Venture Bros: Season 2, Episode 1

Maybe I’m just buzzed, but that didn’t feel like a new episode of The Venture Bros.  That felt like a completely different show.  The pacing, the complexity, the multiple layers of action and interaction, all with the typically dense saturation of pop-culture references from Batman to Poltergeist

It’s like the concepts from Season One have been folded up, crushed into a forge and pounded with a pneumatic press to form just the bones of the new season, and then there’s actually another show on top of it.

Far too much information to take in in one viewing.

It feels like the gloves have come off.  The subtext has become the text.  It’s no longer hinting at ideas or alluding to them, it’s coming right out and saying “This show is about ideas, and then it has to be funny, and then there has to be some kind of adventure plot.”

Startling to see a half-hour comedy, especially an irreverent, scatological half-hour comedy supposedly produced for an audience of teenage stoners, suddenly go from episodic television to mega-narrative.  The mega-narrative was always there, but it felt like if the Sopranos had started out like, say, Law and Order and then suddenly turned into the soap opera that it is.

The science/religion argument that goes by in an instant, a dozen multiple deaths in ten seconds, a prison break, introspection, a drug-laced pacifier, a jungle babe, zombies,  the monarch’s makeshift costume, the look on Dr. Girlfriend’s face as she gazes longingly out the window, and that covers maybe a sixteenth of the moments that make this dizzying, electrifying television.

Special kudos to the voice work, specifically Mr. Urbaniak’s newly confident reading of Jonas Venture.  It’s great to see a show not sit still but rather unfold in a dozen delightful, unpredictable ways.
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45 Responses to “Venture Bros: Season 2, Episode 1”
  1. craigjclark says:

    Yeah, that was pretty damn awesome. At times it seemed like it was moving a little too fast, but that’s because they had so many plot points/characters to squeeze in and I really wouldn’t want them to have cut out any of them.

    The one subplot that probably could have gone without too much bother was the henchmen support group, but it worked in tandem with The Monarch’s prison break. That was also the part that was the most reminiscent of The Tick, which is not a bad thing at all if you ask me.

    Also, best Venture Brother death: running with scissors.

    • thunder24 says:

      I thought the best one was the William Tell moment 🙂
      Very awesome start, though.

      • rjwhite says:

        No, no- you are both wrong- quietly, peacefully in their sleep, from the gas leak.

        • craigjclark says:

          The silent killer.

          • Todd says:

            Completely off-topic. On Animal Planet or some crazy cable outfit, they actually had a TV special called “Rattlesnakes: Nature’s Silent Killers.” Which I thought was extraordinarily stupid, as rattlesnakes are one of the few animals in nature that will actually go out of its way to warn you that it’s going to kill you.

    • greyaenigma says:

      The deaths had me choking because I was laughing. I think the pit of knives for me the most. The running with scissors was pretty great. I was really hoping for a ghost pirates death, though.

      The henchman support group reminded me so much of The Tick I was actively wondering if Ben Edlund wrote it. I forgot to check the writing credits. I also can’t remember if the issue with the sidekick support group was actually an Edlund issue, I think it was.

      • craigjclark says:

        This one was a Doc Hammer & Jackson Publick special. Edlund has written a script for this season, though. Can’t wait to see it.

        The sidekick thing is from “The Tick Vs. The Tick,” when The Tick and Arthur go to the Comet Club (a superhero bar) and Arthur gets turned away at the door and has to go to the Sidekick Lounge.

        • flastron says:

          Ah Borneo, sweet Borneo.

        • greyaenigma says:

          I remembered that issue, but I somehow thought there was something more support-groupy.

          I guess since the Omnibus was only ten feet away (although through a wall), so I should have just checked.

          • craigjclark says:

            I was actually referring to the episode of the cartoon series, but I know it came up in the comic as well. And yes, it was support-groupy, but only in the way that any group of underlings getting together and having a bitch session about their bosses is.

          • Late in the game here, but – might you be thinking of the live action series? There was an episode called “Couples” where Friendly Fire (sidekick to Fiery Blaze) takes Arthur to a Sidekicks support group of some sort, where they all grouse about the abuse they suffer at the hands of their superheroes.

            Both the animated and the live action were phenomenal.

            • greyaenigma says:

              I’ve never actually seen the live action series. I should check it out some time.

              • Yes – please do.

                The Tick, after all, is played by none other than *trumpet flourish* Patrick Warburton!

                I forget the reasons why, but when they did the live action series, the only two characters from the original series allowed were Tick and Arthur. Thusly,
                American Maid became Captain Liberty, there is no Sewer Urchin, and Die Fleidermaus (sp?) is the self-absorbed Batmanuel…

        • Really? Ben Edlund has a script? How cool is that..

  2. clayfoot says:

    I wonder if they’ll have to repeat this season opener throughout the season in order for the rest of the shows to make sense.

    • Todd says:

      My guess is that the boys will be re-booted so that everything can get back to “normal,” but this was such a dynamic, unpredictable season opener that I dare not guess what the hell is going on.

      • popebuck1 says:

        That’s my guess too – but since most of Episode 1 consisted of one variant after another of “So here’s where you think the season is going? PSYCHE!”, I don’t want to plan ahead for even a second.

