|"Twenty Years to Midnight"|
|The Venture Bros. episode|
|Directed by||Jackson Publick|
|Written by||Jackson Publick|
|Original air date||6 August 2006|
|List of The Venture Bros. episodes|
Twenty Years to Midnight is the fifth episode of Season 2 and the overall eighteenth episode of The Venture Bros.
Inside, Brock finds an old box while cleaning and calls for Dr. Venture on his wrist communicator. Venture arrives to find the boys examining the box's contents, but Brock points out one particular item: an apparent Betamax tape. Playing the tape, they view a message recorded by Jonas Venture Sr. about 20 years earlier. He explains that he deciphered a radio signal from deep space that was addressed to him specifically. Jonas says that his "greatest invention" must be assembled and activated at midnight on a specific date -- which Brock notes is the following day. Failure to do so will have grave consequences for mankind. Jonas ends the message by listing the locations of the device's components. The first piece is stashed away on Spider-Skull Island, now the home of Jonas Jr. Annoyed at the prospect of dealing with his brother, Dr. Venture decides to attempt to acquire the component in secret.
Suddenly, the group turns to see the tall, unearthly figure of the craft's occupant looming outside the window. When they walk outside to confront it, the being speaks in a booming voice through a crackling loudspeaker that nearly deafens the Ventures. It introduces itself as "The Grand Galactic Inquisitor" who will pass judgment on humanity (focusing specifically on Thaddeus), based on criteria they cannot hope to comprehend. It instructs them to go about their normal routine and not to speak to it, booming "IGNORE ME!"
Team Venture, accompanied by the intrusive Inquisitor, fly to Spider-Skull Island in the X-1. Brock and the boys sneak aboard the X-2 (Venture Industries' high-tech research ship) while Thaddeus enters the compound. Onboard the X-2, Brock and the boys discover the faux ghost-pirate captain from Ghosts of the Sargasso, whom Jonas Jr. has now hired as captain of the ship.
Unsurprisingly, Dr. Venture is spotted while sneaking into the building. After he reluctantly explains the situation to Jonas Jr., the group gathers to watch the tape. The clearly more competent Jonas, who now calls himself "J.J.", formulates a plan with Brock, ignoring Thaddeus' outraged protests. They split into three teams: Brock and Thaddeus take the X-1, J.J. and the captain on the X-2, and Hank and Dean on the X-X-1, a new aircraft built by Jonas Jr. which is capable of flying itself.
In a series of quick, inter-cut scenes, the three teams hunt for the components:
Hank and Dean's trip takes them to the retreat of Colonel Horace Gentleman. To their horror, they find him, seeming lying dead in his bed. Searching for clues to the component's location, Dean reads through the colonel's diary but finds it full of nonsensical ramblings and bizarre lists. Hank accidentally breaks the handle off Gentleman's walking stick, and as he looks into its hollow shaft, the component slides out and pokes him in the eye.
Jonas Jr. and the Captain scuba-dive to a bathysphere called "Quest Bell One." Inside, they are confronted by an emaciated, paranoid, gun-toting Jonny Quest, now apparently in his forties. After noticing the empty pill bottles on the floor, the Captain explains that Jonas Jr. is a doctor that can write any prescriptions Quest wants. J.J. plays along after recovering from his initial confusion.
In New York, Thaddeus and Brock have arrived at One Impossible Plaza, the headquarters of Impossible Industries, likely located on 53rd Street and 5th Avenue given the 5th Avenue V Train subway stop shown below the building. Venture reveals that it used to be the site of Venture Industries' headquarters, and one of the device's components is still hidden in the foundation.
Inside the building, Sally Impossible is packing a bag when she is confronted by her husband Richard Impossible. He is quite suspicious of her motivations, but finally agrees to allow her to "get some fresh air" after assigning bodyguards to accompany her. As Sally boards a subway car to find Dr. Venture waiting, her bodyguards are neatly dispatched by Brock. She tearfully rejoices at seeing Venture again, obviously thinking that he will rescue her from her loveless marriage. Thaddeus plays along somewhat awkwardly, asking her to get him access to the Impossible Plaza basement.
