Ghosts of the Sargasso
Original Air Date:September 11, 2004
Written by:Doc Hammer & Jackson Publick
- the vocal stylings of SOUL-BOT as H.E.L.P.eR.
On a scientific expedition in the Bermuda Triangle, Doc's experimental equipment awakens and possibly enrages the submerged ghost of Major Tom, a test pilot who crashed in an experimental aircraft designed by Doc's father. While there, the Venture's hydrofoil is hijacked by a group of fake ghost pirates who've been stranded in the sargassum since Jesus Jones was popular.
We start off 'Somewhere over the Bermuda Triangle' in 1969. A pilot is flying an aircraft very quickly through the atmosphere. He apologizes to Dr. (Jonas) Venture as it speeds towards the Earth. Dr. Venture tells the pilot (Tom) that he's more worried about him than the aircraft.
Rusty Venture comes up to the deck of the ship they're on and Jonas instructs a large Asian man to bring him back under the deck. Just then Tom tells Dr. Venture he has a message for the Action Man:
I have a message for the Action Man.
He's listening, Tom, go ahead.
I'm happy. Hope you're happy too. [ACTION MAN begins to cry] I've loved all I need to love.
Don't talk like that, Tom, you're gonna make it! Fight it!!
I'm feeling very still. [he takes his hands off the controls] And I think my spaceship knows which way to go. Tell my wife I love her. Very much.
She knows!! [TOM smiles] Ground control to major Tom, your circuit's dead, is something wrong? Can you hear me, major Tom?! Can you hear me!? Major Tom!!
The ship crashes into the ocean leaving the crew of Dr. Venture's hydrofoil saddened.
Fast forward to the present where the new crew, Rusty Venture, the boys and Brock, are all standing on the same ship.
[holding a camera] One more, pop.
Need one with me next to the meta-sonic locator? [he pulls his shorts out of his butt]
No, I need one where your suit isn't riding up.
Well what do you want, it's terrycloth. [he continues to pull at his shorts] It acts like a towel.
Roll opening credits.
Still on the hydrofoil, Brock tries to convince Dr. V that taking a deep sea dive (inside a large robotic suit) is a bad idea since he's never done this sort of thing before (or anything even close). Dr. Venture reminds Brock that there are 'fat greenbacks' to be made off the ship his father lost (shown in the opening scene).
Dr. Venture makes sure to be as dramatic as possible (referring to the sea as 'black liquid funeral' and 'cold embalming fluid') while making log entries with a handheld tape recorder. He then tests the two-way radio with Dean (who forgets to say 'over' at the end) and with that Brock lowers him in via rope and pulley/crane controlled by Hank, making journal entries along the way.
However Hank is having issues with the crane controls which stick and suddenly release causing Dr. Venture to plummet quickly into the '800 meters of black liquid funeral' and Brock, who was holding a support rope, to get a bad case of rope burn. Oh, and Dr. Venture totally bashes his head.
As he begins his descent he starts recording yet another contrived journal entry while Dean and Brock discuss how long it will be before Dr. Venture gets scared and has to be pulled back onto the ship.
However by nightfall (and journal entry 29), Dr. Venture is still at it:
Journal entry twenty-nine. I am about to switch on the meta-sonic locator; a device of my own design that generates experimental hypersonic sound waves so extra-special they not only vibrate the water, they vibrate... time. Ingenious, I know.
Back on the foil (that's the cool shorthand name for the hydrofoil that I just made up this very second) Brock, hands bandaged up, is attempting to light a cigarette with little luck thanks to his fingers being bandaged together. Dr. Venture and Brock talk over the two-way. Brock informs Dr. V that the boys are sleeping and that Dean might have a bladder infection since he's had to pee five times. Just then a pirate ship appears in front of the foil as some fog clears. Brock goes to check it out, leaving Dr. Venture to monologue to himself.
Hank wakes up after Brock leaves and wakes up Dean:
Dean. Dean, wake up. I think something's going on. Brock's gone and I just hear dad say something about 'danger stuff'.
Sew buttons, I'm gonna check it out. Plus I have to take a leak.
Do it off the heliport. It makes this awesome arch.
Cool. Be right back.
