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October 25, 2014

Review: The Venture Bros. - Pinstripes & Poltergeists (mid-season finale)

by Annie Wu, posted Dec 14th 2009 1:16PM
brock samson
(S04E08)
My heart is all aflutter. Talk about ending on a high note (Venture Bros. will return to finish the season in a few months, Lost-style). Just like "The Better Man," this Doc Hammer-penned episode was the perfect balance of great story and VB's signature comedy. There were so many great moments, quotable lines, and much-missed familiar faces, this quickly turned into one of my favorite episodes from any season, right up there with "Escape to the House of Mummies, Part II" and "Twenty Years to Midnight."

First things first, it was amazing to see 24 return, even in a sort of ghost form. Opening the episode with yet another mindless 21/24 exchange was precious and raised some interesting points. All those secret tips seem to have played an integral part in 21's transformation into a legitimately effective henchman.

However, 24's presence still doesn't answer the question of who crossed the name off the list at the super-end of "Return to Malice." He mentioned that he can't move things because he's a not poltergeist, and that's information we can trust only after we believe that 24's ghost isn't just a figment of 21's desperate, lonely imagination. Whatever, I'm just thrilled to see 21 and 24 saying stupid things to each other again, so I can wait for answers.

Secondly, Brock's back! Brockness Monster! Brock Lobster! He's full-on with SPHINX now, which has been a secret good guy operation since the Pyramid Wars (I assume that was shortly after the time "The Invisible Hand of Fate" happened). It wasn't until the SPHINX intro started rolling that I realized just how much I've missed Brock.

I've been in the less popular camp of people who are really open-minded about Hatred but, damn, nothing compares to Mr. Samson. I loved all his interactions with ShoreLeave, who is endlessly amusing and marvelously animated (all his hip-popping body language is sass-perfection). Also, I was surprised to see in the credits that the old-school spy-sexy SPHINX theme wasn't another JG Thirlwell piece but a song composed/performed by Doc Hammer's band, Weep.

Brock's scarily well-matched fight with 21 was fantastic, if only to bring back some fond memories of season one's "Tag Sale! You're It" and to hear 21 say, "This is like Christmas, my first BMX bike and meeting the cast of Firefly all in one." By the way, are Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick still doing that thing where whoever makes a Star Wars reference in a script has to get their eighth grade haircut? I don't want to think about what needs to happen for putting 21 in an actual Jedi outfit.

I also loved revisiting Billy and Pete White (has he ever been referred to as the Pink Phantom before?), Speedy (who chills with Woodrow Wilson, I guess), Hunter Gathers, and the outrageously well-oiled Sky Pilot.

Shore Leave: I pretended to be a religious fanatic.
Sky Pilot: And I pretended to be in love with Shore Leave.
Shore Leave: Oh!? And I pretended I liked having sex with him every night.

All this talk and I still haven't covered The Monarch's story with Monstroso (who contributed the "Pinstripes" part of the title). Is something going to happen between Dr. Mrs. The Monarch and 21? Not that I could ever imagine her falling for him, but there was a definite emphasis on 21's infatuation with her in this episode (Special Software!).

Also, it seems like both husband and wife are now annoyed with the Moppets (way to finally catch up with the viewing audience, fictional characters), so maybe there will be a falling out when the season starts up again. We haven't seen a lot of the Moppets in this season, so they could be plotting all sorts of things behind closed doors.

The post-credits clip couldn't have closed things better, with Brock back at home, blood-stained and eating cereal real casual-like. I hope this means Brock is the bodyguard again, though I'm also curious to see what happens to Hatred now.

Other little moments I enjoyed: Sloppy Monarchmobile action on the heliport, Brock plunging his fists straight into the heads of two henchmen, HENCH 4 LIFE, the amusement in Brock's voice while describing ShoreLeave's Chippendale's-y tendencies, tiny 21, Dr. Venture's tech knowledge, ShoreLeave's "There's a ladder right there!" and SPHINX's creepy intruder alert.

Seriously, there was so much goodness, I'm feeling the need to watch this episode on loop for the rest of the day. God, season 4.2 needs to happen right now.

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Greg Manuel

What I particularly enjoyed about this episode is what it reveals about The Guild, alongside "The Revenge Society." In setting up S.P.H.I.N.X. as an organization that goes after those villains who don't sign on with The Guild, then the GCI has become more like an insane asylum than a union for super villains. As a result the Sovereign is less of an evil being. It's very fascinating the way the world of the Venture Brothers continues to flesh out...
http://comicsnexus.com/author/gmguity/

December 30 2009 at 1:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gio

tryin not to flame, but.... now that were at the half way point in the season, my question is the show better or just more complex? Most episodes I have to watch twice and read the guide... How ever it still is one of the best animated shows on tv now. For that matter I watched alot of the older episodes over from the previous seasons and they still hold up. I'm still a fan, just not going to buy the cuff links or lap top sleeves in the near future. (They use these to identify you in the round up)

December 19 2009 at 2:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Metalman9

My question is did 21 survive the end?

December 17 2009 at 12:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

I cannot express in words just how amazing that episode was. Having watched it over and over (great background for working on Finals) it was just so many great lines and moments crammed into 22 minutes. I am sticking to what I have always said, that 30 min is just not enough time for a VB episode! All of a sudden you realize it's over and you're left feeling like Doc as he stumbled across Sphinx .. "She's a little bit of ... WTF?!?!!?!" Heck, i'd kill for just 30 mins of 21 and 24 blathering back and forth... "The Color 12" is now my new answer for everything!

Honestly, in 10 years when VB is off the air, they need to just give these guys Leno's job, I'd definitely watch 21 and 24 go back and forth 5 nights a week.
"Boom! That's Right! This is ALL happening! You cannot change the channel now!"

Such a great way to end a season that was more story then fun, way to get back to the fun!!

December 15 2009 at 9:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tredlow

No, idiot, ask me something less Hitchhiker's Guide, dork

December 15 2009 at 3:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Frank M.

Brock & 21 fighting...F$#KING AWESOME!!!
21 not getting killed by having his own finger jammed up his ass...ALSO AWESOME!!!

December 14 2009 at 7:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Zach

Doc and Jackson are AMAZING at title sequences. The SPHINX sequence upheld the quality of the Venture Bros sequence(s) and the OSI sequence.

I need a study guide for the end of season 3 and the premiere of season 4. I don't get how Shore Leave pretending to be religious and Sky Pilot pretending to be gay helped SPHINX.

December 14 2009 at 3:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
George McBain

The highlight for me? Seeing Speedy! Damn, that's a big callback.

December 14 2009 at 2:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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