When you’re a fan of The Venture Brothers, be warned. Creator Jackson Publick isn’t the slightest bit afraid of telling you what’s going to happen; way, way in advance; and whether you are going to like it or not.
“We’re gonna spoonfeed it to you,” Publick openly admits. “We love explaining things you didn’t ask for. Especially when you are expecting an answer for something else you thought about. Also, you may be asking something about Dr. Girlfriend. Well, we might tell you, but in a way that’s rather oblique. We’re also going to tell you a million other things you didn’t ask for while we’re at it.
“We just think they’re more important than what you asked for,” he concludes. I can almost see the self-satisfied smirk through the phone line.
Then again, one would also have to admit that Publick—along with fellow his whole sick crew of Doc Hammer, James Urbaniak and Christopher McColloch among others—have earned the right to gloat a little. The splendiferous super science series detailing the misadventures, frolics and foibles of Thadeus “Rusty” Venture, his “sons” Hank and Dean, and their reason HGH and steroids should be banned forever, Brock, has been renewed not for one, but two, new seasons. The first episode of Season Three airs this Sunday, June 1 on Adult Swim.
And believe me kids, it’s not what you expected…again.
As has been reported all over the web over the last week, the season opener won’t focus on Team Venture. Instead it’s concentrating on their soon-to-be ex-archnemeses, the Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend. Will they survive the Guild of Calamitous Intent and our enemy’s #2 become Dr. Wife? Well, that you’ll have to see for yourself.
Then there’s the return of Dr. Killinger. You’ll have to wait for June 8 to find out about that one, fans.
In the meantime, Publick took some time off post-production of this season to chat it up with us. There are some things we later had to pull, not because he didn’t want to spoil it for you. Instead it was decided not to draw the ire of the true evil geniuses of the world, Mssrs. Crofford, Lazzo and their cronies at [AS].
Here’s what Jackson had to say:
Newsarama: For starters, why kick it off with the Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend?
Jackson Publick: Because A) that was the only cliffhanger we had left from last season and B) it was completely unexpected to launch a new season without any of the main characters.
NRAMA: Well, you kind of did that last season, too. You started without Dean and Hank. I mean yes, you started with the Venture Brothers, but…
JP: Yes, it’s a little bit of a tradition. It’s also a little bit of trying to mix things up for the people.
NRAMA: So are you trying to say that it’s always the Monarch’s intention to join the Guild of Calamitous Intent or is he joining the Guild to help whack Dr. Venture?
JP: Gosh. It’s a little bit of both. A good question would be which came first, the hate or the evil? Most of the guys in the Guild seem driven by a specific hatred, but they have become soft from old age. We are setting the Monarch up to be one of the last true villains in the world. The rest are completely inept because of their bureaucracy, rules and regulation of their union. There’s something still pure about the Monarch’s hatred for Dr. Venture.
NRAMA: Have you ever really explained why the Monarch really hates Dr. Venture?
JP: That’s still one of the big secrets.
NRAMA: Well, I enjoyed the total circular-ness of your storytelling. I mean, you come to an answer, of sorts.
JP: Exactly. Certainly nobody expected this one, but we did it to you. We’re gonna spoonfeed it to you the way we see fit.
NRAMA: I noticed a familiar character named Rajni running a phone service out of Bombay. Why did you call him Rajni?
NRAMA: Now one thing I have to admit, the fans seem to like the way you give it to them. I wasn’t at this year’s NY Comic Con, but I was at last one, and I certainly remember trying to get into your panel. I had to wait for people to leave before they let me in. Did you anticipate that many people?
JP: No. Even more so this year. It was pretty startling. Last year was the first time I had to speak somewhere and walk past a gigantic line of people.
NRAMA: How did that feel?
JP: Pretty cool…and terrifying at the same time.
NRAMA: One thing I saw last weekend was a girl dressed exactly like Dr. Girlfriend, from her white go go boots to her Jackie-inspired pillbox hat.
JP: There’s always a couple of those. My favorites are when people dress up like the minor characters. This year I actually saw someone as Action Man, who’s like a fourth tier character. Another was someone dressed like Lady Au Pair.
NRAMA: I’d like to see Aetheria.