Scene change and Hank is peeing off the side of the boat (from the helipad) making combat sounds (I guess) while some suspicious looking guys scale the side of the foil and board. They cut the radio wires (I think) which is when Brock notices them. He goes for his knife but ends up dropping it, so goes for the more brute force method. He's just about to smack the heads of two pirates together when Hank (who has also just noticed the pirates) calls him on his wrist communicator, alerting the pirates of his presence, though it's too little too late as Brock knocks them out anyway. Brock tells Hank to keep quiet.
Back in his bed inside the uh, piloting area (I never was good with boat terminology) Dean encounters a g-g-g-g-ghost pirate (who is obviously wearing a mask). The ghost tells Dean to leave the ship at once (in a spooky voice) but then gets clocked on the back by a fire extinguisher wielded by Brock. Brock then flings the guy out onto the deck and starts kicking his ass off-screen while more pirates (at least one with a Boston accent) debate on if they should help their comrade or not. Some help but Brock tosses them off pretty easily.
Just then the fight is interrupted by the pirate captain who has taken Dean prisoner:
Enough! Get off that man before he kills all of you. I'm sure he doesn't want to see what his child is made of. [points his gun at DEAN's head] I mean, uh, really, what's he's made of. Not like a test of his metal, I mean I'm gonna spill his-
Yeah! Got it the first time.
Silence! Your insolence will not be tolerated, uh, again. [notices the ghost pirate who hasn't moved] Hey is that guy dead?
This annoys the captain even more, who then lectures them on the 'ghost pirate rules' (where they run away upon seeing ghost pirates instead of fighting back). He then orders Brock to be taken to the brig, though Dean will stay with the captain as collateral. Two more pirates come up to the captain, saddened that they won't be able to use their pirate special effects.
Back under the ocean, Dr. Venture continues to search and add dramatic journal entries about his quest. The meta-sonic thingy doesn't seem to be working, so he turns up the juice. The beams do find the ship, which is far from Dr. Venture, and the cockpit begins to glow and eerie green and the glow shoots upwards after a second. Dr. Venture, in the meantime, wanders into a giant clam which happily clamps down on the diving suit as Dr. Venture screams for Brock.
Aboard the pirate ship, Brock is shackled up in the brig (I guess that means jail). He contacts Hank on his wrist dealie and tells him that he needs his help. Yes, really. Hank starts off on how he can rescue Brock, but Brock tells him to not be Hank and listen to his instructions:
Alright, you have to be my hands. I'm gonna talk ya through it.
This could be the single greatest moment of my life.
Focus Hank! Whatever you do, don't light a cigarette. A good sniper can see a hot cherry for miles.
Brock, I don't smoke.
Good! Now's a lousy time to start.
Back in the hydrofoil's driving area Dean and the captain and Dean discuss what the pirates really want with the ship... the ship. They want the ship. After an uncomfortable moment where the captain tries to get Dean to sit on his lap, the captain explains everything. Seems they've been stranded in the Bermuda Triangle for around ten years so all they can do to survive is eat hot sargassum and hijack any cargo ships that come their way and help themselves to the booty. Of course the ships usually are full of pantyhose and assorted toys, so it's not a very profitable business.
Outside the ship the green light from the spaceship surfaces and scoots around a bit before screaming (yes, screaming) and landing on the hydrofoil. Seems Dr. Venture has awoke the horrible flaming ghost corpse of major Tom!!
The screaming continues and the captain and Dean exchange "I didn't hear it"'s for a while (actually it's just Dean). Outside on the deck Hank is preparing to kick some ass, Brock style. Brock gives Hank a quick lesson on how to grab someone by the throat and knock them out.
Under the water, Dr. Venture is still dealing with the clam. And by dealing I mean not doing very much:
Journal entry forty-eight. The blanket of warm vomit that previously kept the icy chill at bay has hardened to a sticky shell. Thankfully the stench has faded. Continues efforts to contact base have proved fruitless. And the clam won't quit it!
Back in the cockpit (I dunno the real name for it, so I'll pretend the hydrofoil is a jet... plus cockpit is a funny word) the screaming continues as the captain tries to figure out a way to start the boat. Dean accidently confesses that Brock has the keys (the captain thinks Brock is his dad). The captain presses for more information and Dean says Brock is hiding and waiting to save him. With guys. He's not a very good liar. The captain relays this information to Mike (another pirate I am going to assume) on his Barbie walkie-talkie (from a Toys R Us shipment) when another scream shatters the air.
