Tag Archives: The Venture Bros.

Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2012 edition: The Outcasts, Part 4

30 Jan

This is my ranking of shows that I watched in 2012 – for the rules, see the intro;  so far we’re discussing shows that made my last list but not this one.

Here are the last shows that made last year’s list that didn’t make the cut this year.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Larry David

2011 ranking:  16

One of few shows on TV that can disappear temporarily and return at any time at the whim of the creator and star (see: Louie), Curb declined to air episodes in 2012 and may be over or may not be.  It’s a very funny show, and I’d certainly welcome it back for more.  In fact, I’d vastly prefer it if there were more episodes.  Still, there’s been eight seasons and there’s no serial plotlines that need to be wrapped up anymore, and it’s pretty much Larry David’s decision on whether to go on or not, so it’s hard to say I would be devastated if the show was over for good.  It’s a great show to just throw on an episode or leave in the background, and although it’s really awkward and somewhat uncomfortable to watch, the situations are usually ridiculously enough to avoid truly painful British The Office levels of discomfort.  It’s just Larry David and co. talking a lot, and it’s not exactly the most unpredictable or nuanced show, but it’s frequently laugh out loud funny.

Bored to Death

Watching this did not make me bored to death

2011 ranking: 11

Bored to Death is probably the show whose cancellation most frustrated me in recent years.  This is due to some combination of factors.  First, I really liked the show, thought it was as good as ever, and that it had a lot more to give.  Second, because the show had made it to its third season, it already had had some legs, and because it wasn’t past its fifth season, it didn’t seem like it was logically time to come to an ending. Third, because the show was on HBO, ratings weren’t quite as important as they would be on a network, especially because the show continued to get positive critical notice.  That basically sums up to the points that I really liked it and thought it actually had a good chance of returning, so I didn’t just accept losing it right away as I have other ill-fated shows.  Not to mention, the show ended with main character, Jonathan Ames, sleeping with someone who unbeknownst to him is probably his sister.  That has to be the strangest way a show has ever had an unplanned ending.

Terriers

Where are the Terriers?

2011 ranking:  10

Terriers aired in fall of 2010, which was covered in my last rankings, though it seems like longer ago.  Because the show wasn’t a BIG show the way Game of Thrones is or the way one year failure Terra Nova was, I think it’s been easy to forget.  There hasn’t been a big bring-back-Terriers crowd, or constant references to Terriers as a show that died before its time.  However, that’s not to say it wasn’t acclaimed; nearly everyone who saw Terriers liked it.  Of course, the problem was largely than nobody watched it.  Part of the reason for that is the name – a terrible one, which not only revealed nothing about the show, but also doesn’t intrigue the type of audience who the show is geared towards.  Part was also the fact that well, it doesn’t sound that great, if you just describe the show in brief.   There was an ongoing plot but Terriers was basically the story of two characters played by Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James who were PI partners constantly finding themselves in over their heads on cases.  Of course there’s a little more to it than that, but that’s the basic idea; there’s no huge hook or complicated premise.  Anyway, since I can’t imagine you’ll be reading more about Terriers anytime soon, let’s give the show one last fond goodbye.

The Venture Bros.

Hank and Dean

20111 ranking: 8

The Venture Bros. has come to resemble late season Sopranos, in which a season only airs every two years.  A special Halloween episode actually aired this year, but I declined to allow that special to qualify the show for entry in this year’s rankings.  It’ll finally be back in 2013 though, so it can look forward to a spot in next year’s rankings, and hopefully a high one if the quality is what I hope.   No show handles a complicated continuity better than Venture Bros, and the mixture of sophisticated comic storylines with pop culture references and wise-cracking punchlines keeps Venture great.  Not every episode is amazing, but they’re mostly solid and when they hit, they hit. Season 4 alone created some instant classics including film noir-style episode Everybody Comes to Hank’s, and Season 4 premiere, Blood of the Father, Heart of Steel, told out of chronological order, with the only marking of time being the value of a rare comic book which slowly gets destroyed over the course of the episode.  Frustratingly, wikipedia decided to remove the individual episode pages, which were incredible and useful resources about the show.

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Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 8: The Venture Bros.

3 Nov

Venture Bros is a comedy and has a humorous tone at all times but takes its complicated web of continuity as seriously as any show I can ever remember on televison.  This ridiculously confusing continuity is one of the strongest aspects of the show.  What’s interesting about it is that it’s not as if all of it was planned out back when the show began; the writers seem to make something up, and then they keep that in mind when they work on later episodes and work around the changes they made.  It seems like this make-it-up-as-you-go philosophy would never work, and feel slapdash (and ill-prepared – Lost, Heroes, anyway) but it just about never does feel forced.   It feels very natural and thorough in a way that might be difficult to plot out from the beginning.

Venture Bros. is the story of an egotistical scientist (Venture and the next show on this list and their arrogant main characters have a fair amount in common) Dr. Rusty Venture who was the son of an uber-popular super scientist and struggles with not living up to that legacy.  He has two sons, Hank and Dean, the titular Venture Bros., and a bodyguard Brock Sampson.  They have to contend with Rusty’s arch-villain The Monarch, bent on Venture’s destruction along with other villains like Baron Underbite and Phantom Limb.  The show as a whole is a humorous take on programs like Johnny Quest and it’s silly and ridiculous, but it is so much more than simply a parody.  The Venture Bros. lives in a world where villains are governed by an organization known as the Guild of Calamitous Intent which has rules, such as forcing villains to temporary release their captives for certain medical emergencies.

Plot is central in the Venture Bros, but not in a true serial way – many episodes have plots which mostly are only relevant in their episode, even though anything mentioned is always fair grounds for a reference or to come back unexpectedly in later episodes.  Some forces like Brisby and the Orange County Liberation Front pretty much never show up again, but sometimes characters that initially seem like one-offs like Sergeant Hatred go out and become semi-major characters.  Because of the way episodes are often very non-serial even throughout a complicated continuing storyline, Venture Bros. has some episodes that are all-time classic and warrant frequent re-watches.

Why It’s This High:  There’s really no other show like it on TV – it’s fantastically irreverent, makes you smile without always being laugh out loud funny and a joy to watch

Why it’s not higher:  Really, the only common bane of any of the shows this high on the list – episode to episode consistency – the top episodes are better – that, and some overuse of gay characters Shore Leave and Sky Pilot, but that’s a small complaint

Best episode of the most recent season:  A few stand out, but it comes down to two.  First, the first episode of the season, which skips around in time, and does it as brilliantly as any show or movie told with this device, with the ordering of the scenes is denoted by the value of an expensive comic book Dean has.  Second, which is my official choice, is “Everybody Comes to Hank’s,” a film noir homage.  While often the best episodes of the show involve utilizing many of the wide universe of characters Venture Bros. has to choose from, this episode focuses on very few characters, primarily Hank who acts as a gumshoe solving the case of why his friend Dermott didn’t get picked up by his mother, and in the process, figuring out whether Dermott is Brock’s son.  He does this along with his sidekick, the Alchemist, a member of The Order of the Triad who gets some good screen time here.  Anyway, the noir is spot on and some big time plot details come out of the episode in the process.