Venture Bros: Self-Medication


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"Self-Medication," in a way, removes all the subtext from The Venture Bros: this is a show about child abuse, plain and simple. Rusty was abused by his father, everyone in Rusty’s therapy group was either abused by their fathers or father-figures (even Ro-Boy reserves his rage for "big robots"), Rusty abuses his own children by putting them in the care of a pedophile. "Boy adventure" almost becomes a code-word for trauma suffered at the hands of an abusive father. The group therapist, quite eloquently, considering, explains that his patients’ behavior is what they do to keep themselves from dealing with their real problems — they are obsessed with their "boy adventures" because they can’t deal with the fact that they’re all abused children. As long as they can solve one more mystery, defeat one more bad guy, escape one more trap, they won’t have to face up to the horror of their existence: they were all abused, molested and neglected by their fathers.

We could go down the line: Brock, the "good father," in the end has abandoned Hank, The Monarch, himself denied a family, has become not just an abusive father to his minions but a murderous one. Hunter Gathers cruelly manipulates his son-figure Brock, Professor Impossible horribly abuses everyone in his family, Baron Underbheit is monstrously abusive to his charges, concocting the most abstruse methods of death imaginable for the sake of a pun, Pete White’s neglect of Billy Quizboy lost Billy his eye and his arm, The Master cruelly toys with Dr. Orpheus — only Dr. Orpheus himself appears to be a decent father, and, arguably, the Sovereign, who seems to have some kind of fairness in his dealings with his people. In the motherhood department, we have Dr. Mrs. The Monarch, whose "mothering" of the Moppets is a grotesque parody of parenting.

In this context, one can see The Monarch’s hatred of Rusty as a desire for a kind of patricide. Rusty is a father-figure to the Monarch in spite of being the same age. He is "authority," that entity that one may endless rebel against. He’s exactly what the Monarch needs, an authority figure who barely even cares that the one rebelling exists. That’s why he keeps prolonging the moment of Rusty’s death — once Rusty is gone, who will he arch? He can never resolve his own family problems, so he will endlessly look for ways to deal with them through his arching of Rusty.

Look at the list of abuses mentioned in this episode alone: Wonder Boy was abandoned by his father-figure when he got too old (a fate I fear will befall Hank when he gets too old to interest Sgt Hatred), the Hale Bros were apparently so terrorized by their father that they murdered him, Action Johnny was given access to prescription medication at an early age (and dragged on countless adventures to dangerous locations). Ro-boy, well, Ro-boy, for those unaware, is based on Astro-Boy, and Astro-Boy’s backstory is that he is a robot built to replace the dead son of his inventor, and is sold to the circus by his creator when it’s discovered that he will not grow. Even if Ro-Boy doesn’t say as much, rage against his father is built into the character.

(How strange, and revealing, that Ro-Boy’s creator gave him a re-boot button in his underpants.)

The Monarch does have one moment approaching something like good parenting in this episode — at the very end, when he wanders by 21’s room. He treats him as a father should treat an older son — with respect for his space and dignity, almost as an equal. And 21 responds in kind! He seems pleased as punch to have Monarch as a father figure — he looks up to him, respects him, knows his place and yet has carved out his own identity within the horde. It’s almost beside the point that they’re discussing the brutal murder of Rusty’s therapist, another "authority figure" who has gotten in the way of the Monarch’s arching.

The "boys’ adventure" that Rusty’s rag-tag group of abuse victims has two steps — a strip club, and Dr. Z’s house. The former is hardly a place for "boy adventurers" to be poking around, the latter is a perfectly ordinary home for a pair of ordinary retirees — a loving couple in a happy marriage. The strip club, we’re told, is filled with henchmen of one stripe or another, more abused children, children who have grown up to be stunted adults searching for cheap kicks at the expense of loose women. Dr. Z, on the other hand, as elderly and compromised as he is, is perfectly content in his retirement. He’s stopped chasing after adventure, and found the happiness and fulfillment that can only be found in a loving relationship, something conspicuously absent in the rest of the Venture-verse. (It’s significant that Dr. Z’s wife is barren — Dr. Z will never have children. This is, perhaps, a good thing, ending the cycle of abuse the show seems to insist upon.)

