Last night's Venture Bros. special — From The Ladle To The Grave: The Story Of Shallow Gravy — was only ~11 minutes long, but that was the perfect amount of time for the episode's central gag to play out. Hank and Dermott have cobbled together a self-penned documentary for their band Shallow Gravy, whose accomplishments thus far amount to a single song....about jackets.
The main reason Ladle to the Grave works so well is that it has the proper exoskeleton of a Behind The Music special, but all of its insides are filled with casual insanity. After weathering nine minutes of an unseen narrator (Bill Hader) air-headedly extolling the band's birthday party gig and Dymaxion car tour and unlistenable cassette single, we learn that the documentary was written by the boys themselves.
Similarly, the video and lyrics for "Jacket" have the veneer of a proper rock ditty but are jam-packed with garbled nonsense. The notion that a song will become popular because it's written about a common article of clothing is quintessentially Hank, and the video itself is a pastiche of stock rock video scenes (see: the "We Didn't Start The Fire" reference with Doc Venture and Sergeant Hatred). Dermott's overwrought James Hetfield growl also made me titter.
This episode was by no means a full Venture outing, but it did give us plenty of character moments from the full Venture roster, ranging from Brock to that omnipresent sailor stripper at Nightin Ale's.
Rusty got the best lines, particularly when he figured out Dermott's true parentage and expressed remorse at H.E.L.P.eR's momentary death (but was willing to gloss over the deaths of dozens Hank and Dean clones, "it's always hard to lose a family member"). We won't see the Venture Brothers for a good long while, so hearing Hank scream the word "jacket" for a few minutes was welcome.
PS: I like that on the EP's track list, "Jacket (Live At Timmy's Birthday)" is the only song to receive an "Explicit" rating.