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Warner Home Video presents
The Venture Bros.: Season One (2003)

"I'm not going to flush. Let them see the wrath of the Monarch!"
- Monarch (Christopher McCulloch)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: May 30, 2006

Stars: James Urbaniak, Patrick Warburton, Doc Hammer, Christopher McCulloch, Michael Sinterniklaas
Other Stars: Steven Ratazzi, Lisa Hammer, Paul Boocock, Richard Liebmann-Smith, Nina Hellman, Mia Barron, Stephen Colbert, Steve Park, T. Ryder Smith
Director: Christopher McCulloch

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (cartoon violence, language, mature themes)
Run Time: 05h:15m:00s
Release Date: May 30, 2006
UPC: 053939752625
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

I came to the party late as far as The Venture Bros. are concerned, and as much as I would like to tout my ultra-coolness by saying I was an early adopter and a faithful viewer from day one, I just can't. My first exposure came about six months ago—with the Adult Swim show well into reruns of the reruns—and on the rabid recommendation of a friend I faithfully set my TiVo to see what the hub-bub was all about. Despite the high praise, my expectations remained tepid at best, but when I caught sight of this manic and suggestive spin on a Jonny Quest-like family unit involved in fighting evil, I was pretty much hooked.

Now, with the release of the two-disc set, I have the benefit of being able to see all the Season One eps in chronological order (not that it's essential, but I'm a completist that way), all thirteen regular episodes plus the pilot and the Christmas installment.

The show is a ridiculously perverse, quasi-macho action cartoon from one-time The Tick animated series writer Christopher McCulloch, featuring the brilliant but troubled scientist Dr. Thaddeus Venture (voiced by James Urbaniak) and his slightly dense twin teenage sons Hank and Dean (voiced by McCulloch and Michael Sinterniklaas, respectively). Towering land mass Brock Samson (voiced by Patrick Warburton, another Tick veteran) rounds out the Venture team as their faithful bodyguard/protector who has the thankless task of continually fending off an array of super-villains, led by the swishy antics of The Monarch (voiced by McCulloch), his deep-voiced partner/love interest Dr. Girlfriend (voiced by Doc Hammer) and a gaggle of bumbling costumed henchmen.

Mondo bizarreness are the watchwords throughout the series, and the mixture of traditional Quest-inspired action and decidedly mature humor play very well together, tilting each episode in very odd directions, with McCulloch not afraid to end a random storyline with the death of two major characters (only for them to be fine next time around) or feature the frequent and robust sexual appetites of Brock. The level of genuine weirdness goes beyond just grouping together a batch of oddball characters as broad parody subjects, because the dialogue is ripe with sarcasm, double-entendres and an obvious appreciation of the genre it is lambasting.

Go Team Venture!

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Don't get startled by the opening scene of each ep—which is always shown in nonanamorphic widescreen—because it soon becomes the original 1.33:1 fullframe aspect ratio. This isn't Pixar-level animation, but the transfers are clean, colors appear bright, and my only real beef is the presence of some sporadic moderate edge enhancement.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Nothing flashy here, just a basic English-language 2.0 stereo track, but it works. Voice quality is perfectly clear, music beds have a surprising amount of richness to them, and the whole presentation is modestly effective.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 13 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish
6 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
5 Feature/Episode commentaries by Christopher McCulloch/Jackson Publick, Doc Hammer
Packaging: Tri-Fold Amaray with slipcase
Picture Disc
2 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Pilot Episode
  2. Christmas Episode
Extras Review: Spiffy looking packaging for this set, with a thick slipcase over a trifold inner case sporting some very hip artwork by comic book artist Bill Sienkiewicz, as well as brief episode summaries.

There's a total of five so-called "creator commentaries", all featuring writer/director/voice talent Christopher McCulloch as his alter ego Jackson Publick along with editor/writer/voice talent Doc Hammer; they appear on the episodes Mid-Life Chrysalis, Eeny Meeney Miney...Magic!, Tag Sale, You're It, Ghosts of the Saragasso, and the pilot The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay. The content is very self-effacing, peppered with a mixture of jokes and actual production info, though sometimes the line between the two is very thin. Funny stuff, and perfectly complimentary to the material.

The rest of extras show up on the tail end of Disc 2, including a pair of bonus eps: the Pilot: The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay (25m:04s) from fall 2002 and A Very Venture Christmas (11m:26s). The pilot is rather trippy, and it's clear the creators hadn't quite worked all finer points of characterizations yet, but it does feature The Monarch and a rare appearance of Scamp, the skinless dog. The Christmas ep once again features attempted havoc by The Monarch, though this time a threatening Teutonic demon gets conjured up by Dean and Hank.

Also included are a set of six brief deleted scenes (the longest runs under two minutes), as well as a couple of featurettes. Behind The Scenes of The Venture Bros. Live Action Movie (21m:23s) is a rather surreal concept, with the voice talent dressed as their characters discussing the fictitious live action project, and is about as weird as Animating Hank and Dean (04m:28s), where we're told motion capture is used to make the animation appear so lifelike. Right.

Each 22-minute episode is one chapter, with optional subtitles in English, Spanish or French.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

There's a richly perverted charm to this Adult Swim series, and I think a large part of the appeal depends on whether or not you would happen to find a bizarrely dark parody of a Jonny Quest-type show up your proverbial alley. This nicely packaged two-disc set of all thirteen Season One eps is a macho stroke of mature comic genius.

Highly recommended.


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