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Bright Lights, Dean City

  • Original Air Date:
    October 10, 2010
  • Written by:
    Jackson Publick
  • Production Number:
    53
  • ... and NATHAN FILLION as Brown Widow
  • Rate This Episode:

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Jump To: Summary | Capsule | Notes
All-time score of 3.8 with 264 votes

Summary

Dean's summer internship in New York City turns deadly when he learns his new employer harbors a dark secret. Meanwhile, Doc's newfound love of show tunes makes him an easy target for the newly re-formed Revenge Society.

Capsule

Phantom Limb is narrating something. High above the Earth Jonas Venture Jr. is working on Gargantua 2 in space when his oxygen tank, manufactured by a recently acquired subsidiary of Impossible Industries, fails. Meanwhile Girl Hitler addresses the general assembly of the UN but is instantly killed when her microphone shorts (actually Phantom Limb was under the podium). Elsewhere the Monarch visits his local ATM only to discover his trust fund is empty. Weird. Seems his bank (also recently acquired by Impossible Industries) was robbed! And they're not FDIC. He blames his wife but... she's already dead!

Murdered by a pair of well-placed sleeper agents (the Moppets). The murder is set up to look like a certain henchman (21) did it. And all the while the Guild loses member after member to sudden mysterious deaths. The failure is too much for the Sovereign, who kills himself. Hanged.

PHANTOM LIMB What do these helpless fools all have in common? They dared to betray... the members of... The Revenge Society!! So, what do you think?

PROF. IMPOSSIBLE
Hmmmm. Frankly it's a little... killy.

BARON UNDERBHEIT
I like it! I'm in!

PROF. IMPOSSIBLE
Hey, and are we married to that name? 'Revenge Society'? I was thinking perhaps, 'The Violet Hour'. That's T.S. Elliott.

PHANTOM LIMB
No that's awful. It sounds like we should be headlining the Lilith Festival.

BARON UNDERBHEIT
I was thinking, uh, maybe 'The Purple Pros'. Because we all wear the purple.

PHANTOM LIMB
The name stays! And you don't get a vote, Verner. Not until you've first proved your loyalty.

PROF. IMPOSSIBLE
Just a formality!

BARON UNDERBHEIT
Yah, I understand! We have a similar ritual in the Elite Underlandian Guard.

He quickly looks at Manservant, who quietly nods after which point Underbheit grabs Manservant's head and breaks his neck. He falls to the ground, dead.

Oh... well they just wanted him to sign... a piece of paper... yeah. Just then there is a knock at the door. Underbheit, Phantom Limb and Manservant's body (carried by the other two) quickly disperse as Prof. Impossible answers the door. Dean is there, wearing Impossible Industries long underwear and holding three coffees. Piping hot!

Opening credits logo.

DEAN [VO, dictating]
Excelsior, faithful readers! It's your roving reporter, Deannie V, bringing you the latest edition of The Venture Home News all the way from New York City, home of the world-famous Impossible Industries where yours truly has just landed a summer internship. I thought maybe pop pulled some strings to get me accepted but the nice smelling lady who hired me said she'd never heard of him. And boy, Professor Impossible sure was surprised to see me! Yeah, I never got the feeling he liked me very much before, but on my very first day on the job he promoted me to his executive assistant! Guess they're a little short-staffed at the moment. Maybe the recession?

So far I haven't gotten to do any science stuff, but that's okay. Mostly I answer phones, sort mail and make sure he gets his morning coffee just the way he likes it, with milk and sugar! Annnd also one black. And also one black with two sugars. It's no wonder he's so jumpy! Then again he might just be nervous about the big new project he's launching. It's so super hush, hush secret though, even I don't know what it is yet.

So, let me tell you about my new home! Making it in New York on an unpaid intern's un-salary is pretty tough, but Hank found me a rent controlled apartment in the wanted ads! The ad said it was cozy. And the landlord said a guy died in here... buuut, with a little thrifty redecorating I've managed to make it a home. I don't have much money for entertainment, so most nights I just stay home and make my own fun. I also learned to cook for myself! And the k-rations Sergent Hatred left me should last me all summer long! [a el train loudly goes by] [shouting] Well, that's about all the time I have for for this edition of The Venture Home News, this is Deannie V. saying 'See you next time, Ventureoos!'

