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Venture Bros. - Season One, The

Warner Bros. // Unrated // May 30, 2006
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted May 17, 2006 | E-mail the Author
The Series:

One of the better Adult Swim cartoons of recent years (the series started airing regularly in 2004), The Venture Brothers is a twisted and completely subversive take off on old adventure cartoons like Johnny Quest and boys mystery novels like The Hardy Boys with a dash of James Bond thrown in for good measure.

The series revolves around one Dr. Thaddius 'Rusty' Venture, a middle aged man with two twin sons, Hank and Dean. Venture has to live in the shadow of his father, who was a massively successful scientist and adventurer in his own right and since his father has passed on, Rusty, being his only son, is the head honcho of Venture Industries and he now spends most of his time trying to come up with new inventions and adventures to get some recognition of his own.

Hank and Dead are nice enough kids but they're not the sharpest tools in the shed and more often than not they prove to be a thorn in their father's side as they're extremely naïve and very lacking in the common sense department. Good thing for Dr. Venture that his body guard, Brock Samson, is around to help keep the boys in line. Brock is a massive hulk of a man, a golden mullet sits atop his head an a knife is always at his side. He's far more likely to stab first and ask questions later as he seems to truly enjoy solving his problems with violence. In Dr. Venture's line of work, Brock is a handy guy to have around, especially since he's constantly plagued by his arch-enemy The Monarch, an obsessive super villain who dresses like a giant butterfly and who controls an army of dim-witted henchmen. Working alongside The Monarch is his assistant and lover, Dr. Girlfriend, a foxy woman with a low husky voice, who seems to put up with him more than she actually covets him.

Each episode finds the Venture team in some sort of peril, be it super villain related or otherwise, and the cast of supporting characters (including the Venture's neighbor Dr. Orpheus and his hot but underage goth girl daughter, and Venture Allies like the gay albino Pete White or the midget with a giant head and a lisp named Dr. Billy Quizboy), keep things interesting. The show has a real knack for pushing the envelope in terms of content and it's not uncommon to see Brock covered in blood or in bed with a woman and going at it like a jackhammer – this isn't kids stuff even if it might look like it on the outside.

A few of the people involved with The Tick have brought their talents on board for this series, namely Chris McCulloch who wrote episodes of both the cartoon and the live action version of that series, and Patrick Warburton who voices Brock Samson, who played the live action Tick on the short lived television series. The same kind of subversive humor that made both incarnations of The Tick so much fun runs rampant in The Venture Brothers, and pop culture references galore (David Bowie is touched on more than once in the first season!) provide plenty of good laughs. The music is provided by none other than J. G. Thirlwell, best known as Foetus and the score suits the show really, really well as it gives it a nice epic sense of adventure that contrasts nicely with the idiotic escapades we see unfold on the screen.


Dia De Los Dangerous: Doctor Venture has been enlisted to give a lecture at a community university in Mexico, so the team hops into the X-1 and heads south for the occasion. Things get complicated when the Monarch sets an evil plan into action that finds Dr. Venture without any kidneys and Brock Samson possibly dead. And where have Hank and Dean wandered off to?

Careers In Science: Back in the seventies, the original Dr. Venture built a space station. Since his passing, the 'problem light' has gone on and so the inhabitants call Thaddius up to fix it, figuring he's the son of the inventor and he should be able to take care of it. Col. Bud Manstrong and his lady friend Lt. Anna Baldavitch soon find themselves in a love triangle with Brock, who Anna is powerless to resist. While all of this is going on, Dr. Venture still needs to find a toilet before he pees in his space suit.

Home Insecurity: Brock is heading up to the mountains for his annual 'sabbatical' and to keep the compound safe in his absence, Dr. Venture builds a killer robot and a panic room. Unfortunately for Venture and his two sons, the robot will kill anyone it sees and they end up waiting for Brock in the panic room while Helper leaves home, jealous of Venture's new creation. Brock, on the other hand, makes friends with Steve Summers and a Sasquatch.

