format 4:3 SDTV (2003-2007)
16:9 HDTV (2008–present)
Original run Pilot:
February 16, 2003
Official:
August 7, 2004 (2004-08-07)  – present
External links
Website

The Venture Bros. is an American animated television series that premiered on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim on February 16, 2003. It is an action and adventure series that mixes comedy and drama together while chronicling the adventures of the Venture family: well-meaning but incompetent teenagers Hank and Dean Venture; their emotionally insecure, ethically challenged, under-achieving super-scientist father Dr. Thaddeus "Rusty" Venture; the family's bodyguard, originally the ultra-violent and macho secret agent Brock Samson and his subsequent replacement, the reformed super villain and "cured" pederast Sergeant Hatred; and the family's self-proclaimed arch-nemesis, The Monarch, a butterfly-themed super villain.[1]

Christopher McCulloch, otherwise known as Jackson Publick, announced on March 22, 2011, that the show had been renewed for seasons 5 and 6, with pre-production to have begun in June 2011.[2] Season five began airing on June 2, 2013.[3]

Development[edit]

Series co-writers Doc Hammer (left) and Chris McCulloch (right) at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International.

Show creator Jackson Publick (a pseudonym of Christopher McCulloch)[4] was one of the main writers for the Saturday morning animated series The Tick. Ben Edlund, creator of The Tick, has co-written two episodes of The Venture Bros. and written one full episode, "¡Viva los Muertos!". Patrick Warburton, who played the Tick in the short-lived Fox Broadcasting Tick live-action TV series, provides the voice of Brock Samson.

McCulloch created The Venture Bros. storyline sometime prior to 2000.[citation needed] After working for the television program Sheep in the Big City and the live-action version of The Tick, McCulloch set to turning The Venture Bros. into an animated series. The Venture Bros. was originally conceived as a comic book story for an issue of Monkeysuit. McCulloch realized that his notes were too extensive for a short comics story and proposed that Comedy Central air The Venture Bros. as an animated series, but the network rejected it. Although the first draft of the pilot script was written in the spring of 2000, the premise was not greenlit until around the summer of 2002 by Adult Swim. McCulloch had not previously considered Cartoon Network because he "didn't want to tone The Venture Bros. down" and was unaware of the existence of the network's late night adult oriented programming, Adult Swim.

With the revised pilot, production began in autumn of that year and the pilot was first run on February 16, 2003. The first season of the series was completed in 2004 and it was added to the summer schedule in August.[5]

Characters[edit]

The characters of The Venture Bros. are largely re-imaginings of the characters from Jonny Quest, comic book superheroes and supervillains, and of other famous figures from popular culture. Hank (voiced by Christopher McCulloch) and Dean Venture (voiced by Michael Sinterniklaas) are the titular fraternal twin brothers of the show. Hank is the more adventurous and Dean the more timid and bookish of the two. The two teenagers often wind up in perilous situations, and (as revealed in the second season) have been killed over a dozen times, only to be replaced with exact clones who have no memory of their own deaths. The title The Venture Bros. has been reconceptualized throughout the series, with the introduction of Rusty's twin brother Jonas Jr., and Hank and Dean's bastard half-brother, Dermott Fictel. The identity of Hank and Dean's mother remains the subject of some debate.

Dr. Thaddeus "Rusty" Venture (voiced by James Urbaniak) a former boy adventurer and inspiration for the "Rusty Venture" cartoon series, runs what remains of Venture Industries, a once-leading global corporation established by his super-scientist adventurer father Jonas. Since Jonas's death, Venture Industries has declined to a shadow of its former glory, now occupying only a portion of the vast and deteriorating Venture compound and external locations including a base on Spider Skull Island and the space station Gargantua-1, all built by Jonas. Dr. Venture–Rusty dropped out of college shortly after his father's death, and his certifications have been questioned[6] and it is instead stated he only holds an honorary degree from a Tijuana community college[7]–attempts to follow in his father's footsteps by becoming a super-scientist himself, although his competence frequently falls short of his father's and he usually demonstrates questionable ethics, leading others to claim that his occasional successes merely capitalize on the work of his late father.

