Venture Bros. creators Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer don’t want to reveal anything about the long-awaited season 5 premiere, which airs at midnight on Adult Swim this Sunday. But they're also in the position of promoting the show to people who are dying to know what to expect. The result? One awkward but highly entertaining interview.
io9: We'll start with a few questions you've probably heard a million times before. The first one is, of course, what took so damn long to make season 5?
Doc Hammer: We spent it making the show, I promise you. That's what happened.
Jackson Publick: We spent most of it making the show and some of it planning to make the show. And changing a million things about the way we do the show. Like, there was a lot – we're at a new studio, we had to make new contracts, we had to not be exhausted and miserable anymore. But we had to kind to redesign production and that took some time and the business stuff took some time. And then the show takes like 13-14 months to make.
You feel confident saying you worked on the show full time from the last episode of season 4 in 2010 ‘til this season 5 premiere?
DH: I almost feel confident saying we've been working on this show since 2002.
JP: When we are working full time, we are working literally twice the hours of anyone else you know with a full-time job. That's why sometimes there's some recovery time.
DH: And in that recovery time, we're working a full-time job.
So that's your recovery — that you just work a regular full-time job?
JP: Yeah, and we did make a special and a DVD and you know lot of other crap while we were figuring out how to make the next season.
I personally do not judge you, I only ask on behalf of the readers.
JP: You're allowed to judge us and you will find that in your judgment we are innocent. The only time we slacked off at all was maybe that first summer when we maybe should have written a little faster, but I tried to quit smoking and I could not write for three months.
DH: You tried Chantix and it made you nuts.
JP: No, that was when we started season 4, that's why I was like suicidal when we were making the first half of season. Once time I just went cold turkey and I felt great and I just could not write.
DH: Quitters never win, that's what I said.
You two have been super-secretive about season 5. It's like you're the Mad Men's Matt Weiner of animation at this point. What can viewers expect coming up?
JP: It's not like we're being secretive. I just don't know why anyone would want to know about something rather than just watching the thing, you know.
DH: Yeah. And you could say for people to watch the show, we're not going to tell you what happens so you don't have to watch the show.
JP: Yeah, the means of delivery are just as important as the package.
DH: We spent a lot of time making sure this stuff happens in cartoons. so why blow by saying it out loud?
JP: And have people form opinions about crap.
Would that extend to like very broad things like "In this season, Dr. Venture is going to go on this adventure" or something like that?
JP: I mean, sometimes we'll say if certain characters are going to be around or not and sometimes we'll say there are a lot of exotic locations.
DH: It's like a crappy sales pitch. You do not want to hear us talk about might kind of happen.
Except that I’m interviewing you, and the whole reason I’m interviewing you is to ask what's happening in this season.
JP: Well, there's your mistake. Why don't you ask what you think you want to know and we'll see if we can answer it or be colorful about answering.
DH: Getting to your original point, I don't think that's really the point of an interview, to find out what's going to happen. You could find out how we write, you could find out what the show is about in broader terms, we could talk about all the past seasons. I'm not sure, I think you might be incorrect. I just want to point that out.
You reject my entire premise.
DH: I think it's a flawed premise that journalism is the art of asking what's happening next.
Fair enough. Can you discuss perhaps any new characters that might show up, either in specific or perhaps in super-vague terms?
JP: What are some new characters. White and Billy get an archenemy, we've said that.
DH: We've been talking about that.
JP: We see some old Team Venture.
DH: I'm off the map, I'm not going to do it.
JP: There's some new villains and some new OSI guys and some old favorites we haven't seen in a while.
JP: Jungle, there's snow. There's snow in one episode.
DH: I think we can spoil that. There's snow.
JP: The return of Dr. Venture's sort of hovercraft vehicle.
DH: That was seen in a flashback episode once, I think.
JP: It was in the Killinger episode.
DH: It did show up in the Killinger episode.
JP: That's exciting.
Who the hell is Dean kissing in that one promo picture? [Note: At some point after I asked this question, the hi-res version of this specific picture seems to have been removed from the Adult Swim PR site, so here's a completely different one.]
JP: Uh, a girl.
To be determined?
DH: To be determined if you watch the show.
JP: You'll meet her very soon.
What is OSI doing now that they've got the whole SPHINX thing all wrapped up? Who are they fighting?
JP: Well, they're doing their jobs. They're fighting supercrime off camera and you know. Dealing with their tenuous relationship with the guild.
Has Henchman 21 joined OSI?
