Presented in Glorious Extra-Color! Venture Brothers Top 6 Countdown! (#4-3)Posted: June 3, 2008
#4 Escape to the House of Mummies, Part II
Dr. Venture, Brock, Hank, and Dean are “trapped in a cliche,” as slow-moving spikes inside a pyramid are about to crush them. Dr. Venture, remembering his “boy adventurer” days, climbs through a small hole to try to figure out a way to rescue the rest of them. Soon as he returns home though, he gets wrapped up in quarrel with Dr. Orpheus and forgets the others. Brock, Dean, and Hank, meanwhile, must deal with the increasingly nonsensical challenges that time travel storylines usually bring about.
Why It’s #4
There are some shows that I appreciate the most at their simplest. Many of the best Simpsons episodes are the ones that focus on the most mundane things. King of the Hill is a whole series dedicated to the celebration of the mundane. Sometimes though, something can become so over-the-top and so gleefully absurd, that there’s no way not to love it. This episode takes the best of both worlds, the comparatively mundane magic vs. science argument between Dr. Venture and Dr. Orpheus as the “A” plot, and the insanity of time travel and Egyptian cults as the “B” plot. But it’s not just the juxtaposition of the two plots that elevates this episode to greatness. The story hinges on Dr. Venture’s preoccupation with the mundane “A” plot, completely forgetting the insane non sequitor dangers Brock, Dean, and Hank are still in. For anyone who’s ever watched a multi-episode series of Super Friends or, of course, Johnny Quest, this episode’s impossible not to love.
I also have to give special any episode that’s going to include a guest spot by H. Jon Benjamin as “The Master,” probably best known as Coach McGuirk from Home Movies. Now there’s a show that doesn’t get near the credit it deserves, but I digress…
Egyptian Henchman #1: (Shoots gun at Brock as he’s escaping, then throws gun away out of frustration.)
Egyptian Henchman #2: I have more bullets, you know. You’ve got to stop doing that.
Dr. Venture: Uh…Orpheus, it’s your landlord. We’re trapped in a cliché. Use your fake impossible magic to get us out of here.
(An example of the insanity: Brock and Hank come across Dean’s disembodied head, still alive and trapped in some sort of prism.)
Brock: What happened?
Hank: Yeah Clarissa, explain it all.
Dean: That guy with the bird head, he has this mummy army, and one of the mummys has a magic scepter and… Don’t move, Hank, he’s right behind you!
Hank: What? Yep. That’s just Mummy-Mum-Muggy. He’s a good mummy, Dean-o. Right? Muggy friend. (scratches the mummy’s chin) Muggy like his chin rubbed. Who’s a good mummy?
Brock: Hank, get your brother’s head and follow me. There has to be a way out of here.
Hank: Muggy might know! (scratchs mummy’s chin) Tell us boy. (Muggy’s head, except for the lower jaw, falls off)
Brock: This is getting stupid! Where the hell is your father?
Brock: I gotta admit I always wanted to get Edgar Allan Poe in a headlock. That thing is like a pumpkin!
Key Moment of Over-the-Top Violence:
– At the end of the episode, there’s a preview for the equally nonexistent Part III. To stop Hank from freezing to death, Brock cuts open Edgar Allen Poe with a knife, saying (What else?), “Whew… I thought he smelled bad… on the outside.”
This whole exchange might be some of my favorite dialogue in the whole series, especially since it ends with one of the most cruelly hilarious things Dr. Venture has ever said.
Master Billy Quizboy: Don’t look at me. I have not lived enough. For I have never tasted the flower of a woman.
Pete White: What do you mean?
Dr. Venture: Yeah. “Tasted a flower?” Is that a direct metaphor?
Pete White: Yeah, ’cause I don’t take many trips down south myself.
Master Billy Quizboy: You guys are disgusting. No, I mean I have not sampled the fruits of the fairer sex.
Dr. Venture: What’s with the poetry, Wordsworth? Just say it Say “I am a virgin.”
Pete White: I knew it!
Dr. Venture: Billy, that makes you the best candidate to take a ray blast! You have nothing to lose… you’ve never done anything. The way I look at it, it’s not even murder. It’s a very late abortion.
#3 Twenty Years to Midnight
Hank and Dean stumble across an old recording by their grandfather, warning of an impending disaster for humanity that they have one day to prevent. At the same time, a giant robed alien appears in their backyard, telling the Ventures that he’s there only to observe and they must “IGNORE ME!” The effort to prevent the disaster brings in most of the supporting cast, including Jonas Jr., the Impossibles, the Pirate Captain, Colonel Gentleman, and a middle-aged junkie Johnny Quest.