JP: I’d like to see one up close and personal, too. So far all I’ve seen is photographs. Some even had the body for it. It’s an image you can appreciate even if you don’t know what the Venture Brothers are all about.
NRAMA: Now I’m really glad you brought back Dr. Killinger.
JP: Yeah! Me too. Doc said it couldn’t be done, but I did it.
NRAMA: How did you come up with Killinger? I mean even if he shows up for one episodes a season, it’s usually such a great episode!
JP: As most things, it started with some dumb pun. I was just doodling one day and the name ‘Killinger’ sounded funny to me. Then we started thinking, you know, the Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend are split up. They need a little help getting back together. After all, would the Monarch bump up one of his henchmen to be the new #2? Does he go out and recruit a new #2? So the episodes Killinger premiered in; well it was getting pretty late in the season and we had run out of preconceived stories. So we started looking through my notebook for new ones. One idea was ‘boys maybe crazy mother kidnaps them.’ Another was ‘Brock and Helper’ should team up. Then we saw Killinger and said ‘OK! There’s our episode!’
NRAMA: Is there an agenda with Killinger that we don’t know about?
JP: (Laughs) Maybe! I don’t know. He definitely seems to be this magical force of nature and you don’t quite know. He does seem to be there to do good for bad people. He does help bad people find themselves and be the best bad people they can be. So we put him in the sky in the end. So maybe there is, you know?
NRAMA: So what does Dr. Killinger’s visit to Venture Labs says about our friend Rusty now?
JP: That he’s a horrible person! That is the gag of that episode. We always made him a rotten person. People who do critical analysis of the show always wonder about what’s this thing about him and the Monarch and why do we root for Rusty even though we know he’s terrible. This time, we call him on it, out loud. He is just one costume away from being a supervillain.
So, Dr. Killinger, who’s an expert business manager of sorts, pays a visit and says ‘Yes sir! You have the makings of a great supervillain! Here, I’ll help you do it better.’
NRAMA: So any more David Bowie references?
JP: No. No David Bowie this season. Maybe I shouldn’t say that, but I think it’s better to spoil the things that are NOT going to happen, if only for the people who are waiting for it. I might as well tell you right now. While I’m at it, I might as well tell you no Kim and no Baron Underbheit.
NRAMA: So this season took you a little while to get together, eh?
JP: Every season takes us a while to get together. It took us less time this season than last because we were given the greenlight faster than last time. It still seems like it takes forever though. We’re not particularly running behind with season three. We’re a little behind, but nothing that can’t be caught up in a few weeks or something like that. Putting together this show just takes a really long time.
NRAMA: Well, whatever the reasons, and I say this in all honesty. You guys put together a smart show. I mean if you didn’t know Jonny Quest or David Bowie, the show carries itself.
JP: Well, we never wanted to be on some nostalgia trip, especially after the pilot episode. We felt the show had to stand out on its own.
NRAMA: So you’re not Harvey Birdman, although you got to love that show, too.
JP: Yeah. I loved that show. We always wanted to create our own world. To do that we funneled everything we love and goofed on into it. Luckily we have characters that let us do that. I mean now it’s getting hard to write about everybody. We got what feels like a million different characters. We end up leaving people out with every new season, making a point of writing about them in the next season. This season we will see the original Venture guys. I mean we saw a little bit of Colonel Phantom last season, but otherwise we didn’t see the other guys since season one.
NRAMA: Will we learn more about old Jonas?
JP: Yeah, we do. I mean we learn more about him in the second episode. We will do a whole episode about the world opening up a museum dedicated to him. That one has a whole bunch of flashbacks, including old Team Venture in it. There will be a few more flashbacks here and there showing that Jonas wasn’t necessarily the greatest guy he’s made out to be. I mean he didn’t know he was hurting his boy. Actually, there’s about four episodes that involve flashbacks and two of them will definitely take the shimmer off of the old man.
NRAMA: So is there an over-reaching arc to this season?
JP: It’s the same kind of mix we’ve gotten used to. It’s sort of half and half. But even the sort of standalone ones could have another piece of someone’s back story in it or you will get another piece of the overall arc. We don’t plan it like this. The way it usually works out is like the Monarch is in half of them. The other half are either standalone or explore some other part of the story.
