My viewing of [adult swim] shows is minimal. I’ve kept it down to a select few: Robot Chicken, The Boondocks and my personal favorite and focus of this review, Venture Bros. Few cartoons past Futurama have made me genuinely laugh at the sheer wit of some jokes as Venture Bros. has (and continues to do). The torrent of potty and genitalia jokes also doesn’t hurt either.
For the uninformed, Venture Bros. is a Johnny Quest style parody from the minds of Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick that incorporates the aforementioned Quest as well as a host of other Hanna-Barbera classics such as Scooby Doo. In the shows Emmy-worthy second season (not that it was nominated, mind you), we’re treated to a season-wide arc of the boys (Hank and Dean) nearly finding out that they’re actually clones of themselves several times and Dr. Girlfriend and the Monarch breaking up and getting married (ending with a shocking secret from Dr. Girlfriend). While it’s only the second season, I favor it much more over the first, which in no way means the first was weak—quite the contrary. It’s just that season two had such excellent strings of episodes that I didn’t find myself disliking a single one of them. In particular, the “Escape to the House of Mummies (Part 2)” is perhaps one of my favorite episodes of the series, period.
The second season of Venture Bros. is just littered with great jokes, great animation and superb story telling. There’s not an episode in this season I didn’t enjoy both on original airing and on DVD, though some will categorize “Guess Who’s Coming to State Dinner?” as a bit on the weak side, which I may concede too—but Ghost Lincoln was still awesome. Also surprising to me was, while I had thought I’d seen all of the Venture Bros.’s second season, “Victor. Echo. November.” was all new to me—apparently I had missed its original airing and didn’t realize it. Which is a shame, as it quickly became a favorite of mine, especially after such lines as “It feels like someone with a fever is yelling at my pants!” and “I gotta take a Count Dooku.” The second season is really just pure and absolute gold through and through.
If you aren’t watching Venture Bros., you really need to be. Now. Any show that has lines like “Love never blows up and gets killed.” splashed across it’s DVD packaging deserves to be shown to anyone and everyone.
While DVD packaging has never been a strong point in my reviews (most of it is all generic and not worth talking about), Venture Bros. continues the tradition of the first seasons awesome packaging and follows it up just like the second season did with the first: made the packaging even better and even more awesome.
Packaged in a white, “papery” feel slipcase, Venture Bros. comes with a distressed look, complete with “wrinkles” and “coffee stains”, giving it an old-time feel. The exterior art is simple and extremely effective, offering up a very cool and stylized shelf presence next to the other lame-o DVD packages. Inside we’re given a full three panel fold out splash image showing off Doc, Brock, Cocktease, Phantom Limb, Dr. Girlfriend, Monarch and Dean and Hank. The packaging needs to be seen to be believed—it’s just flat out awesome. Interior art of the tri-fold out has all the episode titles and summaries, as well as credits for the show and disc contents. Discs themselves are stylized art just like the packaging, with a small group of butterflies gracing the first and a Doc Venture silhouette on the second. I’ve never been so thoroughly impressed by a DVDs packaging…it just exudes excellence all around.
Could the presentation of the discs get any better? Hell yes it can. The menus are styled in full screen like an old film strip. Changing menus triggers menu animation and sound effects that match that of a reel frame stepping. Jitters and clicks abound as you switch between menus. Even going to the very “bottom” of the film strip and going back to the main menu shows the other menus on the individual frames whizzing by. On presentation alone this set earns five stars and we haven’t even touched the content of the discs.
Video and audio on this set is great. While each episode has an extreme amount of ghosting frames it seems, the audio is simply superb. Coming in with a 5.1 track on every episode (though the back of the package says only 2.0—though that’s included as well), the track is lively and great to listen to. Definitely a step above the 2.0 track from the first season set. In addition, there are chapter stops in every ep—although I shouldn’t say “stops”, as there’s really only one chapter per episode (roughly right in the middle where a commercial break is). Better than nothing, I suppose.
The first disc houses only the episodes (seven in all) and the beginning of the episode commentaries. That’s right boys and girls—commentaries on every episode! Aside from Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick on all of the tracks, we get guest appearances from James Urbaniak and Michael Sinterniklaas. While the tracks consist of the guys just basically shootin’ the shit, some interesting production anecdotes about scripts, last minute line additions (with the voice actor recording them as they’re written) and what lines were deleted. For fans they’re entertaining, though be forewarned: there’s an “Explicit content” sticker on the rear of the packaging for a reason. While some of the more extreme stuff is bleeped out, F-bombs and every other word they say remains uncensored. Didn’t bother me any (though I’ll admit, being the TMNT fan I am, hearing Sinterniklaas [Leonardo on TMNT] ask Hammer and Publick about “clone dorks” is a bit disorienting), but the squeamish who are expecting a censored track like last seasons set will be shocked to hear what Hammer and Publick really say behind some of those drawn out censored bits.
Disc two houses the final six episodes and their commentaries, the deleted scenes for the set and a tour of Astro-Base Go. The tour is shot old-documentary style with Billy and Pete White narrating. The featurettes relatively short, but gives us a look into the area where the show is created (and the various “Station” names). We’re also given an in-depth look at Soul-Bot and his many powers.
The deleted scenes are fun to watch, though you can tell why most were cut (for time or the scene just wasn’t all that funny). Deleted scenes range from completely finished to just storyboards with the voices over them. Overall the special features are satisfying, if only for the 13 full length commentaries. The deleted scenes are hit and miss and the Astro-Base Go featurette wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but it was still fun in its own right.
Overall, I don’t care if you’re a fan of the show or not, go pick up this set. The episodes are just too great to miss and the special features are worth a looksie as well. Plus, the packaging alone is so attractive to the eye I consider it a special feature all by itself.
The Venture Bros: Season 2 arrives on DVD on April 17th.