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Thursday, June 6, 2013

THE VENTURE BROTHERS Put On a New "Cleansuit"

Article first published as THE VENTURE BROTHERS Put On a New "Cleansuit" on TheTVKing.

After a two-and-a-half-year hiatus, save for a pair of specials, The Venture Brothers finally returns to Cartoon Network's Adult Swim this week. In the hour-long season premiere, entitled "What Color Is Your Cleansuit?," Dr. Venture (voiced by James Urbaniak) ropes a bunch of college students into helping his team complete a ray shield in three months that the doctor has had years to deliver on. Unfortunately, unconcerned with the safety of his employees, Dr. Venture's project results in severe mutations and the formation of a new society.

The opening of "What Color Is Your Cleansuit?" is great because it reintroduces us to many of the major characters, taking us one by one through where they are on a typical morning. Some of the familiar faces have changed a little, so this sequence isn't all retread, and it's a good way to set up and kick start a fresh story.

We know that Dr. Venture can be callous, but this episode shows us all new levels of that characteristic. While previously we only see him being unsympathetic to a character or two at a time, here he is using a huge contingent of interns as fodder. Gary, the former 21, (Doc Hammer) remarks that working for Dr. Venture and working for the Monarch (Christopher McCulloch) isn't all that different, and now we see very clearly why. Both are self-involved and focused on their goals at the expense of others.

The difference is, the Monarch is learning his lesson. Throughout this season premiere, he pines for his departed 21, and makes a couple of attempts to woo him back. 21, it turns out, became more than just a lackey to Venture's archnemesis, and sorely in need of a friend, the Monarch seeks to regain the one he lost. Might this season see a flip between good and evil?

The Venture Brothers is nothing if not dynamic. Characters move on all the time, and seldom do things return to the status quo once they do. 21 is merely the latest person to find a new place in the larger fabric, now heading up, and being the sole member of, SPHINX on the Venture compound. While it's possible 21 will work with the Monarch again, he's certainly in no hurry to do so, and since he has become such a sympathetic personality, it's nice to see him on the side of good. Well, sort of good, considering Venture's recent ruthlessness.

Venture actually needs 21's help, though he'll never admit it. Team Venture has become pretty laughable since the departure of Brock (Patrick Warburton). I'm not saying that Sergeant Hatred's (also McCulloch) boobs make him weaker, but he does appear even less threatening because they look silly on him. 21 could be just what the Ventures need to keep their land safe from any intruders.

Being kept safe is a concern with this motley bunch. Hank (McCulloch) just wants to hang out with Dermot (Hammer) and avoid danger. Dean (Michael Sinterniklaas) is caught up in rebellion and new loves. Dr. Venture takes on dangerous tasks at the behest of his brother J.J. (Urbaniak). The Monarch is still launching attacks, although Dr. Mrs. the Monarch (Hammer) keeps them from being too lethal. And Billy Quizboy (Hammer), now a fixture at the compound, has a new archnemesis, which brings more trouble with it.

The Venture Brothers is always expanding their roster of players, and Billy's foe is the latest. I didn't like this one so much, but the benefit of having such a large cast is, even when a character is less than thrilling, we won't get too much of them. That being said, the new guy is a good pairing for the Quizboy, and it's nice to see an expansion of his role.

The story itself in "What Color Is Your Cleansuit?" is less important than the character development and gags, however, I still liked it a lot. It's well-thought out, mostly original, and sees Dean let loose in a way he normally doesn't. The two races concept is cool, and I love seeing how geek culture could explode into a society quite quickly. The ending might be a tad neat, but the genius behind the resolution should be commended, as it's both enjoyable and makes sense.

Also, the series might be going up in the world, as this episode features the voice talents of such performers as Aziz Ansari (Parks and Recreation) and Wyatt Cenac (The Daily Show). Nice!

The Venture Brothers is now back on a weekly basis, thank goodness. Let's hope it remains that way for awhile, and no more years-long breaks, OK? The Venture Brothers airs Sundays at midnight on Cartoon Network.

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