Cartoons were a huge part of my childhood and imagine most people my age would agree. I have fond memeories of waking up at 6:00am on Saturdays to watch the big network cartoons like Dungeons and Dragons and The Smurfs but I have even fonder memories of waking up even earlier on Sundays to watch Hannah Barbara classics like Thundar the Barbarian, Space Ghost, Scooby Doo and Johnny Quest. Maybe that's why I loved Cartoon Network's The Venture Bros. from the very first moment of watching.
Chris McCulloch one of the shows creators on Ventore Bros.-
"It's called "The Venture Bros." and at it's core it's kind of a parody of the old Jonny Quest cartoons from the mid-sixties, as well as The Hardy Boys and Tom Swift boys' adventure novels of the past. So it's got elements of adventure, spy, science fiction and even some comic book genre stuff. The Venture brothers, Hank and Dean, are fraternal twins; teenaged idiots who think, act and talk like it's the sixties (though it takes place in the present). They're the sons of Dr. Venture, a world renowned scientist (mostly world renowned due to the reputation of his late father, who though we don't see him in the pilot was about as cool as Doc Savage in his day) who can't really stand them. Doc pops "diet pills" like candy and reeks of failure and unrealized potential. Their family bodyguard, Brock Samson, is a former secret agent who responds to any and all crises with relentless, remorseless brutality. He's kind of a white trash James Bond/Steve McQueen."
Similar to other science fiction series, the Venture family has various recurring, antagonistic villains; they are or were members of The Guild of Calamitous Intent, the fictional guild that bears resemblance to the Legion of Doom. The pernicious but ineffective Monarch (voiced by Christopher McCulloch), his manly-voiced girlfriend, Dr. Girlfriend (voiced by Doc Hammer, and modeled after Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) and their numerous henchmen are one of the Venture family's main villains, although Dr. Venture does not reciprocate the Monarch's obsessive antagonism. Another villain, Baron Werner Ünderbheit (voiced by T. Ryder Smith), is the dictator of the duchy of Ünderland and specifically opposes Dr. Venture due to unresolved differences between them in college. The Phantom Limb (voiced by James Urbaniak) is a high-ranking member of The Guild of Calamitous Intent and possible former lover of Dr. Girlfriend.
The Ventures also have acquaintances that are used to progress stories and add to the atmosphere of the show. The expert necromancer, Dr. Byron Orpheus (voiced by Steven Rattazzi), and his goth daughter, Triana (voiced by Lisa Hammer), rent out a portion of the Venture Compound. The flamboyant, albino, 80's-ish scientist Peter White (voiced by Christopher McCulloch) is a former college friend of Dr. Venture's who usually appears in the company of hydrocephalic "boy genius," Master Billy Quizboy (voiced by Doc Hammer). Surviving members of the original Team Venture, a group of extraordinary people assembled by Dr. Jonas Venture, also figure into an episode of the show.
For Fans Only: Fun Trivia From the Show-
In episode 12, "The Trial of the Monarch", the jury is made up of the cast and crew.
In the episode "Past Tense", the character of Mike Sorayama is extremely similar in personality and characteristics to the character Mike Yanagita in the 1996 film Fargo. Both characters speak with a distinct Minnesotan accent (including the phrase "son of a gun") and share an unhealthy obsession with former classmates. In fact, Mike Sorayama and Mike Yanagita are both portrayed by actor Steve Park. The character's name also refers to that of artist Hajime Sorayama, whose illustrations of "Sexy Robots" have appeared in Heavy Metal magazine. Mike Sorayama constructs female robots with a similar design, and when Dr. Venture sees them he comments, "Yeah, I read that issue of Heavy Metal too."
The dialogue between characters Major Tom and The Action Man at the beginning of "Ghosts of the Sargasso" refers to the famous David Bowie songs "Space Oddity" and "Ashes to Ashes." Major Tom's spacecraft is named TVC 15, the title of another Bowie song. David Bowie also plays a role in the plot of episode 4, "The Incredible Mr. Brisby" and is mentioned passingly in the Venture Bros. Movie mockumentary included on the DVD set.
Click here to watch the Bowie opening:
The first season of The Venture Bros. came out earlier this month on DVD. Some of the special features include:
The 2003 pilot "The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay" and the 11-minute holiday episode "A Very Venture Christmas"
Behind-the-scenes mockumentary with cast and crew
Commentary Tracks on selected episodes
Season 2 premiered last Sunday on Cartoon Network, here's the teaser: