The Venture Bros.: Now Museum -- Now You Don't!
Well, it’s that time, isn’t it? That time of the season during which we count down the remaining episodes. Only four left to go after this one, folks, and then…well, The Venture Bros. season four is already in production, but Adult Swim isn’t going to be as much fun in the meantime. Oh well. I guess we can all start watching that show about death metal, or the one with the masturbating puppet who loves Christ.
This week we have the excellently-titled Now Museum — Now You Don’t!, an episode that sees Jonas Venture Jr. building a museum in memory of the father he never knew. So we have a museum in the title and a museum at the center of the plot, but the episode itself is also a kind of museum dedicated to so many of the characters we’ve come to know over the years (this episode is a background freeze-frame bonanza for the dedicated fan). Let’s keep up the theme with this review, shall we? I’ll stroll through the episode again, focusing on what’s exhibited as we go.
Take it away, J.J.
Opening scene: Wow. Truly excellent stuff. If one thing’s been consistent this season it’s the fact that the pre-credits sequences have all done an excellent job of ramping up excitement for what’s to follow. Here we have a precious flashback to the original Team Venture in action (with brilliantly—but not obtrusively—dulled colors in imitation of Jonny Quest era cartoons), but really stealing the show is Scaramantula—a “new” villain who is, here, thoroughly hilarious. I love his vocal enthusiasm…the way a tremendous love for himself drips from every word without ever being made explicit. (And who does his voice remind me of? It’s obviously modeled on somebody and it’s driving me crazy.) He’s great…I love his verbal showboating. Shame we get so little of that later in the episode…is it too much to hope that he’ll come back?
The Jonas Venture Jr. Museum of Jonas Venture: Interesting that it’s not the Museum of Jonas Venture Sr. A little flash of pride on J.J.’s part, maybe? I’m glad to see Dr. Entmann arriving with the Ventures; Stephen DeStefano does such hilarious things with that man’s voice. Speaking of which, I noticed in What Goes Down, Must Come Up that they didn’t “treat” Entmann’s voice to sound like it was coming from someone so tiny. That is to say it’s not all high-pitched and chipmunk like…which is part of the charm of DeStephano’s performance, I think. But when Entmann is huge, as in the pre-credits sequence, they do treat the voice to sound big and hollow. Kind of a shame…I think it would have been funnier if Entmann had the same sort of Hasidic-New-Englander voice at all three stages of growth.
The current state of Scaramantula and Brainulo: Scaramantula’s laughing pride at simply being able to climb the stairs at his age is excellent. Why do I love this man so much? I’m also very much enjoying—now that I realize it’s an act—Brainulo’s senility. It’s a shame that this—along with a very good moment later on in which he attempts to ignite the anger of the other party guests—is all he’s really given to do.
The arrival of Professor Impossible: Boy, this guy sure has fallen on some hard times. It’s amazing how far some stubble and an unknotted bowtie can go toward establishing inner turmoil. His under-the-breath promise to Jonas Jr. that he’s not going to give up Sally without a fight is oddly moving. Speaking of which, I don’t miss Stephen Colbert. I mean, I do…in spirit. But Jackson proves in this scene—and every subsequent scene—that he’s going to handle the character himself just fine.
Entmann on a teacup: Aww! And he’s shaved since his last appearance. Wonder who gave him the (presumably cute) little razor?
Hank getting his tongue stuck to a frozen cave man: Another Christmas Story reference?
Sally Impossible naked! Sorry boys, but as much as I love Dr. Girlfriend, my heart probably belongs to Sally Impossible. And damned if this scene didn’t seal the deal. So what if her flesh turns invisible whenever something catches her unawares? Avoid sneaking up on her from behind and always announce her Christmas gifts before she opens them and you’ll be fine.
The Pirate Captain and Ned: Lovely stuff. What a great pairing these two make. How can you not love the Captain? And why would you ever love him less when he’s chasing a mentally handicapped man around a cocktail party trying to get him to put his clothes back on? Brock and The Action Man make for another really interesting pair. When I first saw them together with The Action Man relaying his old war stories, I assumed we’d see that Brock was deathly bored of the guy. As it turned out, though, they were both getting along rather well, making The Action Man one of the few people in the show Brock has been overtly friendly with. I guess this shouldn’t be so much of a surprise…the pre-credits sequence made it clear that The Action Man was pretty Brock-like in his youth…overdoing it with the brutality, unable to pull himself back when the blood-lust gets in him…
Billy Quizboy fawning over the original Team Venture: Everything—everything—Billy does is adorable.
Scaramantula’s explanation: A truly perfect character moment occurs when Scaramantula has to explain why the spider on his face has only four legs. (His eyebrows are meant to take the place of the front two legs, and the two halves of his mustache make up the rear.) Only The Venture Bros. would take such care in layering a character’s flaws this well. It’s also great to see Billy just as enamored with the villains of his childhood as he is with the heroes. He was a kid just like the rest of us…one who realized that adventure television couldn’t have been anywhere near as exciting without the bad guys.
Venture’s drunken outburst: Dr. Venture abuses the original Team Venture by bringing up Colonel Gentleman and asking if they got him killed, too. Which suggests—reliably? We’ll see…—that, perhaps, the death of Jonas Venture Sr. was due to carelessness on the part of the rest of the team. Jonas’ death is one of the few remaining mysteries from the show’s first season, and it’s always interesting when a new detail is added.
Col. Gentleman…undead! I’m glad to see him back (I was really surprised that they killed him off in 20 Years to Midnight as the character had so much untapped potential), but the flashback was a bit overlong and only slightly necessary. Oh well. Any sequence that ends with the phrase “My tits are back!” can’t be all bad.
Jonas Venture Jr. telling Billy not to touch the displays: As a collector myself I can understand J.J.’s concern, but shouldn’t he be a little nicer to the guy who gave him a robotic hand?
Sally’s red cocktail dress. She’s so hot. (Boom.)
“The man should be wearing a rubber ass on his face instead.” Yes.
The pirates are still alive: Um, really? I’m willing to grant their survival from Ghosts of the Sargasso simply because the riot at the end of this episode is so great. Also, pay attention to the music underlying the pirate scenes. Gosh is it lovely. Who else is excited about the impending soundtrack release? (And I’d better see all of your hands go up.)
Professor Impossible stole Sally’s panties: Much like the similar moment in Juno, I can’t decide whether this is sweet or creepy. Probably both.
“You’re pushin’ me buttons now, Chairman! I’ve had about alls I can take!” Was anyone else expecting him to continue with, “And I can’t takes no more?”
Pete White’s deep-seated frustrations: They all have to do with wanting to sleep with the mother from Growing Pains. I love you, Pete. I love you so much. Great how he’s not embarrassed when these longings are vocalized, either. He’s hilariously—and appropriately—proud of them.
“Don’t fight, don’t fight!” Ned’s reaction to Sally and J.J.’s domestic squabble is actually quite touching. He likes Jonas Jr. a lot, and he must be terrified here that he’s going to start treating Sally the way Professor Impossible used to. A very sad moment. (Oh, and we never got to see Cody Impossible again, did we? Wonder if he’s still in the ice station…Spider-Skull Island might not have the facilities to house him safely. And where’s Rocket this episode?)
The riot: Not overly funny, but there are lots of great little moments, like Entmann sticking his sewing needle into somebody’s eye. Kind of a shame Brock herds the Ventures out of danger, though. He used to live for stuff like this, but he sure seems a lot more docile this season, doesn’t he? Now he really is becoming a big blonde pussycat. Hell, he’s practically a pacifist lately. I kind of get the feeling that his desertion of his mission in Assassinanny 911 had something to do with this, coupled with his crisis of guilt at the heart of Viva los Muertos. Are we witnessing a changed Brock? I’ll miss the old one, but I’m not against one who’s learned from his past experiences.
“I have only one answer: my son.” I think it’s obvious enough that, even though Jonas Sr. was referring to Rusty, J.J. is quietly implying that it’s him. But he’s not all pride, is he? He asks Rusty to say a few words…but Rusty’s gone. Having felt left out all evening, he’s walking with Brock and the boys back to the jet, unaware that he almost did have a chance to share in his father’s memory as well. The one truly touching moment of this week’s episode.
“He’s family, Brock. And he’s in trouble. He needs us.” Oh, Rusty. Twice before we’ve seen Rusty’s reluctance to hurt his brother (Return to Spider-Skull Island and The Doctor is Sin) but now it seems he’s finally fed up enough with him to…well…to leave him to die in a fiery explosion. Of course, he also seems fully prepared to leave Billy and Pete behind as well…but, by now, maybe we should expect that.
“Tell the truth…you was just tryin’ to kill yourself, weren’t ya?” Pirate Captain once again gives us a perfect final statement on the episode’s action.
All in all an episode that probably should have been a hair funnier than it actually was, but it was nice to see so many characters from previous episodes brought together, and used so well. And, besides, it’s not like any of the jokes really misfired, and there was plenty of opportunity for that to have happened.
Looks like Spider-Skull Island is going to be a very exciting location indeed, especially if J.J. is going to be contending with The Monarch and Professor Impossible. And speaking of The Monarch, that was maybe the one small tension this party was missing: The Monarch and Sergeant Hatred. Whatever happened to the good soldier, anyway? I could have sworn we’d be swimming in Hatred this season. Oh well. There’s always next episode.