The Venture Bros.-Season 1 (2003)

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Released 16-Aug-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Bonus Episode-Pilot Episode - The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay
Bonus Episode-A Very Venture Christmas
Audio Commentary-Audio Commentary with Cast and Crew on Selected Episodes
Deleted Scenes-Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Behind the Scenes on the Live Action Movie
Featurette-Animating Hank and Dean
Trailer-Bonus Trailers
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 299:01 (Case: 160)
RSDL / Flipper No/No
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Christopher McCulloch
Studio
Distributor
Cartoon Network
Madman Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Custom Packaging
RPI $34.95 Music J.G. Thirlwell
Doc Hammer
Keith Crofford


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   The Venture Bros. is the story of two brothers, young Hank and Dean Venture, and their amazing adventures with their insane scientist father Dr. Venture, who seems thoroughly disinterested in their well-being, and oiled-golem bodyguard Brock Samson, a man dedicated to protecting the Venture family by killing lots of people and having lots of sex with women. Their adventures take them all over the world, where they are faced with impossible odds, ridiculous villains, yard sales, and a mummy.

   Simultaneously spoofing and paying homage to classic Hanna-Barbera action series Jonny Quest, The Venture Bros. is a nutty, off-the-wall cartoon running on the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block, a late-night set of cartoons with more adult content than the usual American animated series. The Venture Bros. features a lovely array of violence, murder and sex, most of which the two young title characters of the show are innocently oblivious too, which is all part of the fun - the series stretches believability with extreme and ludicrous situations, which play off the kids' innocence, and everyone else's easy acceptance of the general horror that unfolds around them. But that's not all The Venture Bros. has to offer - this is a deeper, more developed and complex cartoon than the usual Adult Swim fare.

   The mainstream success of The Venture Bros. in the usually cult Adult Swim cartoon block most likely stems from its accessibility. Venture Bros. is more of a straight spoof than a lot of the other Adult Swim shows, runs for the common half an hour instead of 15 minutes an episode, and tends to be more consistent than its kin: if it's not consistently funny, it's consistently off-the-wall, and sustains momentum with its referentially fleshed out characters. Compare this to the shorter Harvey Birdman Attorney At Law and Aqua Teen Hunger Force, both of which have their fair share of awful episodes that drag on and on without a laugh. Further, although the show is infinitely full of silly, it doesn't rely on non-sequiter gags, also full of racially offensive material, blatant sexual entendre, scenes of extreme violence, and poorly censored nudity. An adult play on the delightfully innocent, bland and offensive Hanna-Barbera cartoons of old, The Venture Bros. works on a lot of levels.

   The Venture Bros. continues to thrive and grow with a great mix of new jokes and running gags (a classic example is the episode titles, which usually have little to do with the content of the episode). At the same time, there's actual continuity here, compared to the "Whatever!" approach taken by shows like Family Guy and The Simpsons, giving characters more of a background as well as motivations for their (often bizarre) actions. A particularly interesting running gag regarding the origin of the Venture Brothers themselves and their lack of a mother serves the first season well, and is further elaborated on in the second.

   The Venture Bros. Season 1 includes all 13 episodes from the first season including the pilot and Christmas special, a package sure to please fans. This is a must-see for Adult Swim fans, and is definitely worth checking out for others to whom wacky, hilarious off-the-wall comedy may appeal. Go Team Venture!

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Transfer Quality

Video

   The video is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

   The video transfer for the Region 1 Adult Swim DVDs were initially extremely terrible, with murky colours, nasty aliased lines, and some of the most horrible interlacing you've ever seen. With this in mind, I'm pleased to announce that this DVD set is a marked improvement: the colours are bright, the lines are sharp, and all would be great if it wasn't for an abundance of unpleasant interlacing that isn't always noticeable, but drags the set down every time it rears its ugly head.

   Since Venture Bros. Season 1 was broadcast only in standard definition, this is likely the best you'll get to see of it, and the majority of the show looks fantastic. Some scenes cut to older Hanna-Barbera style scenes, which look lovingly scratched and faded, whereas the opening to each episode is letterboxed to give a more cinematic feel, and both look great. Only during the actual episodes, usually in lighter scenes, does the interlacing appear, and it isn't consistent. As mentioned, it's a marked improvement on the R1 sets, but unfortunately isn't quite perfect.

   There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

   The audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0.