There's a knock at Dean's door! It's Dr. Venture! With suitcases! He's hooked on Broadway after seeing The Music Man and now he wants to take in all the big shows. Oh yeah, and he's staying with Dean. Nice. Dean isn't really sure about this but clearly it's not happening any other way. Doc lets him know that if there's any hanky panky to be had that Dean should just hang his tie on the doorknob and Dr. Venture won't bug him. Meow. Dean says he's going to bed and quickly changes into his pajamas as Doc unpacks his suitcase and proceeds to take over the entire apartment. Oh also, while Dean is sleeping he's loudly writing his own musical on Dean's typewriter. Yeah. It's gonna be an awesome summer!

Back at Impossible Industries Baron Underbheit, Prof. Impossible are reviewing a commercial they filmed for The Revenge Society. When you just don't want to deal with the Guild's bureaucratic mess, you might want to call them! Phantom Limb notes that before they begin accepting applicants they have to remember: SPAWN. No wait, that's not right... SPAWM. Speed, Power, Air, Water, Magic. W can also be Weather or Wind. But that's the basics of it. Or like a fire guy, that would be cool. Prof. Impossible notes he has just that!

Down in the power center of the building we see Cody, Prof. Impossible's former brother-in-law (I think). You know, guy who's constantly on fire and screams all the time in immense pain? Yeah, him! Well he's powering the building! And screaming in pain! Totally green energy though, so that's cool.

Downstairs Dean is meeting Dr. Venture for lunch. Sack lunch. Oh, also Doc has a request of Dean. Industrial espionage. Dean says that even if he knew Prof. Impossible's secret plan, he's not allowed to say anything! No, not that, he needs Dean to make copies of... this...

Doc's musical! He's going to send it off to every agent in town. It's gonna be big! Prof. Impossible has been listening the whole time, of course, though he couldn't hear much of it very clearly. Something about Industrial Espionage. Phantom Limb points out that this is opportunity knocking at their door! Who disfigured Baron Underbheit for life? Who stole Prof. Impossible's wife and then passed him to JJ? Yup, the same guy who aligned with his own enemies to defeat Phantom Limb at Cremation Creek! Dr. Venture. So their first assignment seems pretty clear. Kill Dr. Venture! Like, right now.

Back downstairs Doc is finishing up Dean's lunch and notes that he still has to write the music to his musical. And he has to find the perfect Rusty. Not Dean though. He looks the part but he's a terrible actor. Seriously. Dr. Venture gets into a cab suspiciously being driven by someone who looks suspiciously like Baron Underbheit. Doc plays with the cab's touch screen for a minute before giving up. Just then Phantom Limb appears on the screen and starts his villain spiel. Doc is listening to his iPod and totally not paying attention though. Prof. Impossible decides it's time to employ the gas, but the mechanism is in the front of the cab and Underbheit has closed the window between the front and back.

The cab careens out of control until a man in a brown leotard shoots some web out of his backside (not his butt, mind you, just above it) and catches the cab in a spider web. He runs over to the now stopped cab and rips off the door.

BROWN WIDOW
End of the line, sir! Please remember to take all your personal belongings and be sure to tip your driver! [laughs]

DR. VENTURE
What!? This is funny to you? I just almost got killed. Get the hell out of my way! I'm gonna miss the overture! [angrily walks away]

BROWN WIDOW
Fucking tourists.

Back in Prof. Impossible's office he and Phantom Limb are watching the scene in disbelief. Phantom Limb is kind of annoyed that the gas mechanism was in the front of the cab. Prof. Impossible notes that he's never done this kind of thing before and there were bound to be a few hiccups.

PROF. IMPOSSIBLE
Let's not squabble, Hamilton!

PHANTOM LIMB
Very well. Positives. On the upside, Verner did an excellent job as the cabbie. Until you gassed him!

