|The Venture Bros. episode|
"Now that's how it's done!"
|Directed by||Jackson Publick|
|Written by||Jackson Publick|
|Original air date||16 October 2004|
|List of The Venture Bros. episodes|
Past Tense is the eleventh episode of Season 1 and the overall eleventh episode of The Venture Bros.
Thaddeus Venture, along with the rest of Team Venture, are in the X-1 flying to attend a funeral for which they are late. Dr. Venture accidentally causes the X-1 to plough through the graveyard, interrupting a burial. Unconcerned with the burial after finding out it's not the one he's late for, Venture asks the priest where the Mike Sorayama funeral is.
At the funeral, Dr. Venture reminisces about the dearly departed, Mike Sorayama. In a flashback, Venture is starting to lose his hair. He also has an acne problem, but seems more self-confident. His friend Mike Sorayama is a Japanese man with a Minnesotan accent. Venture questions the chemistry textbook he notices on Mike's desk, and Mike admits he is tutoring a girl named Leslie Cohen. A young Pete White enters the room and proclaims that Mike has a "Tiny, Chiney chubby" for Leslie. Ignoring Sorayama, White and Venture complain about their room-mates. Venture's roommate turns out to be his future bodyguard, Brock Samson. White's room-mate is Werner Ünderbheit, sporting a mop-like head of hair, a tan and an intact jawline, and is still followed by Manservant. Venture mentions a "Creepy guy" in his creative writing class with long eyebrows and an obsession with Monarch butterflies; clearly, clearly referring to the Monarch. The flashback is broken with Hank Venture and Dean Venture's disbelief that their father and Brock attended college with these people.
The priest asks the pallbearers to come forward. Venture, White, Brock and Ünderbheit position themselves around the coffin, and begin to lift it when suddenly, shackles chain them to the coffin and gas renders them unconscious. Thrusters emerge from the coffin, which flies away with them. Four similar-looking silent women dressed in black casually leave the church, in the direction that the coffin went in.
Hank calls the Monarch, who denies responsibility for the ordeal. Dean roots through their father's belongings, locating a communication device. The boys contact an elderly gentleman lounging in Tangier. The man, Colonel Horace Gentleman, is surprised to hear from Hank and Dean but agrees to assemble the rest of the original Team Venture. Gentleman contacts a Japanese man named Kano, a human/fish hybrid named Otto Aquarius, and retired hero The Action Man. The senior Team Venture arrive at the Venture Compound and Horace introduces its members. Colonel Gentleman himself is an adventurer, Kano is a mute master of the martial arts who communicates through origami, the fish-man is the exiled son of Atlantis, Otto Aquarius, and Action Man is overly flatulent. Team Venture discuss a plan for finding the missing doctor. The late Jonas Venture Sr. implanted a tracking device in his son's molar tooth to help thwart his occasional kidnappings as a child.
The mysterious four women carry the pallbearers into a dungeon. They fasten iron collars around the captives' necks; a chain running through the wall connects Venture's and Brock's collars, while another connects White and Ünderbheit. The women are revealed as robots with the same face. Gas awakens the prisoners. A televised Mike Sorayama thanks them for attending his funeral and warns that theirs will occur soon. As the robotic women serve the four prisoners their seemingly last meal, Brock notices their resemblance to Leslie. Sorayama boasts of the perfection of his Lesliebots, then indicates that he will kill each of the prisoners for insulting him in college. They follow the tracking device's signal and bursts into a dorm room, frightening a student. Kano locates the tooth under a bed, and the older men realize this was "Rusty's" old room. The student they interrupted mentions that if Sorayama is dead, he has not heard: the youth is studying for Professor Sorayama's class.
A flashback shows Sorayama using a bong while Ünderbheit, White and Venture assure him the substance inside is marijuana from Ünderbheit's home country. When Sorayama acts as though he is getting high, the others tell him he is actually smoking oregano. Mike reacts badly, as he is allergic to oregano. In the current-day, Sorayama snarls that his near-death experience forced him to cancel a study date with Leslie. Ünderbheit assaults one of the Lesliebots, but it shocks him unconscious. In another flashback, Mike is listening to the radio. Pete White, the college station's disc jockey, reads a fake dedication declaring Mike's love for Leslie which is intentionally made to be humiliating for Mike. As the present-day Sorayama accuses Venture of betrayal, Brock saws through his chain using Ünderbheit's jaw. Team Venture locates Sorayama's headquarters and disable the Lesliebots.
