Review by Andrew Bloom

The Venture Bros.: Season 3

3x11 ORB

The Venture Bros. is not a very optimistic show. Its creators have described it as a show about failure, and it predominantly follows the adventures of a bunch of people who are not particularly good at what they do, and not necessarily good-spirited about it. Which is why it's striking, and even touching, to have the thing that saves Dr. Venture's life be that he respects his father and takes his lessons to heart, even if he resents him terribly.

This is another episode that deepens the backstory and universe of the show and a fairly organic way. It's a neat trick to combine "Operations Rusty's Blanket" and other initialisms to dub the titular macguffin de jour. Getting a glimpse of the 1800s guild, featuring precursors to Dr. Venture, Phantom Limb, Dr. Orpheus, and others was a treat, particularly with the sepia-toned fun of it.

But there was some real meat in the backstory of Venture bodyguards having to kill their masters in order to keep the world safe from the orb. Getting to see Brock hear from bodyguards past, and his old mentor, to get the skinny on what Dr. Venture was after and what it meant for him created stakes for that important moment where he sneaks up on Rusty, who, with the help of Billy Quizboy, as found The Orb.

Brock, however, forebears. There's something poetic about Dr. Venture coming to terms with his father's legacy, just a bit. So much of The Venture Bros. is about deconstructing the old Hannah Barbera adventures, but this is one of the first episodes that leans into what was good about them, the way this vision of the future, while infested with evil geniuses and impossible gadgets, was one of hope, and that even bitter, beleaguered Rusty can cut past the fakery and damage to appreciate that. The fact that this realization, this breakthrough even, unwittingly saves his life is the icing on the cake.

And lest it otherwise go unsaid, it's a very funny episode as well. The boys working with Orpheus is always a recipe for comedy, and throwing in Mr. White and The Alchemist to help only added to the comedic stew. Billy's Da Vinci Code-esque adventures from reviewing the old Rusty Venture cartoon were a blast of nerd-ribbing fun, and Brock's old mentor (who's now a feature dancer) is a hoot every time he's on screen.

Backstory, comedy, depth, and heart. Hard to go wrong with this one.

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