8.8

Venture Bros. Review: "Momma's Boys" (Episode 5.06)

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<em>Venture Bros.</em> Review: "Momma's Boys" (Episode 5.06)

There’s something particularly delightful to how stupid the premises for Venture Bros. sometimes are. Even within that realm, “Momma’s Boys” comes from a ludicrously dumb place and somehow builds an episode around its ridiculousness. That it’s a very good episode, with all of its plots neatly interwoven, is even more of a feat, but it’s hard to get around the fact that the entire episode is based upon Rusty’s best friend being a Teddy Ruxpin bear (or, more accurately speaking, the voice tape of a Teddy Ruxpin) whom he believes to be a real person. It’s just that wonderfully ridiculous.

Of course, this being Venture Bros., it’s not even the first time we’ve had a story featuring a Teddy Ruxpin. But apparently, between now and last season’s “Any Which Way But Zeus?”, in which Dean hid his voice from Rusty by speaking through the Ruxpin, their “friendship” has only improved. At the time, Doc propositioned the doll to let him out of a fake kidnapping, offering first drugs and then to do “things your girlfriend will never do to you.” Since then, Hank has been having the Ruxpin call up Doc and they’ve developed something as close to a relationship as you can get with an inanimate talking bear. Ruxpin’s constant talk of rainbows, though, has done little to convince Rusty he’s gone clean, and when his companion stops calling, Rusty pulls out all the stops to go rescue his non-existent friend from a non-existent jam. You know, like they do on any other show.

Simultaneously with Rusty’s quixotic quest, Hank heads out to rescue, with the help of H.E.L.P.eR, 21 and Dermott, the voice for Ruxpin, who’s being held in an asylum for super criminals. This is the only way he thinks he can weasel out of the scam he’s been pulling on his dad, so they form a superhero team and manage to make their way to the jail, sans Dermott and H.E.L.P.eR, who only manage to stay out of prison by the help of Dr. Orpheus. However, Orpheus’s response to Dermott proves he’s one of Rusty’s children.

Meanwhile, Dean has been speaking with the woman he believes—and I must admit, I also believed, as I’m guessing many others did—is his mother, Myra. Coincidentally, she’s also locked in the same asylum as Teddy Ruxpin’s voice and has been leading a revolt through some sort of weird mind control, recruiting a gang of Momma’s Boys to take over the joint. This attempt is foiled, however, by the Ventures, just in time for Ruxpin to help Rusty out of his own jam, thereby validating Rusty’s non-existent relationship. I couldn’t help but think how Rusty will be crushed when his friend never contacts him again, though.

What we saw was Seinfeld-level plot construction, hinged on ridiculous coincidences that never felt forced because they worked within the logic of the show’s humor and its universe. “Momma’s Boys” also managed to be incredibly creepy, maybe moreso than any other episode of the show. Myra has always been a frightening character, but her ranting about putting Dean back into her womb took things into the realm of true horror, and it’s only the fact of Venture Bros. being a brightly colored animated show that kept things light. Well that, plus the nimbleness of the storytelling, which glided in and out of these four storylines effortlessly. For all of the craziness going on, “Momma’s Boys” moved fast and never let any of the plots get bogged down. It was a joy to watch all the way through.

The episode also ended with two big revelations. The more immediately important one was Dermott coming out to the rest of the family about his parentage. It’ll be great to see how the Ventures react to this, but more perplexing is the revelation that Myra definitely was not Hank and Dean’s mother. I’m guessing many hardcore fans assumed this was the case, simply because otherwise Venture wouldn’t have been so coy about this fact, but it came as a surprise to me. My only hope is that Doc and Jackson have an endpoint for this storyline and someone actually in mind. Fortunately, by now they’ve proven to the audience that they should be trusted, and knowing that they’re working on season six now gives me faith that we’ll get a real resolution to this question before the show’s run ends.