Another flashback reveals Ünderbheit, White and Venture playing Dungeons & Dragons with Sorayama as Dungeon Master. After the players scoff at Mike's invention of a "Leslie Golem," Venture mocks Mike by having his character seduce the creature. The present-day Venture points out the absurdity of anyone taking offense at such an incident, but Sorayama barks that he saw Leslie leaving the room the next morning. Venture admits that he did not lose his virginity until the age of 24, so it must have been Brock, who shorts the cell lock with Ünderbheit's jaw. A few rooms away, Team Venture don portions of the Lesliebots' armor as disguise.
In the past, Brock was discharged from the football team on the same day as the D&D game. During practice, he accidentally killed Tommy, the quarterback; he spent the rest of the day drinking to drown his anger and guilt. He stumbles back to his dorm room that night. In a sequence alternating between flashbacks and the current plot, Brock spots the "Lesliebots"/steps on a die. He flies into a rage, attacking Team Venture/the players. Samson punches out Action Man's dentures/"T. S." loses his molar and throws Otto through a window and into the televised Sorayama/hurls Mike through the dorm window. The boys calm Brock down and explain that his victims are actually the good guys.
As Brock and Dr. Venture were chained together, Venture escapes the dungeon. Brock and the Ventures investigate the hole created by Otto's flight; on the floor lies a decapitated Sorayama, with cables protruding from his neck. Dean concludes that the real Sorayama must be close and opens the coffin. Venture puzzles over what appears to be Sorayama's corpse, wondering whether he programmed his robots to hate the group. They depart for home, apparently forgetting about Pete and Ünderbheit, who remain chained up in the dungeon.
A final flashback shows Brock packing his belongings, the day after the D&D game. He apologizes to Venture for beating up him and his friends. With his scholarship revoked, he is joining the Army; a career that would ultimately see him promoted into the Office of Secret Intelligence. On his way out the door, Samson casually mentions that someone called to say that Venture's father died.
- James Urbaniak: Dr. Venture
- Michael Sinterniklaas: Dean Venture
- Patrick Warburton: Brock Samson
- Chris McCulloch: Hank Venture, Col. Gentleman, The Action Man, Mr. White, The Monarch
- Steven Rattazzi: Dr. Orpheus
- Steve Park: Mike Sorayama
- Paul Boocock: Priest 1, Jonas Venture
- T. Ryder Smith: Baron Ünderbheit, Otto Aquarius
- Lisa Hammer: Triana Orpheus, Leslie Cohen, Lesliebots
- Richard Liebman-Smith: Priest 2
- Steffen Vala: College Student
- Soul-Bot: H.E.L.P.eR.
Connections to Other Episodes
- The girl giving Kano a massage is very similar in appearance to the girl administering acupuncture to Otaku Senzuri in The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay.
- Brock Samson's accidental killing of Tommy during football practice was first mentioned in Eeney, Meeney, Miney... Magic!
- The Action Man's name originated as a reference to the David Bowie song Ashes to Ashes in the beginning of Ghosts of the Sargasso.
- The student living in Dr. Venture's room in the present day later reappears as part of the Scared Straight!-style program in Return to Spider-Skull Island.
- Dr. Venture makes note of a strange guy with "Eyebrows out to here" who writes poems about Monarch butterflies, a clear reference to The Monarch. We finally see The Monarch attending State University in a flashback in Shadowman 9: In the Cradle of Destiny.
- In The Invisible Hand of Fate, Phantom Limb notices that Billy Quizboy's mechanical hand is "based on a Mike Sorayama design," and goes so far as to say he was the brightest student he ever had.
- The posters on Dr. Venture's dorm room wall in this episode are the first solid hint we get of his love for progressive rock music. He makes his feelings for the genre explicit when he lets Dean listen to his beloved crate of prog rock records in the Season Four episode Perchance to Dean.
- Dr. Orpheus takes the Action Man's hands and declares "Two years, 17 days, from a stroke" (in 2004). The Venture Bros. series time frame does not pass at the same rate as our real world time frame, with Action Man having a stroke in the episode Arrears in Science (in 2018). This is a prediction similar to the Ray Bradbury character of G. M. Dark in the book Something Wicked This Way Comes. Dr. Orpheus has similarities to, and is a bit of an amalgam of, Marvel Comics' Doctor Strange (in terms of clothing and demeanor) and G. M. Dark (mysterious dramatic traits and encyclopedic knowledge) as well as Mandrake the Magician (illusion casting and showy heroism).
- In the scene involving Team Venture's search for Dr. Venture at his old dorm room, several posters can be seen hanging on the walls in the background, including one reading "60 CENT" (a parodic reference to rapper 50 Cent).
Bad Boys (1983)
- When Hank claims that Brock killed two dervishes with a pillowcase full of Cokes, it's a reference to the 1983 film Bad Boys, in which Sean Penn fought using a pillowcase full of Cokes as a weapon.
Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979)
- The "oregano bong" that Mike Sorayama smokes from in T.S. Venture's dorm room looks similar to a first series Battlestar Galactica Cylon.