Brock Samson (voiced by Patrick Warburton) is the longstanding bodyguard to the Venture family. Appointed by the Office of Secret Intelligence (OSI), the muscular and hyper-masculine Brock frequently uses his license to kill to protect the Venture family from any threat with sudden and brutal violence. He is a ruthless (and somewhat sadistic) hand-to-hand combatant, usually preferring to use a combat knife, his hands and feet, or his vintage Dodge Charger rather than firearms; the Monarch refers to him fearfully as Venture's "Swedish murder machine" ("Dia de Los Dangerous!").

In the fourth season, Brock Samson is replaced as bodyguard by Sergeant Hatred (voiced by Christopher McCulloch), a former supervillain. Prior to becoming their bodyguard, Hatred was assigned to be the Venture family's arch-enemy. Hatred is also a "cured" pedophile; his pedophilia is actually controlled by an experimental drug ("Nomolestol") given to him by the OSI and its effectiveness varies wildly between episodes.

Dr. Venture's deceased father, Dr. Jonas Venture (voiced by Paul Boocock), was the model super-scientist of his day. He was a visionary who changed the world with his inventions, and stands as the inspiration for most other protagonists in the series. He formed "Team Venture", a collection of friends and associates that helped him fight crime and subsequently save his son (Dr. Venture) from his arch-enemies. To help his son cope without a mother figure, he developed a loyal and rather emotional robot named H.E.L.P.eR. (listed in episode credits as voiced by "Soul-Bot") that accompanies and assists the Ventures. Early in the series, he was portrayed as a model man and father. However, later episodes show him as callous and uncaring about his son's well being, while showcasing questionable ethics, both medically and socially. In the fourth season episode "Self Medication", there is a scene showing the young Rusty Venture receiving psychotherapy from his father. As Rusty says that he longs for a normal childhood, Jonas interrupts him and insists that he is ungrateful for the opportunities given to him. In general, Jonas' portrayal has deteriorated as the series progresses.

Throughout the series, the Venture family has had various recurring antagonists. Many are current or former members of The Guild of Calamitous Intent, an organization originally founded to save mankind from self-destruction but which now serves as an ad hoc placement agency matching super villains with appropriate heroic nemeses. The organization is run by the mysterious leader known only as "The Sovereign", who is revealed to appear to be real-life rock star David Bowie in episode 26, though in episode 5 of the 5th season it is revealed the The Sovereign is actually shape-shifter who frequently impersonates Bowie.

The Venture Family's primary nemesis is the pernicious but ineffective super-villain the Monarch (voiced by Christopher McCulloch). Assuming the motif of a monarch butterfly and "arching" Dr. Venture since college, the Monarch will stop at nothing to antagonize Dr. Venture (even though his motive is unknown). Accompanying the Monarch is the masculine-voiced Dr. Girlfriend, (voiced by Doc Hammer) referred to by the Monarch as "Dr. Mrs. The Monarch" after their wedding.

Baron Werner Ünterbheit (voiced by T. Ryder Smith) is a former dictator of Ünterland and bears a grudge against Venture. He blames Venture for the loss of his jaw in college, citing, "One is always supposed to look out for one's lab partner!" The season three premiere reveals that the Monarch was responsible for the explosion that destroyed Ünterbheit's jaw, in an early attempt to kill Venture.

Phantom Limb (voiced by James Urbaniak) is a ruthless killer, villain insurance agent, and high-ranking Guild member (or was until he tried to usurp the Sovereign). Also, he was the former lover of Dr. Girlfriend before she left him to become The Monarch's companion.

The Ventures' friends and acquaintances include expert necromancer Doctor Byron Orpheus (voiced by Steven Rattazzi) and his apathetic, teenage goth daughter Triana (voiced by Lisa Hammer), who rent a portion of the Venture Compound; the albino computer scientist Pete White (voiced by McCulloch), a former college friend of Dr. Venture's; hydrocephalic "boy genius" Master Billy Quizboy (voiced by Hammer); and Dr. Jonas Venture, Jr., Dr. Venture's former parasitic twin brother who has success in all of the areas that Rusty does not. Surviving members of the original Team Venture have also appeared as well as Dr. Orpheus's teammates in the Order of the Triad.

Episodes[edit]

Most episodes begin with a cold open and are shot to appear to be in letter-box format. Almost every episode features both a smash cut into the end credits, and a short scene following the credits.

