When “All This and Gargantua-2” aired on Adult Swim this past January, fans of The Venture Bros. were left with a startling revelation — one so big that Dr. Venture (James Urbaniak) collapsed onto the ground at the funeral for his twin brother. What was it that floored the significantly less successful sibling? The insurmountable wealth of Venture Industries, that’s what. Not to mention the conglomerate’s new headquarters in New York City and a posh apartment. For the first time in a long time, the otherwise lackluster career of Dr. Venture was looking up. No need to let all that money and space go to waste, right? Hence the family’s decision to move to New York in “Hostile Makeover,” the season six premiere of Venture Bros.
Audiences haven’t seen a full season since 2013, so while the 2015 “Gargantua-2” special was a nice return, the time away works in the show’s favor. It’s just nice to be back in the Ventures’ world, even though that world has changed. The new environment affords writers Christopher McCulloch — otherwise known as Jackson Publick — and Doc Hammer more room to play in. Plus, the gang hasn’t encountered this level of success for quite some time (i.e. ever), so the new season’s shift in location is sure to be challenging for Dr. Venture, his cloned sons Dean (Michael Sinterniklaas) and Hank (McCulloch), and bodyguard/babysitter Sargeant Hatred (also McCulloch). Besides, who doesn’t want to see this all go to everyone’s heads? No one, that’s who.
There’s something to be said about just how good a change of scenery, a new character arc, or the appearance of a McGuffin can be for a series like Venture Bros. Of course, whether or not such a device works depends on what precedes it. When Archer‘s fifth season went the Miami Vice-and-Scarface route with its cocaine-fueled Archer Vice storyline, fans already had four seasons’ worth of material to fall back on. The FX show had an established bedrock of characters and narratives, so despite the fifth season’s “event series”-like aura, Archer Vice was a huge success. The Venture Bros.‘s New York season has just as much potential, if not more. Plot maneuvers like this involve a sizable degree of risk, especially when it comes to writers and networks putting too much emphasis on them at the expense of what made the show appealing in the first place. If “Hostile Makeover” is any indication, however, everyone at home jonesing for more Venture Bros. have nothing to worry about.
By the looks of the premiere, it won’t be long before the Ventures destroy everything the deceased and suddenly-no-longer-missed Dr. Jonas Venture, Jr. left them. How? By throwing a massive monkey wrench or two into their own plans — provided they have any plans to begin with. And by all appearances, it seems Dr. Venture has absolutely nothing in mind other than overtaking his dead twin’s empire and unintentionally razing it to the ground. Within the first few minutes of the premiere, Dr. Venture’s first day on the job as head of Venture Industries results in what will most likely be the company’s first in a long line of egregious errors.
Add to that the growing collective incompetence of Dean, whose increasingly awkward mannerisms point him in the direction of his father’s scientific endeavors, and Hank, whose brash attitude finds more fuel for the fires he repeatedly sets. Puberty hasn’t been kind to either of them, but Dean has suffered the worst of it. His chemically-imbalanced growth spurt came at the absolute worst time for him, as he’d previously discovered he and his brother were clones. Hank, on the other hand, thinks being a clone is the best thing ever. For him, the fact that their father has rendered them somewhat immortal only adds to his bulging teenage ego. Hence why the brothers cut two entirely different paths in “Hostile Makeover” — Dean favors university life and study, while Hank buys everything he can get his hands on.
At the same time, The Venture Bros. has never concerned itself with the Ventures only and that hasn’t changed. The Monarch (McCulloch), Dr. Venture’s longtime arch-nemisis, has become a veritable slum lord who is no longer high enough in the Guild of Calamitous Intent’s membership rankings to be a member of the Council of 13. However his wife and partner in crime, Dr. Mrs. the Monarch (Hammer), is not only a member of the Council of 13, but finds herself in the uncomfortable position of trying to salvage what remains of it following the departure of the Guild’s former leader, the Sovereign.
Along with the not-so-surprising reappearance of a beloved character in the Venture’s immediate lives, “Hostile Makeover” delivers on the many promises made by McCulloch and Hammer these past few years. The Venture Bros. is finally back for a full season, and while the setting may have changed, the premiere proves that it’s still one of the best
animated shows on television today.
The Venture Bros. season six premiere airs Sunday, Jan. 31 at Midnight on Adult Swim. Until then, here’s a preview.