by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & The Venture Brothers & r & & r & (Adult Swim, Sundays, 11:30pm) & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & L & lt;/span & ast week on Venture Brothers, Dr. Rusty Venture found himself in an Egyptian temple, beset on all sides by mummies. As is often the case. Unable to move, Dr. Venture -- father of the titular leads Dean and Hank Venture, son of the legendary super-scientist Dr. Jonas Venture, heir to Venture Industries -- cries out to an apparition of his father for help.
The evil Dr. Henry Killinger, conjurer of this nightmare, stops him: "Do not call out to your fah-zer to save you," he says as the mummies descend, "for he commands zeez creatures of ze dark: fear, self-loathing, stinkin' thinkin' und dilly-dallying! You yourself vill destroy ziss temple of failure!"
See, Killinger is a super-villain, but he's also a "freelance business consultant and executive motivational coach." Wearing skull slippers and flying from place to place with a parasol a la Mary Poppins, Killinger conducts his evil deeds by employing self-actualization, Jungian archetypes and by quoting inspirational snippets from The Secret in his soothing, even-tempered Germanic accent.
Though Dr. Venture's stated archenemy is a doof in a butterfly costume who calls himself the Monarch, Dr. Henry Killinger is, in many ways, Rusty's perfect nemesis. Venture's a complete failure, a drug-addled shadow of his father and of the geniuses he's modeled after (the dad from Johnny Quest, Marvel Comics' Mr. Incredible, Tony Stark to a degree). His 16-year-old sons are complete morons who -- like the Hardy Boys but more... real -- are inept home-schooled teenaged adventurers who think erections make baby angels cry. The only person keeping the moron trio alive is Brock Samson, the Ventures' bodyguard (voiced brilliantly by Patrick Warburton), a compulsively sexual super-spy who, despite uncanny powers over women (strippers mostly), spends his days pining over a Russian agent named Molotov Cocktease.
Now in its third season, few satires have proven as consistently good as The Venture Brothers. Golden-age comics, book series like The Hardy Boys and television shows like Johnny Quest have instilled successive American generations with flawless, archetypal visions of goodness, heroism and perfection in a way that contributes to our national sense of ourselves as virtuous peace keepers in a world of swarthy miscreants and black and white morality. The Venture Brothers thumbs its nose at the absurdity of the source material, showing the tremendous folly of seriously engaging in the rhetoric of Good vs. Evil. The world isn't black and white, basically, and until we remember that, we'll be pale, ineffectual shadows of our forefathers.
Tim Russert Tributes
He wasn't blustery the way we've come to expect our TV journalists to be. He was even easy to overlook at times, but Tim Russert was a light in the fairly bleak world of television news and as good a yardstick as any to judge its shortcomings. NBC President Jeff Zucker said, "Anybody who thinks they can replace Tim Russert is kidding themselves." At least among the presumptive candidates, he's right. (YouTube, "Tim Russert Tribute")
Legally Blonde the Musical: The Search for Elle Woods
Rule of thumb: the longer your show title, the crappier it's going to be. The faint hope here is that the musical's seven Tony nominations will make this a more serious-minded search than the High School Musical reality show of the same concept. (MTV, Mondays, 10 pm)
I Survived a Japanese Game Show
Seen those clips on Spike occasionally where Japanese people have their genitals zapped for prizes? Now you can get the visceral pleasure of that without any of the attendant white guilt. Now it's whitey getting hurt and humiliated for crappy prizes. (ABC, Tuesdays, 9 pm)
The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.