Mantis-Eye At NYCC 2011: Venture Bros. Press Hour
A thing I apparently didn't know for the last seven years is that having a website where you report on various pop culture things (or just one thing in my case) means you can generally get a press pass to get into various conventions. While the pass doesn't generally afford you too many privileges as far as when you can enter the convention (for NYCC you can attend on Thursday but still need to wait in line for stuff and can't get into the show early) one of them happens to be the ability to get into press-only events. Cartoon Network and Adult Swim held a press hour prior to all of their panels including one for Venture Bros., starring Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer. You may have heard of them.
The style of this one was press conference style, with Jackson and Doc sitting at a table in the front of the room and a crowd of around 30 - 40 reporters (and some 'reporters', such as myself) asking them various questions. It was kind of like a more intimate and slightly less silly panel, which was pretty excellent. Of course it still managed to not be free from the odd bizarre question, including my favorite: "Did Sovereign kill Brock's brother." Doc's response was "If you're asking if that ever happened in our show then the answer is 'no'."
Since a number of people were recording the conference I'll only write about the highlights here. Lots of things were covered, and I didn't get a recording of it myself, but I took down some notes after it was over. If you want to watch the full conference, you can do so here thanks to Anime For Dummies. Here are some random points:
The press hour was also perhaps allowed to be a little raunchier than the open-to-the-public panel as many a fisting joke was made. They were asked if they ever had to censor things or tone them down and they said generally Adult Swim was okay with what they made. Most of the censorship revolves around the use of real-world names, products and characters. For example when asked why some characters are named by name (David Bowie in season two) compared to others (Brian Eno being referred to as 'Eon' in season four) they sadly looked at each other and said that their lawyers had advised them not to answer that question. In general there seems to be an issue with them mentioning rock stars at all, and that portion of the mythos might end up being toned down in the future.
They were also asked what they would do if they had no legal restrictions at all, and Doc joked that all of his episodes would just be about fisting. They went on to say they would mostly use the opportunity to use actual pop music instead of sound-alikes and put real products and characters in the show. The example Jackson used was that instead of having a Batman analog in the show they would just put the actual Batman in it. "Hey Hank, wanna listen to Yes?"
As far as moments they actually had to tone down, Jackson noted that they had to fight with the network to get the scene of Brock peeing on the mummy in the pilot but they were both pretty sure that if they wrote that scene today they wouldn't have any problems getting it through. They mostly attribute that to the network airing episodes of Family Guy, which is edited to air on a primetime network at 8 or 9pm, so the stuff they wanted to do seemed tamer by comparison.
On the subject of a musical episode (which was a fairly hot topic throughout the convention), they said that they probably wouldn't do it. Doc said that he was never a big fan of musicals as they brought out his inner child who hated them. They also noted that they weren't good a showtunes and they would rather leave it up to shows who were much better at it, like South Park and Family Guy. However, later at the regular panel they asked the audience if they would like a musical episode of the show and the crowd was overwhelmingly positive about it, so perhaps they will change their minds (though I don't know how likely that is at this point).
As far as how season five is going, they're sill writing and don't have anything planned beyond whatever they have written. When asked if they had any special guest stars planned they said they didn't but they would try and see if they could get anyone once they had characters that required it. In that way the show seems to be more character-focused, where rather than getting a guest star and figuring out a way to put them into the show they instead come up with characters and get appropriate voice actors.
A trend that also appeared during the hour was the things they had recently (or not recently) watched on TV. Jackson admitted to watching Entourage, which Doc was unhappy about. Jackson admitted that he actually hated the show but always wanted to know what happened next. He also admitted to having seen the Sex and the City movie, though only because he has HBO and he saw it by accident (which happens if you have HBO), though Doc was similarly unhappy about that. They also went over their love for the old guy beating up everyone genre of film, especially when the old guy is Liam Neeson.
Another topic that came up was the recent announcement that the writers of Conan had been hired to write the Dr. Strange movie. Jackson and Doc (particularly Doc) were upset that they weren't contacted to write the movie. Doc said he had been planning the script since he was very young and couldn't believe that Marvel wouldn't call him to write this movie. The 1978 Dr. Strange TV movie (which was an unsuccessful pilot for a TV series) also came up, with Doc noting that there was a lot of needless filler because TV shows in the 1970s didn't actually have any content.
As far as more stuff about the actual show, the question of a Venture Bros. comic was asked, with the response essentially being that there isn't one but it's something that's been pitched before and they're certainly open to the idea. They're control freaks but would be okay with a good writer expanding on the universe in comic book form, though they also added that they would prefer it happen after the series ended.
One final thing of note was a brief talk about the fatigue they suffered during season three and four, especially towards the end of season four. They had initially thought that season three and four would be the end of the series but once they got together and wrote the finale they decided that they had many more ideas and that's when they signed up for seasons five and six. Doc also noted that, according to fans of the show, every season is the worst one right up until the next one comes out. So they are planning for season four to become beloved once season five starts but right now everyone hates it. He also jokingly predicted that season five would be loved immediately while season six would have a more lukewarm reception (but eventually everyone would come around).
There were a few more items of interest but those were some of the finer points (or not-so-fine depending on your perspective), plus if you want the full shebang of course there's a video for that.