  3. popebuck1 says:

    They had me right from the patented Sopranos “here’s what we’ve all been doing over the hiatus” musical montage. Right then, I knew I was back in good hands, and I could sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the season.

    You’re right – WAY too much information to process in a single viewing. And that’s a good thing.

  4. eronanke says:

    Oh god, I completely agree. I had to watch the ep. twice just to get a feel for it, not even to understand it. I need it on DVD *now* so I can review it in its entirety.

  5. dougo says:

    It would have helped to have a “Previously on…” lead-in segment. But otherwise, yeah, awesome!

    • Todd says:

      Here on the West Coast, at least, they showed “Return to Spider Skull Island” as the lead-in.

      • craigjclark says:

        Yeah, that was one of Adult Swim’s more intelligent programming decisions of late.

        And if anyone missed it and doesn’t want to wait until Thursday to catch the repeat, the season premiere is on The Fix all this week.

        • Anonymous says:

          And if anyone missed it and doesn’t want to wait until Thursday to catch the repeat, the season premiere is on The Fix all this week.

          Which is an uncommon move, if I’m not mistaken. Usually, they wait until a show’s season is over until they start putting episodes from that season on the Daily Fix.

  6. urbaniak says:

    Thanks for your kind words. The premiere blew me away as well when I saw a rough cut of it a few weeks ago. Quite a season them boys have in store for you.

    • Todd says:

      Did I detect a little Heston in Jonas’s voice?

        • Todd says:

          Did you ever think the work you did in those episodes of “Loft in Space” would pay off?

          • urbaniak says:

            It never occurred to me but the character of James Urbaniak in “Loft in Space” was a little like Jonas Jr.

            Note to everyone else: “Loft in Space” was an off-off-Broadway variety show that Todd and I worked on together in June of 1994 in which my roommates , Christine Marguerite and myself played theatrical versions of ourselves. It sold out every night, didn’t it, Todd?

            • Todd says:

              Damn, that’s Christine all right. Look at that neck.

              Yes, “Loft in Space” sold out every night. Although now that I think of it, it wasn’t you doing Heston, it was Louden.

              Ah, Louden.

  7. robolizard says:

    The episode dissapointed me at first considering I was pretty phsyched for a show whose titular character were killed off after the first season… but then, as I watched it… oh man… the idea of the Hardy Boys as half formed creatures never to die… a little bit more awesome even… pretty sweet….

    And Mr. Monday is my new hero [not sure wether he’s based on the Penguin or Julian Day though…]. King Gorilla must have more adventures…

    • Todd says:

      He seemed like a pretty clear “Calender Man” reference to me, but nothing is clear for long with the Venture Bros.

      • Wasn’t thinking Calender Man specifically, though that would be obvious–more a goof on guys like Egghead, The Riddler, whomever–any costumed jackass who picks one utterly useless theme and just runs with it ad nauseum, even unto gearing all his language towards his chosen theme, annoyingly. The funnybooks are full of ’em.

        Thanks for the review. Glad you enjoyed the premiere.

        And yes, who better for Jonas “Gregory Peck” Sr. to have given birth to than Charleton Heston? I’m digging James’s new take on the voice.

        • robolizard says:

          Pretty cooool… but what was the boxer based on? The one… who made our hearts weep…

          • Todd says:

            That seemed like a pretty clear reference to Muhammed Ali, who was a favorite of adventure shows in the 1970s. Spider-Man boxed him once, I’m sure he went into space at least once, did he actually have his own cartoon show at some point?

            • robolizard says:

              Oh yes… I thought that, but gratuitous real world celebirty appearences always seemed like more of a Scooby Doo thing than a Johnny Quest thing.

              In other news, Karen Strang is reaching Josh Emeryesque levels of jerkness. I put her on Jerk Alert Orange. Stay tuned.

              • Todd says:

                gratuitous real world celebirty appearences always seemed like more of a Scooby Doo thing

                Well, VB did do a whole Scooby Doo parody with the Ghosts of the Sargasso episode.

                • robolizard says:

                  Oh yeahh… thats kind of cool, the idea that one of the guest stars would begin to live thier life around the character…yay! So Mondaylicious.

  8. rennameeks says:

    Season 1 ended on such a cliffhanger that this episode was bound to feel as hectic it did because there were so many lingering questions that needed to be answered. The subtext suddenly becoming the text threw me for a loop – out of everything that happened in the episode, I expected that the least. I’m itching to see if the rest of the season will be like that or if it was one of those things that had to happen because of the unanswered questions from the end of season 1.

    *tries not to laugh too much at the thought of Mr. Urbaniak telling the twins “No kids, Daddy’s not really stuck in the wall.”*

  9. Anonymous says:

    It was funny.
    That’s what matters to me.
    But I agree the episode had an “off” feeling. Maybe because I saw the clone thing 7 miles away… Or that their were way too many things going on. (It was entirely unnecessary to have Dr. Venture sticking out of the wall)
    I think Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick went into overload mode for the season premeire and maybe aimed a bit too high.
    It was funny, though. I want to be President of Calanders!