DH: C'mon man, you're asking what's going to happen.
JP: That's way too specific.
DH: Many of your questions are questions we had and we're going to be answering them or ignoring them intentionally.
You made that clear from the beginning and you said you wouldn't answer, so I figured I'd ask and you could choose not to answer. It was worth trying.
JP: Yeah, so we're vetoing that one, too specific. Will 21 continue to go on a journey of self-discovery? Yes. Will we spend a decent amount of time on 21? Absolutely.
Fantastic. How permanent is Dean's hair change?
DH: You get to watch a lot of Dean hair.
DH: It's how we mark time. We did it with Hank last season, you mark time with his hair changes.
This should be an easier question. As a fan from the beginning I enjoyed Brock and was devastated like other fans when he left the Ventures and Sgt. Hatred became the Ventures' bodyguard. And then Brock returned Hatred he stayed the Ventures' bodyguard. So —
JP: Do you feel better about him now?
I generally feel better, but I know there's still a lot of fan anxiety about the whole Brock not being part of the family situation. My question to you is this: Are you keeping Sgt. Hatred out of spite for those fans? Because I think that would be funny.
JP: We would never do anything because of or in spite of the fans. Other than make sure that the show was good. So, yeah, no. Well, that's kind of a lie, because sometimes they'll guess a plot point we were planning and we'll go "well, we can't do that now," but that's about it. But not to hurt them. We kept Sgt. Hatred along we because we fell in love with his attitude and what that brought to the family dynamic. We found things we wanted to work with and enjoy.
DH: On Brock Samson. You know, Brock has a different way of dealing with the same problems and it was really fun to play with the guy who wasn't really Brock Samson.
JP: And loves his job.
DH: His exuberance, yeah.
JP: And actually, in a way, we've always would joke that Brock was always kind of the boys' mom. But Sgt. Hatred was totally the boys' mom. He's got a lot of mommy, he wants to mother these boys and protect them. So that became a fun thing to play. He stuck around because the writing took us there.
You said you changed things because fans had guessed them ahead of time. What was the last thing that you can remember having to change like that?
JP: Oh, I'm not going to tell.
But it’s something that happened in the past, right? So it should be fine for you to discuss!
JP: It's something we could keep for later. Or I just wouldn't want somebody going "They should have done that. That was better."
Fair point. Okay, last question: Do you guys lay awake at night feeling completely creatively fulfilled because you managed to set the end of the Venture Bros. season 4 finale to Pulp's "Like a Friend," inadvertently creating the best moments of television to have ever been produced?
JP: We'll never feel completely creatively satisfied ever. But, that was a beautiful moment that felt amazing, felt like a reward for a really hard season's work, and was like a fanboy dream for us.
DH: What was that?
JP: The Pulp song — did that moment make us lie in our beds and go "I am creatively satisfied." Like "I have a full belly."
DH: No, but it felt really good, didn't it?
JP: It felt amazing.
DH: It didn't creatively – our creativity cannot be satisfied. We cannot satisfy ourselves.
I would have quit after that. Said, "I'm done, it's never getting better than that for me."
DH: We had big dumb smiles. We felt like we were a part of something that we should maybe be looking at than being a part of.
JP: I almost get a little teary during that scene and hearing it, because we dug it, and that was what was in our heads. Because so often there are things where you really want to use this song and you can't, or you're trying to build a scene and it doesn't come out as good as you want or whatever. That one came out really close to perfect for me. It felt great and we got everything we wanted.
And so, it was great to be a fan of Pulp and to get to use their music and to get to put the scene, that was in my head, on TV and several months later to have fans react to it exactly the way I was hoping they would was great. Because you never know. You never know if the joke is going to get a laugh, or whatever. Nut that scene like worked for a lot people. And that felt good because that's the kind of scene that doesn't happen a lot in funny cartoons that goof on old cartoons.
It opened a new door of possibility. And then Pulp played Radio City and like dedicated that song to us.
JP: Out loud, with their mouths, while we were sitting there, it was amazing.
Oh my god. That’s awesome.
DH: Yeah that was amazing.
JP: That was the gift that keeps on giving.
DH: We are done. You're right. Fuck that shit. We've hit our high water mark. Fuck it. You can kiss my ass.
And I can end the interview by saying that I got you guys to quit making Venture Bros. And someone will soon murder me.
DH: Yeah, you get the blame.
JP: Yeah, pull season 5. Pull it.
DH: We don't care anymore.