"Bright Lights, Dean City"
The Venture Bros. episode
Episode no. Episode 52
Written by Jackson Publick.
Production code 413.
Original air date October 10, 2010
Guest Stars
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"Everybody Comes to Hank's"
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List of The Venture Bros. episodes

"Bright Lights, Dean City" is the thirteenth episode of Season 4 and the overall 52nd episode of the American animated television series The Venture Bros.


Professor Impossible hires Dean Venture as a summer intern at Impossible Industries in New York City, while Impossible and Baron Underbheit, secretly become part of Phantom Limb's Revenge Society, plan to enact revenge on everyone who wronged them in the past (the list includes Jonas Venture Jr., Dr. Girlfriend, The Monarch, Girl Hitler, and even Henchman #21). When Dean discovers that Professor Impossible is working with them, he attacks Underbheit, which causes Phantom Limb to shock him into unconsciousness. When Dean wakes up, Professor Impossible tells him that the Revenge Society is a super-criminal "back to work" organization to help former supervillains reintegrate into society, which Dean believes.

Professor Impossible reveals to the other members of The Revenge Society that he has been keeping Cody, his former brother-in-law, in captivity: powering the entire building in order to keep Impossible Industries green. Phantom Limb approves of how exquisitely evil this is, as it keeps Cody in constant pain (unlike the Human Torch, Cody can feel his body being burned). Dean coordinates interviews with potential members for the Revenge Society, including Lady-Hawk Johnson, who can turn into a bird at night; Lyndon-Bee, who can turn into a bee during the day; a silent man in a bear costume with a bloody knife (which frightens all the members, including Phantom Limb); and Fat Chance, an obese supervillain who can pull random things from anywhere in time and space from a void hole in his stomach.

Meanwhile, Dr. Venture's latest get-rich-quick scheme is a Broadway musical called "Rusty!" about his childhood, which he plans to peddle to every agent and producer in town, in the process greatly irritating Dean by moving into his tiny cockroach-infested apartment without asking. Learning of Venture's presence in the city, the Revenge Society decides to make him their first victim, trapping him in a taxicab driven by a disguised Baron Underbheit. However, Dr. Venture is too absorbed in his MP3 player to notice Phantom Limb's threatening message, or when an air freshener starts leaking toxic gas. Due to Professor Impossible's inexperience in villainy, the gas is released into the front seat of the taxi, knocking out Underbheit. The speeding taxi is only stopped by the actions of the Brown Widow, a parody of Spider-Man.

The Revenge Society learns about Rusty's musical and Fat Chance, in a gag phone call as "Mr Big Time from Big Time Productions," invites him to the Impossible Building as a trap. When he gets there, the current three members, alongside new members Lady-Hawk Johnson, Lyndon-Bee, and Fat Chance, ambush him. Dean tries to get help, but he accidentally reactivates Cody. Unaware that the only way to extinguish Cody is to put him to sleep, Dean releases him, thinking that he's just on fire. Phantom Limb tries to zap Rusty, but Fat Chance trips over his invisible leg and sucks Dr. Venture into an alternate universe. The fire caused by Cody spreads throughout the Impossible Building, destroying Rusty's musical.

In the post-credits scene, the cliffhanger from the previous is resolved when it turns out the Dr. Venture coming through the portal is an alternate universe counterpart of the latter who was returning Rusty to his proper dimension. The alternate universe Dr. Venture reveals Rusty tried to kill him and take his place because he has more hair, more money, and a hit Broadway musical.

