Adult Swim’s The Venture Bros. is the gift that keeps on giving. Originally created by Christopher McCulloch (a.k.a. Jackson Publick), premiering on Cartoon Network’s late-night run in early 2003 and getting its first series’ run in the summer of 2004, the title team just keeps delivering hits. The intervening 15 years of stops and starts have seen eight total seasons for The Venture Bros.–and four specials–ordered by Adult Swim, the seventh of which debuts Sunday August 5th at midnight ET/PT. And if you’ve been a fan from the beginning, you’ll be quite pleased to find out just how far back into the lore this new season reaches.
I had a chance to check out the first two episodes of Season 7, titled “The Venture Bros. and the Curse of the Haunted Problem” and “The Rorqual Affair”, respectively. The punny, tongue-in-cheek, and self-referentially sarcastic episode titles continue in this season and that shouldn’t come as a surprise; little of what has made The Venture Bros. so successful has changed. One change for the better is that the animation has gotten a big upgrade from the early days of the show as Titmouse and Williams Street production houses continue to deliver quality content.
The TL;DR of Season 7 of The Venture Bros. is this: Early episodes offer up strong callbacks to characters and events throughout the series while also progressing the heroes’ and villains’ stories alike so that no momentum is ever lost; its particular brand of humor and snappy dialogue should delight new and returning fans alike. For a more in-depth review, read on.
One of the many things The Venture Bros. does well is to keep fan-favorite supporting characters (and sometimes even the leads) in a chaotic state where just about anything can happen to them. They can die and be resurrected, either through magic or technology; they can have the most horrific things happen to them, only to bounce back and retain most of their sanity in the very next episode; and they can change allegiances, relationships, and even personalities at the drop of a hat. This is the most flexible cast of characters on television, and The Venture Bros. creative team continues to have fun with that fact in Season 7.
So don’t be surprised to see a short time jump open up the season as the premiere pays a visit to Dr. Jonas Venture, Jr. (a.k.a. J.J.) who happens to be inspecting a certain crash-landed space station. (Even the hardcore fans may want to brush up on the Season 1, Episode 2 story “Careers in Science” and the 2015 special “All This and Gargantua-2” before starting the new season.) J.J.’s discovery dovetails directly into the brand new problem plaguing the Venture Family in the season opener, and its resolution has some truly disturbing (and darkly comic, of course) reveals.
This episode is a fine example of another thing The Venture Bros. does well: referencing pop culture. There’s a lot packed in here, though the tone of this half hour is more horror than not; we get references to The Exorcist, Poltergeist, and the like. There are, however, a good amount of “hacker culture” comments as well, but it’s not as visually interesting as the horror nods. And aside from the main problem tormenting the new Venture compound, Hank has some personal problems of his own as his relationship with Sirena, daughter of crime boss Wide Wale, becomes increasingly complicated. This side conflict has a jaw-dropping cliffhanger that is, thankfully, resolved in Episode 2, but fans are going to have to wait until August 12th for that resolution.
I’m happy to say that Episode 2, “The Rorqual Affair”, continues the excellence laid down by the premiere and is in keeping with the series’ quality overall. This time around, the villains get more of the spotlight. The events of this episode occur in the same time period as those in the premiere itself; it’s two different perspectives of the same timeline, which is an interesting wrinkle. Expect some surprising reveals in this villain-focused episode, including Wide Wale’s origin story, a return to the home of Red Death, and much more laughs, gaffes, and bloody violence. In short, it’s got everything you’ve come to know and love from The Venture Bros. and we can’t wait to see more. (Oh and as always, be sure to stick around until the end/post-credits scene because there’s a curious teaser for the third episode.)
Rating: ★★★★★ Excellent
Season 7 of The Venture Bros. airs Sunday nights at midnight ET/PT on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.