The Incredible Mr. Brisby: Roy Brisby, creator of the Brisby Bee and the ensuing empire awarded to him by his creation's success, hires Dr. Venture to clone him but Venture refuses when he learns how evil Brisby really is. While this is going on, The Orange County Liberation Front, a rebel group determined to stop Brisby in his tracks before it's too late, brainwashes the boys into joining them before they launch an all out attack on Brisby's compound.

Eeney, Meeney, Miney… Magic!: Dr. Venture's latest experiment goes horribly wrong and it winds up trapping the inhabitants of the Venture compound in a dream world. Good thing for them that the guy next door is a necromancer named Doctor Orpheus and that his arcane abilities just might be able to save the day and the Ventures! Dean, on the other hand, falls head over heels in love with Orpheus' cute goth daughter while Brock rekindles an affair with an old flame of his, Molotov Cocktease!

Ghosts Of The Sargasso:The Venture teams heads off to the Bermuda Triangle where Dr. Venture intends to complete an excursion that his father never finished. The equipment on his boat awakens the ghost of Major Tom, a pilot who crashed and died in the area in the sixties. To make matters worse for Hank, Dean and Brock back on the boat, there are guh-guh-guh-ghost pirates in the area!


Ice Station – Impossible!: Professor Impossible invites Dr. Venture to participate in a government think tank along with Pete White and Master Billy Quizboy but when the Venture team shows up, things get ugly. It seems that Impossible's team has many skeletons in their closet, one of whom is his horny wife, Sally Impossible (who can turn her skin invisible but not the rest of her body) who has eyes for the one and only Brock Samson.

Midlife Chrysallis: The Monarch's latest plan to destroy Dr. Venture involves sending in Dr. Girlfriend, undercover of course, to infiltrate his compound by seducing him so that she can inject a serum into him that will alter his body into some sort of monstrous deformity. While Venture and Dr. Girlfriend are doing their thing, the Venture boys are helping Brock study for his exam, because his secret agent license to kill has expired and he really wants to teach that bartender at the strip club a lesson.

Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean: When this episode starts off the Monarch has the Venture team suspended and bound upside down hanging over the Amazon river where he claims small fish will eat their genitals. Things get complicated when Dean winds up getting acute testicular tortion and it throws the Monarch's plans out of line because the Guild of Calamitous Intent rules state that once a captive is injured a truce must be called to make sure he's okay. The Monarch holds on to Brock and Hank but let's Dr. Venture and Dean go so that Master Billy Quizboy and Pete White can take care of Dean's problem.

Tag Sale – You're It!: Dr. Venture decides he needs the money more than he needs the memories and so he decides to sell off a bunch of his father's old lab equipment and gadgets to other super heroes and super villains alike. He puts Brock in charge of security but that doesn't stop the Monarch from wreaking havoc at the yard sale and starting fights between a few of the customers.

Past Tense: Dr. Venture and Brock head off to attend the funeral off an old college roommate of Brock's but they find themselves getting kidnapped in the process. Hank and Dean figure they can save them if they're able to find the right people to help and so they summon the original Team Venture, a group of superheroes who worked alongside the original Dr. Venture in the sixties and who are now very old but still very determined to right wrongs wherever they can.

The Trial Of The Monarch: The Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend split up and this manages to get The Monarch into hot water with the law. He's put on trial for a nefarious crime that he didn't commit and Hank, Dean, and Dr. Orpheus are all forced to testify in front of the court. Brock, on the other hand, is wise to the fact that something strange is going on, so he sets out to investigate things on his own.

Return To Spider-Skull Island: In a break-through moment, Dr. Venture realizes why he keeps having recurring dreams about being in his mother's womb. He has a growth in his stomach that causes Hank and Dean to think that he's pregnant and because of that, they run away. While Venture is dealing with the results of the tumor, the boys get stuck in an outreach program alongside the Monarch himself. This last episode of the first season ends with quite the cliffhanger…

What makes so many of the episodes in this set so much fun is the fact that the layered humor gives the series quite a bit of replay value. It's almost guaranteed that you won't pick up on everything the first time as there are a lot of little touches to the series that make the content funny time and time again, be it an expression on the face of a henchmen or a strange movement from a background character or just a pose that Hank or Dean strike at a strange moment. These don't sound like much when discussed but they add up and when combined with the twisted plots, screwball characters and genuinely funny dialogue it all makes for a completely enjoyable and wonderfully messed up series.



