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Warner Home Video presents
The Venture Bros.: Season Two (2006)

"I am sitting in the charred remains of my once mighty Flying Cocoon. Anyone want to explain why my Cocoon is charred?"
- The Monarch (Christopher McCulloch)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: May 10, 2007

Stars: James Urbaniak, Patrick Warburton, Doc Hammer, Christopher McCulloch, Michael Sinterniklaas
Other Stars: Steven Ratazzi, Lisa Hammer, Paul Boocock, Nina Hellman, Mia Barron, Brendan Small, Stephen Colbert, T. Ryder Smith, Dana Snyder, Charles Parnell, Joanna P. Adler, Terrence Fleming, H. Jon Benjamin, Sue Gilad
Director: Christopher McCulloch

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (cartoon violence, language, mature themes)
Run Time: 05h:55m:00s
Release Date: April 17, 2007
UPC: 053939781625
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A A+BB+ A+

DVD Review

The strange concept of tilting the foundation of the Jonny Quest universe on its side is the skeletal premise of Cartoon Network's animated action series The Venture Bros., represented here by a 13-episode two-disc Season Two set. Coming from creators Christopher McCulloch (he prefers to be known as Jackson Publick) and Doc Hammer, The Venture Bros. may borrow its visual style from Quest as homage, but the skewed family structure and plots are all fantastically grotesque parodies, slathered with sharp comic dialogue and equally surreal characters.

At the core is brilliant, self-absorbed scientist Dr. Thaddeus "Rusty" Venture (voiced by James Urbaniak) and his two dim-bulb sons, Hank and Dean (voiced by McCulloch and Michael Sinterniklaas, respectively). Towering land mass Brock Samson (voiced by Patrick Warburton) rounds out Team Venture as the faithful macho 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 ex-partner Dr. Girlfriend (voiced by Doc Hammer), and the menacing Phantom Limb (voiced by Urbaniak). Add to the mix an overly dramatic sorcerer, a tiny large-headed genius and the return of the size-challenged "lost" brother of Dr. Venture, first introduced in Season One, and the table is pretty full of ready-made quirkiness.

And it's here that Publick and Hammer continue to deliver the goods, because it is one thing to have all the diverse characters, but it is another thing entirely to be able to continually do something clever and creative with them. That starts with how to answer the questions raised at the end of the first season, namely the death of two main characters. Using the song Everybody's Free from Aquagen as the basis for an opening montage, the season opener ,Powerless in the Face of Death, not only explains put a great new spin on Dr. Venture's life-giving talents, but it manages to also find time to parody a Duran Duran video, too. And as this season unfolds weirdness ensues, as verbose conjurer Doc Orpheus tries to get the old super gang back together; The Monarch has to deal with a deadly romantic rival and his own bumbling henchmen; the gay ghost of Abraham Lincoln saves the world; and Brock's sexy sometime gal-pal Molotov Cocktease makes a rather domesticated appearance.

Having a narrative carryover from the previous season is a nice touch, and the references to characters and events from the past is a nice nerd nod to fans, but hardly a trip up for those new to Team Venture. Likewise, mutating the whole Quest mythos might seem a little obscure, and while it is not a prerequisite to enjoy this show by any means, it does helps sell a gag like the appearance of a grown-up, strung-out, gun-toting Jonny himself in the ep 20 Years to Midnight.

As part of the Adult Swim schedule, The Venture Bros. is certainly meant for older viewers, though the "mature" moniker might be a misnomer, because this is hardly highbrow humor. Laugh-out-loud funny, but hardly mature. There's the occasional unbleeped obscenity, too many double entendres and visual gags to mention, and a general sense of "this is wrong", such as an attempted prison rape scene between King Gorilla and The Monarch that seems to violate interspecies laws of nature. Yet that's standard issue stuff from Publick and Hammer, and Season Two continues to evolve the Venture's adventures with no signs of regurgitating the same old same old.

This borders on brilliance.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A+

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: All thirteen episodes sport a very vivid color palette. Some modest grain, but nothing in the way of any major print flaws to contend with.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: A big improvement over the Season One set is the inclusion here of a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix, in addition to the original 2.0 stereo option. While both deliver clear voice quality, the step up to 5.1 provides a wider presence to the music beds and sound effects, giving the whole experience a much louder, more cinematic feel.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 39 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
28 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
13 Feature/Episode commentaries by Doc Hammer, James Urbaniak, Jackson Publick, Michael Sinterniklaas
Packaging: Tri-Fold Amaray with slipcase
Picture Disc
2 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: This two-disc set has a purposely aged slipcase—complete with coffee/water stains—that contains a foldout case adorned with some highly stylized artwork that looks darker and more ominous than the series itself does.

Each episode carries a commentary, most of which feature writer/director/voice talent Christopher McCulloch as his alter ego Jackson Publick along with editor/writer/voice talent Doc Hammer, as well as James Urbaniak and Michael Sinterniklaas, who appear with them on a few tracks. The content and mood is very mercurial—sometimes bizarrely odd, like the impromptu musical intro on Fallen Arches—while other times it approaches a more straight-forward delivery. There are loads of Venture-related episodic tidbits, and though the content often meanders around in weird directions, with plenty of laughing and wackiness.

The rest of the extras show on Disc 2; Tour of Astrobase Go (16m:09s) is an educational film-styled visit to watch Hammer and Publick in action, under the premise that the two are working on a space station. A set of 28 deleted scenes (21m:21s) from various episodes—some in pencil sketch/storyboard format, others fully animated—are also included, viewable separately or via the Play All option.

Each episode is cut into three chapters, with optional subtitles in English, French or Spanish.

Extras Grade: A+

 

Final Comments

Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick prove they're hardly one-trick ponies by coming up with another solid 13 episodes of demented animated goodness, pushing the boundaries of comedic weirdness to enjoyable new levels. Severely dark and twisted, this series never fails to deliver an abundance of quotable dialogue.

Highly recommended.

 


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