I saw the tweet from series co-creator Jackson Publick, and it caught me with a punch in the guts.
Son of a bitch.
If you’ve never seen The Venture Bros. in its nearly 20-year-run on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim platform, man, you missed a lot.
The Venture Bros. started off as a sardonic, satirical take of 1960’s-era Hanna-Barbera action shows, essentially operating in the Jonny Quest universe. You had the super-scientist Thaddeus “Rusty” Venture, his two sons Hank and Dean, and their government-issued bodyguard, Brock Sampson, as they staved off supervillains and arch-enemies.
Yeah, that sounds like a typical Jonny Quest episode. But then, as you watched the show, you discovered that The Venture Bros. was an entirely different concept. It was a set-up for something darker and more developed.
See, Rusty Venture was not so much of a super-scientist, as he was the under-achieving son of a super-scientist, and who tried to invent gadgets and gizmos that he could sell to whomever would buy them. His two sons were bumbling teenage adventurers – think The Hardy Boys if they were too dense to notice that Nancy Drew was nearby – while Brock Sampson was not only a testosterone-fueled killing machine, he was also a person dealt with his own personal demons and conflicts.
And the arch-enemies? They may have started off as one-note jokes (the Monarch was a super-villain who was raised by butterflies as an orphan), but as time progressed, the characters developed their own neuroses and conflicts. Heck, there were characters who defied explanation (such as the voluptuous villain Dr. Girlfriend, who wore a 1960’s-era Jacqueline Kennedy-inspired outfit and whose sexy frame was undercut by possessing a deep, raspy male voice).
The show was one of the few remaining animated TV shows to eschew computer-generated animation, relying instead on hand-drawn animation. That’s why it seemed like an eternity between the show’s six season, 17-year run – heck, you could get a Boston album faster than getting a new Venture Bros. episode. But the series always made waiting for episodes worthwhile.
Heck, in that 17-year run, the series built its own self-contained universe of characters and organizations, including the Guild of Calamitous Intent (the KAOS-like organization that regulated all super-villainy and hench-like activities), the Order of the Triad (a spiritual ass-kicking team of necromancer Dr. Orpheus, The Alchemist and Jefferson Twilight), and the Office of Strategic Intelligence (a secret covet mission group for whom Brock Sampson sometimes worked for, or worked against, depending on the episode).
And the show made a ton of pop-culture and deep-culture references. As I mentioned before, the show briefly entered the Jonny Quest universe (Race Bannon and Brock Sampson were affiliated in the same clandestine spy organization), but then the show would take those Jonny Quest characters and flesh them out as well (although the character’s names were slightly changed, now the boy adventurer was known as heroin-addicted teenager “Action Jonny”). Then there were the Impossibles, a twisted Fantastic Four affiliation in which the characters’ superpowers were slightly ineffective (Sally Impossible was the Susan Richards “Invisible Woman,” but she could only make her skin disappear, leaving her muscles and organs visible).
Build on all this, add backstories upon backstories, and by the time the series aired its final episode in 2018, there was a new meaning to the term “Venture Bros.,” but I’m not going to spoil it for you. All I can say is that if you have a chance to watch The Venture Bros., do so. It’s only seven seasons and a few one-off specials worth of programming. And stay for the closing credits, there are often stingers and asides in the cut scenes as well.
But yeah, if The Venture Bros. had to end, at least it essentially ended on a high note. The show rarely faltered in terms of quality or writing, and losing this show is definitely a loss for enjoyable television as a whole.
Damn. Has anybody figured out a way to reboot 2020 and start again from scratch? Ugh.