Cartoons ... For the most part, I am happy to do without them. Sure, I love myself a little Danger Mouse and his trusty assistant Penfold, and I'm still amused by the brief brilliance that was Clone High, but my animated television love is ruled by one show. No, it is not The Simpsons. It is The Venture Brothers.
Really, the fact that one of the show's creators, Jackson Publick, worked on both the animated and live-action offerings of The Tick should be enough. But that's only the tip of the iceberg. In case you're ignorant to the ways of the Ventures ... The show is a spoof of the retro series Jonny Quest, and parodies much more than just father and son Quest -- it takes on media from Indiana Jones and Scooby Doo to that light-saber Internet kid. The show focuses on the Venture family -- super-scientist Dr. Venture, sons Hank and Dean, and his bloody tough and unstoppable bodyguard and reluctant friend, Brock Samson. They are constantly having to deal with a number of dastardly assailants, the most determined being Dr. Venture's arch-enemy -- The Monarch. He's an ineffectual villain who has the heart of Dr. Girlfriend -- a paramour with the body of a goddess and the voice of a fat and hairy henchman. It's just comic gold.
If South Park and The Simpsons get their own feature films, it's about time Hank and Dean's adventures made it to the big screen.
First, there's the voice cast led by James Urbaniak and Patrick Warburton. In the mainstream world, Urbaniak is nothing more than the shoe-fiend from Sex and the City, or maybe the educational consultant from The Nanny Diaries. But to many, he's not only Dr. Thaddeus Venture, but also Simon Grim, from Hal Hartley's Henry Fool and Fay Grim. And of course, there's the excellent Warburton -- the perfect voice for Brock. But if these guys aren't enough to sway you, what about Stephen Colbert? He pops up as the stretchy scientist Professor Impossible, and while he's given up the stint for Season Three (fie!), a feature film might be more of a temptation to re-enter the fold.
But even better -- the show's structure is much more ideal for a feature film. It's an animated adventure. There's no need to scheme up a way to make it cinematic, because the meat is right there. They've already faced aged prostitutes, the Bermuda triangle, tag sales for super-villains, mummies, Ünderland, space, and even dating. Take any frontier, any situation really, and you could slide the Ventures into it. With the Monarch, Dr. Girlfriend, and Henchman 21 and 24 -- you've got the villains all ready.
But the well is still full of other players. We can't forget H.E.L.P.eR., the friendly robot, or Dr. Orpheus, the well-meaning, danger-seeking necromancer, or his daughter Triana. There's also Baron Werner Ünderbheit, the Phantom Limb, Professor Impossible, albino geek Pete White, the lishping kid-man Master Billy Quizboy, Molotov Cocktease, Col. Bud Manstrong, Myra Brandish, Girl Hitler... and many more topped off with the entire Guild of Calamitous Intent.
But The Venture Brothers really deserve more because of the show's verve. It wipes away the perfection of film and television and gives it clever, comic realism -- even in a world that is absolutely unlike our own, and that's what makes it funny. It answers the what-ifs. The Monarch is always messing up his plans, but much of the time, it's something that could happen to any villain who didn't have the help of the what-if eraser. When a cocoon lands at the Venture compound, it lands door-down. When the Monarch kidnaps Hank and Dean, he can't get get in contact with Dr. Venture. But the best example of this is in Past Tense, which has the good guys and bad all at college together. It's also got the best role playing action ever on-screen, but it's better to watch than read about.
It is the "Pwn." It is "Teh Sex." It deserves world-wide fame and adVenture on the big screen!
...and Family Guy isn't the only show referencing Star Wars.