Review: The Venture Bros. - Perchance to Dean
by Annie Wu, posted Nov 2nd 2009 8:35AM
(S04E03) I swear to you, dear reader, that I do my best to stay somewhat objective when reviewing The Venture Bros. It's tough, though, when the writers keep knocking them out of the park like this. We're only a few episodes in, but I'm already enjoying things more than I did with season three, and it's not just because this episode had mind-blowing prog rock and UPS guys with the Shining.
It was always kind of obvious that Dr. Venture liked Dean more than Hank, though in this episode, he really pushed the super-science on Dean, going as far as making the panic room his little junior lab. Dean's taking after his father a little faster than expected; poor kid's already starting to lose his hair and develop a tragic little streak of peach fuzz above his lip, which sucks even more considering how great Hank looks with his new shaggy 'do.
"Other Dean" and his story was disturbing and fantastic at the same time. His interactions with the imagined Rusty were absolutely twisted, making his explosive demise all the more horrible/funny ("Who the hell was that?"). Also, through his actions, it was confirmed that there really are a bunch of Hank and Dean corpses buried around the compound. It was rather strange that the Dean he dug up still looked pretty normal, albeit pale, but that could be written off as, like, a clone thing. Maybe clone slugs aren't so perfect that they decompose like normal bodies.
Hank's ensuing panic (upon hitting the already dead Dean on the road) somehow led to the return of the people-mover form "The Buddy System" and a half-assed plan to go to Mexico. Naturally.
The entire progressive rock bit was spectacular and beautifully animated. All of it must have been fun to write, doubly so for Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer because they've already made it extremely clear that they're huge music nerds (examples outside the show... hear Jackson and Doc sing covers as The Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend, read their LA Weekly online interview all about music, see Doc's band, Weep).
I found Dermott's return interesting, if only for lines like "Instead of chores... Butt sex!" and the re-appearance of his mother, who seems to be a just a walking silhouette with an accent. I was surprised he didn't have anything to say about Brock's departure. I'm not sure I like Dermott as a character very much when he and Hank aren't dicking around with 21 and 24. And, of course, now that I've reminded myself that those moments will never happen again, I'm bummed out (on a somewhat related note: I was an undead 24 for Halloween, because nothing says "I'm cool and have lots of friends!" like an oddly specific costume from a cartoon).
After seeing this episode, I think we can start to get an idea of what to expect for the next few weeks, at least in tone. Season three was almost too heavy on the backstory, and while this season is doing a great job of moving things forward, I can imagine it disappointing viewers that have come to expect non-stop laughs. Personally, I love this direction and how intertwined every aspect of the show has become, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the occasional irrelevant line about Taco Bell or Poe's giant head. Season four definitely feels like it's been designed to reward long-time viewers. I don't think there's a single episode from this season or the previous one that I would use to introduce this universe to a potential fan. For new fans, I usually break out something like "Ghosts of the Sargasso" or "Escape to the House of Mummies, Part II," an episode from seasons one or two, which, at this point, aren't a fair representation of the show's present course.