Meanwhile, Sgt Hatred is having a meltdown at the movies. American movies, in recent years, have increasingly pushed to include everyone — boys, men, teenagers, females — in the 18-to-25 age bracket. Pre-teen boys are pressured to see material too advanced for them, and anyone over 30 looking for entertainment is encouraged to remain in a state of perpetual adolescence. The perfect vehicle for this audience is The Lord of the Rings, a vast fantasy canvas old enough to be remembered fondly by baby boomers, childish enough to be embraced by pre-teens, and with enough eye-candy to attract females. So it’s not a coincidence that Sgt Hatred has his meltdown in a showing of a Rings-like movie — the audience is all adolescent boys, whether they’re 12 or 35. The point being, movies like Lord of the Rings make everyone an adolescent boy.

So Sgt Hatred suddenly has a moment of realization. He’s watching boy-porn, a movie designed to not only arouse the senses of adolescent boys, but also to confuse them as well, by providing beautiful boy-men who are androgynous to be mistaken for women. What a toxic soup for Sgt Hatred to stumble into! ("Did Henry Darger write this?" asks Hatred. As well he might.)

What is Hatred’s "inner angry native?" The obvious answer is "pedophilia," but why is he a pedophile? We may never know, but my guess is that anyone with the word "HATRED" tattooed to his chest didn’t have a happy childhood. What will alleviate Hatred’s pain, when his supply of medications runs out and he’s unable to get to Thailand and buy a child to molest? Princess Tinyfeet, of course. Princess Tinyfeet is Hatred’s habit, the thing he does to avoid dealing with his real issue. We rush to embrace habit when we can no longer face our true nature, and Sgt Hatred falls for Hank and Dean’s Tinyfeet trap far too easily.

Rusty, as Rusty will, gives up therapy after less than one session. "I grew up! I have my own family!" he snorts, disassociating himself from the others in the group. Rusty may not be obsessed with adventure any more (he seems more of a homebody than ever this season), but he’s a long way from crowing about his role as a paterfamilias.

Comments

56 Responses to “Venture Bros: Self-Medication”
  1. spiralstairs says:

    I don’t know if the references run this deep, but ‘Chobits’s Chii had a reset button up her hoo-ha. Probably a coincidence.

    That’s a really good observation about the Monarch and 21. Even the way he hid 24’s skull was in this weird casual “I don’t want dad seeing this” way. Does he have a father figure in his life or was he only living with his mom during off-hours?

    • Todd says:

      Astro-Boy doesn’t have a reset-button in his underpants, but he does have machine-guns that come out of his butt. I wish I was kidding.

    • Anonymous says:

      Remember, 21 was kidnapped by the Monarch during an 8th-grade class field trip, and spent the rest of his childhood and adolescence as one of the Monarch’s minions. When he returned home, his dad was gone (dead? divorced? I forget), and his mom eventually shacked up with his best friend, who began treating him (horribly) like a surrogate father. So in a very real sense, The Monarch _is_ 21’s dad.

      Which is my cue to say that I’m eagerly awaiting Mr. Alcott’s take on “Return to Malice.”

      — N.A.

      • spiralstairs says:

        Okay this is why I need to rewatch the series without the commentary tracks because I’m trying to remember where that was brought up and I can’t recall. 24’s messed up family I know about, but 21 is a blank.

        What comes next for 21? Teenage rebellion? Branching out to become a supervillain? Dare I say, a more successful supervillain than the Monarch? (Yes, I have a fantasy of Dr. Killinger helping 21 become the nemesis Rusty could have been. Hush. :P)

        • chebghobbi says:

          21 was kidnapped at age 15 (not sure how that tallies with his being in the 8th grade as I’m a furner) and pressed into service as a henchman.

          It was 24 whose father ended up stealing his son’s girlfriend.

  2. mcbrennan says:

    The murder of the therapist is just so huge–here’s the one guy who actually reveals the truth to these guys (and, not incidentally, to the viewer)–a truth that threatens their whole manufactured identities. That truth is so horrible it’s no small wonder somebody has to kill it (and that the suspect list is longer than the credits to Madagascar). With that truth neatly dispatched, what else can they do but revert to the damaged role-playing that enabled them to survive in the first place? Who would Sherlock Holmes be without having a mystery to solve or a fiendish nemesis or a sycophantic sidekick to fawn over his brilliance? He’d be like Action Johnny, a washed-up, filthy drug addict with severe OCD using whatever faculties he had left to procure ever more choice Victorian coke. The mystery literally makes the man. And it’s a minor point, but Holmes’ only living family was Mycroft, right?

