The Venture Bros.
has long been one of the most referential comedies on television, with a good deal of the fun coming from the obscure allusions dropped by creators Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick. However, it can be a bit tough catching them all when the show returns as a single action-packed, hour-long special, as it did Monday with “All That and Gargantua-2.”
Luckily, your good friends at Paste have your back, having watched and re-watched the damn thing until every last visual gag and in-joke was properly documented. Here are nine references there’s a good chance people missed last night—and you should definitely be on the look out for next time.
One of Star Wars’ most weirdly intense background characters has a blink-and-you-miss-it background cameo in “All That and Gargantua-2” as part of the space station’s android staff. Sadly, the icy-eyed cyborg has a lot less to do on Gargantua-2 than he did in Cloud City, appearing onscreen for all of half a second.
2. “That big talking head is burning down the house!”
Similarly, General Hunter Gathers passing reference to Talking Heads’ signature cut “Burning Down the House” isn’t particularly esoteric, but it goes by in a flash, making it easy to miss. Adding to the joke is that Gathers is talking about The Sovereign, a character seemingly designed after David Bowie for the sole purpose of injecting groan-worthy puns about New Wave artists into the show.
3. “Does my little Waterbaby want to bunk with his mommy?”
“Waterbaby” might seem like a generic term of endearment, but Bill Quizboy’s uncanny resemblance to Waterbabies—the ‘90s waterbottle-cum-doll brand—can’t be denied. I mean, Jesus, just look at the things:
4. “Smiles, everyone! Smiles!”
Delivered in the same dulcet baritone, Jonas Venture Jr.’s line recalls Ricardo Montalbán’s signature phrase on Fantasy Island as Mr. Roarke, another enigmatic millionaire who promised to make his guests’ dreams come true.
5. Force Majeure
Briefly mentioned as the former occupant of Meteor Majeure (itself a reference to X-Men villain Magneto’s asteroid space station), “Force Majeure” means “greater force” in French and refers to a concept in contract law similar to (but more inclusive than) “acts of God.” Of course, there’s a good chance it’s a reference to the Tangerine Dream album of the same name, but it’s definitely more fun to believe The Venture Bros. is the first cartoon in history to use legal liability jargon as the name of a supervillain.
6. “You guys are acting like Alex, Sam and Clover of Totally Spies!”
You can be forgiven for not remembering Totally Spies!, a French-Canadian spy cartoon that ran on American cable stations from 2001-2009. It does, however, seem like just the kind of obscure, age-inappropriate show that Henchman 21 would name-drop, explaining its use by a disguised Sovereign in the special.
7. Baron Ünderbheit’s Klingon sword
If you weren’t watching closely, you might have missed Baron Ünderbheit’s use of a bat’leth, the “yard-long double-pointed scimitar” beloved by Klingon warriors and convenience store-robbingStar Trek fans alike.
8. “Exeunt Phage!”
Even for a show like The Venture Bros., “All That and Gargantua-2” had an impressive number of jokes in Latin, the official language of dorks everywhere. One of the hardest to catch was a line dropped by Dr. Phineas Phage, who announced his own exit with “exeunt,” a bit of Latin meaning “they leave” and chiefly seen these days as stage direction.
9. Doug Henning
“Who’s Doug Henning?” asks Henchman 21. Why, he was only Canada’s most famous magician/politician/Transcendental Meditation practitioner. Okay, so before last night we hadn’t heard of him either, but after watching this performance from The Joan Rivers Show it’s hard to see why.