Wow. I don’t think we’ll ever see a season of the Venture Bros like this again. After season 2, the show was renewed for seasons 3 and 4, speeding up production. Rather than follow the model established by the previous 3, season 4 consisted of 16 (or 17 depending on how you look at it) episodes. The first 8 aired in fall of 2009, with the second half airing in fall 2010. Season 3 started to change the dynamic of the show, while season 4 completely ran with it.
The season opened with a confusing episode, taking place months after the last finale. Sergeant Hatred is now the bodyguard for the Ventures while Brock’s been missing for some time. After 24 dies, 21 wanted Venture to clone him, giving him a copy of Marvel Comics #1 (rated at $500,000) as payment. Hank reads the book, decreasing it’s value. It’s current value is shown at the beginning of scenes, cluing viewers into the time frame. It was needlessly difficult to keep up. We find out that Brock’s on the run from O.S.I., before being rescued by Colonel Gathers, and joining S.P.H.I.N.X.
S.P.H.I.N.X. is an old Cobra (G.I. Joe) parody the O.S.I. fought years ago. With the equipment unused, they took over S.P.H.I.N.X. to go after rogue villains not in the Guild of Calamitous Intent (confusing, right)? With the exception of the first and last episode of first half of season 4 (confusing sentence, I know), Brock was absent from the show. Sad. 😦
Henchman 21 changed as well. While still overweight, he got in shape and became a model henchman/killing machine. All the while haunted by 24 and dealing with the fact that he’s in love with Dr. Mrs. The Monarch. The last season focused a lot on the power villain couple, this season less so. Hank and Dean, the oft neglected title characters changed as well. Missing Brock, Hank grew his hair out, constantly wearing Brock’s jacket while Dean was pushed into becoming a super scientist by Rusty.
The 2009 set had a few awesome cameos. “Handsome Ransom” featured the oft mention Captain Sunshine, a mix of Superman powers in the Batman frame, with strong innuendos of pedophilia. Sunshine was voiced by Batman himself Kevin Conroy! “Self-Medication” had Rusty going to a therapy group with Action Johnny (Johnny Quest parody – Brendon Small), Lance & Dale Hale (Hardy Brothers – voiced by Seth Green and John Hodgman), Wonderboy (grown-up out of shape Robin – Patton Oswalt), and Ro-Boy (Astro Boy).
The 2010 half brought S.P.H.I.N.X. into play on a more consistant basis. Their base was “hidden” on the Venture compound. “The Diving Bell Vs. The Butter-Glider” had Brock, Dean, Hank, and Shore Leave shrink in a submarine, traveling inside Rusty to find his current ailment. In a moment that I needed to pause and laugh (it hit a chord for me), they found a blood clot caused by another shrunken submarine, with the skeletons of the boys in the pilot seat. Brock said “So that’s what happened to the sevens.”
“Everybody Comes to Hank’s” and “Bright Lights, Dean City” chronicled the boy’s summer. Hank, forced to get a job, opened his own diner/supply store/notary/detective agency. He and the Alchemist investigate Dermott’s family, trying to determine the identity of his father. In the process Hank sleeps with Dermott’s sister. He comes to find that was actually Dermott’s mother, and Rusty impregnated her when she was 15. Dermott is his half brother. S.P.H.I.N.X. mindwipes him after. Dean however, interns for Dr. Impossible (now evil) in New York City. Impossible, along with Phantom Limb and Baron Ünterbeit (where’s he been?) form the Revenge Society (and are currently interviewing for members).
“Silent Partners” is worth mentioning as it introduces the Investors. Three creepy, silent men in black and red pinstripe suits with Vampire like powers, including phase shifting. Briefly seen before but never named, they appear to be working for Monstros. Brock and Shore Leave try to capture them, but fail. These three are set up to be something more, a power behind the power sort of thing.
“Operation: P.R.O.M.” was an hour long episode finishing the season. Hank & Dean had graduated from their school beds and were thrown a homeschool prom. Nearly the entire cast makes an appearance. Most of the women present are prostitues hired by Rusty. 21, feeling dejected as a Monarch henchman, begins palling around with S.P.H.I.N.X., and ultimately quitting the Monarch at the end. Colonel Gathers, while trying to trade Monstros to the O.S.I for amnesty, is instead reinstated by General Treister, who launches himself into space for the aliens to find him and cure his prostate cancer. Hatred had his tattoos removed, replacing the H with a V. Brock tangles with Molotov Cocktease, who came to rescue Monstros. Her and Monstros end up falling off a cliff. Brock races back to the prom, learning the prostitutes are Molotov’s agents, poised to kill everyone. As Brock arrives, they mutate into giant flies from the “Spanish Fly” Rusty gave them. And we learn what sexual act a “Rusty Venture” is.
Season 4 was jam packed with Venture goodness. For me, season 2 is still better, though this comes in a close second. I think the difference is how tight 2 is written. Season 4 had an extra 4 episodes to play with along with already being established. Season 2 needed to prove it was something more, trying to avoid the sophomore slump. While viewing the first half of the season, Brock’s absence wasn’t noticed as much. With his return in the second half, it made his absence that much more apparently. In retrospect, it diminishes the quality slightly. And the DVD case is a little weird.
After season 4, the show was renewed for 5 & 6, though 5 wouldn’t premier properly until summer of 2013. It was a long three year wait.
What was your favorite episode of the season? Like the split season or rather it all at once? Comment below, on Facebook, or Twitter! You can now see my Saturday Morning Cartoon posts at The Two-Headed Nerd!
When credits end with “So-&-So will return”, you know it’s going to be a long wait.