    The protectiveness of the “antagonists” is interesting (okay, it’s bizarre–who hires a pedophile named “Hatred” to guard your kids? But then again, Brock Samson is practically a serial killer, disemboweling pathetic cosplayers by the score, often in front of the boys, with no trace of conscience, at least until Venturestein–so which is worse, mass murder or child sexual abuse? Is there even a moral difference?) But credit Hatred–he’s out of medication, knowing he’s going to relapse–Hank and Dean are right there–but all he wants to do is get as far away from them as possible. Oh, it’s bad news for distant Asian kids, but he’s doing his best to protect his own charges, at least. “Action Johnny” manufactures the most cockeyed investigation known to man in order to run to Dr. Z, the only remaining significant “adult” in his life–we know Race Bannon is dead, but has it been established whether Benton Quest is around? Even if he is, would Dr. Quest give advice as compassionate and sensible as the sinister Dr. Z?

    The Monarch/21 relationship–the way the Monarch treats 21 with newfound respect and compassion, not quite as equals but less like a throwaway minion and a lot more like family–you know, it’s almost as if the show is saying that one can only become an adult, a “real person”, by facing great loss. That loss is the fire that burns us down to the essence of who we are–that tempers us, or ultimately destroys us.

    Wait, maybe that was Iron John. But Rusty left college and became “Dr. Venture” only upon the death of his father. And Hank’s rapid maturation (did I spell that correctly?) came when he lost Brock. What awaits Dean is anybody’s guess, but I think the future of the entire thing–the cycle of abuse, superscience vs costumed villainy, maybe even the whole so-called space age–rests on his response. I think it’s going to be Dean’s to embrace or reject.

    • notthebuddha says:

      who hires a pedophile named “Hatred” to guard your kids?

      I’m pretty sure OSI supplies the bodyguard for Rusty, who is willing to accept the free muscle despite the psychosis because he’s a cheap bastard and knows he can dodge some of his parental responsibilities by shifting it to the bodyguard.

      • Todd says:

        That’s a great excuse: “What are you looking at me for? I didn’t hire the pedophile, he was assigned to me!”

        • notthebuddha says:

          I can hear that in his whinny nasal tone!

          Also, isn’t it odd that the OSI doc had a shot ready to go to suppress Sgt Hatred’s pedophilia? Almost like they knew what its exact root cause was…because they put it there?

        • gersonk says:

          I can’t remember which episode it was, but they covered this earlier this season – Hatred refused to leave the compound until Doc hired him. And in this ep, OSI’s not returning Hatred’s calls. He may think he’s been hiring his bodyguards all along, and maybe OSI was taking payment through some front.

          Also, remember his surprise that Brock was reporting back on him and his expectation that Brock would keep working for him after quitting OSI. The only clear indication we’ve gotten that he knows OSI’s involved with his bodyguards was when they carted Myra away for him.

          It’s also possible that after Brock quit or when the ORB turned out to be a dud, they decided Rusty wasn’t worth guarding any more.

  3. Anonymous says:

    On the whole, nothing but good things have happened for the boys, and Rusty, since Brock left. Hank’s become more outgoing, confident, and even mature. Dean’s become more compassionate and brave (even if only in small ways). Look at the end of this episode — they rescue themselves AND Sgt. Hatred via a successful subterfuge, and they do it by getting a squad of their arch-enemies to work with them. OK, maybe a drunken pedophile is not the most dangerous opponent, but we’re talking about kids who previously killed themselves by jumping off the roof dressed as cartoon superheroes.

    And without Brock to mind the boys, Rusty’s forced to become more of an actual parent, even if only to Dean. His epiphany at the end of this episode may spring from his usual narcissism, but it’s an epiphany nonetheless.

    Sometimes a good dad has to take a step back and let his kids stand or fall on their own. In my mind, that’s exactly what Brock did. But I guess we’ll find out more on that next week.

    — N.A.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The fact that it was Hank dressed up as Tinyfeet was just astonishingly twisted.

