​ "The Curse of the Haunted Problem" – Venture Brothers S07E01

And... we're back! It's only been a bit over two years since the last episode of Venture Brothers. But the creative team of Christopher McCulloch and Doc Hammer are notoriously slow when it comes to producing new seasons. It's not the first time that we've had to wait--and wait, and wait--for a new season, and probably won't be the last.

Whether they need that long to think up of a new season, or they've got other projects, or they're lazy, who knows? The point is that we've got a new season, and things starts off with a bang. Well, several bangs. First there's a prelude of Jonas Venture Jr. finding the remains of the Gargantua-1 space station in a haunted section of desert. He locates a computer bank named Problem (thus giving us the title) inside.

Then we cut to the present day, and Sgt. Hatred showing some Boy Scouts around the Venture Building. When no one is looking, the Problem machine on display extends a metal tentacle and kills a bug.

Then we cut again, to Rusty (James Urbaniak), Brock (Patrick Warburton), and Dean (Michael Sinterniklaas) being haunted by strange manifestations. Dean and Brock think that it's ghosts, Rusty figures that it's a computer glitch. He has Pete and Billy go to work in the lab, trying to identify the glitch. Meanwhile, Dean calls in the Order of the Triad—Dr. Orpheus, Alchemist, and Jefferson Twilight--and as is often the case, Orpheus is the funniest part of the episode. Steve Rattazzi does his patented Vincent Prince/Dr. Strange impersonation, hamming it up like crazy even though he's just doing the voice.

The Triad performs a ritual that makes the spectral force visible. Meanwhile, Billy has told the original Team Venture about the manifestations. They arrive there just as Orpheus breaks open the Problem machine and they find Jonas Venture Sr.'s head inside. He's been hardwired into the building, and the computer systems feed him bugs to keep his organic systems going. Team Venture explains they put Jonas' head into the machine on his orders. Pete runs up and breaks the machinery, and everything goes wild as Orpheus tells the others to run.

In the B plot, Hank (Christopher McCulloch) is still dating Sirena, the daughter of the Kingpin-like Wide Wale (with his whale lice-themed henchmen). When Wide Wale finds out that his daughter is dating a boy adventurer, he has his henchmen get Hank fired from his job as a pizza delivery boy and mess up his hoverpod. After some advice from Sgt. Hatred (also Christopher McCulloch), Hank decides to impress Wide Wale by posing as a hitman and showing up to offer his services. Wide Wale tells him to prove himself by killing a captive Blue Morpho, aka the Monarch.

Did I mention that this is a two-part episode? Or at least, we'll see the same stuff as tonight for the most part, but from the villains' point of view. So next week we'll presumably find out why the Monarch is still posing as Blue Morpho and how he was captured. Judging from the previews, we also got the return of Red Death (Clancy Brown), a Red Skull-like villain who has tried to retire despite his occasional bloodthirsty rages.

Who is Blue Morpho and why is Monarch posing as him, you might ask? Find a Wiki: explaining that whole story which went down in Season 6 would take a book-length review. And that's one of the joys of The Venture Brothers. The creative team expects you to keep up with what's going on, and rarely slow down for backstory exposition. There's no explanation of who Jonas Venture Jr. or Sr. are, who the original Team Venture is, or Hank's romance with Sirena and problems with her father, or Blue Morpho. Not to mention, this is all squeezed into 30 minutes with commercials.

Everyone slips back into their old voices like comfortable pair of shoes. Patrick Warburton as Brock doesn't have much to do. In fact, Brock is kind of irritating as the "Oh no! Ghosts!" character. There's no mention of his backstory with Molotov Cocktease, Hunter Gathers, and the whole OSI thing. And yes, that'd be another couple of chapters in the aforementioned book of Venture Brothers backstory. There's also plenty of cultural references, which is pretty much par for the show.

If you like Venture Brothers, then you'll like the episode: there's nothing new and innovative here. If not, you won't. If you're not familiar with the show, you're probably wondering what the heck is going on. Other than starting at the beginning, I don't think there's any good spot for a new viewer to come on. ""Curse" isn't intended to gently usher new viewers in. It tosses you into the deep end and expects you to know how to swim. Maybe that's why they call it "Adult Swim".

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?

Written by Gislef on Aug 6, 2018

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