So I realize the next season doesn't air on Cartoon Network's [Adult Swim] until October, but I was asked a Formspring question about what my favorite show ever was. As in the Television show I can watch over and over again, and I of course answered: The Venture Bros
The next question was: Why can you watch this over and over? What is so great about it?
So, to help drum up some interest in what I feel may possibly be the funniest, wittiest, and most geek-tastic show to ever be on television, I will post my response here.
What do I love about 'The Venture Bros.'?
Everything. Every single thing.
There isn't a single part of the show I don't like.
1) Venture Bros. is a spoof-show. A parody. But it's not just a parody. Parodies are shtick jokes, lame babbling dialogue meant to spoof the original content they're making fun of, and quite frankly I rarely see a parody that works (save 'Airplane!' or 'Children's Hospital').
This show does more than Parody. It pays homage. It tributes.
See Doc Hammer & Jackson Publik (the creators) grew up on late 70's, early 80's television. And not just television either. Comics. Movies. Books. Dungeons & Dragons. And it wasn't all just for kids.
They were knee-deep in what we would now call "Geek Culture" but back then was just science-fiction. This idea of Mr. Fantastic and his Fantastic family building an inter-stellar ship to galavant across the cosmos, defeating Galactus or rescuing alien-beings such as the Kree or Silver Surfer. This shit got them off, and it inspired them.
They grew up and became good, but rather un-disciplined, animators. They worked (I believe together?) on many shows that scattered throughout the early 90's, the biggest one being "THE TICK".
The Tick is a well-known parody of Super Heroes. It does a damn good job of displaying some of the corniest and most outrageous aspects of the Super Hero Culture (both within the fictional universes or real life. Like I always say though, if you don't know the source material, you won't get the parody- that's why Tick bombed in the end.)
Anyways -- these guys eventually got their shit together and pumped out Venture Bros.
It's a spoof/parody/pays homage to just about everything I can think of, but mostly the following:
-Johnny Quest: Big time inspiration for the series. Just the wardrobe for the characters and the soundtrack (By J.G. Thirwell) as well as the hokey Nanny-Bot, H.E.L.P.Er., are just blatant shout-outs to the 70's era cartoon produced by Hanna Barbera.
-G.I. Joe: Super Hero Terrorist squads are seen a lot. Hammer & Publik have parodied S.H.I.E.L.D., Nick Fury, Tony Stark, HYDRA, and even Black Widow (Natasha Romanova). But all of them fall back to the easiest reference to connect to younger audiences (who don't read comics). G.I. Joe. COBRA COMMANDER becomes "SPHYNX" (Ssssssphynx!) and the G.I. Joe's (while admittedly a S.H.I.E.L.D. rip-off as well) become "O.S.I." or Office of Secret Intelligence.
-Doctor Strange/Ghost Rider/Blade. Very obvious references in the Order of the Triad. Even (if you really pay attention) a very coy reference to Hellboy is made.
-Guilt of Calamitous Intent can really be any super villain squad. The Sinister Six, the Injustice League, so on and so forth.
-Science fiction pulps/serial novels. Things like Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, even Harvey Boys and a very naughty reference once or twice to Nancy Drew.
-Mystery Noirs and P.I. stories, usually "Gal Friday" type stuff. Also there's some awesome espionage jokes, 007 references, and even Mission Impossible gags.
-Any super hero ever, think of him or her and I can assure you they've made a reference. Superman? Check. Batman & Robin. Check. (see the Superman/Batman/Robin mashed character here
) Spider-Man. Definite. Green Goblin? Absolutely. Fantastic Four? Their parodies are re-occurring characters. The Batman
references are everywhere being the two Boys, Hank & Dean never really do grow up, and like most small boys -- they think Batman is the most bad-ass person to ever exist.
There's even a ex-Side-kick support group! Like an Alcoholics Anonymous for SIDEKICKS who can't get off the high of fighting crime! It's soooo brilliant!
-So on and so forth. Rumor is there's going to be a Clifford the Big Red Dog reference next season. THE HELL!? LOL!
2) You get a flavor for some really stylized writing.
This isn't just a cartoon. And like Metalocalypse, it's not about the blatant sex/booze/blood references. It doesn't seek out shock-comedy every avenue (though Doc and Jackson will never write a joke around a perfect opportunity to shock the audience either). They write seriously. The plots are engaging, each episode may be a new adventure but each season has a continuous theme or mystery that has yet to be resolved, and probably won't be because the will bumble it (I'll get into that for point 3).
Honestly, the grew up in a time of an overwhelming popularity in science fiction and that's what they write about. But they're also pretty well educated, well read, and well versed in other cultural references. (Probably less so in sports but not so much that they can't make an O.J. Simpson joke at poor Jefferson's expense). They're not stupid, is what I mean to say. The episodes have believable dialogue, re-occurring jokes.
It's honestly as if Brian Michael Bendis, Jon Hickman and other Comic Writers got some help from the writers of Arrested Development and produced a show called "The Venture Bros." but instead of 13 people, it's really just these two and their sketchy friend who pulls all the music together for each episode, like the day they have to send it in to Adult Swim! LOL!
This show is inarguably about 2 things and while one of them may be family adventures, that aspect is quickly overshadowed by the strong theme of failure.
Every character fails. Always.
If the objective is to succeed at something great, Dr. Venture won't. If he is steps away from getting governmental funding? He'll fuck it up. Brock has to defend the boys? They'll die. Again. And the clones will be woken up, and it'll be like it never happened. Everyone in this show is juggling a basket of eggs while riding a unicycle and they're all trying so hard not to drop anything.
But they always do. Sounds tiring, (some people say they get sick of "Curb Your Enthusiasm for this very same reason) but Jackson and Doc throw the audience a bone once in a while and they also do something I don't think Larry David ever tries to do. They let you feel good about the "heroes" not succeeding.
They do this by helping you understand that, though you are routing for them, they aren't really heroes.
Doctor Venture's code of ethics go on borderline pedophelia (he accidentally knocked up the president to his fan-club in his late 20's to a girl who lied to him and apparently was not of consensual age -- though thankfully the state he was in when it happened would have allowed it!).
Brock may be the best damn body guard ever, but there really isn't anyone who wont' kill. And that sounds awesome, but there are times when you feel sorry for the henchmen.
4) The Monarch.
He's just a beautifully crafted character. Mysterious origins, unknown reason for hating Dr. Venture and claiming him as his arch-rival. He will kill anyone who tries to take Venture or his title away from him. He "ARCH"'es Doc like it's his career- oh wait, it IS!
That's right he's in a Super Villain union called the Guild of Calamitous Intent. He's in love (and now married) to another super villain's ex-assistant/sidekick. And though she now is enthralled and in deep passionate love with Monarch, it's clearly a matter of time until something goes wrong being her ex, Phantom Limb (a great Invisible Man by H.G. Wells reference btw) has lost his fucking mind.
5) The show is always entertaining. There isn't a single episode I have seen that hasn't made me laugh hysterically.
When you can enjoy every episode of a show, you know it's good.
[Edited on 18/7/11 by Ult_Sm86]