    -Matt

  5. > only Dr. Orpheus himself appears to be a decent father,

    But he only has a daughter. This show isn’t about abused children, it’s about abused *boys*.

    > my guess is that anyone with the word “HATRED” tattooed to his chest
    > didn’t have a happy childhood.

    Thank you for this late entry for “Understatement of the Year”. 🙂

    • blake_reitz says:

      Good point about Orpheus. I was going to post that he’s the only father who is specifically not forcing his offspring into his occupation, and you may have hit the nail on the head as to why.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ah, but as The Master pointed out in this week’s episode, Orpheus is shielding his daughter from following in his footsteps, even though she apparently has some natural skill in magic. Orpheus is trying actively to keep her from his way of life, even though she might actually be good at it (is she the anti-Venture, where she doesn’t suffer from failure?). Rusty now seems to be trying to pull Dean into the super science racket, although he has passively been subjecting both Hank and Dean to the “boy adventurer” life-style all through their childhoods, perhaps because he himself knows of no other way to raise children.

        • blake_reitz says:

          SPOILER ALERT for anyone who hasn’t seen the latest episode, but it does end up with Orpheus allowing his daughter to go live with her mother and learn magic. I think this is important, because while he’d rather let her live a normal life, he is allowing her to do what she wants (after a few times mindwiping her, of course).

      • jvowles says:

        Orpheus has told us that his wife left him because he was always busy being a superhero. He has actual super powers, and appears to take his responsibilities seriously — but his achievements and his supernatural responsibilities have, in the past, kept him from his more mundane, domestic responsibilities. And with Trianna, he’s attempting to set things right — a fact she seems to recognize.

        It’s interesting that Orpheus has very often been shown in a domestic light — fussing over his home, trying to raise his daughter the best way he can, being neighborly and frankly seizing every opportunity to be mundane and normal. In a way, Orpheus is the Ned Flanders of this disfunctional world. He’s the neighbor who always just slightly overachieves and he’s a nice guy to boot. He annoys Venture because, in his own way, he’s successful. He earned his powers through effort and talent, and clearly his Master is a vexing pain in the ass. Orpheus’ mystic role requires him to see through illusions to the truth, and I find it telling that every encounter with his Master reveals some unavoidable truth about Orpheus.

        And with the Triad, Orpheus has adopted brothers whose skills complement his own. But they all recognize the sacrifice that made them what they are — and Orpheus doesn’t want to inflict that on his kids. Nor the Venture boys, to be fair.

        Sgt Hatred has *consistently* done his level best to be a friend to the family, even when he was arching them. He loves the boys and wants to do right by them, and he acknowledges and makes every effort to control his unwanted sexual attraction to them, which he views as a sickness and addiction. I think the boys respond to that genuine affection.

        Comparing Brock to Hatred, one thing becomes clear: Hatred is probably the more emotionally healthy of the two. Both are frustrated and betrayed by unachievable sexual desires (Brock has Molotov Cocktease to thank for that), both are capable, well trained fighters who work hard to keep the Ventures safe. But Hatred understands his emotions and desires and expresses them, while Brock converts them all to rage and destruction. I dont’ think we’ve seen Hatred kill anyone, while Brock was described as a Swedish murder machine. Tellingly, Brock’s acceptance of the Ventures as his real family causes his breakdown, whereas Hatred’s has, to date, primarily caused Hatred to strive to become a better man.

        Crazy-ass show. God I love it.

        • blake_reitz says:

          Man, I never thought of Hatred being more emotionally healthy than Brock, but I think you’re right.

        • Anonymous says:

          I think Hatred might have previously been emotionally healthier than Brock, but after seeing Brock at the end of the first episode, I think he’s in a better place now. The warmth and honesty with which he spoke to Hank, the confidence he had in him, and the way he dispatched Hitler-Dog — calmly, with none of his usual insane frenzy — suggests that he’s come a long way toward working out his issues.

          — N.A.

        • gersonk says:

          Sgt Hatred has *consistently* done his level best to be a friend to the family, even when he was arching them.

          But only since he met Princess Tinyfeet. When Myra kidnaps the boys, Hank mentions that Hatred had also kidnapped and molested them. This was referenced again when he makes his first appearance at the wedding. I’m not sure why they haven’t addressed this more explicitly this season.

          And his kindness to the family in season 3 seemed to come from the fact that his hatred for The Monarch was stronger than anything he felt towards the Ventures.