Well, seeing as it's a cartoon originally intended for television broadcast it makes perfect sense that this DVD is presented 1.33:1. Colors look nice and there's a fairly high level of detail. There are a few edge enhancement issues in a couple of the episodes as seems to be common with animation on DVD, but aside from that, the episodes all look pretty nice and there aren't any compression artifacts and the image is nice and clean from start to finish. Reds and greens in particular look quite nice here, and the image is very clean and appropriately 'comic book' looking.


While other Adult Swim DVD releases have had surround sound tracks on them, this one has one audio track only and it's the original Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix. Optional subtitles are provided in English, Spanish, French and closed captioning is included for the episodes only in English. Even without a 5.1 option, the stereo mix here does sound really good. Dialogue is clean and clear and you won't have any problems following the characters as they rant, rage, or yell. The music in particular sounds quite good and certain parts of it come off sounding pretty punchy. The effects are also pretty clear, and when Brock kicks into action you can hear every bone crunching detail without having to worry about straining your ears. It's a beautiful thing, really…


Spread out across the two discs in the set are a selection of commentary tracks by the cast and creators of the show. Eeney, Meeney, Miney… Magic!, Tag Sale – You're It1, Ghosts Of The Sargasso, Return To Spider-Skull Island and the pilot episode, The Terrible Secret Of Turtle Bay all feature lively discussions with the people who make this show what it is. Some of these tracks are better than others and the first few episodes are more interesting in terms of what the participants have to offer – the later episodes tend to lean towards little more than in jokes and anecdotes rather than facts or stories related to the show itself. Even then, there's a nice sense of humor to each of these discussions which makes them fun to listen to even they're not 'taking you to school' so to speak. These guys are obviously having a really good time making this show and their enthusiasm definitely comes through on these tracks. Some more in the way of cold hard facts would have been nice and the discussions could have been better, but as it stands, these are worth perusing.

Two bonus episodes are also included on the second disc in the set (which is where all the other supplements are stashed save for a few of the commentary tracks). The first is the show's original pilot,

The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay. This episode finds Dr. Venture heading off to New York City where he'll be unveiling his Ooo-Ray in front of the United Nations. Hank, Dean and Brock are in tow, but unfortunately, the Monarch is also hip to their plans and decides to take down Dr. Venture. Meanwhile, a ninja is running around the UN making eyes at the Ooo-Ray and Hank and Dean discover what hookers are.

The second bonus episode is the holiday themed A Very Venture Christmas. In this episode Dr. Venture rushes to get all of his Christmas shopping done while Brock sticks to traditions he grew up with for the holiday season. Meanwhile the boys manage to conjure up a Christmas demon using Orpheus' spell-book at the Christmas party Venture hosts in the compound while The Monarch tries to blow everyone up as a gift to Dr. Girlfriend.

Up next is an amusing twenty minute documentary entitled Behind The Scenes Of The Live-Action Movie which is a complete farce as in reality it's just a few of the voice actors dressed up in Venture Brothers costumes talking about how they came to be cast in the live action version of the film that doesn't exist. While we don't really learn anything concrete in here, it is fun and it is in keeping with the 'anything goes' spirit of the show itself. Some of the gags are pretty clever and seeing grown men dressed as Monarch henchmen is endlessly amusing.

Rounding out the extra features are a handful of deleted scenes, interactive menus, chapter selection, and inside the gatefold packaging is some very cool artwork from comic book artist extraordinaire, Bill Sienkiewicz of Stray Toasters and Elektra: Assassin fame.

Final Thoughts:

Fans have been waiting for a while now for this set to come out and thankfully it delivers. The audio and video quality is very nice and the extras are pretty solid as well, even if the commentary tracks aren't all golden. That being said, what's important with this release are the episodes themselves and they hold up really well, some even get funnier with repeat viewings. The Venture Brothers – Season One comes highly recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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