PROF. IMPOSSIBLE
Alright, that's just passive-aggressive, friend. I see exactly what you're doing there.

DEAN
[enters with coffee] Sorry I'm late, Professor Impossible, you see my dad stopped by for lunch and then- [notices PHANTOM LIMB] Phantom Limb!!

BARON UNDERBHEIT
[enters] What the hell was that shit out there?!

DEAN
Baron Underbheit!!

PROF. IMPOSSIBLE
Now, now, Dean, this isn't what it appears, so, let's all try to just keep calm.

They all slowly advance on an extremely nervous Dean who pulls out a whistle and a baton. He blows on the whistle which hurts Prof. Impossible's ears and whacks Baron Underbheit's knee with the baton. Phantom Limb grabs Dean and shocks him and Dean falls to the ground.

PROF. IMPOSSIBLE
Hot sandwich! You've murdered the Venture boy!.

Commercial.

Dean, who is of course not dead, comes to. He is in Prof. Impossible's jet and flying high above New York City. Baron Underbheit and Phantom Limb are riding in the sidecar areas. Dean freaks out a little but Prof. Impossible reveals that they are actually part of his big, secret project. He's known them both for a while but their lives took terrible turns when they were each disfigured in an accident. They had to be evil just to make end's meet! So now they're looking to become useful members of society again, only nobody will hire them because of their criminal records! Gasp! So, starting tomorrow Impossible Industries is launching the Impossi-care Second Chance Employment Program. What, did you think he went all evil or something?

The ride ends with Prof. Impossible giving Dean a promotion to head of human resources. Now remember, human resources, promotion, not evil! See ya! He drops him off on the fire escape and as Dean enters through the window he's smashed over the head with his own typewriter. Dr. Venture. Sorry, there was a prowler earlier. Yeah.

The next morning Impossible Industries is filled with interesting characters:

Dean is at the front desk organizing everything as Phantom Limb, Underbheit and Prof. Impossible wait in the office. Send them in!

MR. POLYGAMY
Polygamy! Mr. Polygamy! And this is Mrs. Polygamy, Mrs. Polygamy, Mrs. Polygamy and Mrs. Polygamy.

PROF. IMPOSSIBLE
Soooo, what exactly does magic underwear do?

APACHE CHIEF
Chuk-luk! [claps] [makes noise]

BARON UNDERBHEIT
Uhh, was something supposed to happen?

APACHE CHIEF
You didn't see that? I just grew. Bigger.

PHANTOM LIMB
No you didn't.

APACHE CHIEF
I did, like, at least two inches. Maybe three. He saw it!

PROF. IMPOSSIBLE
I think, uhh, yes! I think he might have.

PHANTOM LIMB
Nooo! Look, he's on his toes!

We next meet Fat Chance, who is fat because of a botched science experiment which turned his body into an interdimensional portal of sorts. He can reach into the spot on his stomach and pull out whatever. Boom! Useful sometimes.

Next up is Ladyhawk Johnson and her wonderful Husband Lyndon Bee. By night she's a hawk and by day he's a bee, and they never meet. Except during an eclipse. Kind of tragic. Prof. Impossible notes they'll have to interview him separately when he's... not a bee.

All members of the Revenge Society are clearly uncomfortable. The bear guy only breathes heavily and doesn't respond to any questions. Dean doesn't know who he is or how even even got into the place.

PROF. IMPOSSIBLE
Annnd he's got a knife! ... super power.

BRICK FROG
Brrrick Frog!!

PHANTOM LIMB
Thank you!

Brick Frog slinks out sadly. Phantom Limb comments that everyone was pretty much useless. So yeah. Prof. Impossible tells Dean that they're done for the day.

DEAN
Uhh, you still have one more interview, sir. This gentleman's been waiting since sundown.

We're back at Dean's apartment, the tie is on his door and we hear Doc making strange noises inside. Uh oh. Inside it turns out that Doc is just riding around on roller skates because that's what he plans on adding to his musical in order to hook foreign investors. Smart, right? He notes that the tie kept getting caught in his wheels, which is why it was on the doorknob. Also the dresser is blocking the bathroom. Dean is pretty annoyed. Doc tells him to just use the tub if he has to take a leak. It's fine, guys!