Hank, meanwhile, has taken out a few pirates and is still talking to Brock on his commwatch:
[via radio] After the twist you'll fell a snap and the body goes ragdoll on you.
And that will knock him out. Even... more?
[via radio] That will kill him.
Do I have to?
Alright, fine crybaby. Tie him up and, I guess, gag him. But at the first sign of trouble I want you to at least break both his knees.
Just then another scream from the ghost is heard. Brock, however, has pirates to deal with. Two guys enter the brig in search of keys. Brock tells them the keys are up his ass.
Underwater Dr. Venture has freed himself from the clam with some sort of self-destruct installed in the legs of his robotic suit (clams don't like the taste of exploding robot legs), and is now trudging across the ocean floor. His journal entry is somber and dire. That is, until he clangs into the experimental spaceship he was searching for. His next entry is of course jubilant and joyous. The thesaurus is your friend.
Back on the pirate ship Brock drops his pants and one of the pirates, uh, begins to search his ass. Brock asks the pirate who isn't searching though his rectum for a cigarette, but of course he refuses. Brock's retaliation is to clench up and beat the hell out of the guy smoking with the guy now stuck elbow deep in his ass. It's one of the greatest moments in television history, and I can hardly do it justice with mere text, so you will just have to find a way to witness it for yourself.
Back in the foil the captain has of course lose contact with Mike (one of the guys Brock just, uh, handed his ass to). However, Brock answers the walkie-talkie and tells the captain he's gonna feed him the key. I'm not entirely sure what that means, but it probably involves killing, or at the very least a severe beating.
The captain, in desperation, tries to hotwire the hydrofoil , and succeeds. He then drives the ship away, thus pulling Dr. Venture (still roped to the hydrofoil) away from his trust fund. However, the robot suit gets lodged between two conveniently placed rocks and the ship comes to a halt.
The captain and Dean go to investigate the cause of the stop and find the two pirates that Hank tied up:
What's goin' on here? Aw, come on, who did this! Like these guys haven't had it bad enough tonight! Guess you weren't lying about that Brock guy.
I guess I wasn't.
What kind of expert bodyguard ties men up with big bows? [he unties the pirates with a pull on the bow]
MAJOR TOM [offscreen]
That came from the bow!
Major Tom, meanwhile, has cornered Hank and is screaming his head off. Dean tells the captain to shoot the ghost, but the gun he has is a toy, so instead he has to save Dean's dad's bodyguard (Hank) the old fashioned way. By jumping on his back. The ghost doesn't seem to care, and actually just stands in the same position with his arms out and screaming. The captain jumps off and shrugs at Dean, and then tries again with the same results. Seems major Tom is happy just standing there screaming his head off. Hank escapes safely.
Back at the Venture Compound, Dr. Orpheus is making his famous fritatas (in his usual dramatic style), when he gets a phone call from Hank about major Tom. Dr. O first makes sure the ghost is legit and then puts Hank on hold.
Under the water Dr. Venture is even more somber and dire than he was before he became jubilant and joyous and dragged away from his prize. The robot suit is slowly filling with cold water and Dr. Venture continues to make journal entries.
Dr. O, meanwhile, tells Hank about the major Tom incident and then gives him a phone number. The number is that of Jeanie, or Mrs. Tom. An old commwatch goes off in her jewelry box which she answers:
Uh, uh, hello?
Hello? Mrs. Tom?
Oh, I didn't know this thing still worked.
This is Hank Venture, Dr. Venture's boy.
Mrs. Tom, it's about your husband. He's in trouble.
Jeanie? Jeanie, what's happening?
Rodney! He's right here, do you want to speak with him?
Wha- Dude no! I want you to talk to your husband so he'll shut up! No offense, Mrs. Tom, but he's a real pain.
Brock, in the meantime, swims away from the pirate ship, now in flames.
