As the impending idiocracy approaches, it becomes harder to differentiate between those who have already succumbed, and those who hasten its arrival because it’s an easy way to make a buck and gain a little notoriety.
Both groups create “decade in review” pieces a year early, but the sell-outs who know better reveal themselves through admittedly wise selections. A surefire way to spot one is if they include Adult Swim’s The Venture Bros. in any best-of article dealing with animation, comedy, or television in general because the series is a damn fine piece of brilliance and has been for three seasons running.
The Venture Bros. began as a spoof of children’s adventure series Jonny Quest, but has since expanded into the telling of an epic narrative to rival shows like The Wire and Lost. This season in particular reveals a lot of character backstory from villains The Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend, who changed her name to Dr. Mrs. The Monarch after their marriage, to Venture ally Master Billy Quizboy, and the original Dr. Jonas Venture.
While some animated series don’t pay attention to continuity, current storylines running through this season include Dr. Rusty Venture having financial trouble at Venture Industries and The Monarch trying to move on as archenemy of Rusty after Sgt. Hatred is assigned the position by the Guild of Calamitous Intent. The season also makes a number of revelations, such as who was actually responsible for Baron Underbheit losing his jaw in an explosion (he blamed former college lab-partner Rusty), and the true nature of Brock Sampson’s assignment from the Office of Secret Intelligence. A few characters die and leave, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be seen again.
For Season Three the series was animated in high definition and is the first to be released on Blu-ray. It is presented in 1080p and the image looks great. The colors are vibrant; blacks are rich; and when textures are drawn, they are clearly detailed. The aspect ratio is 1.78:1 even though the liner notes on the box, whose artwork is modeled after the artwork for Atari 2600 game boxes, say it is 2.4:1.
The audio is set low. I normally watch a Blu-ray with the volume set between 40 and 50 had to turn this up to 55 to hear the dialogue, music, and effects clearly. The latter two can be heard in the surrounds and subwoofer. The liner notes say there’s only Dolby Digital English 5.1 but the menu options also offer True HD, although I couldn’t hear a difference.
This season is also the first to be released uncensored, which means there’s not only profanity but also depictions of nudity. However, it’s all male, which will likely startle viewers who have never seen HBO’s Oz.
This release offers a good amount of special features. There are deleted scenes (20 min) from 11 of the 13 episodes, which have voices matched with sketches. Show creators Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick provide episode commentaries talking about inspirations, going off on tangents, and even revealing spoilers because they figure you should have seen the episodes first. They are very amusing together here, revealing why they make a good team. A major bonus for Blu-ray buyers is the inclusion of the soundtrack album The Venture Bros. – The Music of JG Thirwell, Vol. 1. Thirwell’s imagination seems as boundless as Hammer and Publick’s and it is a very fun listen.
While Season Three isn’t the best place to start for those new to The Venture Bros., it is extremely rewarding for those who have followed the series. The stories offer plenty of action and humor that doesn’t solely derive from pop-culture references like most animated shows, but from the characters and situations as well. If you are new to the series, I strongly recommend you catch up.