    • I think it could be argued that Orpheus has ‘adopted’ Al and Jefferson as sons; he is the authority figure in the Order, he handles all aspects of leadership (down to merchandising) himself, and both of them continue to rebel against him.

      From that point of view he’s definitely abusing them, as he’s doing the same thing to them as Rusty is to Hank and Dean, dragging them around on ‘adventures.’ And he’s doing it to validate his own needs, specifically because the Guild mentioned a ‘team’ when they accepted him for arch-enemy status.

      (I think Rusty brings the boys along just because he needs his bodyguard with him, and he can’t leave them home alone, because they’ll kill themselves. Rusty hasn’t even tried to teach them how to deal with the ‘boy adventurer’ lifestyle before this season, for example. They’re just in his way.)

      Interesting that both Al and Jefferson have said at some point this season that they don’t really want to do this crazy stuff. But Orpheus convinces them every time.

      It should be interesting to see where his life goes now that Triana’s gone, leaving him no incentive to try and have a normal life.

  6. Dr. Z’s wife referred to herself as his “beard”… so I’m gonna go ahead and guess they AREN’T exactly getting the happiness and fulfillment of a loving relationship. At least not in the traditional sense.

    • Also wanted to point out that it’s hilarious and confusing to me that Nightin’ Ales continues to be the same strip club pretty much any strip club scene occurs in…

  7. reroots says:

    Isn’t Dr. Z gay, and not sexually involved with his wife? Not that they can’t still have a loving relationship, but it seems like it’d be worth mentioning.

  8. Anonymous says:

    “Rusty, as Rusty will, gives up therapy after less than one session.”

    I think it was more therapy interruptus. He never started therapy, it, or rather the therapist, left him at the crucial moment that therapy could really begin. He was standing up to participate in that act with the therapist, the one where he will have to confront and name his affliction in front of everyone. (He mentions he wants to whisper it please). The therapist died before working with him him through it. Later, at Dr. Z’s house, after re-enacting the whole boy-adventure route, he rejects the offer to just continue and pal around with that group of damaged goods. He doesn’t want to go back, and he knows what they are, and they do have issues. He rejected that.

    I see it more that he partly sussed out what the therapist was trying, and in his own mean-spirited (i.e. defensive-oriented) way, Rusty adapted it at that moment. He reproduces the therapist’s interrupted act, only now for himself, not for the aid of the others in any therapeutic way. He goes through and defines who HE is by naming each of his therapy gang’s afflictions and noting he is not having that (I didn’t hate my father so much I killed him, pointing to the Hale Bros and so on…)

    It is an inversion of what the therapist was going to bring him to start and do. Rusty does it via negativa – I’m not like you – and that’s his way of coming to terms with his life on his own. Not saying what he “is” or what afflicts him, but at least coming to terms in some way that it is somehow ok enough to continue in real life.

    Let’s not forget, each time Rusty was in “therapy” he never was allowed to state the problems that brought him there – the first time, his father played his therapist, self-serving judge as ever, and second time, the therapist is killed before Rusty can even utter his affliction. That would stop the best intentioned.

    As for Dr. Z, I think the “beard” reference was clearly stated, but they still are a great loving couple, enough that the robo-boy wanted them to adopt him.

    Arthur F.

    • Todd says:

      It’s true that Rusty has had bad luck with therapy, but to give it up before a single session is complete strikes me as defeatist. Although I will say he’s correct on one count — he was probably in the wrong group to begin with.

      • Anonymous says:

        As well, it seems hard to imagine to be in therapy, Rusty has to accept the paranoic construction IS the reality, i.e. “My therapist dropped dead in my arms. He was killed by a rare, poisonous snake. In his pants. During our session. The snake was sent from a masked nemesis who is always stalking my every movement, attempting to destroy whatever chance I take to free myself of my afflictions (which are largely due to my father.) I am living in a fortress, protecting myself (by an ex-child molester) from the next time this villain, a Monarch, will find the precise time to strike and humiliate me again.”

        If that IS reality, then what precisely should therapy assist in? I think Dr. Z was the best when he provided what came closest to reassurance and advice to them: just stop chasing adventures. Which is what Rusty did by refusing the group.