On the foil Hank cautiously approaches Tom and holds up the commwatch. His wife tells him that he's dead now and it's time to go. Rodney, who turns out to be the Action Man, then grabs the watch and tells Tom they had good times but it was thirty years ago and Jeanie is now remarried to him. This, of course, sends Tom back into his loud screaming, much to the disdain of the pirates and the boys. However, Brock climbs onto the deck at this point, punches Tom and breaks off his arm, smacks his head off and into the water with it and throws his body in the water after it. The captain remarks that they could have done that, which results in Brock choking him.
Down at the ocean floor Dr. Venture is freezing and has very little air left, so he makes his final journal entry:
F-final journal entry. Perhaps some day my own sons will find it and learn from my mistakes. [gasps] When they return to this spot to get rich off discovering my father's flying saucer and my meta-sonic locator. If you're listening to this, boys, I just want you both to know, I- [MAJOR TOM's head, still screaming, floats by him] WAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!
Roll end credits.
Back on the hydrofoil deck:
[panicked stuttering] His eyes! Crazy eyes!! Accusing!!
[A PIRATE hands him a hot mug which he drinks from]
Who... who are you?
Alright Brock, I know this sounds crazy, but just hear him out.
Guuhhm. Can we have a ride home?
Noooo. Do it like you said you were gonna.
[sighs] I'm really, really sorry about this whole mess, and, you know, the whole pirate thing is behind me now, and... Plus you kinda killed Steve, and burnt my ship and, so, if you could give us a lift out of here I figure we'd just call it squarsies.
HANK & DEAN
Go team Venture!!
[the CAPTAIN looks at BROCK]
I don't know, they just do that.
- The opening scene dialog is largely gleaned from lyrics from two David Bowie songs, Ashes to Ashes and Space Oddity. Most notably from Ashes to Ashes:
They got a message from the Action Man
"I'm happy, hope you're happy too
I've loved all I've needed to love
Sordid details following"
And from Space Oddity:
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell my wife I love her very much she knows
Ground Control to Major Tom
Your circuit's dead, there's something wrong
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
- Likewise Tom's opening line, "I'm sorry about the TVC-15" is a nod to the Bowie song TVC-15. No lines are borrowed from the tune in the scene though. Thanks to Katharine Klise for that info, a greater Bowie fan than I.
- The original Team Venture is a loose parody of Doc Savage, which is a pulp magazine from the 30s and 40s and later a movie in 1975 about a group of scientist explorer adventurer guys, much like Team Venture Part 1.
- In Eeny, Meeny... Dean mentions ghost pirates to Triana and then in the very next episode they are attacked by pirates and talk to Orpheus. This can of course be explained (and indeed is how Jackson Publick himself explained it) easily since the team often meets weird things like ghosts and monsters, and Dean was speaking of a prior time where there were actual ghost pirates. So that story in Eeny, Meeny does not refer to this episode.
- Sargassum is just seaweed, and actually fairly plentiful in the Bermuda Triangle. You can learn more about it here if you're in a learning mood.
- Speaking of which, the Bermuda Triangle is the area formed by playing connect the dots with Miami, Bermuda and Puerto Rico. There are lots of crazy legends and real stories and endless cartoons involving the triangle, so feel free to check out this page if you want to learn about any of it.
- The actual episode itself is loosely based on an old Scooby-Doo episode. I'll let reader B McClure explain it:
Hey, just wanted to mention that the design of Major Tom's corpse, and his glowing footsteps, is actually a take-off of a fairly well-known Scooby-Doo episode, "Spooky Space Kook", which included a "ghost" spaceman from a crashed ship who left glowing footsteps and cackled in an annnoying, yet kinda scary way. He does this a lot. In the [Venture Bros. episode], the camera also has a shot of the familiar, glowing footsteps. This would also keep in line with what I believe to be a less obvious reference to Scooby-Doo and such mystery shows of the sixties, when Dean pulled off the guy's mask, as well as the very concept of "ghost pirates".
Screenshots graciously provided by Ms. McClure. She also sent along a third shot of what looks like a tattered spaceship, perhaps driven by the no-doubt fake ghost spaceman in this Scooby-Doo episode.
- The cast list has two anomalies. First off Doc Hammer is listed just as 'Doc' rather than Doc Hammer (which he's usually listed as). Second Soul-Bot is credited as HELPeR as normal, however HELPeR was absent from this episode, so Soul-Bot got a paycheck for an episode it wasn't even in!