Quick Take: The Venture Bros., "The Diving Bell Vs. The Butter-Glider"
"Holy (beep). So that's what happened to the 7's." - Brock Samson
Review: The Venture Bros., "The Diving Bell Vs. The Butter-Glider"
(S0409) The Venture Bros. make a spectacular return for the second half of Season Four. The episode starts off in media res as Dr. Venture loses consciousness while bodyguard Sgt. Hatred drives Team Venture away from The Monarch's minions led by Henchman #21 on his first solo command. When Hank's machine gun runs out of ammo, Hatred decides to take the jeep off road, eventually ending up at a Catholic hospital. #21 considers it hallowed ground and gives up.
However, Dr. Venture gets turned away due to his lack of insurance, so Hatred calls Master Billy Quizboy and Peter White to help. To learn what's going on inside the Doctor, they decide to take a cue from Fantastic Voyage by shrinking a sub and going inside him. With the Venture sub missing, the nearest one available belongs to S.P.H.I.N.X. so agents Brock Samson and Shore Leave take Hank and Dean inside their father.
Meanwhile, the Monarch's henchmen are upset with their working conditions, particularly their flimsy, winged costumes. They provide little protection in battle and are even troublesome in The Monarch's lair because all the doorways are tapered at the arch. #21 suggests new costumes, but is shot down by Dr. Mrs. The Monarch because of the cost. The Monarch undercuts her position though by showing off his Butter-Glider, a personal transport similar to that of Spider-man's nemesis, the Green Goblin. He becomes so obsessed with the vehicle that it worries Dr. Mrs. The Monarch. She enacts a plan to remind him of his other obsession: Dr. Venture.
One of the episode's funniest moments takes place during a party hosted by The Monarchs for his former cellmate King Gorilla, who has recently been released due to his failing health. Monarch says, "He looks like a gorilla suit with nobody in it wearing David Byrne's Stop Making Sense suit." Not knowing King Gorilla's condition beforehand makes The Monarch's gift of a carton of cigarettes awkward (and hysterical).
The show's writing is its greatest strength. The storylines dovetail together extremely well. For longtime fans, there are numerous references to events from older episodes, like when The Monarch and Pete White briefly reminisce about going to college together.
Though it might not have been intentional by the creative team, what's most interesting about the episode is what's not talked about: death. The fragility of life is demonstrated through the conditions that King Gorilla and Dr. Venture find themselves in. We then see different ways people cope. When they see their own deaths, Hank and Dean are oblivious to it thanks in part to Brock's quick thinking. The Monarch handles it worst of all by running out and buying the Butter-Glider like the cliché of a man experiencing a midlife crisis and buying himself a sports car.
Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer score another winner, and this episode is a perfect example of the series at its best. It's chock full of laughs, action, and so many pop-culture references it's hard to keep up, which is why repeat viewings are so enjoyable. It's equal parts smart and silly, and I am so glad they are back.
Video: The Venture Bros., "The Diving Bell Vs. The Butter-Glider"
Check out the trailer from Season Four if you need a refresher: