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‘The Venture Bros’ relocate to New York City, still as excellent as ever

Photo by Photo via comicbook.com

Photo by Photo via comicbook.com

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In the early 2000s, Adult Swim launched a glorious new era of cartoons parodying old Hanna-Barbera productions.

This era generated many great shows, including “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” “Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law” and “Sealab 2021,” all of which found inspiration in the mid-century cartoons’ cheaply made animation and writing pandering to young, innocent children.

But the biggest surprise came from “The Venture Bros.,” a show that combines dark comedy with adventurous elements and celebrates popular culture by using music, films and ’80s television shows as punchlines. Lucky for fans, it’s back for another season.

“The Venture Bros.” was created by Chris McCulloch as a series originally intended for Comedy Central. The show moved over to Adult Swim, after Cartoon Network announced its expansion into late night programming geared towards young adults in the early 2000s.

“The Venture Bros.” has persisted through nearly 13 years of switching animation production companies and intense writing schedules between McCulloch and voice actor Doc Hammer. Despite the struggles, the show has nearly 70 episodes, making it the longest running half-hour series the network has ever created.

How these two have incorporated their love for popular culture has been one of the series strengths since the beginning of its run. Another strength is how the show has continuously thrown dramatic stakes at their characters to allow the story and world to grow.

It’s often referred to as a cartoon of failure, due to the characters distressed lives and traumatic upbringings, but it’s a lot more than that.

Even the show’s villains, like the “Monarch,” a butterfly themed villain that constantly threatens to rule over the Venture family, has moments that make the audience sympathetic for him.

Despite this being an action-heavy series, nearly every character has a story to tell, a lot of which are surprisingly moving. That’s why it is so satisfying to see the rare victories of these characters.

It’s also a wickedly funny show. Several lines of dialogue and improvisation have made the characters become current trends in popular culture and the show itself has become immensely quotable.

The show is also home to James Urbaniak and Patrick Warburton voice acting talents, and McCulloch and Hammer use every bit of them to their strengths. Whether it’s for comedic effects (and it mostly is), or in an episode like “Operation P.R.O.M.” where Warburton’s character wonders where he and his past girlfriend stand in their relationship, there is never a dull moment. It is a series that glows with pathos.

This new season picks up where the special “All This and Gargantua-2” left off, which aired over last year’s MLK weekend. The compound is destroyed, and the Venture family must now relocate to New York, where their new technology headquarters is finally ready for a re-launch after the old building was abandoned for several years following the passing of Rusty Venture’s (James Urbaniak) father.

Dr. Venture’s sons Hank (Chris McCulloch) and Dean (Michael Sinterniklaas) are finally getting ready to move up in the world after being educated by their learning beds and being isolated from a normal society their whole lives. Dean wants to go college, while Hank still wants to gets his band, Shallow Gravy, bigger and enjoy all New York can offer. The family’s bodyguard, Sergeant Hatred, is no longer needed at the Venture household and must figure out what to do with his life.

It’s a soft reboot, but it doesn’t even feel like that. The compound may be gone, but these characters are still growing into their own, which is a rarity in many cartoons.

Based on seeing the multiple trailers that have been used to promote the new season, it seems likely there will be more Marvel/DC comics’ heavy satire than ever before. In an era where every superhero needs to tie itself into the same universe in order to have a worthwhile reason to exist, this is a very welcome addition to the show. “The Avengers” gets spoofed almost immediately in the season opener, when Dr. Venture wonders why the “cast of Godspell” is on his front porch.

On the chance you’ve never seen the show; the previous five seasons are currently streaming on Hulu. Skip the pilot. The animation is painful on the eyes, and the humor is flat for the most part. Instead, start with the episode “Dia de los Dangerous!” It’s a much better opener depicting what the show is about and what it will become. The special is currently airing on Adult Swim’s website if you missed it last year.

Since “Rick and Morty” is on hiatus for an unknown period of time, “The Venture Bros.” is an excellent substitute for those waiting. For a show that’s been in production since 2003, it stills feels as fresh as it did when it first began. It’s a miracle and an absolute delight to behold. Welcome back to team Venture. Let’s hope there’s not another two and a half year hiatus for new episodes to begin.

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About the Writer
Dennis Tracy, MUTV Executive Entertainment Producer

Dennis Tracy is a digital media major from Palatine, IL. He has previously worked as a production volunteer for MUTV before becoming an entertainment producer...

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