Back at Impossible Industries Baron Underbheit has found Doc's script in the copy machine. Oh man!

Back at Dean's place Doc is writing a song for his musical on a Casio-type keyboard that he apparently bought from HankCo for $14.99. A steal!

On the fire escape Dean is super unhappy just as Brown Widow shows up.

BROWN WIDOW
That guy bothering you?

DEAN
Kind of.

BROWN WIDOW
Shh, I understand; you can't talk. You need help, just blink twice if he's your pimp.

DEAN
No, what? No, he's my dad.

BROWN WIDOW
Oh. So, ah, what brings you two to the Big Apple then?

DEAN
Well, I got this internship at Impossible Industries-

BROWN WIDOW
Super science, huh? Yeah I used to be in that racket myself.

DEAN
Really? Why'd you give it up?

BROWN WIDOW
Pssh, you're looking at it. [he takes out some cigarettes and pulls up the bottom of his mask] Yeah I had a little mishap in the lab back when I was working on my irradiated spider thesis. Kinda soured me on the whole super science deal.

DEAN
Mmmhmm, yeah I'm not really sure I want to be a super scientist either, but my dad really wants me to follow in his footsteps.

[They look behind them, DR. VENTURE ha been singing and writing the whole time]

BROWN WIDOW
Yeah, I can see why you wouldn't want to do that. But hey, you're working with Professor Impossible now, that's A-list! You could practically write your own ticket!

DEAN
You'd think, right? I mean I thought things would be different there but it's just the same old story. Do nothing all day and then a bunch of guys in costumes come out and bother you. I could get that at home.

BROWN WIDOW
Hmm, sounds like somebody would rather be doing something else.

DEAN
What I really want to be is a boy reporter!

BROWN WIDOW
I'm sorry, what... is that enchanting music?

Brown Widow goes inside where Doc is performing his song. Dean attempts to tell his father about his decision on super science but Doc is too into his song to pay attention.

DR. VENTURE [SINGING]
... the dreams I burrrried... with robot fingers, they linger!
Why Rusty!!
The man of action, like muscled mothers, not brothers.

Dean gives up and walks out.

DR. VENTURE & BROWN WIDOW [SINGING]
On grand adventures, they push me with theeem, for mayhem!
Who's Rustyyyyy?

DR. VENTURE [SINGING]
I'm Rustyyyyy!

BROWN WIDOW [SINGING]
I'm Rustyyyy!

DR. VENTURE
Ever done any musical theater?

BROWN WIDOW
Well I was in Sound of Music when I was a kid... Oh! And I have perfect spider-pitch!

DR. VENTURE
I've found my Rusty.

The phone in the hallway rings and Doc runs to answer it. On the other end is Fat Chance, but he's pretending to be, uh, Frank Bigtime. He just read the script and it's dynamite stuff! Can he come to Impossible Plaza right now? Sure he can! he runs downstairs and gets a taxi, driven by yet another driver who looks suspiciously like Baron Underbheit.

At Impossible Industries Dean (who somehow got to the building really fast) is writing up his letter of resignation just as Doc arrives. Doc goes into the elevator and gets off at whatever floor he was told to. He's looking around for someone when the lights are all turned off by Prof. Impossible. Dean gets up to go see why the power is off. Doc, meanwhile is advanced on by Phantom Limb... and Fat Chance. And Lyndon Bee. And Baron Underbheit! Laughing they all surround him when Fat Chance trips on something and falls directly onto Dr. Venture.

BARON UNDERBHEIT
Way to go, new guy!

FAT CHANCE
What? I couldn't see your invisible leg! Why the hell's it gotta be so dark in here anyway, eh?

Downstairs in the power room Dean flips on the power which reignites Cody. Upstairs Fat Chance gets up but Doc is nowhere to be seen. He must have gotten sucked into the enigma hole! The lights come on. Downstairs Dean attempts to save Cody by pressing a ton of buttons. Eventually a screaming Cody is released into the building. Dean, wearing a fireman's helmet and putting out stray fires with a fire extinguisher chases after him.

