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September 2, 2015

The Venture Bros: Twenty Years to Midnight

by Annie Wu, posted Aug 7th 2006 9:38AM
The Venture Bros.(S02E05) It's been two weeks since a fresh episode of The Venture Bros. Two viciously agonizing, heinously miserable, adverb adjective weeks. However, "Twenty Years to Midnight" made the wait completely worthwhile. The amount of action was a nice surprise, a true throwback to the show's original roots: a take-off of the 60's cheesy, mystery-adventure cartoons. All these amazing elements have caused me some inner conflict. See, in my last VB post, I said that "Escape to the House of Mummies Part II" had become my favorite... Well, now I don't know how to feel. My heart is now painfully torn between a Doc Hammer script and a Jackson Publick script! Ohh, "Twenty Years" is truly worthy contender for my love. The guest appearance by Stephen Colbert didn't hurt, either.

Okay, so we saw a weird robot/alien thing touch down near the Venture compound, sneaking around and peeking through windows. I originally thought he was sent from The Guild of Calamitous Intent (judging by the colors), but, since they weren't mentioned in the episode, I guess not. Meanwhile, Brock was cleaning around the house and found a box of some of Doc Venture's old stuff. Inside, Doc found cameras and tapes that his father had purchased for him back in the day. On one of the tapes, Jonas Venture explained that he had created an extremely powerful machine. However, some radio transmissions across space and time told him that the machine was too advanced for mankind at that point and needed to be dismantled, pieces hidden all around the globe, before it fell into the wrong hands. Fun Fact: As demonstrated in the flashback, "The Floor Is Lava" is the best/most inexpensive childhood game ever. Anyway, the transmissions said the machine would also one day save mankind. Jonas explained to Doc that on May 4th of Doc's 44th year, at exactly at midnight, the machine must be activated to prevent disaster. Realizing that May 4th loomed just 16 hours away, Team Venture needed to retrieve find all the pieces as soon as possible.

After the Ventures took some notes from the video, the giant robot/alien thing approached them. Doc's surprised cry of "Ladysmith Black Mambazo!" was hilarious. The robot/alien thing informed them, in grainy audio through the speaker in his chest, that he was The Grand Galactic Inquisitor, on Earth to study the behavior of humans. The Ventures happened to be his chosen sample family, but The Inquisitor didn't want his 12-foot high, massive presence to disturb their regular goings-on ("IGNORE ME!"). Reluctantly, the Ventures let him tag along on the X-1. They flew to Spider Skull Island to pick up the first piece of the machine and the X-2 boat, currently under the possession of Jonas Jr. While Doc showed the tape to Jonas Jr., Brock and the boys attempted to take the boat. There, they found the pirate guy from last season's "Ghosts of the Sargasso". Apparently, Jonas, Jr. hired him to captain the X-2. Neat. After Jonas Jr. got the full story, he took charge and instructed everyone to break into three teams to quickly find the remaining three pieces of the machine (Doc and Brock on the X-1, Jonas Jr. and the captain on the X-2, and Hank and Dean on the X-X-1). As the boat and two planes took off, a bright Venture logo spun on the screen. It was such a perfect action-cartoon moment! The recurring spinny logo really added to the episode's action-y feel.

Jonas Jr. and the captain scuba'd to an underwater location. There, they encountered a drugged up guy with a moustache and a gun. Although they didn't call him "Mr. Quest" until the very end, I could tell it was Jonny straight away. Really fucking hilarious. He had a ripped-up shirt, a rubber tube around his bicep, a teardrop tattoo, and was voiced by Home Movies' Brendon Small. Jonas Jr. tried to explain that Jonas had left an important piece of the machine with Dr. Quest, but Jonny almost lost control at the mention of his father. The captain persuaded Jonny to drop the gun after he explained that Jonas Jr. was a doctor and could write prescriptions for anything. Jonny finally collapsed and helplessly cried, "I'm in real pain." I didn't really get what happened after that... The next we saw Jonas Jr., he was back on the X-2 and already had his piece of the machine. The captain said, "Ohh, quit your sour-pussin'. You got what you needed." So... Was Jonas Jr. just seriously against throwing around prescriptions? Or did they shoot Jonny and put him out of his misery? Or... what? Hm.

