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October 10, 2015

The Venture Bros: Shadowman 9: In the Cradle of Destiny (season premiere)

by Annie Wu, posted Jun 1st 2008 11:59PM
Shadowman 9(S03E01) It's tough to believe that it has been over a year and a half since we last saw The Venture Bros. Granted, last season's cliffhanger wasn't quite as intense as Hank and Dean's death in Season One, but that didn't stop fans from speculating about Dr. Girlfriend's confession all through those twenty months. "Monarch, I'm..." what? Pregnant? A man? Ready for round two?

Even though I was looking forward to a bit of closure on that, I was also excited about hearing from the Ventures. Strangely enough, there was a surprising lack of Ventures in this episode of The Venture Bros. Instead, we got a whole lot of backstory about the Monarch, Dr. Girlfriend and good ol' Phantom Limb. It didn't pack the punch that one would expect from a season premiere, but it certainly delivered all the amazing things that one would expect from the show. I mean, apart from the actual Venture brothers.

Really, I cannot believe we didn't find out Dr. Girlfriend's big secret. Did I mention it's been one and half years of waiting? Since Dr. Girlfriend and The Monarch were fighting side-by-side in the cold open, it's obvious that Sheila's confession wasn't a terribly upsetting deal-breaker. I think it's safe to assume that she's not pregnant, let alone carrying Dr. Venture's baby. I swear, though, if the characters continue to only discuss this secret in vague terms for the rest of the season, I'm going to go nuts. (EDIT: So was the big secret really just that the Monarch would be under investigation? If so, why didn't they just come out and say it? Despite watching the episode about five times, I managed to totally missed this.)

If something has happened twice, am I allowed to call it a trend? Pretend that's cool for a moment. Although Dr. Girlfriend and The Monarch's running styles aren't nearly as funny or cartoon-y as Hank and Dean's or that of the Doctors Venture, I like this trend of using different characters for season premiere intros. According to Jackson Publick, we're going to see revamped credits from Doc Hammer for this season, starting with the second episode. I expect nothing short of super-awesome-spectacular.

It was good to see that the Henchmen were doing all right, even if the flying cocoon wasn't looking so hot. And the Murderous Moppets finally speak! Naturally, it was yet another Jackson and Doc duo. I had no problem with Kevin, but I couldn't listen to Tim-Tom without thinking of a high-pitched Torrid. I know I'm most likely reading too much into this, but that giant penny thing in the cocoon reminded me of last season's "Guess Who's Coming to State Dinner?" episode. Upon closer inspection, I saw a faint image of the Monarch, not Lincoln, on the circle, but I was thought of the big penny that the guys made fun of on the DVD commentary. Aaaand once again, I am reminded that I need to stop turning on these DVDs every time I need some background noise while working. (EDIT: Oh! Batman reference! That makes more sense.) This cocoon-centric storyline was all right, but I was more excited about the interrogation. I feel like, apart from having an excuse to use another part of the Gustav Holst Planets Suite, the biggest point was to show that Brock (and the Ventures) genuinely are cool with the Monarch and company now. It was a shame that we didn't actually get to hear anything from Brock, though.

It was during the Guild of Calamitous Intent crucible part that I really noticed the improved quality of the animation. Everything, from the painted backgrounds to the line quality of the characters, looked even better than before. I cannot even begin to imagine how hot Season Four is going to look. Please excuse me when I get a little art-happy. Ahem. Anyway... I kept expecting a Mystery Science character to pop up in the Council of Thirteen, but I guess stooping to that level is more of a Family Guy move. Yeah, I went there. Burn, indeed.

Ever since we saw Watch and Ward bicker over juice and Yazz, I have adored them, and watching them guide Lady Au Pair through the various villainous vixen options just made me like them even more. And how much time do Doc and Jackson put into coming up with villain names? This one episode alone had enough to keep me happy for a really long time. Who wouldn't arch Bettie Rage or Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Nightmare-coat? I'm also impressed with the attention to detail in creative costuming for everyone. The Shadowmen actually look quite cool, like classy Phantom Limb really designed their uniforms. Speaking of Shadowmen, in hindsight, the title should have been a really obvious reference to henching. I mean, the "____man #" format completely lends itself to that, but the possibility never even crossed my mind.

Well, we now know that the Monarch started off as Phantom Limb's Shadowman #9 and promptly fell in love with (and creeped out) his future wife. I adored the revelation that the Monarch and #24 have a history dating all the way back to their first henching years. We also saw college-years Monarch (or, Malcolm) for the very first time, looking kind of like a less green and much shaggier version of Roger from Doug, and learned that he is secretly responsible for accidentally -- as he described it in "Home Insecurity" -- bitching up Underbheit's face, after a failed attempt at killing Rusty Venture.

Dr. Girlfriend's history with Phantom Limb (or, Hamilton) was also quite interesting. It was good to see that she definitely did have hair like that chick from Republica during her Queen Etherea days. The love-making session to "Revv Me Up" was also hilarious, if only for the opportunity to make some jokes about Adobe Premier and music rights. Speaking of love-making, it looks like Myra really was Dr. Venture's bodyguard. Still no word on whether or not she is truly the mommy of Hank and Dean, though.

The reappearance of The Sovereign ("It's David Bowie!") was almost as fantastic as Dr. Girlfriend and The Monarch's nearly-nude duoship ceremony. Those kids have made some interesting underwear choices.

Have The Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend moved into Phantom Limb's super-sweet Frank Lloyd Wright house? Phantom Limb, scarred and delightfully scruffy, is too busy being on the run and killing folks like the Manotaur for supposedly sleeping with his girlfriend anyway. Judging by this previously posted season cast picture, it looks like we're going to be seeing Manotaur again, in what I can only assume is some crazy flashback with the original Team Venture, as he looks quite young and is in full costume. Also, Phantom Limb has a left robo-hand! Maybe he's the one responsible for Billy's. After all, the two of them were constantly linked in Phantom Limb's imagined backstories in "Victor. Echo. November."

