Presented in Glorious Extra-Color! Venture Brothers Top 6 Countdown! (#2-1)Posted: June 16, 2008
#2 Ghosts of the Sargasso
Years ago, one of Jonas Venture Sr.’s friends, Major Tom (yes that’s a Bowie reference), crashed a jet into the ocean. Dr. Venture returns to salvage the wreck, but his ship ends up taken over by a group of pirates pretending to be ghosts. The threat stays minimal until the ever-screaming real ghost of Major Tom resurfaces.
Why it’s #2
It’s not perfect, but I feel this is the episode that first truly captures the characterizations of Dr. Venture, Brock, and the boys. The bitter Dr. Venture is left alone, bitching to his Jacques-Cousteau-esque recording as he sits at the bottom of the ocean, musing on his failures and inadequecies relative to his father. The good-natured Dean is left with the “villain” head of the ghost pirates, surprisingly resourceful as he convinces them that an even tougher bodyguard is on the loose. The bold but naive Hank tying up pirates with knots with big bows, and Brock behaving as his mentor, though he’s just as tough without the use of his hands.
This episode also wonderfully embraces the show’s ongoing theme of failure. The fake ghost pirates are sub-Scooby-Doo villains, not only dressing up as supernatural threats, but only able to pillage Toys-R-Us ships. And Dr. Venture, of course, trying and failing to dig up one of his father’s old inventions, once again must deal with the fact that his best ideas are the one’s his father had decades before.
Brock: After the twist, you’ll hear a snap. Then the body goes ragdoll on ya.
Hank: And that will knock him out…even more?
Brock: …That’ll kill him.
Hank: Do I have to?
Brock: Alright fine, crybaby. Just tie him up and, maybe I guess gag him. But at the first sign of trouble I want you to at least break both his knees.
Pirate Captain: You’re not a very good liar, Dean, are you?
Dr. Orpheus: Do you have a pen?
Hank: To use as a magic wand?
Dr. Orpheus: To use…as a pen, Hank.
Hank: Alright Brock, I know this sounds crazy, but just hear him out.
Pirate Captain: Ummm… Can we have a ride home?
Dean: Noooo. Do it like you said you were gonna.
Pirate Captain: (sigh) I’m really, really sorry about this whole mess, and, you know, the whole pirate thing is behind me now, and… plus, you kinda killed Steve, and burnt my ship. So, if you could give us a lift out of here I figure we’d just call it squaresies.
Brock: (sigh) Alright.
Hank and Dean: Go Team Venture!
Brock: I don’t know, they just do that.
Key Moment of Over-the-Top Violence
-A group of pirates try to force Brock to hand over the keys to Dr. Venture’s boat. Brock says he hid them up his ass. When one of the pirates reaches in to see if he’s telling the truth, Brock clenches and spins, beating the others senseless with their trapped friend.
When the pirates first attack, the implications of a pirate attack completely blow Hank’s mind:
Hank: Brock, if pirates really exist, I mean, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy could even be real, right? It’s like, all bets are off!
Brock: Hank, nobody ever said pirates don’t exist.
Hank: So you agree with me that this is impossible.
#1 Victor. Echo. November.
Dean and Hank get paired up on a double date with Triana Orpheus and her friend Kim, while Phantom Limb and Dr. Girlfriend do the same with the Monarch and a girl he met online. While arguing with the Monarch, Phantom Limb sics a gang of Syndicate henchmen on the Venture compound where Dr. Venture is watching “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” thinking it to be a porno.
Why it’s #1:
I had some trouble sorting out episodes 2-6, but as soon as I decided to do this list, there was no doubt in my mind that this was my absolute favorite. This is the only episode to give us a little taste of everything that makes the series great: Dean and Hank banter, #21 and #24 banter, The Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend’s strained relationship, Dr. Orpheus, Master Billy Quizboy, strict adherence to continuity, plenty of entertaining violence from Brock, and a ridiculous ending declaration of “Go Team Venture!” The episode is brilliantly plotted, as each of the subplots overlap without any one overshadowing the others. The overlap allows for the old comic device of multiple perspectives of the same event, none of which are true.
Maybe it’s the setting of a double date, allowing the characters to interact outside of their normal hero and villain roles, but the show’s characters have never been more clearly defined than in this episode. Dean is well-meaning but awkward, Hank seems to be living in a The Venture Bros. is a hilarious show, not because it has good jokes, but because the characters themselves are innately funny.
That doesn’t mean that aren’t plenty of bits that are hilarious on their own. Brock loans Dean his wallet before his date, because “it doesn’t have a cartoon bee on it.” Monarch’s date he met on LiveJournal refers to him as “f0ine” and “teh sex.” #21 announces he’s going to the bathroom to “take a Count Dooku.” And pretty much every word of Hank’s mouth is comedy gold. (see below).
Hank: Dude, sit down. You have to play it cool. Observe how I scope out my mystery date whilst I pretend to look at my watch. Holy moley, look at my date! She’s a supervillain, possibly a Medusa. Dean, I am not kidding, she has rope for hair and a shiny costume. Aw, not fair, she’s wearing goggles! Told you she would dig my Batman suit, but NO!
Hank: Yeah, that’s Phantom Limb. I don’t think he professionally hates my dad, but he totally hates my dad. I think he used to be a famous magician. And one time, while performing for the Queen of England, he accidentally made his arms and legs disappear. They are now on the Moon with a bunch of rabbits and doves and…and playing cards and pretty assistants and some milk.
Kim: So, are the Venture Brothers cute?
Triana: Well, Dean…he’s kinda cute. He dresses like Buddy Holly.
Kim: That’s pretty cool.
Triana: Yeah, but I think he does it accidentally.
Kim: What about my date?
Triana: Hank? Well, he’s blonde and more…like, athletic.
Kim: Sounds good. How does he dress?
Triana: Like Fred from Scooby-Doo.
The Monarch: #24, ready the Monarch-Mobile! Your leader has a date.
#24: We kinda…don’t have a Monarch-Mobile anymore.
The Monarch: Why the hell not?
#24: We ditched it.
#21: You know, the heat was on us after that Venture Brothers thing, so we thought…
The Monarch: Fine, what are our options?
#24: We can take my Nissan Stanza.
#21: Oh, shotgun, called! Totally!
The Monarch: Alright, what color is it? Is it diabolical? Or at least butterfly colored?
#24: It’s powder blue. Mostly.
The Monarch: Great. 21, what do you drive?
#21: His powder blue Stanza.
Key Moments of Over-the-Top Violence
– Dr. Venture loses her arm in the Syndicate attack, and uses a Christmas tree stand as a makeshift tourniquet.
– A naked, bloody Brock carries around the decapitated head of Syndicate member. My favorite detail? The couple vertebrae visible from the bloody stump.
Hank accidentally gets his pants wet while washing his hands in the restaurant bathroom. In an effort to dry himself, he climbs the wall and holds his crotch against the hand dryer. His pants catch fire. Dean tries to put it out by slapping. Hank yells “Dude! Quit wailing on my junk! Throw water on it.”
Dean protests, “No way! That’s what started this!”