The boys, on the other hand, didn't have as much conflict. In fact, they found the piece's protector, Colonel Gentleman (y'know, the Sean Connery guy from last season's "Past Tense"), dead in his home, with nothing but a cane and a diary full of pointless lists ("Good Names For An Imaginary Friend", "Hollywood Actresses That Need A Smack In The Mouth"). As Dean (or "Sherlock Homo", as Hank called him) looked through the diary, Hank accidentally cracked open the top of the cane and revealed the hidden piece inside.

For the final piece of the puzzle, Doc and Brock (and The Inquisitor) flew to New York. On the ride over, Doc had another weird umbilical cord dream (this one showed how he felt inferior to his tiny brother).

Doc: I thought I was done with those crappy dreams --
The Inquisitor: THAT WAS A WEIRD ONE.
Doc: Great. You can read my mind --
The Inquisitor: IGNORE MEEEE! ... YES, I CAN.

Doc and Brock arrived at NY's Impossible Industries, where Venture Industries HQ once stood. Professor Impossible (from last season's "Ice Station Impossible"; voiced by the glorious Stephen Colbert) was inside, arguing with his wife, Sally. She felt that he was spending too much time with science rather than their child, Rocket (we found out Sally was pregnant after the credits of "Ice Station Impossible"). Of course, Professor wasn't a particularly sensitive father... or husband, for that matter. And little did he know, Doc had called Sally to meet him on the subway and help him sneak into the building. I really liked the small detail that was thrown in the background of their secret rendezvous... If you listen closely, you can hear a hobo giving one of those "seriously, throw some change in my Dixie Cup" speeches. Anyway, Sally was clearly still hopelessly devoted to Doc, so she happily obliged, thinking that she'd get to run off with him (ha, fat chance). Meanwhile, Ned the Human Callous took Rocket to the park, where Hank and Dean were waiting. Somehow, Impossible agents tracked down Ned and captured him and the boys (leaving Rocket to crawl around... alone). Back in the building, Professor caught Sally sneaking Doc and Brock inside, so he tied up (um... "laser-tied"?) everyone, including Jonas Jr. and the captain. Professor then did his little villain-thing and revealed that he had long-known about the hidden piece in his HQ. As he assembled the machine and tried dealing with a panicked Sally (she realized Rocket was missing and was pissed that Professor didn't really give a shit), Jonas Jr. secretly contacted H.E.L.P.eR to punch some codes and free everyone. Fun Fact: You can always tell it's a Jackson Publick script if H.E.L.P.eR actually does something helpful. H.E.L.P.eR quickly scrambled out of the X-1, leaving The Inquisitor to loudly excuse himself (to no one) as he also stepped off the jet. Outside, he found Rocket and, after being cooed at for a while, shouted, "IGNORE ME!" Holy crap, I'm going to be quoting/yelling that all summer.

After H.E.L.P.eR worked his magic and disengaged the laser-ties, Brock and Jonas Jr. leaped into action and stretched out Professor Impossible's face, drilling his flesh into the walls. Professor fought back by expanding his body until he pushed everyone and everything (but himself and the machine, which Professor grabbed just in time) out the windows. After everyone scrambled to hold on to Professor's stretchy torso, they were plummeted into the NY underground and were almost hit by a subway car. With some quick thinking, Brock tied Professor's leg to the car and instructed everyone to climb up and away to the surface for safety. The subway car sped off and, after reaching its stretch-limit, Professor's leg broke off the bar it was tied to and snapped all the way back up to knock Professor unconscious, causing him to drop the machine. Oh, man. It was such. A. Cool. Moment. It was very different from what I was used to seeing on the show, but in a good way. Another Fun Fact: You can always tell it's a Jackson Publick script if there are relatively action-packed scenes (apparently, Doc Hammer's not too good at that kind of thing).

