Fans (myself included) were eagerly awaiting the third season of Venture Bros. when it finally started airing last year. It’d been awhile since new episodes had been seen and those that enjoyed the show had long since had the first two seasons in their DVD collection and (again, myself included) watched the multiple times as they awaited for another season. Thirteen episodes later, fans find themselves in a similar predicament for the fourth season of Venture Bros., which should hopefully arrive with less wait. In the mean time, Warner Home Video has bestowed the best show on adult swim on the first ever adult swim Blu-ray release, complete with a companion soundtrack filled with the shows music.
Dig deeper into the world of Venture with Season 3, a rich tapestry of past and present, cause and effect, unitards and bodystockings. Witness the genesis of villainous personae, the clash of sporadically opposing forces, and the birth of debilitating neuroses in this, the sturmiest, most drangful season yet.
After the cliffhanger ending of season two, the wait for the third season was even more excruciating than previously imagined. All right, so that’s an exaggeration—it’s a comedy cartoon, after all, so there really wasn’t that much to get invested in, but I will say that once the airdates for the season were announced, I was eagerly awaiting that first episode. Of course, being as forgetful as I am, I completely forgot to watch it when it originally aired, but thankfully adult swim put up the episodes lickity split online. In fact, they put them up ahead of time, so those who just couldn’t wait could check it out ahead of time, helpful for me, to say the least.
But enough about the waiting and the viewing of the season—how was the season itself? Venture Bros. is one of few shows that continually gets better as it goes along and this third season, complete with a brand new 16×9 aspect ratio, was some of the best ever. Not only did we get another two-part finale that melted minds, but we got so many great episodes right off the bat that they have since gone on my “favorites” list (which, coincidentally, lists every single episode of the series currently). I may be the last person to look for recommendations when it comes to this show since I follow it with complete blind love that it can do no wrong, but honestly I just really enjoyed the hell out of this season.
What’s so great about this series is it genuinely moves plot devices along. It keeps characters relationships advancing (except maybe the title characters, as they kind of just…don’t learn much) and the storylines that accompany them are so wonderfully written. I really don’t get as much enjoyment from watching this series as I do others; the humor is always on-target and hilarious and the timing of the dialogue is always fantastic (especially when it comes to The Monarch).
I can only hope that the series continues to be as terrific as it has been and that adult swim continues to let it grow. I know this is a bit of a strange thing to say about a cartoon that gets hit with TV-MA ratings for bad language and juvenile situations, but when it’s written at such a consistent level, it’s hard not to become passionate about a show like this. That and I really just want more people to watch this series, as Family Guy continues to dominate adult swim and that just annoys me.
Between the mix of mocking of past adventure cartoons like Johnny Quest (and even the inclusion of some of those characters as well) and the fast-paced dialogue that remains funny from beginning to end, Venture Bros. is one of the best animated shows to come down the pike in years. Do yourself a favor and check out this show—even if you don’t usually get into cartoons, Venture Bros. is written in such a way that it can appeal to even the most diverse (and then probably repulse them with how perverse it can get) crowd.
Overall there is plenty to enjoy in this season, whether it’s the opener that focuses entirely on Dr. Girlfriend and Monarch or the hilarious Venture Compound Adventureland “The Buddy System” episode where Brock’s patience is tested by a teenager, the entire season is an absolute riot to watch and can even serve as a great jumping-in-point for those who are new to the show. Highly Recommended.
And so again begins my love affair with the Venture Bros. home video release packaging. This third season continues the unique look of the packaging with a play on the old Atari video game packaging style. It’s a little less impressive on Blu-ray than the DVD version, as all the Blu-ray release gets is a standard Elite case inside of a slipcover, although the art that adorns the Blu-ray case itself is also unique as it features live-action actors portraying the animated counterparts. It’s strange to get so much enjoyment out of looking at packaging, but the series continues to impress. Unfortunately there’s no hilarious quote on the back (like the second seasons “Love never blows up and gets killed”—which I still say randomly to people) of the box, but hey, I can live without it. Keeping with the Atari theme is the menu system, which, while simple, shows the 8-bit forms of Dean and Hank touching fingers and making the Venture Bros. logo.
