'The Venture Bros.': A Primer
For those who didn't hear, The Venture Bros. started either its fifth season or the second half of its fourth season on Sept. 12. Considering that the show hasn't been broadcast since December 2009, this is a significant thing.
In the event you've only just discovered the program, here's a quick run-down of some of the background and characters in this fun and sophisticated universe created by Jackson Publick.
The central four main characters are Dr. Rusty Venture, his sons Dean and Hank and their bodyguard Brock Samson (who was replaced in the most recent season by Sargeant Hatred, although Brock still features prevalently in the series).
The show started as a parody of Johnny Quest and the adventure cartoons of the 70's and early 80's, but over time it became a lot more than that.
It is difficult to describe the tapestry of 'The Venture Brothers' in a single article, so instead I'm going to show you some of the more interesting aspects of the show on video and hope that piques your curiosity.
At the very end of the first season, the main characters of Hank and Dean Venture were killed. However, as with 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', death is never the end in the world of 'The Venture Bros'. Here's a quick explanation from Dr. Venture and Brock as to how they're still on the show.
One of the major nemesis of our intrepid heroes is the Monarch and his girlfriend (and later his wife) Doctor Girlfriend. Doctor Girlfriend looks like Jackie Kennedy and sounds like a male lung cancer patient. The Monarch inexplicably hates Doctor Venture so much that he's willing to break various rules of "arching" (i.e. being the arch-nemesis) in an effort to kill the man. This clip also has the Monarch's two most featured Henchmen, 21 and 24 (21 is the fat guy and 24 sounds like Ray Romano). They play a big role in the entire story so far.
Then there is the Guild of Calamatous Intent which is essentially the authority over the super-villains in the world (ironically, it started as an organization to save to world). You would never guess who the leader (aka the Sovereign) of this guild is. He's the sort of leader that would make any fan of good music want to join an evil organization. Fortunately, you don't have to guess. Here he is.
Okay, one more spoiler. In the third season finale, Henchman 24 dies in an explosion. This drives Henchman 21 kind of loopy as he had lost his best friend. Fortunately, 24 is still available for Obi Wan Kenobi-like cameos.
The beautiful thing about Adult Swim is that should you miss an episode of any of their shows, they usually post it in completion on their website shortly thereafter (with perhaps a few exceptions). Here's the latest episode of 'The Venture Bros'. for those that missed it (sadly, the full episodes on Adult Swim are not embeddable).
The show has the most complexity and internal consistency on a television science fiction program since Babylon 5. I haven't even mentioned supporting characters like H.E.L.P.eR., Dr. Orpheus, Pete White, Master Billy Quizboy and a slew of others (check out the Wikipedia page for more details. You may also want to check out some old TV Squad reviews of the show). For a two-dimensional world, the characters and story are surprisingly three-dimensional. The creator Jackson Publick said that above all else the show is about failure, particularly the failure of the promises made during the Space Age.
The second episode of "Season 4.2" airs this Sunday and you can catch up with a ton of clips and full episodes on the Adult Swim website.