A new adventure—of healing.

This week’s The Venture Bros. drops us knee-deep into an adrenaline-pumped thrill ride as we pick up the episode in the middle of an ever-satisfying chase scene. In true Venture form, this has nothing to do with the episode.

Read about it after the jump!

The Venture Bros. is a show about failure. This is demonstrated time and time again as we’re reminded that Dr. Rusty Venture lives in the shadow of his late father, Dr. Jonas Venture, unaware of his own irrelevance. On the other end we see the Monarch, Venture’s arch nemesis and former trust fund baby, whose only novel feat is his marriage to Dr. Girlfriend, now known as Dr. Mrs. The Monarch. So it is only fitting that during the opening sequence of “Self-Medication,” the Monarch’s efforts are thwarted by bureaucracy because Dr. Venture needs to attend a weekly group therapy session. The Guild of Calamitous Intent’s clauses always seem to favor those who are arched rather than those who are arching as this particular clause allows for mental health days.

This episode is another page of character development for the Venture family and while I was excited to see the Monarch in the explosive intro, he is virtually absent throughout the rest of the episode. This is not to the show’s disadvantage. “Self-Medication” is divided into two story-lines: Dr. Venture’s boy adventurers’ group therapy session and Hank, Dean, and Sgt. Hatred’s night out at the movies. While the two seemingly have nothing in common, they are tied together by Dr. Venture and Sgt. Hatred’s encounters with their inner demons.

Dr. Venture’s plot-line follows his experience in group therapy. The only past experience he’s had with therapy has been under his father’s supervision. We are shown that his father, Dr. Jonas Venture acting as the therapist, sneaking back into the office after missing Rusty’s testimony to a lost childhood, chides Rusty for being ungrateful and unwilling to deal with his own problems, instead blaming them on his father. This is just a thread in the rug of resentment that Rusty feels towards his dad. The strong points of the episode were in the group therapy sequence.

In this scene, Dr. Venture is with an assortment of characters that we should all remember: Action Johnny, a version of Johnny Quest after years of narcotics abuse, voiced by Brendon Small; Lance and Dale Hale, former boy detectives who may or may not have killed their father but probably did, voiced by Seth Green and John Hogdman; Wonder Boy, Captain Sunshine’s old sidekick who is dealing with issues of over-eating and sexual deviance, voiced by Patton Oswalt; and, finally, Ro-Boy, the Astro-Boy of the bunch. After naming their baggage during a healthy session of puppet-therapy, their therapist, wearing the obligatory sweater vest and holding his bottomless mug of coffee, is killed by a Vietnamese Two-Step Viper sending the former boy adventurers off to solve yet another mystery. Not too much is put into the actual mystery as I found myself wondering how we got to the house of one of Johnny’s former arch enemies, Dr. Z. There was a fight scene somewhere in the middle with a couple of sight gags, but not much else. At Dr. Z’s house we find out that not only did he not kill the therapist, but he also gave up the life of the arch-villain to marry Mrs. Z and only regrets not realizing earlier that this is what he always wanted. It was only necessary to get to Dr. Z’s house for Rusty to finally realize that, unlike these other boy adventurers, he has grown up and it’s okay to finally let go of the past.

Meanwhile, Sgt. Hatred is at the movies with Hank and Dean. Now, Sgt. Hatred’s pedophilia has been the topic of much heated debate in the forums. Some feel like Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick are crossing some unnecessary lines, while others love the taboo humor. I find Sgt. Hatred’s love of little boy-girls to be a bit tiresome. I’m not offended by the pedophilia and I thought it was a perfectly funny device to employ during season three. But now that Hatred is a principle character, the gag is a one trick pony. I also liked it better when Hatred was a foot fetishist when he was introduced to us at the Monarch’s wedding. With that said, I think that Hatred facing his pedophilia was the only way to tie their story-line to Dr. Venture’s. Where the two differ is that Hatred wasn’t able to get over his urges because he ran out of his medication. Rather than dealing with his problems like Dr. Venture, Hatred chooses to repress them, hoping his skeletons will remain locked in the panic room. This story doesn’t really go anywhere and it looks like the pedophilia jokes will be going on for the better part of season 4. Although I find this aspect of the show to be uninspired, it’s very easy to overlook as long as the rest of the story isn’t hindered in any way. So far it’s not.

This episode was a 7 out of 10; though, I have yet to give them anything below that. I’m happy that Dr. Venture was finally able to let go of his baggage, but it’s still unclear whether or not he still resents his father. I look forward to him moving on with his life now that he’s not holding onto the past. For a show about failure, I think this one had a really confident outlook, at least for Dr. Venture—that is, until the Monarch gets him.


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