Tuesday, November 05, 2013

"Careers in Science" (The Venture Bros. - Season 1, Episode 2)

The handful of themes established in Episode 1, regardless of whether they remain in place as the series progresses, are also present in "Careers in Science." Brock remains a surprisingly cardboard absurdity, only really buoyed by Patrick Warburton's priceless delivery of a few choice lines - otherwise there is another violent rage and more of Brock-as-ladies-man elements. As before, however, Dr. Venture and his problems provide the tale's meatier content and more subtle humor, mainly in the form of a double whammy of prescription drug withdrawal coupled with a concussion, resulting in the hallucination of Dr. Venture's father, whom appears as a giant.

Another theme is explored, which is the naive "mystery-solving" of Hank and Dean and their apparent deep experience with vaguely supernatural phenomena and jet-age era superscience (in other words, the 'Scooby-Doo' and 'Johnny Quest' patisches).  This element is fairly involved and fully fleshed out in this episode (which, based on the animation, is probably one of the first episodes produced - some of the animation looks almost like flash, and the title card is just "careers in science" imposed on a still from the title sequence - other episodes use a stylish unique title card more in line with Episode 1).  In later episodes it will still be present, but the naivty gets dialed down significantly.

Guest character Buzz Manstrong is well written and voiced as a middle-aged boyscout hopelessly crushed out on his counterpart, the oversexed Anna Baldavich, but Manstrong's problems are perhaps a little too predictable?  Its a fun vein to mine, poking fun at the 1960s superman of the astronaut, but doesn't gel well with the supernatural and jet-age influences noted above.  To compare to Doc's strengths which make him compelling as a character, its not that Manstrong doesn't have issues, its that they aren't complicated enough.



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