The second season of the series premiered on the internet via Adult Swim Fix on June 23, 2006 and on television on June 25, 2006; the season finished on October 15, 2006. The considerable delay between the end of the first season and the start of the second was partially caused by Adult Swim's delay in deciding whether to renew the show, primarily because the show is drawn and inked in the traditional animation style (albeit digitally), causing each episode to take considerable time to move through production. Additionally, the producers were dealing with the time constraints of producing a first-season DVD that contained live action interviews and commentary for several episodes.

The third season began on June 1, 2008, and marked the beginning of the show's broadcast in high-definition. A 15-minute rough cut of "The Doctor Is Sin" aired on April 1, 2008, as part of Adult Swim's April Fool's Day theme of airing sneak peeks of new episodes.

The fourth season was split into two segments airing a year apart, with the first eight episodes airing in the fall of 2009 and the remaining episodes in fall of 2010.[8]

A note contained in the closing credits of the Season 4 finale indicated that the series would continue into a fifth season. It has been confirmed that Adult Swim has picked up Venture Bros. for two more seasons.

On February 6, 2013, it was announced that Season 5 would premiere on May 19, 2013. This was later shifted to June 2, 2013, at midnight.[9]

On July 8, 2013, Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick stated in an interview with Slate Magazine that they had begun writing the sixth season as of Summer 2013, and that it would enter full-production in September 2013. They tentatively stated that Season 6 would premiere in Fall of 2014, or very early 2015 at the latest.[10]

Since the first season, two credits have changed every episode. Soul-bot's "voicing" the character H.E.L.P.eR., and another as a nickname for animation director Kimson Albert. Each nickname is a quote from its respective episode. In season two, each end credit sequence holds a different additional (fake) duty for AstroBase Go!.[11]

Themes, homages, and references[edit]

Jonny Quest[edit]

Comparing the main characters of The Venture Bros. and Jonny Quest

The series' principal reference is to Jonny Quest, as it is the basis for many of the main characters. Dr. Venture is modeled after what a child such as Jonny Quest might have grown up to be like after having lived through a childhood filled with bizarre, life-threatening events. Brock is modeled on Race Bannon. The Venture boys parody the Hardy Boys and take the places of Jonny and Hadji. However, the original Jonny Quest characters also make appearances on the show. In the episode "Ice Station – Impossible!", Brock mentions that he had served with Race Bannon on several occasions. He regards his fellow agent with respect calling him "one of the best." One newspaper critic remarked, "If filmmakers Woody Allen and Sam Peckinpah had collaborated on Jonny Quest, it would have come out a lot like this."[12] In season 2, Jonny Quest was introduced into the show as Action Jonny, a homeless drug addict who deeply resents his father. As of season 4, Jonny is somewhat stable, and in a support group for former boy adventurers, along with Dr. Venture, the second Wonder Boy, RoBoy, and The Hale Brothers–the final three being parodies of Robin, Astro Boy, and The Hardy Boys respectively.[citation needed]

"Failure"[edit]

Publick and Hammer have stated that one of the primary themes of The Venture Bros. is failure.

"Yeah failure, that's what Venture Bros. is all about. Beautiful sublime failure." —Doc Hammer[13]

In the commentary for the episode "Home Insecurity", Hammer and Publick elaborated on the theme.

Publick: "This show... If you'll permit me to get 'big picture', this show is actually all about failure. Even in the design, everything is supposed to be kinda the death of the space-age dream world. The death of the jet-age promises."

Hammer: "It's about the beauty of failure. It's about that failure happens to all of us...Every character is not only flawed, but sucks at what they do, and is beautiful at it and Jackson and I suck at what we do, and we try to be beautiful at it, and failure is how you get by...It shows that failure's funny, and it's beautiful and it's life, and it's okay, and it's all we can write because we are big...failures. (laughter)"[13]

Reception[edit]

The show has received critical acclaim over its run. The Venture Bros. ranked at #56 on the IGN "Best 100 Animated Series" list.[14] Slate '​s Chris Wade called The Venture Bros. "one of the best shows on television" and praised the detailed serial nature of the humor with a favorable comparison to Arrested Development.[15] The Atlantic '​s Armin Rosen compared the show favorably to The Simpsons, noting that the two shows held the same "slacker optimism" and great comedy.[16] The A.V. Club '​s Zach Handlen felt that the show had evolved over its seasons into a "meta-commentary on a whole sub-section of male nerd culture" and that it had become one of the funniest contemporary shows.[17]