Why it’s #3
More so even than the two-part episodes which close out the second season, “Twenty Years to Midnight” ropes in a massive cast that show off the creators’ ability to deftly manage overlapping plot lines while still doing each character justice. (IGNORE ME!) Dr. Venture is the center of the episode, as the storyline addresses his feelings of inadequacy relative to his father, as he and the rest of the family get roped into a global disaster far greater than the typical mild menacing of the Monarch. (IGNORE ME!) But it’s the Grand Galactic (IGNORE ME!) Inquisitor that really sets this episode a step above.
Despite all of the grandeur of his (its?) arrival and its constantly repeated catchphrase, the Ventures eventually take its word and try their best to ignore it (though suffer a booming reminder every time they forget that). It’s not until the end of the episode that we find out the Inquisitor actually did affect the plot, but if it didn’t, the whole thing is so sublimely random, that would’ve been fine too. It’s the opposite effect of the non-sequitor humor that’s become overused in the wake of Family Guy. Instead of introduced plot lines that dissolve into nothing, we have apparent nonsense that eventually becomes the whole point of the episode. Brilliant.
“IGNORE ME!” by itself is certainly the most quotable, but the context of it is always hilarious:
Dean: Ah, neat! You wrote a fan letter to the Herculoids when you were ten? (Hank snatches the letter away from Dean) Hey!
Hank: Hey, horses! It’s not a fan letter, he calls them hippies for not fighting in Vietnam. (The Grand Inquisitor snatches the letter) Hey!
Grand Galactic Inquisitor: IGNORE ME!
Dr. Venture: (waking up) Oh, I thought I was done with those crappy dreams.
Grand Galactic Inquisitor: That was a weird one.
Venture: Great, you can read my mind.
Grand Galactic Inquisitor: IGNORE ME! (pause) Yes, I can.
(reading the deceased Col. Gentleman’s diary, hoping to find clues)
Dean: Toys Colonel Gentleman wishes he had when he was a lad but weren’t invented yet: Micronauts, The Scooby-Doo Monster Game, AT-AT Imperial Walker, Stay Alive: The Survival Game and Which Witch?
Hank: What is that, code?
Dean: “Colonel Gentleman’s good names for an imaginary friend.” “Colonel Gentleman’s Hollywood actresses who need a smack in the mouth” They go on and on. This is a crazy person’s diary.
Prof. Richard Impossible: You see, Dr. Venture, I found the piece your father hid in the foundation years ago. Then I thought about you in physics class. You were a daydreamer, a sass-mouth, and, not infrequently, a bit of a gigglepuss. Somehow I doubt twenty years of amphetamines and failure have done anything to improve that.
Key Moment of Over-the-Top Violence
Surprisingly, nothing really. Though we’re treated to this wonderful description of something Brock did once:
(After Dr. Venture exploits Sally Impossible’s feelings for him to gain access to the Impossible Plaza)
Brock: (sighs) This is just wrong, man, even for you. Look at her!
Dr. Venture: I have watched you pull a man’s eyes from his head and make him dance like a marionette with his own optic nerves!
Brock: At least I didn’t break his heart.
Dr. Venture: You don’t know that.
At the end of the episode, a figure appearing to be Jonas Venture Sr. appears to save the day. Afterwards, as he’s about to leave, Dr. Venture pleads with his apparent father to stay. In a homage to Carl Sagan’s “Contact,” “Jonas” ends up being an alien, who only appeared in this form because it would be “easier to accept…”
Alien: I took the form of your dad because I figured it would be easier to accept. I didn’t want to stress you out—end of the world, life on other planets, blah blah blah.
Dr. Venture: Why…you SON-OF-A-BITCH! Do you know what you just put me through?! What the fuck were you thinking?! What kind of fucked-up planet are you from, where you think showing up as my dead fucking father is supposed to make me feel any better?!
Alien: Okay, take it easy…
Dr. Venture: You prick!
Alien: Look, I just saved your entire planet…
Dr. Venture: Prick!
Alien: Alright, fine, you wanna see? Here! (Shows his face offscreen. Everyone mortified.) There! Are you happy now? Would that be better? That I came out looking like that out of nowhere? Look at you! You practically crapped your pants! Except for him, he crapped his pants!
Ned: Boom boom.