The Venture Bros. has been on Adult Swim for over 10 years now. Despite that considerable amount of airtime, there’s only been five seasons with a total of 63 episodes. The amount of detail put into the show by its creators, Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick, is partially why fans had to wait so long for a fifth season. Hammer and Publick aren’t ones to write an episode and have it completed in a week’s time, a la South Park, so a full season of The Venture Bros. takes 13-14 months to complete.
Season five went through a transition with new behind-the-scenes workings and with the duo at a new studio, but the show and its miserable characters remained the same. The Venture brothers & Co. have been through some transitions over the years as well, and speaking with Hammer and Publick, they wanted to make sure it was an emotional one, embracing their more sentimental side.
If you want to hear what else they had to say about the show and its recently concluded fifth season, continue onward:
From the start of the show, there didn’t seem to be that “finding your footing” feel a lot of shows go through. Did you both have a clear idea for what the show was from the start?
Publick: Yes and no. In some ways, it’s changed a lot and found a new thing that it was, but it was pretty committed to itself from the beginning. It’s hard not to watch the earlier episodes now and go, “Oh, we didn’t know what we were doing.”
We were trying very hard, but even for the pilot episode, there was a confidence in not bothering to explain itself to you.
Were there ever discussions about whether people would get the more obscure references?
Hammer: You can make a couple of big jokes and get away with a little joke. There’s going to be a handful of people whose heads will explode at the little one. They’re going to think a joke was made just for them, because it was.
Publick: We can’t help ourselves. We call ourselves out on it for a while and go, “Really? Who’s going to get that?” Also, we now have full in confidence in that, if they miss that [reference], there’s the big joke later or, because we now read the Internet, we know that five or ten people will get it.
Hammer: You can watch the joke, google it, and then watch the show with your friends and laugh. When they don’t laugh, you can explain it like you got it the whole time. You’ll look way smarter than your friends.
Publick: The thing I loved about the cartoons I grew up with is, to this day, I’m still just starting to get certain references from Bugs Bunny cartoons. I’ll see some film noir movie and go, “Wait, that’s what Bugs Bunny was quoting!” I like the idea we made the unfolding fortune cookie for ten years from now.
Have you both always kept tabs on what people say about the show online?
Publick: I loathe to admit it, but, yeah.
Hammer: Jackson is a big fan of early returns. He needs to see how people receive it. The Internet pisses me off more than it pleases me. If I read something good, then I don’t believe it. If I read something bad, I take it personally. I try to stay off it, because I don’t have that fortitude. I’m too much of a pansy.
Publick: I’m of two minds about it. If you have an episode you feel strongly about and see people going “wow” online, then that feels good. Seeing people bitch about it never feels good, though. The blow is only softened if they have the dumbest arguments, like, if they didn’t get something. I generally don’t take it to heart, except for the first three hours of the night an episode premieres.
Hammer: I don’t have the balls for it. We make something that goes out into the public and people can get online and quickly write: “Doc Hammer Sucks.” I’ll read it and say, “But I don’t suck. Maybe I’ll find this person, bring them homemade cookies, and show I’m a regular person who doesn’t suck.”
That’s unreasonable, so I decide not to read it. Jackson has a more stable relationship with it, while I have a Twitter account that talks about my bowel movements. That’s how I use the Internet.
And the humor can be divisive. Some people didn’t get on board with the subplot about Sgt. Hatred’s pedophilia, but I thought that was one of the funniest parts of that season.
Publick: That’s exciting comedy for me, but it’s a touchy subject, and reasonably so. It’s not something we intended to hammer in constantly. Our show has a wide variety of viewers and every episode has something in it somebody will love and the other half will be uninterested in. I think the sum of it all ends up being satisfying for them, though.