Pop culture defines how we process The Venture Bros. Everything in the show is a reference to another piece of pop culture and is viewed through those lenses. “Maybe No Go” takes the idea of pop culture lenses literally; the main storyline of the episode is so heavily packed with Duran Duran references that scenes are edited and framed in the same style as the music video for “Is There Something I Should Know?”
The transition in and out of the prisoner scene is shown through hollow black rectangles filling the screen with the characters inside. Key objects are highlighted by rectangles appearing around them. The prisoner room is based off of (or maybe is) the set from the music video. The episode title and much of Billy Quizboy and Pete White’s interactions with St. Cloud are references to the song. There’s probably even more references to the song that a Duran Duran fan (or anyone watching MTV in 1983) would notice. Pop culture is the alpha and omega of The Venture Bros. which is why Billy has to go on his journey to save the red ball.
Although Billy disagrees at first that the prop from the music video is the key to all his power, he eventually realizes how important it is to him. The red ball, and the New Romantic movement in music that it represents, is magic for Billy. To him, it’s not JUST a prop from a music video; like Henrietta Pussycat* it’s a part of our collective history.
Saving the red rubber ball from being sent back in time and wiping out a short lived British music scene from the late ’70s/early ’80s is more important to Billy than his company because his identity, like the rest of the VB world, is based around pop culture. Without it, he doesn’t exist.
Failure is such an intrinsic part of The Venture Bros. that Billy was bound to lose his company anyway. The Venture Bros. takes its ideas from larger than life characters, but most of the people on the show are rather human.
Pete, Billy, and St. Cloud view themselves as grand heroes and villains, but their actions and causes are at such a small scale they come across as ill-prepared LARPers. They put a teeth whitening appointment before finding a secret mountain hideaway (yet another Duran Duran reference). They would rather be captured at the start of the mission rather than break through a driveway gate. They misestimated arrival time and were still in the shower when guests arrived. Billy may view his mission as saving the world, but it’s actually the most disappointing version possible of the Wu-Tang Clan stealing back their album from Martin Shkreli.
The Monarch and 21 also take a trip on their own pathetic little quest. After discovering he lost his arching right to Venture, Monarch is beat down even further when Dr. MTM informs him that his ranking has significantly fallen since the last audit. Clearly the way to rise up in the rankings is to take out the villains ahead of him, so Monarch and 21 head out to Passaic to convince the villain ranked above him to wave her right to arch Venture.
There they discover Redusa, an elderly hoarder that just wants to be left alone. Her pitiful home and lifestyle factored in with her being ranked higher on the Guild’s list than The Monarch highlights just how low he’s sunk in his field and career.
Pete, Billy, The Monarch (and most of the characters on the show) all think they are or can be big shots, but really, they’re a 3. Maybe next year Billy and Pete will be heroes, maybe no go. Maybe next year Rusty will make the company profitable, maybe no go. Maybe next year The Monarch will get his life together, maybe no go. Maybe next year, maybe no go.
And now Plots C through Z. Over in New York, Rusty learns (as much as he can) that he’s driving the company in to the ground and Dean suggests a compromise to balance business and super science (although Hank’s idea of a moon circus sounds more fun). The Pirate Captain is forced to detox from his tranquilizer addiction and hallucinates Trainspotting references; the intervention is taken unusually sincere for the show, which ends up making it even funnier in a dark way. Brock and Hatred prank Wide Wale while he fails to rob them for not paying their protection money to Fallen Archer. I’d write more about all of this, but I’ve already spent more time on these storylines than the show did.
This week there were 8 voice actors and 19 named characters with dialogue. Kate McKinnon was the only female voice actor; the only two female characters were Redusa (McKinnon) and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch (Hammer). 10.5% of the characters and 12.5% of the actors were female.
The adult_swim bump before before the episode criticized Viacom for giving their CEO a raise while stocks continued to fall. It also works as commentary on the show; Rusty is given a second chance at running his company, Billy gets his company back after a buyout, and Monarch finds a Monarchcave under his mansion. It pays to be a white guy.
This week we swap out PATH jokes for an argument over Passaic and Newark. This show gets me.
The Monarch needs to hire Paul Heyman as a manager; “He’s the 1 of 21 of 1.”
The Ole Bananas box made me want to see El Generico drawn in the VB house style.
Hank’s new jacket is delightful and is now up there with Poe’s and The Driver’s in my “fictional jackets I want but would end up never wearing because it’d be too tacky” rankings. I’ve been enjoying Hank trying out new fashion styles, but I somewhat hope he keeps wearing the jacket.
I hope we see Shore Leave on shore leave for Fleet Week.
I searched for recipes for mouthwash cookies but only found mouthwash that tastes like cookies.
Billy and Pete discussing crossing that bridge and St. Cloud’s “The Reflex is a lonely (sic) child who is waiting by the park” are references Duran Duran’s “The Reflex.”
I have listened to more Duran Duran while writing this review than I ever have in my life. I highly recommend you avoid listening to “Is There Something I Should Know?” on a loop for a half hour straight.
As a former child I was deeply offended and disgusted by St. Cloud’s desecration of Henrietta Pussycat. It belongs in a museum! In our world, Henrietta and many of the other original puppets are in the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. If you’re a fan of Fred Rogers, I highly recommend the Into It episode on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. which includes a story about meeting the puppet there.