Meanwhile the Revenge Society is attempting to find Dr. Venture in the enigma hole, though Fat Chance informs them that he has no idea how it even works. Cody runs by them, with Dean behind them. Prof. Impossible shields everyone from Cody as Dean tells them to exit the building in a calm, orderly fashion! They all make their escape.

Left on the ground Dr. Venture's script burns up.

Roll end credits, Rusty style!

Hank and Dean's room, the Venture Compound:

HANK
How was your summer?

DEAN
Well I think I may have watched my career in super science go up in smoke. But I may have managed to pull my dreams from the ashes. How was yours?

HANK
Well from what I hear, it was amazing.

DEAN
Have you seen pop? He left New York without even saying goodbye.

There is a bright blue flash of light to the side of them. A strange portal is in their room. A man steps out. It's... Dr. Venture?

DEAN
Daddy?

ALTERNATE DR. VENTURE
[guffaws] You should be so lucky. [he pulls the regular DR. VENTURE out of the portal]

DR. VENTURE
Ow! Alright, let's just take it easy.

ALTERNATIVE DR. VENTURE
You just zip it, mister! And keep to your own dimension from now on!

DR. VENTURE
Fine! I don't even like your dimension anyway! It's an asshole dimension, how do you like that?

ALTERNATIVE DR. VENTURE
Ohh, nice potty mouth in front of the boys! [turns to DEAN] Look, you're the Dean of this dimension, right? Explain to the untalented Mr. Ripley here he can't just waltz into my dimension and try to kill me with a rock and replace me! Just because I happen to have more hair, more money and a hit play on Broadway!

Notes

  • The title of this episode is a play on the 1984 novel Bright Lights, Big City which later became a film in 1988 and a musical in 1999. The story in all cases is about a writer who works as a fact checker for a high-brow magazine and his time spent caught up in and escaping from the mid 1980's New York City yuppie party scene. The novel itself is also notable because it is one of the few well-known English-language novels that is written in second person.

  • Prof. Impossible wants to rename The Revenge Society to 'The Violet Hour', noting that it's T.S. Elliott. Violet hour is indeed a line from the T.S. Elliott poem entitled "The Waste Land". Specifically in an early section:

    At the violet hour, when the eyes and back
    Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits
    Like a taxi throbbing waiting,
    I Tiresias, though blind, throbbing between two lives,
    Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see
    At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives
    Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea,
    The typist home at teatime, clears her breakfast, lights
    Her stove, and lays out food in tins.

    He also mentions violet air and violet light later on, which is slightly less relevant I guess!

  • In that same scene Phantom Limb notes that calling them 'Violet Hour' makes it sound like they should be on 'the Lilith Festival' which refers to the traveling music festival Lilith Fair which took place in the summer from 1997 until 1999 (and was later revived in 2010). The tour is comprised entirely of female solo artists and female-led bands, which is likely what lead Phantom Limb to make his comment.

  • Dean mentions Sgt. Hatred has given him k-rations to sustain himself with during his time in New York. K-rations were daily combat food rations used by the US Army during World War II. The k-ration was often criticized for not providing enough calories for troops, as they were initially intended as emergency rations but were later used as a standard ration.

  • Upon seeing Dean's apartment Dr. Venture asks if he's waiting for Jacob Riis to take his picture. This refers to journalist and photographer Jacob Riis who was famous for his photographs and writing on the impoverished state of many New York City buildings at the time. Riis is in part responsible for the implementation of "model tenements" (apartments) in New York as a result of his work. Riis is also considered a pioneer in photography as he was a very prominent proponent of the flash, a new tool at the time which he utilized in his work, which included many dark and unlit areas and buildings.

  • Brown Widow is of course based on Spider-Man. His origin story, as explained by Brown Widow, is similar to that of Peter Parker's, and their powers seem fairly similar as well. However Brown Widow exhibits more spider-like characteristics such as extra eyes (though he seems to have only six as opposed to a regular spider's eight eyes) and web shooters in a more anatomically accurate location. For those not paying attention he doesn't fire web from his butt, but from the small of his back. The spinnerets (things that produce web) of spiders are located at the end of their abdomen.

