Dec. 14 – The Venture Bros. – A Very Venture Christmas

A VERY VENTURE CHRISTMAS
Original Air Date: December 19, 2004

Because evil doesn’t take Christmas off, the Venture family must survive a shortened special packed with Holiday parody.

BACKSTORY:

Around the turn of the century, the Cartoon Network was facing a bit of a dilemma. Although they had an enormous library of Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera programming to pull from, they had to face the facts: their intended audience tended to go to bed awfully early.

Adult Swim premiered in the fall of 2001

Following the success they found airing uncut anime late at night, the decision was made to put on more “mature” programming after dark…and Adult Swim was born. The network whipped together popular 10-minute shows, and bought the rights to canceled network primetime series like Mission Hill and Home Movies.

Go Team Venture

Nothing against the Aqua Teens or the Sealabs, but even after years of success, by 2002 Adult Swim had yet to produce a half-hour of sincere animated programming that it owned in entirety. Enter a pilot script – previously rejected by Comedy Central – penned by a former writer from the crossover hit The Tick: Christopher McCulloch (masquerading under the pseudonym Jackson Publick.) His Venture Bros. pilot aired in early 2003, began a full-series run in 2004, and the show just wrapped its two-part fourth season this winter.

BREAKDOWN:

I’m stupid in love with the Venture Bros., and can easily say it’s my favorite animated show on television – if not my favorite show, period.

Folks my age should get this reference in seconds

That said, something about “A Very Venture Christmas” never sat right with me, and I don’t think it’s just that the “special” runs half the length of a normal Venture episode.

Get ready for a Christmas-themed intro sequence

It’s probably got more to do with the cop-out ending, and a chronology whose claim to fit within the continuity of the show isn’t really corroborated. Because unlike so many other nonsensical Adult Swim shows,on the Venture Bros everything matters, and even throwaway gags will manage to come back to haunt the good doctor and his family.

Love the H.E.L.P.eR. snowman on the right

Apparently “A Very Venture Christmas” takes place between the season 1 episodes, “Past Tense” and “The Trial of the Monarch,” although I SEE NO EVIDENCE OF THAT, YOUR HONOR! Yes, I’m that much of an irritating nerd about the show.

Possible reference to Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol

But how could you blame me? Visually the show’s a gorgeous send up of the space-age promise of the 1960s, and the glorious technology and architecture of the Venture’s world feel like what would have happened had Tomorrowland been willed to some spoiled trust-fund kid who lived there alone as it decayed.

A How the Grinch Stole Christmas reference

More importantly, creators Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer appear to be a fan of everything I’ve ever loved. I’m sure we’d be best friends, if they’d only answer my emails… Oh well, I’ll keep ‘em coming, every night at midnight.

Another Christmas Carol reference, so why not Mickey’s?

You’d have to slow every episode to half speed just to catch all of the incredibly sincere nods to comic books, beatass action flicks, video games, and the Hanna-Barbera cartoons I claim to hate but can’t seem to forget.

A Charlie Brown Christmas reference

Of course for their first (and only) Xmas special, they appear to have done the very same research I spent my childhood inadvertently compiling. (Though obviously some of these references aren’t direct…)

Yet another potential Mickey’s Christmas Carol reference

Awesome, but all of this reverence turns out to be one long dream sequence, and A Very Venture Christmas is left with about eight minutes to cobble together an episode.

A fantastic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer reference

We find Dean, who’s developed an addiction to calling 900 numbers just to hear choice Christmas stories…

“Tell me more… what was Santa wearing?”

And Hank innocently rummages through closets looking for hidden Christmas presents.

He probably wasn’t supposed to find Yuletide this gay

Brock stops Hank from placing Baby Jesus in the nativity scene, claiming it’s Venture tradition to hold off on that until midnight.

JESUS CHRIST! Cute ain’t he?

