[WARNING – This Venture Bros. review contains some minor spoilers.]
The floor has finally been fixed in the VenTech lobby and another new arch-enemy has been arranged for Doctor Venture by The Guild of Calamitous Intent. This time he’s due to be menaced by Wes Warhammer and his Doom Factory – a loosely-affiliated group of artists/criminals, whose crimes are as daring as they are confusing.
It’s enough to make even Brock Samson nervous and insistent on putting the whole VenTech building on lock-down with the whole Venture family under lock and key. That’s not going to work for Hank Venture, though. Because he has a date with Sirena – daughter of crime boss Wide Whale – and he and Dean have too much planned to not follow through on it.
It will be a wild night in Manhattan, as Brock forms an uneasy alliance with Sirena’s bodyguard in an effort to find both their charges before their respective bosses find out their kids snuck out to get dinner at a ninja theme-restaurant. And as Doctor Venture copes with the sudden filming of an art film and the subsequent wrap party taking over his apartment, The Monarch will have to slip past his wife and skip a lovely evening of playing The Farmer’s Daughter And The Out Of Work Farmhand.
Because if villains are threatening Doctor Venture, The Blue Morpho will be there to see justice done! Or kill the bad guys so that he can be the one and only true arch-enemy of Doctor Venture. Same difference, really.
No sooner do I comment on Hank and Dean’s absence from the series and we get a whole episode that is largely devoted towards Hank’s antics in wooing the latest girl of his dreams. Some of the episode’s best jokes come from the fact that Hank – despite being pretty damn bad-ass as a boy adventurer – is a total dork when it comes to emulating his idol Batman and trying to date Catwoman, dressing like Michael Jackson circa 1987 and scaring off a mugger (Pete White in the first of many unconvincing disguises) with his dance moves.
The whole thing is oddly sweet and genuinely touching, with Sirena being impressed that Hank puts this much effort into romancing her rather than just getting her drunk and fooling around. And you have to admire anyone who cribs from Bull Durham (“I believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted with clones. I believe in the sweet spot, magic invisible gnomes and that cereal is not just for breakfast, but for any meal.” ) for his first-date small talk.
I may harp on this subplot but I enjoy the other, less subtle aspects of the show as well. Thinking on it, I’m amazed it’s taken Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick this long to directly parody The Legion of Doom. They’ve riffed on Andy Warhol before but never quite so blatantly as with Wes Warhammer here and the designs for the various sycophants in The Doom Factory are good for a quick chuckle if you grew up watching Superfriends.
The highlight of the episode, however, is the continuing drama of The Blue Morpho. Watching The Monarch turn into a successful hero in spite of himself (a nod to the bumbling Green Hornet) has proven surprisingly hilarious. Yet there’s also some honest drama as we see things coming to a head regarding his relationship with his wife and wonder just what will happen when she inevitably finds out that he’s the villain-killer she’s been hunting. The romance between Dr. Girlfriend (now Dr. Mrs. The Monarch) and The Monarch has always been one of the best bits of the show’s mythology and it’s harrowing to wonder if this may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back after all they’ve been through together.