The machine fell right in front of the gang, unbroken, exactly as Brock's watch struck midnight. Seconds later, The Inquisitor pulled up in a cab, with Rocket in hand. The Inquisitor announced that the moment of Judgment was upon them (and, of course, when the cabbie asked for the fare, The Inquisitor responded with -- scream it with me -- "IGNORE ME!"). Suddenly, a bright light burst from the machine and Jonas Venture stepped out. He smiled, pulled out a laser-gun, shot The Inquisitor in the head, and turned to leave. Doc was thoroughly shocked but refused to let his father go again. In tears, he begged to know why he was left alone for twenty years. Awww. "Oh, Rusty. You are never alone. Those stars -- well, okay, you can't see them right now 'cause we're in the city -- but those stars... They're always watching us!" Well, that touching moment wasn't enough. Doc and Jonas Jr. begged for him to stay. Then, Jonas made an interesting revelation... Okay, I thought this was the funniest damn moment in the entire episode. I laughed so loudly that I almost woke up my sister sleeping in the other room. And then I watched it, like, ten more times. Seriously.

Jonas Venture: Ohh... Alright. Look. I'm not really your father, okay? I'm an alien that was sent here to this appointed time to kill that guy 'cause he would have destroyed all life as you know it.
Jonas Jr. and Doc: What?!
"Jonas": I took the form of your dad because I figured it'd be easier to accept. I didn't want to stress you out. End of the world, life on other planets, blah blah blah.
Doc: Why... you... son of a bitch! Do you know what you just put me through?! What the fuck were you thinking?! What kind of fucked up planet are you from where you think showing up as my dead fucking father is supposed to make me feel any better?!
"Jonas": Okay, take it easy --
Doc: You prick!
"Jonas": Look, I just saved your entire planet --
"Jonas": Alright, fine! You wanna see?! Here! ["Jonas" starts to rip open his face; we only see everyone's looks of horror and a bright light from "Jonas"'s direction] There! That would have been better?! If I had shown up like that out of nowhere?! Look at you. You practically crapped your pants! [points at Ned] Except him. He crapped his pants!

Way to poke fun at Contact. Hell yes. Ahem, anyway. Totally pissed off, "Jonas" walked through the machine and the entire thing disappeared in a flash. Everyone but Doc seemed pretty pleased that they had just saved the world (and finally got The Inquisitor to shut up). Hank and Dean finished up by shouting, "Go Team Venture!" and high-fiving each other. What? High-five? No "V"-shape finger-tip connecting thingy? Weird. And it wasn't even a normal high-five. It was one of those wonky full-arm ones where the elbows are touching.

After the credits, Jonas Jr. and Sally flirted as Professor helplessly continued to flap in the wind, like a flag, high in the NY air.

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Well that fad certainly picked up at lightning speed


August 10 2006 at 2:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This has probably been my favorite episodes of The Venture Bros, but just from looking at next weeks episode descrpition on my Tivo knows it won't be for long.

"The Phantom Limb and Dr. Girlfriend go on a double date with The Monarch and a girl he met on the internet"

August 07 2006 at 6:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Adam Finley

My favorite part was the obscure reference to the game Stay Alive. I totally had that game growing up.

August 07 2006 at 5:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I wondered exactly the same thing, MW!

August 07 2006 at 3:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Oh yeah, I forgot about Prof. Impossible's greatest invention yet. THREE. TWO. ONE. ENGAGE! :hug: :)

August 07 2006 at 11:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

God I love this show. It may be the best thing ever on Adult Swim.

My favorite offhand bit was the orange plastic subway seats which can only be found on the B, D, and F lines. Very specific. Very cool. I know, this is kind of NYC-geeky, so just...IGNORE MEEEE!!!

August 07 2006 at 11:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To Jackson Publick: I need a Grand Galatic Inquisitor Action Figure right now. If it had an LED to light up his head, great.

But if it could say "IGNORE ME!"...I would be in Heaven.

August 07 2006 at 11:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Poor Colonel Gentleman. I wonder if he ever got any of the toys he wanted. Also, poor Jonny Quest.

One of the things I was curious about was whether the Jonas in the video was the real Jonas or the alien guy all along. Or maybe it was really Jonas, then when the "someone's coming" moment happened, it was the alien after that?

I think about this show too much.

August 07 2006 at 11:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Venture Brothers is the best show on TV now. Suck it Lost.

August 07 2006 at 10:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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