Sometimes Brock’s a better bodyguard than he even knows…

All thanks to undercover operative, Tiny Joesph

It’s that old agency intuition, though he’s unaware that the thing has been rigged to explode by none other than The Monarch, arch nemesis to a rather oblivious Dr. Venture.

Taking flight this Xmas

We jump to a Holiday party with many of the Season 1 all-stars in attendance.

Click here to see the panning shot of the Venture’s party enlarged

Billy Quizboy and Pete White unsuccessfully hit on Dr. Orpheus’ daughter Triana, and Dean and Hank reach the limit of their father’s credit card on whatever the hell hotline you can call into to hear Christmas stories. ( Must’ve been before my time?)

That looks like a warm Holiday tale!

They reach for a nearby book, but it’s unfortunately one brought in by Dr. Orpheus, noted necromancer.

Fun

And in a mistake due simply to trying to avoid watching The Grinch again, the boys quite accidentally summon a Krampus.

Krampus? It could kill us!

According to Germanic folklore, the Krampus accompanied Saint Nick on his one night of work, doling out real-time punishment for naughty children.

The Krampus wears Scandinavian children on his back as trophies of former conquest

He sets his sights on the naughtiest of them all, which this time just so happens to be Dr. Venture.

Can you imagine? Getting raped by a mythological symbol of the solstice!

Ever the attentive bodyguard, Brock leaps to his boss’ aid.

I have a felling those nipples are his real weakness

But just then the clock strikes midnight and Krampus sulks away, off the clock for another year.

Obviously, he’s a bit of a stickler for tradition

On his way out he places Baby Christ in his manger and, well…

KER-SPLOSION

But who cares, it’s just another dream!

“Why did I dream a B-plot?”

The whole brief ordeal evidently took place after Dr. Venture was knocked out in the crash of the X-1.

No indignity is too great in the name of SCIENCE!

But the Holiday festivities ain’t over yet, because guess where they land?

It was pretty old so I don’t think anyone will be upset

It’s such a little town. What are the odds?!

And we bid the Brothers a Christmas goodnight

Jesus is the reason for the season. Unfortunately, he’s also the reason the Venture compound exploded… oh yeah, in a dream.

Just barely, but I caught it!

BOOM: Right behind Brock’s ear in the Xmas opening sequence

I dunno… maybe my brain’s just attuned to the full Venture Bros. episodes, but I still feel like this one is missing something. I know the 10-minute show thing suits Adult Swim absurdly well, but I also feel that’s because most of those shows value comedy over a coherent plot. Venture Bros., on the other hand, generally delivers fantastic action and stories. Not only is this one of the only episodes I’ve ever seen without a post-credits epilogue, it’s the closest thing the series has to a throwaway episode.

PRODUCT INFORMATION (Shop Amazon through us – it helps!)

A Very Venture Christmas appears in the bonus features section of the Season One DVD collection. The first half of Season Four was recently released on DVD, but I’m holding out for a full-season release in High-Def. That said, I can’t recommend the Venture Bros. Season Three Blu-Ray enough, as it’s glorious to look upon, filled with 1080p nudity, and the 2600-inspired box art might very well be the greatest thing I’ve ever held in my hands. This is the best animated program currently airing on TV, so I urge older cartoon fans to check the series out. Oddly enough, purchasing the first three seasons bundled together on DVD is more expensive than buying them individually?

Yesterday’s Christmas Special
NESTOR, THE LONG-EARED CHRISTMAS DONKEY


2009’s Dec. 14th Christmas Special
THE BELLS OF FRAGGLE ROCK

10 thoughts on “Dec. 14 – The Venture Bros. – A Very Venture Christmas

  1. God I love Venture Bros. I too was a little disappointed by the special the first time I saw it, but it’s grown on me. Seeing all the references is fantastic, and c’mon, it’s Venture Bros. I’d love to see another one with updated characters and whatnot from the more recent seasons, but hey, it’s set to be a Christmas classic.

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