Over 20 years ago, showrunners and creators, Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer, brought unto Adult Swim viewers a spoof of the old Hanna Barbera Jonny Quest cartoon turned into a dark workplace comedy. Over seven seasons, The Venture Bros. mastered pop culture references from Andy Warhol to Zardoz, explored male relationship dynamics and generational trauma, and even made continuous commentary on things like nepotism, self-awareness, and the ethics of genetic research.
The show was abruptly cancelled in 2018 with a cliffhanger ending that drove fans rabid with speculation. Where did Hank Venture go? Will he be back? What is the undetermined link between Dr Venture and his archenemy, The Monarch? Are the Guild of Calamitous Intent and the office of Secret Intelligence headed towards a final showdown? Dean, how could you?!
As spoiler-free as yours truly can be, all that can be said is that it was worth the wait. No other show this writer can think of allowed the constant bevvy of one-off jokes to be called back into a complex series lore (though Scrubs and Community come close). So much of it is wrapped up nicely and just enough is left unanswered to keep you wanting more. In particular, the ubiquitous question of Hank, Dean, and even Dr. Rusty Venture’s mothers gets answered.
The stellar voice cast reunites. Doc and Jackson come off a little rusty (no pun intended) on a few of their many voices (or perhaps yours truly never noticed how much some characters sound alike). The others like Patrick Warburton, Charles Parnell, and Adult Swim royalty Dana Snyder are all on their A-game and are joined by guest stars like Jane Lynch and SNL alum, Jay Pharoh.
The plot is clean, simple but dynamic. Hank has to find himself. Dean has to find Hank. Monarch tries to make his status in The Guild and his relationship to Rusty make sense. Councilwoman Mrs. The Monarch has to balance her standing with The Guild and her marriage. Rusty has to keep a global corporation afloat and Brock, Billy Quizboy, Pete White, and The Order of the Triad have to help them. Standard episode fare given a cushy 80 minutes to work itself out.
A recurring theme in The Venture Bros. is failure. Rusty’s not much of a super scientist (or a dad, really, but consider the circumstances.) The Monarch is the sitcom husband version of a supervillain. Bodyguard Brock only manages to keep the family safe by way of gratuitous murder. Hank and Dean are such terrible boy adventurers that they had to be cloned over a dozen times.
Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick didn’t fail here. They gave us a series finale that does what it needed to do, not unlike what 2005’s Serenity did for Firefly. It gave us a good story. It brought us back to the beginning to end things. It kept the world of The Venture Bros. alive for us, just like we kept it alive for them. Go Team Venture.
The Venture Bros.