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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Venture Bros.
Season 1


Starring (voice): James Urbaniak, Patrick Warburton, Michael Sinterniklaas and Christopher McCulloch
Revolver Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 23 February 2009

From their base in Venture Industries, the Venture family, along with their libidinous bodyguard Brock Samson, goes forth to fight evil wherever it may be found. Head of the family Dr. Thaddeus "Rusty" Venture is a pill popping amoral super-scientist, who forever lives in the shadow of his dead, but still much smarter father. His two sons, Hank and Dean, are innocent to the point of retardation and everything these people touch inevitably goes wrong...

The Venture Bros. is an anarchic, irreverent, adult cartoon which debut on the Cartoon Network under their Adult Swim umbrella. This release includes the full thirteen episodes of the show's first season spread across a double DVD set, with a good selection of extras.

Although the show does not hide the fact that it is a parody of Johnny Quest, this is just a springboard show which sprinkles often flimsy stories with pop culture references and ribald humour. The scripts are best defined as controlled anarchy. The family are uniquely inept in their efforts against a series of recurring villains, which include The Monarch and his partner, male voiced, Doctor Girlfriend who dresses himself and his minions as butterflies.

Disc one contains the first eight episodes, with commentaries on some. The first episode Dia de los Dangerous does a good job at sketching where the show wants to go when Dr Venture takes a locum teaching post in South America only to have his kidneys stolen. Meanwhile, Monarch sends his minions to spy on Venture only for their enthusiasm to get the better of them and, after a fight and supposed death of Brock, they capture Hank and Dean. Can Venture, sans kidneys, get the boys back? And, if he does, how many of their kidneys will he steal?

Episode two, Careers In Science, further fleshes out the show's personalities when Venture has to travel to Gargantua-1 to repair the space station that his father bequeathed to mankind. Dr Venture is exposed to the audience as a vain and disdainful man who is nowhere as intelligent as his father and the boys, who have fallen even further from the tree of knowledge spend their time looking for a non-existent space ghost. Brock, meanwhile, is doing what Brock does best - when not killing things - by bedding the only female on the station. Mid-Life Chrysalis takes us into Kafkaesque territory when Doctor Girlfriend injects Venture with a serum which turns him into a giant caterpillar.

Eeney, Meeney, Miney... Magic! Introduces us to another couple of recurring characters in the form of Ventures tenants, Doctor Orpheus, and his terminally disinterested Goth daughter Triana, when Brock and the boys get trapped in Ventures’ wish machine. The Incredible Mr. Brisby and Venture is captured by a parody of Disney who wants him to make a clone. At this point you are also getting the running jokes, especially regarding references to David Bowie which are in most of the episodes. Tag Sale -You’re It! and Venture's yard sale ends in pandemonium - which is only sorted out by the intervention of Doctor Orpheus. This episode increases the reoccurring characters by adding Mast Billy Quiz-Boy and Peter White, a gay albino. Home Insecurity and the venture compound is under attack from Monarch and Baron Underbheit. Disc one closes with Ghosts Of The Sargasso, where Venture tries to recover one of his father’s sunken spacecraft.

Disc two holds episodes nine to thirteen, Ice Station - Impossible, one of the best episodes on the disc with a nice parody of the Fantastic Four.Are You There, God? It’s Me, Dean and the team go up against Monarch again, Past Tense with some of Ventures Father's old team helping out. The disc finishes with The Trial Of The Monarch and Return To Spider-Skull Island.

If by this time you haven’t laughed yourself silly there are always the extras to consider. First up is the pilot for the show The Terrible Secret Of Turtle Bay, with an optional commentary, which unlike the commissioned show uses flash animation. There’s a bonus episode A Very Venture Christmas (11 min, 28 sec) which is about half the length of the broadcast episode, with Monarch trying to kill the Venture on Christmas day, and deleted scenes from six of the shows. One of the oddest extras is Behind The Scenes Of The Venture Bros. Live Action Movie (21 min, 25 sec) with the voice actors dressed as their characters talking as if the movie was real - very surreal and funny. Last up is Animating Hank And Dean (4 min, 29 sec), another jokey piece which pretends that animating the characters is a  long and complicated process.

Overall the show is silly and funny, I’m sorry that I missed it on Adult Swim the first time around. If you like your animation to be edgy then you’re going to love this.


Charles Packer

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