Monday, November 04, 2013

"Dia de los Dangerous" (The Venture Bros. - Season 1, Episode 1)


Let's skip the easy observations about this very first installment of The Venture Bros.: some of the voice acting is not quite nailed down yet in terms of inflection or tone (Dean, The Monarch), the animation is slightly crude at times; Brock always does this twitching eye thing, and also a more unhinged-murderous-rage thing going on (as the series progresses, Brock appears to be a bit more joyous in his combats).  All these things change, and Brock's violence has more than a certain absurd chuckle appeal, but as in all thing The Venture Bros., there is a seedier, softer underbelly that provides the tale's real pull.

These are characters with problems. Dr. Venture has a X-1 superjet, a bodyguard, and a talking robot, but he's strapped for cash, and inquires about payment for a lecture at Community University of Tijuana mere moments after the last student leaves and even fewer moments after casually referring to Dia de los Muertas as that "dead people Christmas."


To further underline Dr. Venture's selfish craven nature, he literally walks out of the building, shoves a wad of cash into the hands of Hank and Dean and dismisses them so he can go obtain prescriptions from a Mexican doctor, an exchange where he further asserts the backwardness and inferiority of Mexico.

Meanwhile, the boys are kidnapped by the Monarch, who becomes disturbed by the unresponsiveness of Dr. Venture to his ransom calls.  To Dr. Girlfriend he notes that Dr. Venture has never even told the boys he loves them. Contrast this with the end of the episode, where Dr. Venture casually refers to the "world's greatest dad" thing in order get what he wants from the boys.  Disfunctionality is writ large in the margins, and while other elements of the serial change as subsequent installments unfold, this undertow remains consistently strong.

-d.d.

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