The new season premieres August 5, 2018 on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block
It’s been over two years since Adult Swim’s wildly popular animated series, The Venture Bros., graced the airwaves with its sixth season chronicling the misadventures of the Venture family, their friends, and their foes. In that time, fans have waited not-all-that-patiently for the seventh season to premiere (an eighth season has also been ordered). That time is finally upon us.
During season six, Dr. Venture (voice of James Urbaniak) inherited his twin brother J.J.’s money and moved operations from the Venture compound to an expensive apartment in New York City. Dr. Venture’s self-styled arch-nemesis, The Monarch (voice of series co-creator Christopher McCulloch, a.k.a. Jackson Publick), had eschewed the laws of The Guild of Calamitous Intent and adopted the Blue Morpho’s costume and persona in order to continue “arching” Dr. Venture, running afoul of the Guild and his wife, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch (voice of series co-creator Doc Hammer), who by the end of the season has vowed to kill the Blue Morpho. Meanwhile, Hank Venture (voice of McCulloch) is dating Sirena (voice of Cristin Milioti), while Dean Venture (voice of Michael Sinterniklaas) is getting ready to attend college.
In anticipation of the seventh season premiere, Urbaniak, Sinterniklaas, and Publick took turns speaking with a pool of reporters at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. Urbaniak and Sinterniklaas were paired, while Publick was interviewed separately. In the interviews, it was revealed that Mark Hamill will be doing two character voices in the new season, and that the first three episodes are a trio capping the events of last season, each with its own cliffhanger.
According to Publick, “It’s kind of a three-parter that we’re opening with, a big story that unnecessarily goes to places you never expected it to…. This three-part story arc touches on stuff from our very first two episodes, touches on stuff from two seasons ago, there are callbacks for a long-time fan. They’re like a million little callbacks to tiny little things. Weirdly, a lot of them from season one.” The new season will have 10 episodes.
Below are some excerpts of the interviews, which involved a lot of laughter on everyone’s parts. Video of some of the interviews will be put up on The Nerd Element’s YouTube Channel as well. (Excerpts have been slightly edited, and questions that were similar in both conversations are grouped together.)
On the change in status of the characters from Season Five to Six and beyond:
James Urbaniak (JU): I don’t know if it’s so much that the characters are succeeding as they’re sustaining themselves.
In the new season, my character, Dr. Venture, is now wealthy. He’s inherited money from his brother and he actually in the new season comes close to creating some scientific breakthroughs. But then in the tradition of the show, he’s always sort of upended and thwarted by both his family and friends.
Michael Sinterniklaas (MS): Well, Dean has certainly moved past failing to remain alive. That’s a big step. Now it’s all or nothing for poor Dean, he doesn’t have any back-up clones. I do think it’s interesting for me to see how Dean has sort of matured and the evolution of him being true to himself.
I’m excited to see how it all comes together, having just recorded it and not seen the finished episodes, what happens to Dean now and his adventures in college, truly living up to being his father’s son, the only one who went to school.
JU: The boys are—I hesitate to say maturing, but they’re growing and expanding.
On how Dr. Venture might react if the Rusty Venture show were rebooted within The Venture Bros. universe:
JU: I think he would insist on doing the voice of Rusty Venture, and he would have a hard time with that rejection, which would be inevitable. [Another reporter interjects “When they hire Dean instead”] All he would do is give Dean notes. [speaking in Dr. Venture’s voice]: You’re not doing it right! I don’t talk like that.
MS: I think Rusty now has the wherewithal to produce his own competing program where he is the voice.
JU: It’s a very good episode idea which we should pitch.
Jackson Publick (JP) [laughing]: Yeah, I should write that down. No, are you kidding, he’s probably calling people all the time trying to get that to happen. “So what’s up with the reboot? Are we moving forward?” He was trying to get a Broadway show made and stuff like that. [In Dr. Venture’s voice:] “So Hamilton was huge. You see what I mean? There’s a market for this.” So yeah, he would love it, and then he would have some notes.
On Dean’s character growth:
MS: The sense that I get from the work that I’ve done is that maybe he’s trying to find his place in the real world.
Weirdly now I think, as a Venture, he suddenly comes from actual privilege, where there was a weird spell in the middle where there was a lot of success, not-so-much-success or affluence, and now there’s that sweet place in Columbus Circle. As he’s trying to find his own way, he’s kind of trying to normalize, and it’s really hard for someone who’s also had to deal with the existential angst of knowing he’s not a real boy.
I think normalcy is kind of important to Dean, and the world keeps going haywire around him.
On the question of who Hank and Dean’s mother is:
MS: Do any of us truly, actually, unequivocally know who our mothers are? We’ve been told one thing, but how do we know? What proof do we have? I ask you!
I don’t know what the hypotheses are to whom my mom could be, so I can’t comment on that. I don’t know who the mother or donor or sample might be.
JU: I just know the ambiguity of the show, which I think is a flavor of the show that is not going to go away.
On the maturation of Hank and Dean:
JU: My feeling about that is…the idea of them sort of maturing in a sense. Even [though] they’re still living in the apartment now with Dr. Venture, they’re sort of leaving the nest, as Dean’s going to college. Hank is out working and going on dates.
I think that actually gives Dr. Venture a little more energy, a little more freedom. And I remember reading those scripts for this season where Dean and Hank are sort of out in the world, like you say in a way that they weren’t before and not so much, you know, being controlled by dad. And I remember thinking, “Oh, they’re characters who change. This isn’t a show where the character is the same age all the time.”
MS: And not just the influence of dad, but the influence of the whole compound being sort of a fake world; stepping outside of that turf puts him in the real world.
On favorite lines from the new season:
JU: There was a line that’s actually in the trailer for the new season where Dr. Venture is planning on a date. He’s discovered that there’s a woman who’s a notorious black widow who marries rich men and they all die. He figures it’s a good way for him to have sex with someone because they’ll be hoping to be sleeping with him because he’s wealthy, and all he has to do is make sure he doesn’t get killed.
MS: Safe Sex!
JU: He pitches this idea and I think Hank and Dean are there and someone else is there. And they’re like, you really shouldn’ do this. I forget the lines, but he gives a litany of reasons why he’s such a loser and he’s so pathetic, and this is finally an opportunity for him to have sex and then Hank says, “Well, he makes some good points.”
On Dr. Venture’s current state of mind:
JU: I think he has flashes of success and self-confidence and delusion related to that, too, where sometimes that sense of confidence and tribe is actually a delusion, but at least he’s living in that little area where he feels good about something.
MS: Doc’s still got it.
JUs: He gets kind of a second wind this season in a way, but he’s still the same old Dr. Venture with the same old limitations.
On the return of Brock Sampson (voiced by Patrick Warburton), and whether they’ve gone back to basics because the show had grown in so many directions:
JU: The old dynamic is back although Brock’s is still sort of—Brock’s on the side of those who are trying to prevent Dr. Venture from screwing everything up…. He’s not so much a bodyguard as a babysitter.
JP: We had done a couple seasons where we got really, you know, tightly wound with our thousand—we had a million characters, I personally didn’t love that it was too easy for us to bring anybody into any episode. [W]e shouldn’t keep throwing our funny supporting characters in this moment. We should try to make Hank and Dean funnier [instead].
[E]verybody matters to the show; anybody who’s gonna stick around, we have to make them count now. And resetting in New York was a way to do that. [I]f we want Orpheus in the show, we have to bring him in for a reason now, and [Pete] White and Billy, we brought them in for a reason. We definitely wanted to get a lot of our favorite people back, yet we just didn’t want to be lazy.
On whether the new season will reflect the changes in our current political environment:
JP: Not this season. We wrote this crap a year and a half ago. That was a thing. That’s an ugly business? I don’t know.
I mean, I’m sure if we get into our geekier moments, there might be things like that. I know, we’ve like talked about some gags for Season Eight or something, and might skirt some of that. But I wouldn’t. Anytime I’ve gone into a script trying to make some kind of statement or something, I suck at it. It makes for bad comedy and awkward writing. So I don’t know. We’ll see.
On the characters Publick enjoys voicing most:
JP: Probably the Monarch’s the most fun. [T]here’s so many of these that we slip into just in conversation. Doc [Hammer] and I can talk to each other in character, whether we’re writing for that character or not. Sergeant Hatred is kind of a go-to voice, and they all reflect certain things that you’re trying to say about something. Maybe you’re uncomfortable saying something, so you say it in a character’s voice, or you’re saying something that you know sounds stupid.
On next season’s story:
JU: The resolution of the whole Blue Morpho thing means what is the Monarch gonna be. That’s kind of a big thing. The boys on their separate paths is a continuing thing. Dr. Venture’s got his friends to mess around with now, and the boys aren’t really around, so he’s got different things to gripe about. But the Monarch stuff is a big thing.
On whether fan feedback has ever made them change anything in the show:
JP: Yeah. I don’t want to give you specifics. [O]nce or twice there have been like cliffhanger things or whatever, where we then read the message boards and somebody guessed it and we can’t do it.
On the show’s overall theme of failure and whether the themes will shift to the successes of the Ventures:
JP: God, I mean, it’s still about failure…but the beauty of failure that everybody is flawed. We have these very flawed characters, and so that’s always gonna be a theme. We wanted to give them a couple of wins, and we’ve certainly, I think, embraced legitimate emotion over the years. I think early on if we wanted something sappy, we made a joke about it being sappy instead of going [for the emotion]. Let’s see if we can make the audience cry about this snarky little thing.
Themes going forward this season are really—everybody’s just kind of trying to find their identity where we’re still dealing with the fallout, the development of everybody over what happened in Season Six. The big changes of season 6, that everybody’s kind of falling into their places and finding their paths. Identity is a big one, and finding your drives. You know, it’s always been a thing with the Monarch—there’s a purity to him just wanting to hate Dr. Venture. He’s never played by the rules of all this Guild bureaucracy stuff, and in a way that makes him truest.
On jokes that they were surprised made it to air:
JP: It’s so hard because I’ve been so focused on editing the last few episodes that it’s weird for me to think back. But that happens less now than it used to. I always [was] worried that we weren’t being edgy enough for something.
There is one episode this season, but I knew when I wrote it, it was part of the job that I have to censor. There’s a lot of nudity, so when I get back to L.A., we’re just spending the next two weeks putting black bars over 60 shots.
On the music in the show:
JP: I mean, you know J.G. Thirlwell keeps being our amazing composer. He’s done a great job as always. We don’t do a ton of other music stuff. I’m actually in the middle of a problem right now because we did a song that the legal department thinks sounds too much like an existing song. We gotta, change it, and I’m pissed because we delivered that episode and the dude who sang it is in Canada now. Oh, we did the song “Street Life” from the Sharky’s Machine soundtrack that has a big presence in the first couple of episodes.
On female characters in the show:
JP: Probably our newest female character was Sirena, and she’s still around; she and Hank are dating. We love Cristin Milioti who plays her so much.
I wish I could keep all of her improvisational ranting in the show, but there’s no time, [but] she’s always hysterical. You just give her a little idea like, oh, by the way, when you’re reading this line, you kind of hate your bodyguard who has a crush on you, and she just tears into Rocco. She’s so much fun. And she did some other voices for us as a couple of new characters, not hugely prominent, but I think she did the voices for all of them.
I love having a bit of an ensemble anytime I can, you know, use the people we have and get them to do more more stuff, you know?
The Nerd Element: Maybe she could be the mother. <Publick laughs>
The Nerd Element asked the following in both interviews: Do you have any idea where this series is maybe gonna wind up for the endgame?
JU: I don’t know. And of course, we’re not part of the writing process.
Jackson Publick told me [a few years ago] the song he envisioned for the series finale, but I won’t tell you what it is. [W]hen he said that, I sort of got a sense of the flavor of the end of the show. But that was a long time ago, and that may or may not be how the season ends.
TNE: What would you like to see happen to your characters in the future?
JU: This again is purely speculative because I’m not writing the show. I don’t know, I think a little Sopranos-esque ambiguity—is it all over, or are they gonna keep going on? Something like that. I think they would keep going on.
MS: I don’t think Dean would do this, but I just had the idea of Dean becoming his father’s son really and having a science empire, maybe even being able to clone himself and raise his young Dean spawn in the way that he wasn’t nurtured so he could make it right for some.
TNE (to Publick specifically): I wanted to ask you if you have an endgame in mind for the series, or if you’re just making it up as you go along for the season? [For example] you have an idea, you do that. The next season, you have another idea.
JP: A long time ago, I had an end game, and now I don’t. [W]e wrote, past it already. Instead what we keep doing is getting ourselves excited about it by changing it as much as we feel like changing it every season. Not as much as like Archer does, where they kind of reinvent their genre. That’s kind of interesting.
At this point, I don’t know, it would be really challenging to try to put a bow on it. Lately, I’ve been feeling more like, oh, when the audience decides that we don’t get to do this anymore, we would probably go out on more of a “life goes on once the cameras are off” instead of like, “Here it is. This is the big ending.”
TNE: I don’t think the audience is ever going to get tired of it. I asked some of my friends if I got to talk to you, what would you want me to ask? And they said, just tell him we love him and we miss him and we need more Venture Brothers. As long as you wanted to do it and Adult Swim allows you to do it, we’re here.
JP: That’s great. Thank you.