This The Venture Bros. review contains spoilers
The Venture Bros. Season 7 Episode 1
“Thankfully, as modern men of science we’re immune to such superstitious hokum.”
It’s a little insane to think that as The Venture Bros.begins its seventh season, it’s actually been on television for a staggering 15years. The pilot for The Venture Bros.aired on Adult Swim all the way back when George W. Bush was still president.
Professor Orpheus was a clever jab at Dr. Strange wellbefore the character had his own blockbuster film or was a part of the Avengersfilm franchise. Even though the Venture Bros. series has fewer than 75 episodes under its belt, it’s still been one of Adult Swim’s most layered, creative programs. The programming block has changed in many ways since the inception of The Venture Bros., but even with so many changing sensibilities the animated comedy has always remained relevant, which is certainly a testament to the show’s staying power.
The Venture Bros. was about a decade ahead of the superhero curve and even Adult Swim’s resident Rick and Morty before it had a Rick and Morty. It’s been fascinating to see so many trends, both in pop culture and the television industry itself, come and go while The Venture Bros. has quietly trucked along.
This lengthy production schedule doesn’t exactly do the show favors, but it does cast the show against a fascinating backdrop that makes charting its evolution all the more interesting. Where other animated series might be tempted to dip into superhero fodder and alternate identity stories because they’re suddenly a part of the mainstream, The Venture Bros. has already been doing this for years and is hungry for more.
The show is ready to move to new territory and push itself to challenging new places that have more to do with the growth of the show’s characters and what they’re interested in versus what’s popular. Hell, The Venture Bros. would do an episode that’s entirely Eiger Sanction references and Devo lyrics if it could get away with it.
This new season feels like it cleans the slate in a lot of ways and reframes the questions that are actually important to this show and the Ventures. In that sense, this feels like a new Team Venture that is interested in evoking the magic of the old Team Venture.
One of the most rewarding things about this new season of the show is that it not only calls attention to many pieces of plot and characters from the series’ earliest seasons, but it also feels like a return to form tonally and thematically for the series, too (or maybe it’s just because it’s the first time that a new season has been longer than eight episodes in a long time).
Furthermore, the animation alone and how gorgeous this show currently looks continues to be a strong reason to watch this show. It’s worth the lengthy wait between seasons in many ways when this is the end result. The quality went up a considerable notch when the Ventures moved to New York City, but it’s crazy to see just how complex some of the background and exterior shots that are in play this season. One of the joys of this show is certainly the ability to still be able to watch a traditionally animated series that looks so slick.
The first obstacle that the Ventures and friends encounter this season involves all of the ingredients for a classic haunted house story, but because it’s The Venture Bros. there’s of course a twist or five. An old relic of the Gargantua-1 starts to act all Twilight Zone and the Ventures are eager for answers. With supernatural occult behavior on the table, it’s only natural for Dr. Venture to call Professor Orpheus and his Order of the Triad, who make their long overdue return here.
This isn’t the first time that Orpheus and company have been on de facto exorcism duty, but this has a little more weight to it, especially since these first three episodes of the season are connected together as the “Orphic Trilogy,” which makes for a strong way to kick off a new year. Larger narratives that deal with experiments in chronology and overlapping stories are very much my jam, so it’s exciting to see The Venture Bros. attempt to pull off something more ambitious for its introductory episodes. This is a show that presented an episode in an order that was entirely based on the Comic Book Grading Scale system, after all.
The arrival of Orpheus and the Order of the Triad fit like a gothic necromancer’s glove and it’s so nice to have these supernatural weirdoes back in the mix (even if they are without any Pleasure Toast). They still operate more like a blunt object than some surgical tool of sorcery, but their imperfections are where the characters shine most and by the end of the episode there are still less otherworldly forces present than when things began (kind of). Orpheus and his team have plenty to play off of here, but Pete White, Billy Quizboy, Sgt. Hatred, and Brock are also present in the Venture Compound to add more neurosis to this madness.
The Jonas Venture subject is a mystery that’s consumed the series since its very first episode. Even when the pressure of Rusty’s father’s expectations and reputation weren’t mentally weighing down on Rusty, his pint-sized sibling could physically rub his face in all of his failure.
The lineage and accomplishments of Rusty Venture have always been a large component of The Venture Bros., but fans would often wonder if Jonas Venture was trulyout of the picture, or if his “death” was simply the super scientist’s final triumph. After six seasons The Venture Bros. is finally ready to budge on the topic, and the results are not only deeply satisfying to long-time fans (who’s seriously just jumping in at this point anyway?), but also explodes the status quo of the series in a big way.
It’s pretty insane brilliant that the solution to the premiere’s big riddle ties back to the series’ second episode. Dean even addresses how inconsequential the “Problem” Light has been over the course of the series in what amounts to some very meta dialogue.
I’d be skeptical if Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer always had this plan in mind for the Problem Light, but the fact that the subject has still been a topic of debate online between fans after all of these years shows that viewers haven’t forgotten this piece of minutiae. Hammer has been candid about doing a massive re-watch of all of the episodes and it’s satisfying to see that many of this season’s answers may come from breadcrumbs from years back.
The full scope of this Jonas reveal isn’t entirely clear, but it does bring an end to the whole supposed poltergeist conundrum. It should be truly interesting to see how this development with Jonas not only informs Rusty’s behavior, but also the show’s itself.
Elsewhere, the dance that Hank continues to engage Sirena in still drags its feet a little, but it remains satisfying territory for the character. It feels like it’s time for this romance to stop treading water and pull the trigger on what it wants to be. Hank tries to accelerate this storyline in some aggressive ways, but still falls short. Hank’s complicated romance with Wide Wale’s daughter begins to bleed into the Blue Morpho/Monarch’s feud with the crime kingpin, but the Monarch sits out this premiere except for a brief cameo.
The gradual divergence of Hank and Dean Venture into distinct individuals rather than mirror images of each other continues to be one of the most fascinating developments of the show in recent years. The two are quite different now and it’s been worth the wait to see them find their own voices and develop their own storylines independent of each other.
These two Venture brothers still have a long way to go, but Hank’s attempts to “play grown up” here are welcome additions to the episode. As is The Godfather pastiche that he finds himself caught up in.
“The Venture Bros. & The Curse of the Haunted Problem” makes for a good start to the seventh season and already “fixes” many issues that viewers had with the previous year. The horror-centric tone is a comfortable fit and the episode never runs out of ammunition in the area (H.E.L.P.eR vomiting rats will never not be funny).
This premiere features plenty of characters that were absent last season and it feels like the show’s attitude is to give out answers (and it already starts to do so) rather than to be withholding about every single mystery that’s up in the air. That being said, this is still just the first part of a trilogy of sorts, so until the following two episodes have aired, the full scope of this installment may not be clear. As it stands, it’s a fun, satisfying way to kick off the year, but it could ultimately amount to a whole lot more, too.
Go Team Venture! We’ve missed you guys.