The Impossibles' infant son Rocket plays at a nearby park under the supervision of Hank, Dean, and Ned, Sally's dimwitted cousin. As the group is ambushed by Impossible's men, Rocket crawls away unnoticed and hides in the X-X-1's landing gear well.
Brock expresses his disgust at Venture's manipulation of the obliviously happy Sally as she escorts them into the building's basement. Dr. Venture notes one incident where Brock horribly killed a man. Brock seems to take far more distaste in breaking someone's heart than anything he's done.
The three are quickly captured by Richard and taken high into the tower, where they are imprisoned by energy beams alongside Hank, Dean, J.J. and the Pirate Captain. Professor Impossible explains that he discovered the component years ago, and states that Thaddeus is unfit to activate it after his "years of amphetamines and failure." When Sally asks where Rocket is, Richard shows a complete lack of interest and concern over his son. As he completes assembly of the device (which resembles a metallic door frame) he and Sally begin arguing loudly.
While Impossible is distracted, Jonas Jr. uses a communicator hidden in his collar to order H.E.L.P.eR. to deactivate the Impossible security systems. H.E.L.P.eR. successfully does so, but is cornered and hugged into submission by "H.U.G.G.Y.," the Impossible's robotic babysitter. The Grand Galactic Inquisitor, who had been waiting in the X-X-1 with H.E.L.P.eR., disembarks to find the Ventures and discovers Rocket Impossible crawling unattended. It reluctantly picks up the infant, stating "Someone lost a baby..." When Rocket Impossible gurgles at it, it bellows back at him "IGNORE ME!"
As the energy shackles vanish, Brock and Jonas Jr. grab Richard's face and stretch it across a hallway, pinning it in place with bolts. The furious Impossible inflates himself to fill the room, pushing everyone out the windows. The team grabs onto Impossible's elastic body and plummet to the street below, through a sidewalk grate, and into a subway tunnel where a train narrowly misses them as Impossible's body retracts. As the group plummets into the tunnel again, Brock ties Impossible's foot to the back of the departing train. Richard is stretched to his limits until the train's door handle snaps off and springs back up through the window, knocking him out cold. The completed device lands heavily on the sidewalk just as Brock's watch chimes midnight. Nothing happens.
A taxi arrives holding the Grand Galactic Inquisitor and Rocket Impossible. As the Inquisitor announces that it is ready to pass its judgment on humanity, the device finally activates much like a stargate. Jonas Venture Sr. steps out of the device, looking exactly as he did in the recorded message, and calmly shoots the Inquisitor in the head with an energy weapon. As he turns back to the device to leave, Thaddeus and Jonas Jr. tearfully implore him to stay. Hesitantly, "Jonas Venture" admits that he is an alien in disguise who arrived solely to destroy the Inquisitor in order to save the Earth; he assumed the familiar form in order to avoid shocking the Ventures with his appearance. Infuriated by the deception, Thaddeus hurls insults and profanity at the alien. In exasperation, the alien rips open his human face to display his true form. While it is not shown on-camera, the onlookers are horrified beyond words. With a few curt words, the alien disappears through the device once more, which vanishes into itself. While Thaddeus is disappointed that they have nothing to show for their efforts, "not even gas money", Brock points out that they did save the world and J.J. expresses his delight that they worked together as a team and a family.
After the credits, Sally and J.J. show romantic interest in each other. Brock seems disturbed by the weird events they have witnessed, but Thaddeus dismisses his unease until he notices what Brock is staring at: the elongated, flattened form of Richard Impossible flapping in the night breeze. Venture wonders aloud in bemusement and some confusion "Should we help him?"