        • willdew says:

          If that IS reality, then what precisely should therapy assist in? I think Dr. Z was the best when he provided what came closest to reassurance and advice to them: just stop chasing adventures. Which is what Rusty did by refusing the group.

          Yeah, I felt that Rusty was the only one who *got it* but the grand irony was that while Dr. Z’s advice (that it only stops when you want it to stop) probably applies to Jonny, the Hale Brothers, ex-Wonderboy and Ro-Boy, it seems that Rusty is the only one it *won’t* work for.

          Also, I couldn’t help but think that some of the issues (eating disorder, drug abuse, violent outbursts, patricide) could actually still apply to Rusty due to his “diet pill” habit (amphetamines?), his constant reflexive habit of ordering Brock or Hatred to kill people and father who mysteriously disappeared. :/ (The last is speculation on my part, but what if he screwed something up just like the computer on Gargantua-1?)

          You could argue that Rusty left when he’s the one who probably needs therapy most. Granted, here’s a man who has been allowing his sons to die repeatedly and what is he worried about–premature ejaculation? Maybe his self-absorption will do more for him than going to “group” ever could.

          • gersonk says:

            Rusty’s diet pills haven’t really been addressed this season. We haven’t seen him taking them, but there’s been no talk of him actually quitting, so his “I’m not a drug addict” line suggested he was in denial. I half suspect he was only in therapy to get the note for the Guild’s new rule. Though, my other half suspects the rule only exists since Rusty asked for it before having Dean help Bowie get the Guild back.

  9. strangemuses says:

    As others have already pointed out, the only decent parent here, Orpheus, has a daughter, not a son. All of the child abuse you’ve highlighted stems from abusive father/son relationships. (Screwed up father/son relationships seems to be a staple theme on tv.) Mothers are largely absent on this show. The only mother figure on the show I can think of is Dr. Quymn, Medicine Woman. She was the female version of Rusty, dragging her twin daughters into dangerous situations under the dubious protection of her mannish female bodyguard.

    Orpheus may be the best example of parenting that the show has to offer, but even he has resorted to wiping his daughter’s memory, ‘for her own good’ naturally. Normally I’d find that to extremely creepy, except in this case Orpheus truly was trying to protect Triana from exposure to the weirdness/dangers of his profession. Now that she’s grown up enough to embrace her own powers, he not only didn’t try to stand her way, he was quite proud of her. I really like Orpheus. He seems like the kindest character on the show. (Plus, he’s got the whole Dr. Strange/Vincent Price thing going on, and I adore both of them.)

    The perfect vehicle for this audience is The Lord of the Rings, a vast fantasy canvas old enough to be remembered fondly by baby boomers, childish enough to be embraced by pre-teens, and with enough eye-candy to attract females. This comment jumped out at me (being one of the females who watched and loved The Lord of the Rings movies). I hope that you don’t think that females only watched these movies for ‘the eye-candy.’ All of my female friends were avid fans of the books. Many, like me, had read the books multiple times over many years because it’s a terrific story and a fantastic example of world building. We went to see the movies because we already loved the story. Sure there were a lot of viewers (male and female) who discovered the books via the movie, but ‘eye candy’ is not what attracted (all) chicks to these films. Most of us like a good fantasy quest advnture flick with cool monsters every bit as much as the guys.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m glad someone else pointed out that dismissive little line about “eye-candy.” It’s interesting to see how at least one screenwriter views 50% of the movie going public.

    • spiralstairs says:

      Seconding the LOTR thoughts. As much as I love hot swaggering man types, I was there for the action-adventure. I have some vague memory of screaming with glee when the mumakil cavalry arrived at Pelennor Fields and being twatted in the head for making such a fuss.

    • Todd says:

      I was looking at the Rings phenomenon not the way the audience sees it but the way the studio executives see it. They have no idea what an audience really wants, they only know how to serve an imaginary audience that exists on their balance sheets. I know that many women enjoy Rings as a story in its own right, but you would never convince a studio executive of that.