   Venture Bros. Season 1 features a no-frills stereo soundtrack that generally sounds great, but includes a few problems I haven't come across on a DVD of late. Although the background sounds, music, effects and dialogue are all well mixed and crisp, there are occasionally problems with drop outs (particularly around Brock's dialogue in the first episode) and sometimes issues with the sync. This rights itself pretty quickly, but it's disorienting when it happens.

   The music here is reminiscent of the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons and leaves on feeling right at home; the theme song is enthusiastically over the top and a lot of fun to listen to. Aside from the occasional hiccup, this is a strong soundtrack that does have good depth.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Animated Menus with Sound

   The menus here appropriately set the scene with big, ridiculous shots of the nifty skull that appears in the logo. The music is raw Venture Bros, and sounds great.

Cast and Crew Commentaries

   The creators weight in with several commentary tracks featuring some cast and crew members across several episodes of the show, including the pilot, the finale and some of the episodes they're most proud of. Unfortunately, the banter just isn't all that interesting, full of name-dropping, in-jokes and occasionally pointing something out that doesn't add anything to the experience. There are occasionally some amusing anecdotes and interesting references, but they're usually pretty obvious and you just don't get a very engaging look at the show here. Very disappointing!

Show Pilot - The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay (25:07)

   The modestly funny pilot episode of Venture Brothers starts off the special features, and it sets the scene for all the good stuff to come. The commentary track on the episode explains that the original script of the show featured the original set up for the series, as seen here, then a ludicrous Aqua Teen Hunger Force shindig in which the two Venture Brothers wander around New York doing very little. Thank Christ this was scrapped for the final product - as much as I love Aqua Teen Hunger Force, this show would have been completely short changed had it been completed in that fashion. In 1.33:1.

A Very Venture Christmas Bonus Episode (11:28)

   Oh, mercy. This basically awful Christmas special spoofs various properties including A Christmas Carol and the Star Wars Christmas Special in the typical Venture fashion although without a lot of laughs. Thankfully, it's only half the length of a regular episode, and does feature Brock kicking the hell out of a Christmas demon thing. In 1.33:1, with the same bright, sharp but interlaced video quality as the other episodes in the series.

Deleted Scenes

   Various deleted and extended scenes from various episodes in the series with varying quality, mostly incomplete animatics. All have a timecode running down the bottom left and a text introduction, but are presented in incredibly poor quality, plagued with aliasing and incomplete sound. They're also not very funny. Skip these. In 1.33:1.

Behind the Scenes of the Venture Bros. Live Action Movie (21:25)

   A series of interviews with live action actors dressed up as Venture Brothers characters standing in front of green screens with animated backgrounds running behind. In addition to not being very funny, this runs for what feels like hours, and is very nasty with the interlacing. In 1.33:1.

Animating Hank and Dean (4:29)

   The suggestion by this short featurette is that actors play the two Venture Bros. in motion capture suits, which is captured by computers in order to animate their actions - in the most ridiculous way possible. There's robots who must travel to the moon, rockets fired to Korea, precision lasers cut through paper, etc etc. It's cute, but not all that funny, and the video quality looks predictably awful. In 1.33:1.

Adult Swim Trailers

   Prefaced with that godawful antipiracy PSA, these annoying little trailers do little to sell the fantastic Adult Swim programs because they consist of nothing more than the opening titles of each show. Being that Adult Swim is very much driven by non-sequiter gags, the opening titles often have little to do with the actual shows, meaning no one is getting a look at the actual program, and is thus being sold nothing. The exception is a terrible Robot chicken montage, which is about as funny as the show. In 1.33:1, with interlacing, aliasing, etc.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   Featurewise, the R1 and R4 versions of this DVD are identical, but comparing the two the obvious victor is our R4, for a much stronger video transfer. R1 Adult Swim is now picking up its game, particularly as the shows are starting to be broadcast in HD, but the earlier Adult Swim DVDs just are not up to scratch, making R4 the much better buy.

Summary

   The Venture Bros. Season 1 is a hilarious rip on the aged Hanna-Barbera adventure cartoons of old.

   The video and audio transfers are both above average and retain the original broadcast viewing experience.

   The extras are a mixed bag, but ensure the entire first season is available, including the pilot episode and Christmas special.

   As a final note, the inner package art by Bill Sienkiewicz may be worth the price of the DVD alone - his awesome depiction of the characters is amazing, especially Brock, who looks like Thor.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ryan Aston (Bioshock)
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDLG LH-D6230, using Component output
DisplayBenq PE7700. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationLG
Speakers B&W LCR 600 S3 (Front & Centre); B&W DM 600 (Rears); B&W ASW500 (Sub)

Other Reviews NONE
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