It’s hard to believe that Adult Swim’s late-night action/comedy The Venture Bros. has been on the air for ten years (it debuted back in February of 2003). And since then has become the Cartoon Network off-shoot’s second longest running program, right after Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Season 4’s finale, Operation P.R.O. M. aired back in 2010, leaving only TV specials to fill the void of a full season, but those only came once a year.
Starting Sunday, June 2nd, the Venture Bros. are officially back with their fifth season premiere. Newsarama sat down with creators and voice talent of the show, Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick (sometimes referred by the super couple name of JackHammer by fans) and tried to talk about what lays ahead for Hank, Dean, Rusty, and all the rest of the characters in this world.
Key word is “tried”.
Newsarama: Jackson, Doc, with Season 4 having some major cliffhangers, will some of them be answered right away or much later in the season?
Jackson Publick: Maybe…question mark…?
Doc Hammer: It’s going to happen the way it always does. Which means some will be answered right away, some will be answered later, and some will not be answered and there will be many more.
Nrama: Aside from the Halloween Special, this is the first full Venture run in almost two years. Do you ever feel the pressure from all the hype and wait from fans?
Hammer: We have enough pressure just working on the show.
Hammer: It’s hard to feel everybody else’s pressure, when we already put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We don’t listen to people complain about how long it’s been as we know why it’s taken that long. Because of our many trips to Aruba.
Publick: Yeah, I don’t think we have any performance anxiety, but I think we feel a little bad it took so long. This is a good season, though. We feel very confident in this season. Almost overly confident.
Nrama: The Halloween Special wasn’t originally intended as such, what led to that decision for it being a special?
Hammer: Well, Halloween for one thing. It was going to be done in time for Halloween and I was working on a Halloween-themed episode and we just rolled it into being a special.
Publick: We just went, hey, why not put one on a little earlier than two years. Otherwise, we’d have a whole 2012 with no Venture Bros. in it and that felt a little lousy and we had a solution already in Doc’s laptop.
Nrama: The big reveal from the special is that Dean finds out he’s a clone. What’s your approach to writing him now in comparison to how he was?
Hammer: Burdened with the knowledge that he is a clone.
Publick: Damaged? [laughs]
Hammer: The clone thing worked really as this metaphor for his basic teenage problems. Like him coming into adulthood and going “who am I, where did I come from?” You don’t need to be a clone to do that. If Dean wasn’t a clone, he’d still be probably written very similarly.
Publick: Because we’re a super-science adventure show. [laughs]
Nrama: Do you feel as though that limits you as writers into the type of harm to put him in, because you can’t kill him off now unless you really, really wanted to.
Hammer: Everything limits us as writers and everything frees us as writers. It’s not like we’re running around going well Dean can’t be a super villain because he could get hurt now.
Publick: We haven’t killed him in three seasons, but we can kill anybody we want anytime we feel like it.
Hammer: The Sword of Damocles hangs over the entire cast.
Publick: And everybody in the world since anybody can die [laughs]. This doesn’t change anything, it’s life!
Nrama: The relationship between Malcolm and Sheila (Monarch and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch) has been on and off but recently have patched things up and it‘s now evolved into an open relationship, where do they stand as a couple in the upcoming season?
Hammer: [laughs] I like that you’re on a first name basis with the Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend.
Publick: [laughs out loud]
Hammer: That is fantastic! I feel guilty because she’s still Dr. Girlfriend in my mind and not Dr. Mrs. The Monarch, but you just bypass all of that!
Publick: As usual, you cut to the core my friend!
Hammer:Right to the quick!
Publick: Well I don’t see the relationship moving forward in any way and I don’t want to say anything else as that’s getting into spoiler territory.
Hammer: I was going to say I think they’re solid! They’re a great couple! They’re always going to be a great couple. When they break up, they’re still a great couple. When she dies in the fourth episode this season, they’re still going to be a great couple.
Hammer: Even in the afterlife, they’re going to be a great couple.
Nrama: There’s a new Shirt Club deal going along with this season, too. Who designs those or do you choose what you’d like to see?
Publick: Us. Doc mostly, with some help from me.
Hammer: We take this thing up until the mechanical edge. [laughs] There’s really no corporation involved with that. It’s really just Jackson and I being dorks and making the shirts we want our fans to have…even if they don’t want them.
Publick: Like a beige Dean shirt.
Hammer: Beige is flattering! Or like a flan-colored Billy Quizboy shirt.
Nrama: You really love Billy, don’t you?
Hammer: I love Billy Quizboy! That is the only shirt I wear.
Publick: I only wear mine under a v-neck sweatshirt. Just a for little pop of color.
Nrama: It’s good to see that you guys are hands-on with this sort of thing.
Hammer: Oh it’s us, it’s beyond hands-on. It’s all hands.
Publick: Only hands!
Hammer: We have long discussions and it goes through many iterations of designs about what t-shirt we’re going to make with each episode. Some episodes scream a certain design, and such we deliver. This season, the shirts are even more specific to certain episodes-
Publick: If that’s possible.
Hammer: So if you like that episode, buy the shirt.
Nrama: The show sort of stepped away from the boys being the focus for a little while and dove more into Rusty’s problems, do you return with them as the focus in Season 5?
Publick: We never focused on the boys as I think we consider the whole cast the show, with the focus being the four core characters, which is the family. And we got away from that for a while and we’re back on track that season.
Hammer: Well the Venture Bros isn’t just Hank and Dean. It’s really everybody in the show is the Venture Bros. I really don’t think we strayed from that. It’s not the “Hank and Dean Show”, it’s The Venture Bros.
Publick: I mean that was always part of the joke of naming it The Venture Bros is that it’s not really about them it’s just what you name the boy’s adventure show. It’d be like watching Jonny Quest and nobody gives a shit about Johnny Quest, maybe you care about Dr. Quest and, you know, Race! Johnny just ran around hiding.
Hammer: And then he’d watch the dog for like ten minutes and Hadji would be [Hadji voice] “Look, he’s barking in his sleep.”
Nrama: Do you have any celebrity voices this season, akin to the likes of previous gueststars Kevin Conroy and Bill Hader?
Publick: Yeah, we have Aziz Ansari and [Saturday Night Lives’] Kate McKinnon, John Hodgman comes back. Tim Meadows is in one episode. Larry Murphy from Bob’s Burgers is in a few episodes. Gillian Jacobs and Patrick Brewster, too!
Nrama: If you guys are already working on season 6, do you have a projected timeframe for that?
Publick: We can’t make any promises, but we’re shooting for late fall next year. I think that’s the earliest we can get it if things go according to plan, but they rarely do. We will be starting production sometime this summer.