Revisiting The Venture Brothers: “A Very Venture Christmas”

I know what you’re asking: how can you revisit a show that, for all intents and purposes, is still airing even if it’s airing very infrequently? For that, I’m simply deferring to the fact that this remains one of my favorite shows and this particular special aired in 2004, which at this point is fifteen years ago and I still remember it being a pleasant surprise.

The episode opens with a quick run-through of several major Christmas stories: A Christmas Carol, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer all get directly referenced in the space of a few minutes until it’s revealed it’s all the dream of one of the series’ protagonists, Doctor Thaddeus Venture (James Urbaniak).

The episode is only eleven minutes so it’s not as densely layered as the full-length episodes the show usually does and mainly concerns itself with the annual Venture Christmas party and the series’ main antagonist (and also one of its protagonists, more or less) the Monarch’s (Christopher McCulloch) attempts to ruin it. In this case, this means creating actual ruins in a plan involving a nativity scene rigged with enough C-4 to blow up the Venture compound.

Dean Venture (Michael Sinterniklaas) is trying to get his father and family bodyguard Brock Sampson (Patrick Warburton) to buy him presents from an old Sears catalogue and calling a Santa hotline in order to find a good Christmas story for him and his brother Hank (also Christopher McCulloch) to tell. Hank is looking for his Christmas presents but is otherwise just as concerned with Dean about the Christmas story, which bring’s the special’s main conflict into place.

That is, if you could call something that only takes a few minutes to resolve and ultimately resolves itself a conflict. The brothers find the mystical spellbook of Doctor Orpheus (Steven Rattazzi) and accidentally free the Krampus from the prison the Pope exiled him to during Vatican II. The creature makes a bee-line to the compound to find naughty children but finds that only Doctor Venture fits the bill.

The Krampus is only able to exact a little punishment before Brock comes in to fight him, and even then that battle only lasts until the stroke of midnight and the arrival of Christmas Day. The Krampus leaves peacefully but not before triggering the Monarch’s trap, destroying the Venture Compound. Except it was all another dream, and in the real world the Ventures have crashed their X-1 jet in Bethlehem.

I take back what I said before about it not being densely plotted, because that’s actually an absurd amount of stuff to happen in eleven minutes and the fact that it all happens in a logical manner is kind of amazing, and that’s without all the jokes they sprinkled in. The only real downside is its length and the fact that it happened between the first two seasons, but this is hardly the only Christmas-themed thing the Venture Brothers team ever did.

For a number of years, they’d record holiday singles in character and release them on various websites, though this is a practice they’ve seemingly stopped. Things like those and this special helped make the wait between seasons more bearable, like the gap we’re currently in. It’s understandable, given the amount of work they put into each episode and the relatively small team of people they have doing it, but it’s still less than optimal. We can only hope that Jackson Publick, Doc Hammer, and the rest of the team are giving it their all.

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