Review: The Venture Bros. - Self-Medication
by Annie Wu, posted Nov 23rd 2009 1:46PM
(S04E06) This episode was a rare star-studded treat for Venture Bros. Really honing in on the idea of adult aftermath in the lives of boy adventurer types, Jackson Publick introduced a robot boy, boy detective brothers (Seth Green and John Hodgman), former Wonder Boy (Patton Oswalt) and the return of Action Johnny (Brendon Small). Never before have so many guest voices (okay, four) been crammed into an installment, bringing the entire audience to an immediate nerdgasm.
This was a really strong episode, one of the best -- if not the best -- of the season so far. I loved the idea of taking the boys damaged by overwhelmingly adventurous childhoods and putting their adult selves into group therapy (conducted by the same therapist who guided the uncostumed 21 and 24 during their henching hiatus). The Hardy Boys who murdered their father (okay, okay, it was never proven) were an interesting combination, though I think Oswalt's red-faced Boy Wonder was my favorite ("Don't panic, Rusty! I carry snake repellent in my utility belt! I... used to -- Okay, panic!").
I liked Rusty's personal epiphany at the end of the adventure, as it paves some new ground for his character, both as a father and an adult. However, I'm not sure if I can allow myself to get excited about any potential developments built upon that moment. He had that fantastic moment of good/evil self-doubt after his meeting with Killinger in "The Doctor Is Sin" and that really didn't go anywhere. I guess we'll just have to wait and try not to get our expectations to high.
The return of Dr. Z was also very welcome. The other day, I was listening to the commentary for "The Buddy System" (I swear VB commentary is really good for background noise as you're cleaning or, for artists, while drawing and inking) and Doc and Jackson casually mentioned possibly bringing back Dr. Z, who they also described as sounding like a mix between a Jewish guy and an old Asian (that hasn't changed).
Once again, Hatred's pedophilia was brought up. I don't know how much longer the writers could have gone just referencing this problem as a part of his character, because that gets tiring after a while, in a very "Let me get all these pedophile jokes out of my system" sort of way. Although it's dangerous ground, putting Hatred sans medication in a theater full of tiny little boys, I like that it's finally moving the Hatred character somewhere. He's clearly completely terrified of himself and actively worries for those around him, which is strange because it's not like pedophiles are easily painted in a sympathetic light. Doubly so when the character is a cartoon villain literally named Hatred.
Even though a whole lot of people have yet to warm up to Hatred, either because they seriously don't like him or they just desperately miss Brock, I still stand by my original belief that he has major potential. He's definitely more outwardly emotionally involved with the Venture family, whereas Brock was cool-aloof. Also, that whole mess with Princess Tinyfeet is just depressing. Hank dressing in a Tinyfeet costume to lure out Hatred, only to have him tranq-gunned down was tragic. Having a young boy in the clothes of his one love was also a little creepy, drawing a possibly unintentional parallel to Monarch's pervy costumed freak-out toward the end of "Handsome Ransom."
Also, it was good to see some old-school villainy from the Monarch, who seems to be getting increasingly crazy-hardcore, especially after we learned that he was the one that killed the therapist so that he could get back to arching Doc. His casual bathrobe conversation with 21 at the end was also a nice touch. Their relationship is going to be interesting to follow for the rest of the season.
In other news, some of you may have heard from certain voice actors (cough James Urbaniak cough) that this entire episode was performed live because of a problem with the original audio. Yeah... No. Though maybe the Internet put up with these shenanigans just in case it meant Mr. Urbaniak would post more photos of Doc Hammer.