    The brown widow spider is also a real kind of spider, a 'cousin' of the much more famous black widow.

    Finally, Brown Widow was voiced by Nathan Fillion who currently plays the lead in the crime drama series Castle but is probably better known to most Venture Bros. fans as Captain Mal Reynolds on the short-lived series Firefly.

  • Our old friend The Mysterious 'H' also points out that the scene where Brown Widow saves Dr. Venture from a cab crash is a reference to the opening of the old 1960's Spider-Man TV series. You know, the one with the super famous theme song? You can watch the intro here with the cab saving occurring around 15 seconds in.

  • Prof. Impossible mentions something about magical underwear when talking to Mr. Polygamy and the Mrs. Polgamys. This refers to traditional Mormon temple garments, more commonly called 'Mormon underwear'. The undergarments are to be worn at all times and serve as a symbolic reminder of the sacred covenants made in temple ceremonies. And of course Mormons are known for practicing polygamy, which is the connection there.

  • The native american fellow seen during the interviews is a goof on Super Friends character Apache Chief who was added to Super Friends to increase the number of non-white characters in the show. Chief's basically only ability was his ability to grow to a huge size when he speaks (or yells) the words "Inyuk-chuk" ("Big man"). The version in this episode says something more along the lines of "chuk-luk" and lacks any ability to grow at all.

  • Fat Chance is a partial play on Spider-Man villain The Spot though The Spot's ability is less hilarious in that he can make portals that allow him to transport himself to anywhere on the planet via a dimension known as "Spotworld" whereas Fat Chance only has the one portal in his stomach.

  • Ladyhawk Johnson and Lyndon Bee are weird super villain versions of Lyndon Baines Johnson (best known for his time spent as the 36th president of the US) and his wife Claudia Johnson. Lyndon is commonly referred to with his middle initial, as such Lyndon B. And his wife is known more commonly by her nickname (given to her close to her birth) of "Ladybird" Johnson. So there, Lyndon Bee and Ladyhawk. As far as I know the actual Johnsons did not turn into animals of any sort but sometimes Wikipedia is missing information so you never know I guess.

    Multiple folks (but especially BettiePetty in the comments, who was first) also point out that Ladyhawk Johnson is also a parody of the titular character, Isabeau d'Anjou (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) in the 1985 film Ladyhawke. In the film Isabeau is cursed to turn into a hawk during the day and her lover, Navarre (played by Rutger Hauer), a wolf during the night. Likewise being able to meet during an eclipse, both as humans, is from the movie as well.

  • Brick Frog is actually a reference! It turns out that the indentation that some bricks have (done in order to reduce their weight) is actually called a 'frog' since the instrument that used to be used to make them is also called that. Thanks to Dylan in the comments for pointing that out, because I never would have even thought of it!

  • Dr. Venture notes that Starlight Express is the most popular musical in Germany, and that he's putting all the actors in "Rusty" on roller skates. This is a reference to Starlight Express itself where, amazingly, all the actors perform on roller skates. Way to shoot for originality, Rust.

  • This is one of the only times the end credits sequence has not used the standard Venture Bros. theme with the only other instance being "Powerless In The Face Of Death" back in season two. The pilot also used a different song.

    There were also two episodes to not utilize the standard credit format, being the ending of season one, "Return to Spider-Skull Island" which used a standard crawl set to "Look Away" and "Showdown at Cremation Creek Part I" lacked credits entirely and ended only with "to be continued...". Thanks to AmunRa in the comments for mentioning the season one finale thing.

Episode Cast

James Urbaniak Dr. Venture
Phantom Limb
Michael Sinterniklaas Dean Venture
Chris McCulloch Hank Venture
Fat Chance
Cody
Mr. Polygamy
Lyndon Bee
Bill Hader Professor Impossible
Alien Villian
T. Ryder Smith Baron √únderbheit
Mia Barron Ladyhawk Johnson
Nathan Fillion Brown Widow

Screencaps

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