Venture Bros.: Season Two (US - DVD R1)
Gabe loves the Adult Swim series so much he marries it on a whim in Vegas...
The opening paragraph of this review is meant to be read to the sounds of Rozalla's house classic 'Everybody's Free'
Dr. Thaddeus "Rusty" Venture is the son of the greatest scientist in American history, Dr. Jonas Venture, and as a child was part of many a Hannah Barbara styled adventure. As an adult Venture was never quite able to achieve much of anything, beyond an addiction to 'diet pills' and two sons.
(Everybody's freeeeeee to feel good!)
Hank Venture is the older of the Venture Brothers (by four minutes), and wears a blue kerchief every day. He's not the 'brains' of the outfit (or really the muscle), but he makes up for his lack of anything useful with his vigor and naiveté. Dean Venture wears a sweater vest, and is slightly more intelligent than his older brother. Dean isn't very brave, but only seldom wets his pants.
(The electronic drums begin to swell)
Brock Sampson sports a blond, curly mullet, and is the Venture family bodyguard. He's basically a cold-blooded murderer, but he's pretty good at his job (the boys have only died 15 times), and does love his family. He protects the Ventures from an array of threats, not the least of which is The Monarch, Dr. Venture's sworn enemy, who has escaped from prison to rescue his lover, the velvet voiced Dr. Girlfriend, from a boring relationship with the Phantom Limb.
This section of this review is meant to be read to the sounds of Gustav Holst's 'Mars'
The thing that makes Adult Swim on cartoon network so special is that it has an eclectic mix of shows, each of which can only be described as an acquired taste. I absolutely despise at least half the channel's output. Tom Goes To Mayor, 12 Oz Mouse, Perfect Hair Forever, Squidbillies, Super Milk-Chan, and more recently Tim and Eric's Awesome Show all make me sick with hatred. Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Frisky Dingo, Robot Chicken,and Sealab 2021 are hit and miss. Harvey Birdman, Moral Orel, and Metalolypse are solidly entertaining. There have only been three shows in the channels history that have connected with me 100%, The Boondocks, Home Movies, and the Titan among Titans, Venture Bros..
(Dah dadada dah dah dah dadada dah dah...)
If Venture Bros. hadn't been so popular, I'd swear it was a show made just for me, aimed directly at my funny bone. The show's humour is so personal that everyone who watches it is guaranteed to miss at least three jokes an episode. Creators Jackson Publick (real name Christopher McCulloch), and Doc Hammer (real name Eric Alexander Hammer) have their fingers adhered to the pop culture pulse, but they aren't afraid to dig deeper into the elite pop culture of '70s and '80s born geek pop culture vein, pull it out at the wrist, and bathe in its sweet, high iron nectar. And when I say geek I don't mean Star Wars geek, or Trekkie, or comic book collector, or Transformer obsessor, I mean all these, and so much more. Where else could you find references to Return of the Jedi B-character Nien Nunb, Melissa Joan Heart's original series Clarissa Explains It All (yeah, I watched it and Sabrina in reruns when I was in college), the spanking Christmas demon Krampus, and get to see David Bowie fight Iggy Pop and Klaus Nomi atop a moving rocket-ship? I mean, this is a series based on the idea of Johnny Quest growing up into a failure, what more could you possibly want?
This section of this review is meant to be read to the sounds of Technotronic's 'Move This', as rapped by the immortal Ya Kid K
All the best television based comedy comes from characters even more than jokes, visuals, or stories. If the audience knows a character well enough to know how they'd treat a given situation they're more likely to laugh before the joke is even made. Like most television series, especially animated, Venture Bros. season two is a solid step up from the already sparklingly entertaining season one. The first seasons of The Simpsons, Family Guy, Home Movies, etc., are all practice. Good writers experiment with their characters to find what works, and what makes them special. In later and more successful seasons Homer Simpson got stupider, Stewie Griffin began acting more like a middle-aged woman, and Coach McGuirk became even less aware of his obnoxious behavior.
(Baby let me show you how to do this, you've got to move this...)
Season one was full of great gags and one-liners, but quite a few jokes and situations fell short. What always worked were the characters. By season two we know these characters, more importantly we love these characters (and by 'we' I suppose I mean 'me'). Season two makes hit after hit after hit, there isn't a effectively weak episode in the entire 13 part run. There are bad jokes, sure, but even the lesser episodes are breaded and fried golden brown. The only reason I hesitate to call it perfect is the hope that maybe season three can be an even greater step up in quality. Fingers crossed.
This section of this review is meant to be read to the sounds of David Bowie's 'Modern Love'
The canvas is broadened to quite an impressive girth as well. More characters, more locations, bigger, better, and more exciting adventure all await the Venture family. One episode features Brock on a James Bond like mission to a remote island, complete with ridiculous gadgets and a hot native woman. Another episode sees the family crash landing in Ünderland, home of Dr. Venture's second most mortal enemy Baron Ünderbyte, who rules his land of fire and brimstone with an iron jaw. The family spends the entire episode dressed like Star Wars characters, except Hank, who refused to be a part of the group costume and dressed like Batman. My favourite additional visual element is a more intimate glimpse into the fantasy world of Dr. Orpheus, the Ventures tenet and resident necromancer (and no, that isn't what he does, you're thinking of a necro phile) who visits a spirit realm located in his daughter's closet for advice from his totem spirit (voiced by Home Movie's H. Jon Benjamin). The show looks like a million bucks, even if its budget isn't up to Simpsons standards.
(Its not really work, its just the power to charm)
Season two comes to a wonderful boil with the two-part season finale, in which almost every important character gets a climax of and afterglow. Without the benefit of the lesser season one, however, the heart of these exciting, funny, surprisingly warm-hearted climaxes doesn't hold half its meaning. Brock Samson leading The Monarch's army (who just now learned they could fly) against the hordes of the Guild of Calamitous Intent, Dr. Venture and The Monarch buddying up and running from the chaos in the same escape pod, and David Bowie's secret identity are all cute if you're seeing them for the series for the first time, but as the culmination of 25 and a half episodes they're absolute magic.
The A/V section of this review is meant to be read to the sounds of Iggy Pop and The Stooges 'Search and Destroy'
Venture Bros. season one has a few issues with edge enhancement and combing. Season two is still interlaced rather than progressive, but does away with the majority of season one's video problems. Colours are pretty and such, and even bright reds are relatively noise free. Edges are crisp with very little enhancement, but occasionally appear jagged. The image shifts occasionally, and combing is still present overall, but it's still pretty solid for an interlaced transfer.
(Look out honey, 'cos I'm using technology)
Well here we go, 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound. Nice. Venture Bros. is a music heavy show, and the music is big. Composer J.G. Thirlwell is very good at exacting a veritable cornucopia of styles (music like that found on the original Johnny Quest, more traditionally theatrical, John Williams-like stuff, and modern electronic), while still putting his own stamp on the material. The soundtrack mix is great.
Dialogue is uniformly good, but the centered vocals occasionally have a slight echo quality. Overall the track is very loud, surprisingly loud, but not overwhelming. The balance tends to favour music during action, but dialogue is still discernable, and folly is subtle and impressive. I should probably note that unlike the DVD release of The Boondocks, the particularly naughty language (the eff-word, the ess-word) is bleeped as it was on TV. Honestly, I think it's funnier this way, but that's just me.
The Extras section of this review is meant to be read to the sounds of David Bowie's 'Magic Dance'
Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer had supplied a few commentary tracks for the season one release, but this time the pair has gone the extra mile and recorded a track for every single episode on the season two set. I'd like to think that I've retained something like a third of my general film knowledge from detailed and informative commentary tracks. I was looking forward to discovering the meaning behind the many in-jokes and references I may have missed, and learning something about the behind the scenes work that goes into an episode of The Venture Bros..
If you're like me, and crave series knowledge, you might want to take a trip to Wikipedia.com, because Publick and Hammer aren't going to satisfy the urge for knowledge here. If you're looking to watch the series with a couple of friends in the room, friends that may occasionally reveal a nugget of factoid about your favourite series than you may enjoy these commentaries after all. Occasionally joined by a confused but happy James Urbaniak (the voice of Dr. Venture and Phantom Limb), or Michael Sinterniklaas (voice of Dean, and the current Leonardo, though no offense, he isn't as good as Cam Clarke, who also made a better English dub Kenada), the creators are more interested in talking about their childhoods, what they're eating (usually raisins), and what words they'd like to hear leave the English vernacular ('hubby') than talking about the show, but it's all in good fun. It's good to know that the stuff I find weakest about the season the creators also find weak. My only complaint is the general volume level of Publick, who is occasionally impossible to hear. There are large bleeped sections to the tracks, but they aren't curse word related (cussing is a-okay, and there's plenty of it), they seem to be copyright related.
(You remind me of the babe. What babe? The babe with the power. What power? The power of voodoo. Who do? You do. Do what? Remind me of the babe.)
On the commentary Publick and Hammer make mention deleted scenes not usually being worth the disc space. Their deleted scenes aren't really worth watching more than once, but it's nice to have them here anyway. Most are just longer versions of existing scenes, and because this is animation they're often presented in storyboard form only. On the commentary the creators claim that Escape to the Island of Mummies: Part One is a Easter Egg, but either this was a cruel joke (you bastards), or my egg hunting skills are flawed, because I couldn't find it.
The extras are finished off with a sort of pretend behind the scenes, mini-doc tour of the fictional/factual Astrobase Go! studio, where the Venture magic is conjured. The featurette is hosted by Master Billy Quizboy and Dr. Pete White, who guide us through the mostly live-action day in the life of Hammer and Publick. I enjoyed the feature, but casual fans may be bored.
The final section of this review is meant to be read to the sounds of the Venture Bros. end credit theme, by J.G. Thirlwell
This is hands down my favourite show on television (ignore any previous comments I may have made during other TV Animation reviews, ahem), from pre-credit set up, to the post-credit joke, I am in rapture. And I want you to see it. All of you. If you don't like it, that's cool, I certainly don't expect everyone to. The show isn't rerunning right now, and season three is still a ways off, so I recommend renting a season one disc ASAP if you've never had the pleasure. Fans don't need me to say a thing to get them to stores, but non-fans should give it a shot.
Sorry, I can't think of a good post-credit joke.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 17th April 2006
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: English, Spanish, French
Subtitles: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 2.0 English
Extras: Creator and Actor Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Tour of Astro-Base Go!
Easter Egg: No
Director: Christopher McCulloch
Cast: James Urbaniak, Patrick Warburton, Michael Sinterniklaas, Christopher McCulloch, Doc Hammer
Length: 300 minutes
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