And finally, the sleek new credits with move-y things showed us that the entire episode was voiced only by James Urbaniak, Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick. Way to go, boys, and welcome back.

Shirt of the Week: Guild of Calamitous Intent emblem. Because I have a personal rule against owning four ringer tees at a time and my wallet is extra-sad, I will not be subscribing to the Shirt Club. However, I have decided that I am going to buy three or four tees to support Publick and Hammer, as the money goes directly to them and not Adult Swim. I'm practicing restraint for my own sake! In a weird way, I'm praying that not all of the shirts will be as cool as this awesome gold and black number, because my willpower is nothing and I will easily break my four tees rule. No doubt about it though, I'm getting this first tee. I was very close to whipping out my textile paints and making my own Guild wear anyway. Yeah, I'm one of those types.

How would you rate this episode?
5 - Scientastic!149 (54.4%)
489 (32.5%)
330 (10.9%)
21 (0.4%)
1 - Fail.5 (1.8%)

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I know I'm over-commenting but I keep forgetting things. Which scene had the Holst music? My favorite part of the score was the rebuilding montage and I need to know if Thirlwell deserves the credit.

June 02 2008 at 12:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Zachary's comment

The rebuilding montage with the big orchestral music was Holst's Jupiter (from the planets, the same thing that they used Mars from for the 21 getting in costume montage in Hate Floats).


June 02 2008 at 5:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved meeting 21 and 24 in Monarch's past. Actually, all the sequences in the past were great. I especially loved the retro Phantom Limb costume that matched perfectly with the several retro Monarch costumes we got to see. I also think they hinted at something which might be important this season when Monarch thought to wonder about who killed the elder Dr. Venture. Or they were just poking fun at how they've made a point never to divulge that. Either way, a neat bit.

June 02 2008 at 10:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Relax, they just opened with a Monarch-centric episode. There was no room for the Ventures without spreading this to two episodes, or cutting out some great parts.

The Monarch is probably their strongest character, so this worked well. It wasn't too much of him, and it didn't abuse him. I know people that think (or thought, this was years ago and I hope they're smarter) that Quagmire was the funniest Family Guy character, and therefore we needed all-Quagmire episodes. I argued that he's shallow and one-note and good for a line or two per episode. Anything more would make him annoying. More annoying I guess.

The Monarch is different. He's a fully fleshed out character. That's hysterical. With his own supporting characters that are equally hysterical.

Great episode. One of the best they've ever had. Nice to see no signs of a slump. I did not notice the character models being different, but I did notice how beautiful the art was. Thank god this show sticks with traditional animation instead of moving to macromedia like all the other adult swim shows. It really pays off and distinguishes the show.

I think it's now the only thing on AS I watch.

June 02 2008 at 9:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Does anyone have an idea what happened to Patrick Warburton? Is he still going to be the voice of Brock Samson? We only see Brock but no action with him? Pity. What happened to the Ventures anyway? Dr. Venture never showed up. Hank and Dean never came either. Where are these guys!? Will Dr. Girlfriend ever have a voice operation? These episodes coming up will hopefully answer these questions. What do you think? Will we have the Venture Bros. without our Team Venture? That's like when Redd Foxx left Sanford and Son! It's not the same...Not the same...

June 02 2008 at 3:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I just watched again and noticed the animation looks weird. Did they change the process or get a new studio? The character models are not the same. It is most noticeable for henchman 21. He was wide before, now he is rotund, especially his face.

June 02 2008 at 3:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Oh, I forgot to ask. How can you understand what Jackson is saying on the commentaries? Is he trying to piss us off by covering the mike when he speaks? I can't watch the commentaries because I can only hear one side of the conversation.

June 02 2008 at 1:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Zachary's comment
Annie W.

I will be covering all episodes, just like last season.

If I understand this correctly... The Guild was accusing The Monarch of being super-sneaky by arching Venture without going through the proper processes. Dr. Girlfriend defended her man by saying that A) it was more about impressing her and B) he was too oblivious to know what he was doing, whereas Phantom Limb was well aware of what was going on but purposely covered it up anyway. But, as the post-credits clip showed, he's obviously super-dumb too.

I like listening to people talk while I'm art-ing and can only handle so much public radio at a time, so I've gone through the commentaries enough to know what they're saying, despite crappy audio.

June 02 2008 at 1:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yay. I didn't know you did last season as well. I didn't start reading TVS until after season 2 ended.
Of course Limb is stupid. That's what is so great about the Limb-Monarch rivalry. They hate each other but they are actually pretty similar.
I'm still not sure I buy it. They had the complaints from Venture about Monarch's arching while he was Limb's henchman, so he obviously knew about the Guild. I guess maybe he knew the Guild existed but didn't bother to read the rulebook.
Public radio... you are amazing.

June 02 2008 at 1:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yay, Venture Bros is back and Annie is doing the review! Will this be a regular feature or is it a one-off like the first Colbert Report after the strike?
This ep was exciting but I did not find it funny. Where were the laugh lines? Monarch is usually good for some pissy attitude and zingers but he didn't have it tonight. I'm working on my own review at prozachary.blogspot.com, including some questions I had.
Do you understand Sheila's defense of Monarch? She blames Limb for hiding Monarch's activities from the Guild, but how does that exonerate Monarch?

June 02 2008 at 12:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


Wait, I thought the cliffhanger resolution was "Monarch, I'm... secretly undercover with the Guild to get you to stop arching Dr. Venture" or something along those lines.

June 02 2008 at 12:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to BillS's comment

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