      • spiralstairs says:

        Ain’t it the sad and horrible truth. There could be dozens upon dozens of successors to Ripley and Sarah, but they’d all be flukes since nobody wants to see girls in the movies unless they’re nekkid or being killed. -.-

        • Anonymous says:

          A seemingly off-topic second hand anecdote:

          The writer Mark Evanier tells a story of meeting comic book shop owners in the ’80’s when Marvel was publishing the comic he wrote with Sergio Aragones, Groo The Wanderer. ‘It’s a great book’, they’d say. ‘I read it myself, every month! It’s hilarious!’. ‘I sell out every month!’. ‘So, you’ll be increasing your order for next month, then?’ ‘No, comedy books never sell.’

        • devophill says:

          A seemingly off-topic second hand anecdote:

          The writer Mark Evanier tells a story of meeting comic book shop owners in the ’80’s when Marvel was publishing the comic he wrote with Sergio Aragones, Groo The Wanderer. ‘It’s a great book’, they’d say. ‘I read it myself, every month! It’s hilarious!’. ‘I sell out every month!’. ‘So, you’ll be increasing your order for next month, then?’ ‘No, comedy books never sell.’

      • strangemuses says:

        I realized long ago that the folks who run Hollywood have absolutely no idea what sorts of stories women actually like, which is why they continue to crank out banal ‘chick-flicks’ (as if anyone gave a damn about those), and continue to assume that only males watch science fiction, or action/adventure flicks. Hollywood marginalizes women in their films so it’s no wonder that it has no clue what female audience members actually want to watch. Tone down the violence, flesh out the characters so they actually sound like human beings, write a decent story (instead of a bunch of exciting scenes all strung together by explosions) and we’re in! Giving the female characters something more to do than be the girlfriend, the mother, or the castrating bitch would be a big bonus, but this is Hollywood we’re talking about so I don’t expect miracles. ;>

        Anyway, that’s a rant for a different day. So far as the Venture Brothers is concerned, I’m delighted that the only decent parent on the show has a daughter that he’s proud of, and Triana herself is a delightful, and reasonably well adjusted character. I laughed my ass off when The Master showed her future Dean and told her to get out while the getting was good. Sound advice. There is no room for decent female characters in these bizarrely messed up boys’ adventures.

        • Todd says:

          To make matters worse, the most egregious offenders are all female executives. More times than I care to admit, I’ve had meetings with female executives who have told me “That’s a brilliant pitch and is going to make a terrific movie, if only we can make the protagonist a man instead of a woman because no one will go see a movie with a female protagonist.”

          And I’ll say “But then, how do you explain the career of James Cameron?” and they’ll say “But that’s James Cameron,” and I’ll say “Then how do you explain Pirates?” and they’ll say “But that’s all Johnny Depp,” and so on. A “conventional wisdom” sets in and, in order for them to keep their jobs, they have to appear to be more sexist than their male counterparts.

    • chebghobbi says:

      In fairness to Todd, it seemed to me he was referring to the movie industry’s idea of marketing to demographics.

      • strangemuses says:

        Yes, definitely, which is why I prefaced my statements with ‘I hope you don’t think this way.’ I don’t know him personally but just through his online presence here he has always struck me as being a very cool guy. I’m just always disheartened when I think about the fact that most of the execs in Hollywood are so out of touch with what the female audience wants to see.

  10. ndgmtlcd says:

    The way you’re describing these episodes season 4 seems to be darker, more psychological and with perhaps less action than season 3.

    Note that I’ve got a very incomplete view of things. While I do read all your blog entries on the Venture show I’ve bought the DVD for season 3 a few days ago, and I’m only half-done in going through it (and enjoying it greatly) and it will probably be another year before I buy season 4’s DVD and finally see the episodes you’re now describing.

    • Anonymous says:

      Season 4, to me, is more in the vein of “The Invisible Hand of Fate” than “The Family That Slays Together.” It’s a bit more subdued, more focused on the characters — and weirdly, it’s a lot more uplifting. We’re actually seeing the characters start to amass a collection of little victories, and become healthier people, little by little. Which, this being The Venture Bros. and all, kinda makes me fear what will happen next. (:

      — N.A.

      • icesickle says:

        Brock being off elsewhere really cuts down on the murderrific violence. The Monarch still tries to arch Rusty, of course, but it’s back to rough LARPing and stun darts.

  11. Normally I wouldn’t say anything unless I planned to make an intellectual comment, but I have to admit, Action Johnny saying, “Oh yeah. We’re having us some MAN adventure now,” as these ex-boy-adventurers enter the strip club in this episode, is by my count the best line of the season so far.