- James Urbaniak: Dr. Venture, Dr. Jonas Venture Jr., Young Rusty
- Patrick Warburton: Brock Samson
- Michael Sinterniklaas: Dean Venture
- Chris McCulloch: Hank Venture, Pirate Captain, The Grand Inquisitor, Ned, Colonel Gentleman
- Stephen Colbert: Professor Impossible
- Mia Barron: Sally Impossible, Jonas Jr.'s Ibezan Houseguest
- Paul Boocock: Dr. Jonas Venture Sr./Alien, Subway Bum, Taxi Driver, Voice of Impossible Computer
- Brendon Small: Jonny Quest
- Doc Hammer: Impossible Security Guard
- Soul-Bot: H.E.L.P.eR.
Connections to Other EpisodesEdit
- In a deleted scene from Season Two, Dr. Venture and Dean come upon the fake meteorite from the pilot episode. Dean finds its hatch and discovers the very deceased henchmen inside.
- Dr. Venture and Professor Impossible ended things on less than friendly terms in Ice Station – Impossible!
- Sally Impossible previously expressed feelings for Dr. Venture in Ice Station – Impossible!, though he ditched her when she declared she was moving in with him. Dr. Venture manipulates her in this episode, playing upon those feelings (and her sense of desperation) to convince her he wants to be with her when he actually just needs her to access One Impossible Plaza.
- Professor Impossible and Sally's relationship is toxic and unsustainable, as previously seen in Ice Station – Impossible! By the end of the episode Sally leaves Richard for Jonas Venture Jr.
- At the end of Ice Station – Impossible! Sally learned she was pregnant. Her son Rocket, an homage to Franklin Richards, has now been born. Judging by the age of Rocket, this episode must take place one and a half to two years after Ice Station – Impossible!
- The agents that provided security for Venture's yard sale in Tag Sale – You're It! are seen working for Richard Impossible.
- Professor Impossible was seen browsing in the background of the yard sale in Tag Sale – You're It!
- It is later revealed in Now Museum-Now You Don't that Colonel Gentleman was not dead when the boys found him, merely suffering from a sugar-induced coma.
Cultural References Edit
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- One of the "Toys Colonel Gentleman wishes he had when he was a lad, but they weren't invented yet" is a Star Wars AT-AT Imperial Walker.
Childhood's End (1953)
- The Grand Galactic Inquisitor's 12-foot height and the anatomy of its hands, which have two opposable thumbs, one on either side of each hand, are notable similarities to the anatomy of the Overlords in Arthur C. Clarke's 1953 science-fiction novel Childhood's End. Also like The Grand Galactic Inquisitor, the arrival of the Overlords signaled the imminent destruction of all life on Earth as we know it.
- The scene where the Jonas Venture Sr. Alien contacts Rusty Venture mirrors a scene where Jodie Foster's character meets an alien mimicking the form of her deceased father in the 1997 film Contact.
- The episode's title is a reference to the Doomsday Clock, a symbol which represents the likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe such as global nuclear war.
- The Impossible family continue to serve as parodies of the Fantastic Four.
- Professor Impossible and Sally's marriage has become even further strained, with their bickering serving as an exaggerated parody of the relationship between Reed Richards and Sue Storm.
- Rocket Impossible, Professor Impossible and Sally Impossible's son, is a reference to Franklin Richards.
- One Impossible Plaza, the home of the Impossible family and headquarters of Impossible Industries in New York City, is a parody of Four Freedoms Plaza.
- H.U.G.G.Y., the security robot seen approaching and then unexpectedly hugging H.E.L.P.eR., bears a physical resemblance to, and is an homage, to longtime Fantastic Four mainstay H.E.R.B.I.E., which provided at least some measure of security against would-be intruders into Four Freedoms Plaza.
- The Grand Galactic Inquisitor's helmet is similar in design to that of cosmic being Galactus in Marvel Comics.
- The episode's title is a reference to the Iron Maiden song "2 Minutes to Midnight", itself a reference to the Doomsday Clock and the possibility of global nuclear war.
- The design of The Grand Galactic Inquisitor is heavily patterned on the artwork of comics legend Jack Kirby, particularly the characters of Galactus and The Celestials.
- Jack Kirby was also the original artist for the Fantastic Four.
