The second season of The Venture Brothers came to a close on Sunday, and it seems like only yesterday that we learned the fate of young Dean and Hank Venture after their brush—or perhaps slow-dance—with death at the end of the first season.
If I have a list of Favorite Animated Television Series, you can be sure that The Venture Brothers sits comfortably in the coveted top slot, above even Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy and timeless classics such as The Simpsons and The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin.
Dr. Jonas Venture was a well-known, respected and successful scientist/adventurer. Unfortunately, he disappeared years ago, leaving his son, Rusty, a very big lab coat to fill. To say that Rusty hasn’t lived up to his potential may be unfair (perhaps he just didn’t have all that much potential), but it would certainly seem that Jonas’ genius, passion and charisma skipped a generation.
Or maybe two.
Hank and Dean Venture are Rusty’s teenaged sons, and what they lack in common sense and intelligence they make up for with enthusiasm. Always on the lookout for adventure and mystery, the boys frequently find themselves in a life-threatening jam. They are almost invariably rescued by the family bodyguard, Brock Samson (voiced by the awesome Patrick Warburton), or Dr. Byron Orpheus, the Doctor Strange knockoff who rents a spare lab at the Venture Compound.
Threats to the Venture clan come in all shapes, sizes and degrees of competence. Without question the most tenacious and obsessive of Dr. Venture’s nemeses is The Monarch, a butterfly-themed villain who operates from a hidden cocoon base and employs a cadre of expendable and far-from-elite henchmen. The Monarch’s rage can only be quenched by two things: the utter destruction of Dr. Venture and the tender ministrations of Dr. Girlfriend, the buxom, basso beauty (voiced by series co-creator, Doc Hammer) who hopes to one day become Dr. Mrs. Monarch.
Each episode of The Venture Brothers is an all-out pop culture assault, peppered with bizarre mythological and historical references to boot. One episode in the second season—titled “Escape to the House of Mummies, Part II”—threw the audience into the middle of a time-travel story involving Caligula, Edgar Allen Poe, Dr. Sigmund Freud and Thoth, the Egyptian god of knowledge. Though the episode begins with several scenes from “Last week on The Venture Bros.“, there is no “Escape to the House of Mummies, Part I”, nor is there—despite an unresolved storyline and a post-credits scene from the “next” episode that spoofs The Empire Strikes Back—an “Escape to the House of Mummies, Part III”.
It should be noted that The Venture Bros. is not suitable for children (hence its 10:30pm Adult Swim timeslot). Dr. Venture seems to be addicted to prescription diet pills, and will go to great lengths to procure them (including a visit to Mexico in season one’s “Dia de los Dangerous!”). Brock Samson has been described as Venture’s “Swedish murder machine,” and with good reason; he often kills The Monarch’s henchmen by the dozens. Meanwhile, Dr. Orpheus’ mysterious Master takes the guise of Catherine the Great’s horse in order to teach the mystic a lesson about “biting off more than [he] can chew.” Oh, and The Monarch has a bit of a potty mouth.
Finally, it should also be noted that—at the time of this writing—I do not yet own the first season of The Venture Brothers on DVD. If you don’t believe me, check my DVD collection on Squirl; the complete lack of the two-disc set is like a hole in the heart of the database.