The Venture Bros. is a cartoon series that runs on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. It is a very funny parody of the children’s action/adventure cartoon Jonny Quest. In fact, the Quests’ bodyguard, Race Bannon, makes a brief appearance in the episode “Ice Station-Impossible.”
The brothers are fraternal twins, Hank and Dean, young boys with an innocence and simplicity straight out of The Hardy Boys. You expect to hear them say things like “Gosh” and “Gee willikers.” They are always up for an adventure, though they usually get in over their heads while illustrating that intelligence isn’t hereditary.
Their father is Dr. Thaddeus “Rusty” Venture, a pill-popping scientist who has failed to be as successful as his father, Dr. Jonas Venture. The aptly named Brock Savage is the Venture’s bodyguard with a license to kill that gets used on a regular basis. He wouldn’t know the meaning of the word “overkill” if it bit him in the “no-nos,” tore them off, spit them in his face, and then made him eat them.
The family’s main nemesis is the Monarch, who chose the guise because he was raised by monarch butterflies when he was orphaned. His partner-in crime is currently known as Dr. Girlfriend. I’m still surprised that they got away with the name Molotov Cocktease for former Russian secret agent and Brock's love interest.
The show’s creative team must have been Marvel Comics readers when they were growing up because they spoof a number of characters. Professor Impossible, voiced by Stephen Colbert, is Dr. Venture’s former school professor and a caricature of Mr. Fantastic and has his own fantastic foursome.
Baron Verner Underbheit, an exchange student Dr. Venture met in college, is Dr Doom. Dr. Orpheus, the necromancer who is renting a lab at the Venture compound that he shares with his teenage daughter, is Doctor Strange.
The show’s humor is similar to The Tick, another superhero spoof, which shouldn’t be a surprise because The Venture Bros. creator Christopher McCulloch, who is credited as Jackson Publick, was a storyboard artist and writer of two scripts for the animated version of The Tick. He also wrote an episode of the live-action version, which starred Patrick Warburton, who is the voice of Brock. Ben Edlund, The Tick creator, received a story credit for the episode “Careers in Science.”
Pop culture references run throughout the show from quick, iconic images, like the slow motion shot of the team walking, similar to The Right Stuff, to longer sequences like the nod to Easy Rider, which was very funny and set up a great cliffhanger for the season finale. My favorite might have been when the gang is dressed like The Rocky Horror Picture Show cast.
It’s not just movies that get referenced, as homages to The Six Million Dollar Man and the infamous Star Wars Kid from the Internet also appear.
The set contains all 13 episodes from the first season. The extras include the pilot episode, which was created in Flash animation, the bonus Christmas episode, and deleted scenes from six episodes. Six episodes have creator commentary.
It’s great to hear the making-of stories and how creative decisions were made, but at times Publick and writer Doc Hammer fly off wildly on tangents and bore the viewer with tales that even their friends must groan at. “There was that time I watched your cat…”
Don’t bother accessing the behind the scenes of the live action movie. It’s a painfully unfunny filler of interviews and outtakes.