Cultural referencesEdit

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  • The title of the episode is an obvious reference to the book (and later film) Bright Lights, Big City.
  • Professor Impossible wishes to re-name the Revenge Society, rebranding it as 'the Violet Hour'--a reference to T. S. Eliot's poem The Waste Land.
  • The Native American that interviews for The Revenge Society is a parody of Apache Chief in nationality as well as his ability to 'grow larger' with the aid of a special phrase, "Enuk chuk!".
  • Lady-Hawk Johnson and Lyndon-Bee are references to former first lady Lady Bird Johnson and former President Lyndon B. Johnson. Her name and ability to transform into a hawk while her husband is human is a parody of the fantasy film Ladyhawke
  • Fat Chance is parody of both The Blob and The Spot and his powers are also similar to those of Flash supporting cast member Chunk.
  • Brown Widow (a parody of Spider-Man) tells Dr. Venture that he was in the play The Sound of Music when he was younger. In the 1978 Amazing Spider-Man TV series, Spider-Man was played by Nicholas Hammond, who played Friedrich Von Trapp in the 1965 film version of The Sound of Music.
  • Brown Widow's interest in Dr. Venture's musical is also a reference to Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, a Broadway musical production.
  • In another Spider-Man reference, during Dean's time-lapse apartment scene, besides redecorating, he crawls backward up the corner of his room while in his Spidey pajamas. This is a reference to a similar scene from the 2004 film, Spider-Man 2, which also occurred in a run down apartment.
  • One of the supervillains (in this case more of a deranged psychopath) that the Revenge Society interviews wields a knife is a reference to The Shining.
  • When Dr. Venture first enters Dean's apartment, he asks if he (Dean) is waiting for "Jacob Riis to take [his] picture." Jacob Riis was a famed journalist that focused on crime ridden slums in New York City.
  • Dean's apartment seems to be based on a combination of other fictional New York City apartments such as:
    • Josh Baskin's (Tom Hanks) flophouse apartment in Big , complete with payphone, with stacks of coffee cups on top, on the wall outside his door.
    • Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and Semmi's (Arsenio Hall) first apartment in Coming to America , complete with the chalk outline of a body on the floor.
    • and Joe's Apartment , complete with the swarm of cockroaches devouring food.
  • When Brown Widow talks to Dean on the balcony, he is hanging upside down and holds Dean's face, a reference to the "Spider-man kiss" scene in the 2002 film, Spider-Man.
  • The Brown Widow casts a spiderweb in the middle of the street to stop the runaway taxi driven by an unconscious Baron Underbheit (and containing Rusty Venture in the back seat), and the vehicle is caught and stopped in the web. This is almost identical to the same imagery used in the opening credits of the 1967-1970 Spider-Man television series.
  • The appearance of numerous "Bizzy Bee" images around New York City is a reference to the numerous images of characters associated with the Walt Disney Company which dot Times Square. Bizzy Bee is an animated character created by Venture villain Roy Brisby, and the show previously mentioned how Brisbey was "taking over" Times Square (much as the Disney company has been accused of culturally destroying the same area).
  • During the confrontation between the Revenge Society and Dr. Venture, Lyndon Bee states "I shall not seek, and I will not accept" Rusty's escape, a phrase the real Lyndon B. Johnson used when announcing that he would not run for re-election in 1968.
  • When Phantom Limb suggest that they start review candidates for The Revenge Society, he says to the others that they should consider SPAWM as a acronym. But Prof. Impossible and Ünderbheit thinks he is talking about the comic book SPAWN (as well as the 1997 movie which stars Martin Sheen).

Connections to Previous EpisodesEdit

  • This episode takes place during the same time period as "Everybody Comes to Hank's."
  • Phantom Limb makes reference to Tim-Tom and Kevin, the Murderous Moppets, being "well-placed sleeper agents"--adding context to a scene in Home Is Where The Hate Is where the two discuss poisoning the Monarch and Dr Girlfriend in their sleep. Given that Dr Girlfriend has not been shown knowing them prior to Limb inducting her into a supervillianous life (in flashbacks in Shadowman 9: In the Cradle of Destiny), it is likely that Limb initially arranged them to be her henchmen, with the sleeper function in case he needed to have her killed.
  • Professor Impossible reveals he has been using Cody, his ex brother-in-law, as a power source for the entirety of 1 Impossible Plaza. Cody had earlier appeared as Impossible's de facto prisoner in the Season 1 episode Ice Station – Impossible!
  • Bizzy Bee, the model of Roy Brisby's media empire from The Incredible Mr. Brisby is seen in an outside advertisement while Dr. Venture rides Underbheit's taxi.
  • "The Revenge Society" now has at least six real members, instead of in The Revenge Society, in which it had one real member & three imaginary ones.
  • During the audition process for The Revenge Society there are several people in the waiting room who have been seen in previous episodes such as the rat suited villain that appeared briefly in What Goes Down Must Come Up.
  • Phantom Limb continues to use "Thin White" as a derogatory epithet for the Sovereign (David Bowie). In The Revenge Society, he flouted Bowie's authority openly and called him "The Thin White Douche."
  • After Dr. Venture is cast into Fat Chance's "Enigma Hole," the other members of the Revenge Society attempt to extract him. At one point, Baron Underbheit pulls Chuck, Phantom Limb's toaster from "The Revenge Society" and "Pomp & Circuitry", from the hole.
  • The pregnant raver Skye from Powerless in the Face of Death makes a return, no longer pregnant, she walks through times square during Deans lunch break.
  • Brown Widow is voiced by Nathan Fillion of Firefly fame - because Nathan tweeted Doc and Jackson in regards to #21's reference in Pinstripes and Poltergeists, (that meeting the cast of Firefly was one of the greatest moments in his life - according to DVD commentary)

Production NotesEdit


Leonard Pierce of The AV Club gave Bright Lights, Dean City a B.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Pierce, Leonard. Bright Lights, Dean City. The AV Club. October 10, 2010. Retrieved October 12, 2010. <,46171/>