Returning to Adult Swim’s Sunday night line-up for what promises to be an explosive fourth season, The Venture Bros., chronicles the escapades of the titular goofy teen brothers, Dean and Hank; their neurotic scientist father, Dr. Thaddeus Venture; their mullet-sporting bodyguard, Brock Sampson; arch-nemesis, The Monarch; and The Monarch’s wife, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch (formerly Dr. Girlfriend). What began as a clever riff on Johnny Quest and the superhero genre has evolved into an engrossing series with a tangled and hilarious mythology. Over the past three years The Venture Bros. has distinguished itself from Adult Swim’s other droll animated fare, but for those who have yet to fully pledge allegiance to Team Venture (or for the more dastardly of you, The Guild of Calamitous Intent), here are five reasons why you should watch the fourth season of The Venture Bros., the most exciting show ever (to air during a 12:00 AM – 12:30 AM Sunday night time-slot)!
1. The Characters
What other show can boast a roster of characters that includes an albino scientist, a hydrocephalic former quiz show champ with a growth-hormone deficiency, a male to female transsexual retired assassin, David Bowie, a pair of evil switchblade-wielding achondroplastic moppets, a cute goth girl, and a super genius with the face of a man and the body of a baby who – owing to the fact that he was absorbed by his twin brother in the womb – wasn’t “born” until he was middle-aged? Each member of this diverse, idiosyncratic crew has their own distinct psychosis and fantastically ridiculous personal history.
2. The Theme Song
Every time I hear those blaring trumpets and dramatic crescendos, the fourth-chair flautist in me thinks about how “cool” it would have been to play The Venture Bros. theme song in the high school band. Composer JG Thirlwell has managed to imbue the song with a sense of peril and this epic instrumental is the perfect contrast to what Venture Bros. creators Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer have said is essentially a show about failure.
3. The Pop-Culture References
The Venture Bros. is the only show that can go toe-to-to with Family Guy when it comes to delivering those satisfying, moderately obscure pop-culture treats. Even though I’ve personally never had too much of a problem with that other program’s reliance on flashbacks and non-sequiturs, there’s certainly something praiseworthy, masterful even, about Publick and Hammer’s ability to give The Boys from Brazil a shout-out without disrupting continuity or logic.
4. The Humor
Because Adult Swim programming is usually surreal, absurd, or in some way socially or sexually transgressive, the shows tend to polarize audiences. I can’t imagine anyone ever saying, “Eh, well I kind of like the rambling wordplay in Xavier: Renegade Angel.” You’re either in to that stuff or you aren’t. But The Venture Bros. has a little something for every one. With its super-villains and necromancers, it will entertain fans of surrealist humor. Yet, a hyper-realistic logic is imposed on those fantastic elements, making the show more palatable for satire fans – the villains belong to a labor union with an incredibly elaborate vetting process and health benefits. Publick and Hammer also use the show’s late-night basic cable time slot to their advantage and never shy away from the risqué gag – there have been quite a few instances of implied pedophilia.
5. The Stakes
While there is a secondary character who exclusively hunts Blaculas, I’m not referring to the pointed wooden vampire slaying implement. I’m talking about consequence. I’m talking about investment. Most animated shows resolve all conflict within a thirty-minute window but The Venture Bros. has storylines and subplots that have spanned the shows three-year run. Though the mythology is nowhere near as convoluted as, say, Lost, there is enough carry-over from episode to episode to reward consistent viewing.
In an homage to the conclusion of Easy Rider, the first season’s finale saw the death of Hank and Dean. But the second season revealed that Dr. Venture had a clone bank and a new Hank and Dean were apparently installed in place of the dead ones. This was definitely a cop-out; everyone acknowledges that. However, in season three’s outrageous climax, all of the Hank and Dean clones were destroyed, forever eliminating that safety net, and with the exit of two beloved characters, the finale also proved that nothing in the Venture-verse (inept, pseudo-baddie henchmen in particular) is too precious to be blown to bits.