All Along The Watchtower

films . videos . television

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Go, Team Venture!

My first temptation is to opine, somewhat pompously, that Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim" programming block has been a victim of its own success, because I don't enjoy many of its recent additions nearly as much as I enjoyed its original lineup. Adult Swim started attracting attention when ratings revealed that it was attracting more of a certain desirable young-male demographic than the late-night talk and comedy shows on the broadcast networks. The network jumped on that success, going so far as to break Adult Swim away from Cartoon Network as a separate entity for ratings purposes.

At 43, I'm far out of that demographic, and so the fact of the matter is that if any of Adult Swim appeals to me, it's a happy accident.

I am, let it be said, thrilled that one of my favorite Adult Swim shows will have its long-awaited second season starting this summer. Now would be a perfect time for those of you who haven't discovered it to catch up.

I'm talking about "The Venture Bros.", a parody of Jonny Quest, the Hardy Boys and comic book superheroes in general. It manages to be both smart and goofy, often simultaneously.

Clueless, painfully naive Dean and Hank Venture are being raised by their widowed father, Dr. "Rusty" Venture, a scientist who can never quite escape his own famous father's shadow, and by Brock Samson, the he man's he man's he man, with security clearance and a license to kill. (Race Bannon, Brock's obvious inspiration, makes a very funny cameo in one episode.) Helper, the family's wordless robot, tends to get bent or broken on a regular basis.

The Monarch, a butterfly-themed supervillian, and his gravel-voiced paramour, Dr. Girlfriend, pop up frequently. The show's treatment of its supervillians is quite similar to the animated version of "The Tick," which can now be seen in reruns on Toon Disney. One of the best episodes had Dr. Venture taking a research job with a team of scientists who were thinly-veiled (very thinly-veiled) parodies of the Fantastic Four.

Right now, Adult Swim is airing "The Venture Bros." Saturday nights at 10 p.m. Central time. Check it out.

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