(BONUS) Joint Venture 203: The Venture Bros. from the Very Beginning

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Here at Techland, only one television program manages to tie into so many of our geeky obsessions all at once. Superheroes, mythical creatures, action figures and barely believeable sci-fi all flop onto each other on the glorious cavalcade that is The Venture Bros. Cartoon Network’s just started airing the series from the start and Techland’s Hive Mind is taking the occasion to re-watch the exploits of Hank, Dean, Brock and Dr. Thaddeus Venture. Join us as we witness how Venture Bros. evolved over its four stellar seasons.

[Programming note: Anyone who’s been actually watching the Venture Bros. re-runs has noticed by now that they’re not showing the series in order. Rather than jump around like that, this Joint Venture feature’s going to keep going on in series order. This is because we love you, dear reader.]

This week, Evan Narcisse, Michelle Castillo and Graeme McMillan talk about Season 2/Episode 3: “Assassinanny 911

GRAEME: If there is a better moment in all of the Venture Bros. than Dean thinking that Hank’s erection is because his pants are haunted by native Americans who’ve set up a teepee in there, I really don’t know what it could be. It’s such a great collision of innocence, the real world and the awkward space in between that this show occupies, I love it.

MICHELLE: I love all the backstory episodes, and this one is especially good. Sure, it’s no “the Adventures of Rusty Venture and Roommates in College”, but it’s nice to know how Brock became a super spy. As an added bonus, we get to see Brock in tons of various disguises, which is always fun.

GRAEME: Actually, this episode in general may be my favorite, with all the fun Molotov Cocktease stuff – including the flashbacks to when she had two eyes! – and the introduction of Hunter (Thompson) Gatherer, a joke I have to shamefacedly admit I’ve missed for the five or so years I’ve been watching the show before this weekend.

MICHELLE: I’ll snicker to that.

GRAEME: Again, it’s one where everything happens to the Ventures, although at least Brock gets to be in control of what he’s doing for once (I’d also forgotten that being Rusty’s bodyguard is actually an OSI mission – “Rusty’s blanket,” indeed – at this point), and continues my theory that the show is at its best when everything happens to the main characters, instead of them going out to look for adventures. It helps that there’s just so much… stuff this week – the SHIELD outfits, the Hunter S. Thompson parody, the James Bond parodies, Hank’s sexual awakening and hallucenogenic programming (with the greatest post-credit explanation/punchline; why would there even be a paper mache machete on the wall?) – to fill the thirty minutes: There’s almost no downtime in the entire episode, and yet it all hangs together amazingly well, with no filler and no fat. This episode should be used as a masterclass in writing, I’m telling you.

EVAN: Graeme, I too didn’t catch the Hunter S. Thompson reference in Col. Gather’s name. And goddamn it, the cigarette holder and staccato dialogue are dead giveaways. I was too fixated on him as a totally unhinged pastiche of Nick Fury but the shady, Macronesian sex change is all HST.

EVAN: The thing I love about Molotov is that she totally crosses the line of faux innocence that surrounds the show’s main concept.

If we look at VB as an analogue to Jonny Quest, then she’s the one kind of character that wasn’t really prevalent on that show. (Yes, Race had his counterpart/love interest Jezebel Jade, but the tension there was mid at best.) With Molotov, it’s like the Baronness from G.I. Joe showed up on Jonny Quest and proceeded to act just as she would in her own, slightly more effed-up milieu.

Speaking of G.I. Joe, this episode only teases what will become amajor subplot in the series, that being the transformation of OSI and Brock’s relationship with them and Col. Gathers.

MICHELLE: Molotov is one of my favorite characters. I love how she’s one of the only people that makes Brock make bad choices. Why would he choose her, a deadly vixen assassin, to be the Venture boys’ babysitter? Their love-hate relationship built around mutual obsession over each other’s skills as an assassin seems to be tying them together.

Random note: Yay Brock’s mullet is back!

GRAEME: I love that Dean seems entirely immune to Molotov’s charms, unlike every other male in the series. It makes me wonder about the way the show handles femme fatales, because last week pointed out that everyone loves Dr. Girlfriend with the exception of Brock – is there some reason both have everyone bewitched apart from one solitary character? Am I missing a reference here?

MICHELLE: It’s probably just because Dean only has eyes for Triana. He also seems to be the voice of reason in this episode – for the first time! – and notices that Molotov is actually killing the family with her devious, sexy ways.

EVAN: I loved the training sequences for both Brock and the Venture family. Aside from being hilarious, they plug into the subtext of this episode, which concerns itself with having to deal with things that you’e totally unprepared for. And man, talking about things that I wasn’t prepared for the reference to the Last Dragon “Who da master?!… Sho Nuff!”

GRAEME: Best line? Easily “There’s a teepee in your pants!” although there are a lot to choose from this week. “She took the cigarettes!”

EVAN: Favorite line for Episode 3: God, she must Jazzercise night and day.

MICHELLE: Mine is: “Samson, Brock. Born in Omaha, Nebraska to a single mother. Half Sweedish, quarter Polish, quarter Winnebago. You lost your virginity at 14, have one brother and love motocross.”