- In the scene involving Team Venture's search for Dr. Venture at his old dorm room, several posters can be seen hanging on the walls in the background, including one depicting the Star Wars character Boba Fett.
- Jonas Venture Sr. is in part a parody of the pulp hero Doc Savage, with the Original Team Venture serving as a parody of Doc Savage's companions in adventure, commonly known as "The Fabulous Five".
- Pete White, Werner Ünderbheit, and T.S. Venture play a campaign of Dungeons & Dragons in one of the flashbacks to their college days at State University, with Mike Sorayama serving as their Dungeon Master.
- Mike Sorayama is based on the character of Mike Yanagita from the 1996 Coen brothers film Fargo. Comedian Steve Park portrays both characters.
- Col. Gentleman uses the expression "Despite his racial handicap," taken from the character Raoul Duke in Hunter S. Thompson's semi-autobiographical 1972 novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Terry Gilliam's 1998 film adaptation of the same name.
- Brock Samson was expelled from State University after accidentally killing his fellow college football teammate, Tommy, an incident which still haunts him with guilt to this day. A similar incident occurs in the 1930 Philip Wylie novel Gladiator, a book which heavily influenced the pulp action and superhero genres.
- One of the posters on T.S. Venture's dorm room wall is based on the prog rock band Gong's 1974 album You.
- The Lesliebots are essentially gynoids (female-looking robots) and resemble in design characters drawn by artist Hajime Sorayama, the basis for Mike Sorayama's surname.
- Dr. Venture refers to the Lesliebots as looking like illustrations from an issue of Heavy Metal magazine. He is most likely referring to the Hajime Sorayama-painted gynoid on the cover of the November 1980 edition.
- Jackson Publick has stated that Colonel Horace Gentleman's name refers to a nickname of Horace Panter, who played bass guitar in British band The Specials.
- Following his retirement from the original Team Venture, Otto Aquarius has become a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses, going door-to-door to spread his religious faith.
- Col. Gentleman's young manservant Kiki is a reference to a character of the same name from William S. Burroughs' 1959 novel Naked Lunch and the character portrayed by Joseph Scorsiani in the 1991 David Cronenberg film adaptation of the novel.
- T.S. Venture and Pete White laughingly mock Baron Ünderbheit's hairstyle, comparing it to that of disgraced baseball legend Pete Rose.
- One of the posters on T.S. Venture's dorm room wall is clearly based on the cover of Pink Floyd's 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon.
- A take-off the 1979 Pink Floyd song "Comfortably Numb" can be heard during some of the flashback sequences (such as the "oregano bong" flashback).
- Dr. Orpheus takes the Action Man's hands and declares "Two years, 17 days, from a stroke". This is a prediction similar to the Ray Bradbury character of G. M. Dark in the novel Something Wicked This Way Comes.
The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968)
The Godfather (1972)
- When the boys are trying to figure out what to do after their father's been kidnapped, Hank Venture says that Dean Venture is "not a wartime consigliere." This a quote from the film The Godfather.
The Incredible Hulk (1977-1982)
- T.S. Venture and Pete White laughingly mock Baron Ünderbheit's hairstyle, comparing it to that of The Incredible Hulk's titular character as portrayed by Lou Ferrigno.
- Upon finding Rusty's missing molar in his old dorm room at State University, Kano proffers a piece of origami to Colonel Gentleman, who replies "No Kano, I don't think time machines figure into this caper." The origami figure resembles a similar one from the Grant Morrison comic book The Invisibles, where an ancient Japanese monk folds an origami configuration that generations later inspires his descendent to design a time machine.
- In the scene involving Team Venture's search for Dr. Venture at his old dorm room, several posters can be seen hanging on the walls in the background, including a film poster for the 2001 film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
The Matrix (1999)
- In the scene involving Team Venture's search for Dr. Venture at his old dorm room, several posters can be seen hanging on the walls in the background, including what appears to be a film poster for the 1999 film The Matrix.
- In T.S. Venture's dorm room there is a poster on the wall with a stylized logo that reads "Yea", a parody of the logo of the prog rock band Yes.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Past Tense|
- One of the animation directors (Kimson Albert) has a "nickname" inserted into his credits. The nickname is an unusual line or word from the preceding episode. For Past Tense the credit reads Kimson "25 Charisma Points" Albert.
- Col. Gentleman's choice of houseboys indicates that he is a pederast (and a deleted scene included on the season one DVD features a line from Otto that seems to confirm this).
- This is the first episode to feature Pete White without Billy Quizboy in any capacity.
| Preceded by:
"Tag Sale - You're It!"
| The Venture Bros. episodes
October 16th, 2004
"The Trial of the Monarch"