Sunday, December 7, 2008

A fan's lament

I am not a very loyal TV watcher. Though there are show that I like on network TV, including 30 Rock and The Simpsons, I don't always set aside time to watch the episodes when they first air. Currently, there are only two shows that I make an effort to watch every week when there are new episodes available: Mad Men and The Venture Brothers. Since both shows are now in the break between seasons, I may decide to stop my cable subscription as a cost cutting move when my special six month intro deal expires next year.

I have been thinking about this post for a while, but I kept putting it off. The third season of The Venture Brothers has been over for many months now, and sadly, my main emotion this season was disappointment. I'm not completely turned off by the show. When the fourth season starts, I will continue to watch, but the third season suffers in comparison with the earlier shows.

I loved season one. I can watch any season one episode, even in re-runs. There are more than a dozen interesting recurring characters, including The Monarch, his second in command Dr. Girlfriend and his henchmen, most especially Henchman #21 and Henchman #24. The Monarch acts as Dr. Venture's arch villain, though we are never sure why he hates Dr. Venture so much. For my money, 21 and 24 are the best written nerds in TV history.

Season one ended with a major cliff hanger and the resolution to that cliff hanger was very satisfying and became an important underlying theme. The end of season one also had the introduction of an important new character, the brother of Thaddeus Venture, Jonas Venture, Jr. He becomes an important part of the show and helps to bring back characters who looked like they might only make one appearance. The second season ends with a wedding, a massive battle and a cliffhanger. Who could ask for anything more?

The third season resolves the cliffhanger, but that resolution isn't as satisfying as the start of season two. Season three fills in a lot of back story, maybe even a little too much. There are times in season three when it feels like what is happening to the characters in the present is an afterthought, and the really cool stuff all happened in the past. There is a change in the status of The Monarch that makes his character less interesting, and the new arch villain for the Venture family, Sgt. Hatred, is dull and creepy, and neither of those in a good way. There is a big battle to end season three, but it pales in comparison to the climax of season two, and the cliffhanger ending to season three is more disappointing than thrilling.

I didn't want to put too many spoilers in this review, though I expect very few of my readers actually watch this show. I also want to make it clear that I am not giving up on The Venture Brothers. I have given up on a lot of shows that are aimed at nerds like me, including Heroes, Lost and Battlestar Galactica. I want things to get better in season four, and I have some hope the writers, Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick, can turn things around and make the show interesting again.

Go Team Venture!


namastenancy said...

I sympathize with you on the lack of good things to watch on TV. Have you explored Free TV shows - a lot of them the classic ones. Plus, check out the DVD and video collection in your local library. I have found lots of great things to watch but then, I prefer stuff like mysteries and old Masterpiece theatre shows so maybe I'm not the best judge.

Matty Boy said...

My sister has pointed me to Hulu, thanks. I may use it to catch up on some shows I miss, but I like watching TV on TV more than watching it on my computer. I'm still a little old fashioned.