STUDIO: Warner Bros.
MSRP: $29.99
RUNNING TIME: 291 min.
Deleted Scenes
Bonus Episodes
Commentary tracks

The Pitch

“It’s like Jonny Quest, except funny and really violent!”

The Humans

Patrick Warburton, James Urbaniak, Christopher McCulloch, other vocal throwers

The Nutshell

Superscientist (and single dad) Dr. Thaddeus Venture may not have the most prosperous career as an inventor, but that hasn’t prevented him from making the hitlist of rivals like vicious deformed theme-park magnate Roy Brisby, steel-jawed German baddie Baron Ünderbheit, one-eyed mercenary babe Molotov Cocktease, or butterfly-obsessed nemesis The Monarch (and his baritone-voiced partner Dr. Girlfriend). Under the protection of faithful bodyguard Brock Sampson, Dr. Venture and his dolt sons Dean and Hank and their robotic helper named HELPer (occasionally with melodramatic sorcerer neighbor Dr. Orpheus and his Goth daughter also assisting) find themselves on adventures that take them from space stations to ocean depths to Mexico, with stops at funerals and courtrooms and flashbacks in between.

"Do you solemnly swear that this is the absolute last frippin’ edition of Evil Dead on DVD? Because I’m kinda sick of buying it over and over and over…"

The Lowdown

While clearly an adult-oriented satire of the old Jonny Quest animated series (Race Bannon even makes a guest appearance… and is abruptly killed and then looted by children), Venture Bros. throws haymakers at Scooby-Doo’s inept ghost pirates, the mega-fortresses and hollow schemes and ineffectual henchmen of Bond villains, and all the standard goofy trademarks of comic books (e.g., the Impossibles, a wicked rip on the Fantastic Four).

The series is consistently clever if not always outright hilarious (titles like “Eeney Meeney Miney… Magic!” and “Dia de Los Dangerous” certainly help), although as the season progresses (I assume the DVDs present the 13 episodes in proper order) it gets increasingly and more dependably funny as the show found its groove. Among the highlights are a “tag sale” episode where Dr. Venture offers his numerous failed inventions to his adversaries at super prices and another where an evil plot is delayed due to literally twisted testicles, but the most solid episode is probably “The Trial of the Monarch”, where the series most obviously carves its own unique mythology.

Michael Bay’s Fantastic Four movie unfortunately never made it past storyboards.

While the titular (if ultimately peripheral) moronic siblings are perhaps the least interesting characters, the series is stacked with memorable creations, particularly among the costumed kooks. Sampson is the essence of mulleted machismo, a womanizing and level-headed fully licensed killing machine of such tenacity he makes Marv from Sin City look like a cartoon character (okay, that’s a crap analogy), voiced with placid perfection by Warburton. All the voice work is phenomenal – the histrionic delivery of Dr. Orpheus is also among my favorites.

I rarely see these shows when they air on Cartoon Network, but after Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Sealab 2021, Harvey Birdman, Robot Chicken and now this, I’ve yet to be disappointed by what I’ve seen of Adult Swim’s programming. You can still keep the mystifyingly popular Family Guy, but I’ll take another order of Venture Bros. pronto, please.

He may have eventually gone to that great clone afterlife, but Ben Reilly still haunted the dreams of his creators. As well he should. As well he should.

The Package

The double discs come sheathed in marvelous packaging thanks to painted artwork from comic veteran Bill Sienkiewicz in double-barrel Elektra: Assassin mode. The DVD picture looks boss without an ounce of red-bleed, the audio is snappy (love that groovy retro theme tune) and there’s a handful of fairly engaging episode-specific commentary tracks from the creators and cast. In addition there’s some unfinished deleted scenes, a pair of bonus episodes (the less refined pilot and a truncated but hysterical Christmas special) and a couple of tongue-in-cheek featurettes, the amusing Animating Hank and Dean which in no way reflects reality, and Behind the Scenes of the Venture Bros. Live-Action Movie, a mockumentary featuring the creators and voice talent in shoddy costumes that loses its novelty after a few minutes.

8.5 out of 10