NRAMA: I can tell just from these first two episodes you’re setting up for something. You can’t deny it.
JP: You think? (Laughs). Well, what we’re setting up is Dr. Venture is going to need a new arch enemy. The Monarch has quit. If there’s an arc to this season, that’s part of it. It’s Monarch adjusting to his new lifestyle. You know that can’t last forever. That’s probably the biggest arc.
But with this season we take a lot of detours into other side characters. There are a few episodes where the Ventures are hardly there or at least not the whole family. For instance, there is an episode that concentrates on Billy Quizboy. It reveals all his secrets.
NRAMA: What about Mr. White?
JP: I should have said him. The heart of it is Billy’s story, which does include Peter White of course. By the end, you will see how Billy is really connected to all this.
NRAMA: How’s a fourth season shaping up?
JP: That’s a big thing. When we signed this time, we signed for two seasons. Both seasons were green lit at the same time. We’re writing season four now. We’ve never overlapped seasons like this before, but it’s cool. We’re halfway through post production of three, but we’re already writing season four. We will start pre-production in about three weeks.
Newsarama Note: Can’t wait until tonight? Check out the FULL first episode at the Adult Swim website, here.
NEW SPONGEBOB NEXT WEEK
Animation’s #1 invertebrate is back at you next week with a whole slew of new episodes. Nickelodeon has released the schedule and log lines. So order up your favorite seafood snack and…
• June 2: "The Splinter"
While working at the Krusty Krab, SpongeBob accidentally gets a splinter. When Squidward mentions that Mr. Krabs will have to send him home for his work-related injury, SpongeBob becomes desperate to get the nasty splinter out before he’s forced to go home early. The only problem is the stubborn splinter won’t come out.
• June 3: “Giant Squidward”
When Squidward gets spritzed with plant growth spray, he becomes monstrously huge and SpongeBob and Patrick are thrilled because they now have a giant buddy to play games with. The only problem is the citizens of Bikini Bottom are terrified of the monster and they want him out.
• June 4: "A Life in a Day"
Everyone is in awe of Larry the Lobster’s daredevil ways, especially SpongeBob and Patrick. Patrick decides that it’s time for them to start living on the edge like Larry, but SpongeBob isn’t so sure.
• June 5: "Sun Bleached"
To get into the big party in Bikini Bottom you have to be a certain shade of tan. Therefore SpongeBob and Patrick decide to get tan so they can go to the party, but SpongeBob accidentally goes too far and turns sun-bleached white. Now, not only is he the wrong shade, but he can barely move without cracking and turning to dust.
• June 6: "House Fancy"
Squidward becomes infuriated, when he sees Squilliam on a TV show about fancy homes. Determined not to be outdone by his long-time rival, Squidward calls the show’s producer and insists they feature his fancier house on their show. But Squidward quickly realizes that his house isn’t exactly camera-ready and he’s going to need a lot of help, even if it means letting SpongeBob lend a hand.
CN SETS SAIL WITH YAARATHON…
Cartoon Network must have hoisted a few bottles of rum and had one too many Ho Hos. They will kick off June with what they are calling a “Yaarathon.” Not that you’re going to mind, it’s about everything pirates. It’ll feature the movies Tom & Jerry Shiver Me Whiskers, Scooby-Doo Pirates Ahoy, Billy & Mandy’s Big Boogie Adventure and a special sneak peak of the new Cartoon Network series Flapjack. The six-hour marathon begins Sunday, June 1, at Noon.
If that ain’t enough, they also promised to start showing both fully animated and live action films every Sunday. Well, June is a Sunday, and here’s the first month’s schedule:
• June 1 at 7:00 p.m. Hook
• June 8 at 8:00 p.m.Antz
• June 15 at 8:00 p.m.The Power Rangers: Turbo Movie
• June 22 at 8:00 p.m. Ant Bully.
• June 29 at 8:00 p.m. Ace Vuntura: When Nature Calls
NEXT COLUMN: Vacation time’s over. Got the first of two major interviews with the creators of Kung Fu Panda.