Critical reception to the first season was more mixed than later seasons, but was still mostly positive. The A.V. Club '​s Todd VanDerWerff felt that the pop culture references of the first season fell flat, especially in the beginning of the season, but grew better and funnier as the show's emotional core took hold.[18] IGN's Mike Drucker, in a positive review, criticized the predictability of some first season episodes, but noted that the show was "a refreshing cartoon because it willingly indulges in the sitcom fad of the '90s".[18]

In 2013 IGN placed The Venture Bros. as number 14 on their list of Top 25 Animated series for adults.[19]

Home releases[edit]

The first season of The Venture Bros. on DVD was released on May 30, 2006, as officially announced by Warner Home Video.[20] It coincided with the June 25 premiere of the second season. Originally, it was scheduled for March 14, 2006, but was delayed until May 30, 2006. The DVD packaging and interior art was created by comic artist Bill Sienkiewicz. On May 31, 2006, the season one DVD reached #1 on Amazon's top selling DVDs list.[21]

On March 27, 2010, series creator Jackson Publick revealed on his Livejournal that a standard definition DVD of the first half of season 4 would likely be released some time between July and October 2010, with a DVD of the second half of the season and a Blu-ray box set of the entire season to be released after the full season has aired.[22]

All four seasons are available in the UK (both halves of Season 4 are sold as a set). Madman Entertainment have also released all seasons on DVD in Australia. No Blu-ray editions have yet been released in Australia. It's also the first Adult Swim series in Australia to be given a restricted MA15+ rating for Season 1 and later the higher R18+ rating for Season 4 Part 2.

DVD Name Release Date Ep # Additional Information
Season One May 30, 2006 13 This two disc set includes all 13 episodes of Season 1. The episodes are presented as broadcast, with bleeped profanity. Bonus features include "The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay" (the pilot) and "A Very Venture Christmas", deleted scenes, behind the scenes mockumentary with the Venture Bros. Cast and creators commentaries on "Mid-Life Chrysalis", "Eeney, Meeney, Miney... Magic!", "Tag Sale – You're It!", "Ghosts of the Sargasso", "Return to Spider-Skull Island", and "The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay".
Season Two April 17, 2007 13 This two disc set includes all 13 episodes of Season 2. As with the Season 1 DVD release, any nudity has been covered with black bars and the profanity has been censored. Bonus features include commentary on every episode by Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer and, for some episodes, "special guests" such as voice actors James Urbaniak and Michael Sinterniklaas. Features also include deleted scenes and a tour of Astro-base Go!.
Season Three March 24, 2009 13 This two disc set includes all 13 episodes of Season 3. Unlike the previous DVD releases, Season 3 is uncensored, with all profanity and nudity intact. Bonus features include deleted scenes and commentary. The season was also released on Blu-ray, which is packaged with a soundtrack CD that includes 20 tracks comprising the score from the season.[23] The box cover is based on the box covers of many video games on the Atari 2600. Although the Blu-ray is only available in the "Region A" zone, it functions in the "Region B" zone also.
Season Four, Volume One October 26, 2010 8 This one disc DVD set includes the first 8 episodes of Season 4. Similar to the Season 3 set, all episodes are uncensored. Bonus features include deleted scenes and commentary.[24] Both halves of Season 4 were released on the Season 4 Blu-ray.
Season Four, Volume Two March 22, 2011 8 This one disc DVD set includes the final 8 episodes of Season 4. Similar to the Season 3 set, all episodes are uncensored. Bonus features include deleted scenes and commentary.[25] Both halves of Season 4 were released on the Season 4 Blu-ray.
Season Five March 4, 2014 8 This two disc DVD or one disc Blu-ray set includes all 8 episodes, including 2 bonus episodes ("A Very Venture Halloween" and "From the Ladle to the Grave: The Shallow Gravy Story"), audio commentary from Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer, and deleted scenes.

The "lost DVD commentary"[edit]

On a June 30, 2006, LiveJournal post, Jackson Publick revealed that he and Doc Hammer had recorded a commentary track for the season one episode "Home Insecurity". Warner Bros. chose to omit this track from the Season One DVD due to space limitations and some minor sound quality issues. Publick also stated that the commentary can be found and downloaded from Quickstop Entertainment.[26]

Soundtrack CD[edit]

For the video release of the Season 3, a soundtrack album was also released, titled The Venture Bros.: The Music of JG Thirlwell. This is the same audio CD included as a bonus with the Blu-ray version of Season 3. While the CD release was originally made available at Adult Swim's website, it was given a wide release on May 12, 2009;[27] the vinyl LP release came out a month earlier. It can also be downloaded from most major digital retailers. The CD features 20 tracks, while the vinyl LP release is 16 tracks and a download link of the complete release including the songs omitted from the LP.[28]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Booker, M. Keith (2006-08-30). Drawn to Television. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-275-99019-0. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  2. ^ "Countdown To Wow-Town". livejournal.com. 2011-03-22. Retrieved 2011-03-22. 
  3. ^ "Venture Bros. Season 5 Premiere Moved to June 2nd at Midnight". Venture Bros. Blog. April 25, 2013. Retrieved May 14, 2013. 
  4. ^ Robert, Daniel (2006-05-30). "SuicideGirls Interview with Jackson Publick". Suicidegirls.com. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  5. ^ Jackson Publick (2005-12-20). "It's That Time Again...". Livejournal.com. Retrieved June 21, 2006. 
  6. ^ Jackson Publick (August 28, 2004). "The Incredible Mr. Brisby". The Venture Bros.. Season 1. Episode 104. Cartoon Network. Adult Swim.
  7. ^ Jackson Publick (September 19, 2010). "Pomp & Circuitry". The Venture Bros.. Season 4. Episode 410. Cartoon Network. Adult Swim.
  8. ^ Jackson Publick (2010-03-27). "A Bold New Day Dawns...". Livejournal.com. Retrieved 2010-04-04. 
  9. ^ "Venture Bros. Season 5 Premiere Moved to June 2nd...". http://www.venturebrosblog.com. 2013-05-03. 
  10. ^ "A Conversation About The Venture Bros. With Its Creators", Slate magazine, 2013-07-08.
  11. ^ Season 2 DVD commentary
  12. ^ Gilbertson, Jon M. (2004-11-22). "Cartoon Network's Adult Swim shows hooking ratings" (–Scholar search). The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. [dead link]
  13. ^ a b Jackson Publick (2006-06-21). "Quickcast Commentary:The Venture Bros.". quickstopentertainment.com. Retrieved 2006-06-21. 
  14. ^ IGN Top 100 Animated Series
  15. ^ Chris Wade, "You’ve Probably Never Heard of One of the Best Shows on Television", Slate, May 31, 2013.
  16. ^ Armin Rosen, "You Really Should Start Watching The Venture Bros.", The Atlantic, May 31, 2013.
  17. ^ Zack Handlen, "A Very Venture Halloween", A.V. Club, October 28, 2012.
  18. ^ a b Zack Handlen And Todd VanDerWerff, "Crosstalk: A fan and a newbie catch up on the first season of The Venture Bros.", A.V. Club, May 17, 2013.
  19. ^ Fowler, Matt (15 July 2013). "The Top 25 Animated Series for Adults From caped crusaders to web-slingers to danger zones, here are the best animated shows to enjoy as a grown up.". IGN. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  20. ^ David Lambert (2006-01-31). "Venture Bros., The - Street Date, Box Art, Extras & More For Season 1 Package!". TVshowsonDVD.com. Retrieved 2006-07-11. 
  21. ^ Jackson Publick (2006-05-31). "Holy crap!". Livejournal.com. Retrieved 2006-07-11. 
  22. ^ Publick Nuisance - The secret files of the Ventureverse.
  23. ^ "Venture Brothers Season Three Ventures to DVD". IGN.com. Retrieved 2008-12-06. 
  24. ^ "[adult swim]/Warner Announces Season 4, Volume 1 on DVD". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2010-07-14. 
  25. ^ The Venture Bros. - Season 4, Volume 2.
  26. ^ "Quickcast Commentary: The Venture Bros.". Quick Stop Entertainment. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  27. ^ "The Venture Bros: The Music of JG Thirlwell: JG Thirlwell: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  28. ^ "The Venture Bros. Album on CD". Williamsstreet.com. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 

External links[edit]