Inside the Elite case itself is the single Blu-ray disc on which all thirteen episodes are contained as well as a second bonus disc that features twenty tracks of music from the show by JG Thirwell. Also strangely enough the packaging indicates that the audio is only in DD5.1 form, but in fact it features TrueHD 5.1 as well (which would explain the inclusion of the TrueHD logo on the back of the packaging). Of course the packaging also lists the aspect ratio as 2.4:1, when it’s something more like 1.78:1, so there wasn’t much proofing that went on for that one.
Speaking of the technical specs of the release, how does this season look? Well after watching the previous seasons in interlaced 480i 4×3 video, watching this third season in 1080p 16×9 video is absolutely breathtaking. Although thirteen episodes are packed onto one disc, the VC-1 encoding does its job well, with absolutely zero signs of compression to be found on any of the episodes. It looks, simply put, stunning and there is no greater joy than watching 1080p animation due to its crystal clear clarity. On top of that the aforementioned Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track is impressive as well, with frequent surround output and plenty of bass. Also included (and set to default) is the DD5.1 track, which is also not too shabby, but if you have the capabilities, TrueHD is the way to go on this one.
And the extras? Well there aren’t many, but somehow it just doesn’t matter as all thirteen episodes feature commentary by Publick and Hammer, who, like season two, create an absolutely entertaining five hours of chatter over the season. There’s a mixture of off-topic commentary as well as genuinely entertaining tidbits about individual episodes and how they were created. Frankly put fans of the series will find these commentaries as wonderful wells of information and they’re so much fun to listen to that I could actually see myself listening to them a second or third time in the future, as they’re just as entertaining as the episodes at times. As with the episodes themselves, the commentaries are uncensored, so keep the young ones away from this one if you have them around.
Next up is a selection of Deleted Scenes (19:38, HD), all presented in storyboard form with (what sounds like) completed voice actor dialogue. Some funny stuff is here, but like most deleted scenes the material was cut for a reason, but it doesn’t make it any less entertaining at times. Sadly that’s all there is, unless you pick up this Blu-ray edition over the DVD version, in which you’ll get the aforementioned bonus music CD. I never realized how diverse the music on this show was (nor did I honestly notice it much at all, aside from a few choice pieces) and I was absolutely delighted to see that the track that plays when Brock goes ape@$%^ on the show is included (and appropriately titled “Assclamp!”). If you’re able, definitely spring for the Blu-ray package, as the CD is well worth the $12 difference that Amazon’s charging currently.
Overall The Venture Bros. third season has arrived on the first adult swim Blu-ray release in prime form. A bit light on the extras, but the episode commentaries more than make this a Highly Recommended release.
The Venture Bros. – Third Season is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.
DVD In Brief: The Venture Bros. – 3rd Season
With Zach’s full review of The Venture Bros – 3rd Season above, I thought it would be best to briefly touch upon the DVD release of the same season. The main difference between the two-disc DVD release and the two-disc Blu-ray release of The Venture Bros – 3rd Season is the fact that the Blu-ray release comes with a soundtrack CD of the show’s score. Everything else, save for that and the hi-def transfer of the season, is identical. If you have the technology, upgrading to the Blu-ray release is a definite no-brainer for fans. It looks better, it comes with the soundtrack, and it’s a great looking package. Still, the same can pretty much be said for the DVD. The DVD’s audio and video transfer is really solid, with the show looking and sounding great in standard definition. For a review of the extras, and the main feature, check out Zach’s review above, but I just wanted to quickly touch based on the The Venture Bros – 3rd Season DVD release. With Blu-ray going mainstream very fast, DVDs do get overlooked quite a bit and I feel the DVD release for The Venture Bros – 3rd Season may suffer that same fate, but for those who opt to pick up the DVD release of this season, you won’t be disappointed. While it would have been nice to get the soundtrack to the season on DVD, what we get here is a package that’s just as great as the Blu-ray release save for a few obvious shortcomings. Recommended — James Harvey