- As J.J. and the Pirate Captain are diving down to the Quest Bell One, the Pirate Captain exclaims, "Jesus Jones!" At first it seems like he is surprised by something he sees down there, but it is then revealed he is talking about the British rock band Jesus Jones, who gained prominence in the early '90s before fading into obscurity. "We all thought they was gonna be the future of rock and roll," he says.
Jonny Quest (1964-1965)
- An adult version of Jonny Quest appears in this episode; he is a junkie who has seemingly made a wreck of his life. (For intellectual property purposes this is the only episode in which he is identified as "Jonny Quest". All future episodes refer to him as "Action Johnny". )
- The design of the Quest Bell One bathysphere is taken from the Jonny Quest episode "Pirates From Below".
- Dr. Venture uses the name of the band Ladysmith Black Mambazo as an exclamation.
- The Grand Galactic Inquisitor's mission of passing judgment on all of humanity is similar to the goal of the Living Tribunal, a cosmic entity in Marvel Comics who oversees and maintains balance in the realities of the multiverse and serves as a judge of these realities. When the Living Tribunal initially announced his intent to destroy Earth due to its potential for evil, he was convinced to spare humanity when Dr. Strange showed him the human potential for doing good. The Jonas Venture Sr. Alien, by contrast, simply kills The Grand Galactic Inquisitor with a raygun blast to the head.
- Among the "Toys Colonel Gentleman wishes he had when he was a lad, but they weren't invented yet" are Mego's Micronauts, produced from 1976 to 1980.
Of Mice and Men (1937)
- Professor Impossible cites Of Mice and Men as a reason for not wanting the mentally challenged Ned to babysit his son Rocket. John Steinbeck's classic novella features a mentally challenged man who does not realize his own strength, often injuring or killing objects of his affection.
- While Jonas Venture's video is being played, Hank jokingly suggests that he is trapped in the Phantom Zone, a dimensional prison in the Superman comics, films, and television series.
- One of the "Toys Colonel Gentleman wishes he had when he was a lad, but they weren't invented yet" is a "Scooby-Doo monster game".
- One of the "Toys Colonel Gentleman wishes he had when he was a lad, but they weren't invented yet" is "Stay Alive, the survival game!", a marble-based strategy board game originally published by Milton Bradley in 1971.
- The Grand Galactic Inquisitor's name is taken from "The Grand Inquisitor", a poem in Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel The Brothers Karamazov (1879–1880). The poem is about Jesus Christ returning to Earth during the Spanish Inquisition, and the conversation he has with The Grand Inquisitor after the Inquisition has Jesus arrested. The Grand Inquisitor tells Jesus that his presence is unwelcome as it interferes with the mission of the Church.
The Herculoids (1967-1968)
- When Rusty Venture was ten years old he wrote a letter to The Herculoids, calling them hippies for not fighting in Vietnam. The Herculoids was a Hanna-Barbera cartoon of the same vintage as Johnny Quest.
The War of the Worlds (1953)
- The Grand Galactic Inquisitor's four eyes are each a different color: one red, one green, one blue, one yellow. This is similar to the Martians from the 1953 film version of The War of the Worlds.
- In Marvel Comics, Uatu The Watcher is a member of a race of cosmic beings who is tasked with observing humanity on Earth but not interfering with human lives. The Grand Galactic Inquisitor is similarly a cosmic being who observes humanity, though it does so while repeatedly urging everybody around it to "IGNORE ME!"
- One of the "Toys Colonel Gentleman wishes he had when he was a lad, but they weren't invented yet" is Which Witch?, a haunted house-based children's board game originally published by Milton Bradley in 1970.
Production Notes Edit
- 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 Twenty Years to Midnight the credit reads Kimson "Bit of a Gigglepuss" Albert.
- Running Gag: The Grand Galactic Inquisitor repeatedly yelling "IGNORE ME!" throughout the episode.
- For some reason, Hank and Dean's "Go Team Venture" salute consists simply of a high five rather than the usual V sign.
| Preceded by:|
"Escape to the House of Mummies Part II"
| The Venture Bros. episodes|
August 6th, 2006
| Followed by:|
"Victor. Echo. November."