Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Venture Brothers halfway through second half of season four

     If you thought the title of this article sounded a bit convoluted, it gives you a little bit of an idea of the humor of Cartoon Network's The Venture Brothers.  Part of Adult Swim, The Venture Brothers has produced four seasons in the last six years, including the 16 episode fourth season, which was split between last fall and this one.  It's a long wait between installments, but as the half hour animated episodes are among the best animation on television, it's well worth the wait.

     Tonight airs the fourth episode of this fall, leaving only four more weeks until the season finale.  So far, plenty has happened in the Venture continuum.  After the absence of Brock Samson (voiced by Patrick Warburton, Family Guy, Seinfeld, Rules of Engagement) for most of last year, the former Venture family bodyguard is back, working secretly at a the back of the Venture compound for his former boss.  Their group is called S.P.H.I.N.X., and hilariously, Hank (Christopher McCulloch) and Dean (Michael Sinterniklaas) kept finding them, and their memories have been erased, leading to some serious brain damage.

     The brothers themselves have now graduated high school (a.k.a. their beds), and are trying to figure out their place in the world.  Hank went through quite a bit of a rebellious stage when Brock left, but he's settling down now.  This past week, Hank and Dean staged the kidnapping of their father, Dr. Venture (James Urbaniak).  Don't worry, it was just to make him feel better.  But the good Doc admitted to Hank, without knowing it was son, that he saw a lot of himself in the boy, and was sad that he would probably end up having the same life as his father.  It was a rare touching moment in a series known for it's funniness, but not unheard of.  Unlike most cartoons, The Venture Brothers is fairly serial, with events changing circumstances from episode to episode, rather than resetting everything back to status quo at the end of the half hour.

     The related plot going on this week involved a former henchmen kidnapping heroes and villains alike and forcing them to fight for his amusement.  Billy Quizboy (Doc Hammer), Pete White (McCullough), S.P.H.I.N.X. agent Shoreleave, and the Monarch's Henchman 21 (Hammer).  21 has been undergoing quite a metamorphis since losing his best friends, 24 (McCullough) last year.  The two have been developed as full-fledged people, not just the nameless, numbered sidekicks, and 21 took 24's death hard.  He still carries around his friend's skull and talks with it, ala Yoric in Hamlet.  21, though, has also become quite a formidable foe, at times running the Monarch's organziation, and he was the key player in freeing all those who has been kidnapped.

     If you have not been watching The Venture Brothers, now would be a good time to jump into it.  As I said, it is serial, but it's still amusing, even if you don't know all of the background.  The Venture Brothers airs on Cartoon Network Sunday nights at 11:30pm, and reruns the episode throughout the week.

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