"Pinstripes & Poltergeists"
The Venture Bros. episode
Episode no. Season 4
Episode 47
Directed by Jackson Publick
Written by Doc Hammer
Original air date December 13, 2009
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"Pinstripes & Poltergeists" is the 47th episode of the series The Venture Bros. A new supervillain, Monstroso, is introduced and the audience learns more about the shadowy secret-agent organization S.P.H.I.N.X. which Brock Samson had joined in the Season 4 premiere,"Blood of the Father, Heart of Steel". The episode marks the end of the "fall 2009 season" of the series, with the final eight episodes of the season not aired until the summer of 2010.[1]


The episode opens on a conversation between Henchman 21 and his friend, Henchman 24. The nature of their conversation reveals that Henchman 24 is a ghost, but whether or not he is "real" or a product of 21's imagination is not made clear. Their conversation is interrupted by The Monarch, who enters 21's room and demands that he suit up for a mission.

The show's usual title sequence is replaced by a S.P.H.I.N.X.-themed sequence.

Brock Samson and Shore Leave perform a S.P.H.I.N.X. operation, disrupting the evil scientist Dr. Schumpmaker's attempt to weaponize volatile sulfur. Shore Leave is captured.

Back at Dr. Schumpmaker's laboratory, Schumpmaker and his two remaining employees interrogate a flippant Shore Leave. Suddenly Brock drops from the ceiling, killing the nameless scientists and incapacitating Schumpmaker. Shore Leave explains to Schumpmaker that S.P.H.I.N.X. terminates only villains who do not abide by the rules of organized villainy mandated by institutions like the Guild Of Calamitous Intent, and then kills him.

Meanwhile, The Monarch heads to a meeting with supervillain Monstroso. Monstroso, a devil-themed Guild supervillain, attorney, and CEO of a legitimate, non-villainous company called Mammoth Corporation, agrees to help the Monarch destroy Dr. Venture's livelihood by legal means.

At the Venture Compound, Sergeant Hatred discovers Dr. Venture using his sons' computer to unwittingly respond to chat messages from some of Hatred's pedophile associates, and advises him not to respond to them, or to an Nigerian money offer. As they talk, Dr. Venture receives an email from Mammoth Corporation informing him that his compound is in violation of zoning regulations established by Col. Lloyd Venture, his grandfather, which require that seventy-five percent of his property be dedicated to "the care and upkeep of American rightness and the active defense of her civil needs." Venture comes up with several ways to bring his property into compliance.

At S.P.H.I.N.X. headquarters, Colonel Hunter Gathers, the apparent leader of S.P.H.I.N.X., receives information about Monstroso's plan to take over the Venture Compound.

The Monarch, bored with the lack of action in Monstroso's plan, reveals the nature of the plan to Dr. Mrs. The Monarch who reacts with shock, warning him of Monstroso's reputation as a double-crosser (it is implied in an earlier episode that Dr. Mrs. The Monarch has a history with Monstroso). 21, overhearing that conversation, then uses access codes he obtained from a stolen BlackBerry mobile device to gain access to Mammoth Corp's computer system and finds documentary evidence that The Monarch inadvertently forfeited his position as Dr. Venture's archenemy with the Guild to Monstroso, who intends to claim Venture's property as well as The Monarch's. Ominously 21 announces: "I know what I have to do."

At the Venture Compound, Dr. Venture attempts to convince Master Billy Quizboy and Pete White to rent out one of the manufacturing facilities on the grounds. When they enter the building they discover that S.P.H.I.N.X. is using it as a headquarters. Gathers reveals to the Venture team that S.P.H.I.N.X. used to be the name of a supervillain organization that was wiped out by the Office Of Secret Intelligence during the "Pyramid Wars" of 1987. Gathers and other O.S.I. agents formed S.P.H.I.N.X because they could no longer tolerate the ineffectual bureaucracy of O.S.I. Billy asks to join S.P.H.I.N.X. but is refused. Venture sees S.P.H.I.N.X. as the solution to his zoning problem, but the S.P.H.I.N.X. operatives refuse to endanger their clandestine existence by declaring themselves as residents at the compound. The compound's perimeter monitoring system interrupts their conversation, informing the group of an intruder at the front gate.

21, the intruder, disables several security devices, then calls on the ghost of 24 for assistance. 24, however, refuses to help him until 21 agrees to display his uncanny ability to associate celebrities with their signature perfumes for some of 24's spectral friends — namely the dead Monarch henchman Speedy and former President Woodrow Wilson. After 21 impresses the two ghosts, 24 explains that he is only able to survey the compound because he can not interact with solid objects. He enigmatically suggests that this may also be because he is nothing more than a hallucination, then vanishes.

Back at his headquarters The Monarch rails against Monstroso to Dr. Mrs. The Monarch. The Murderous Moppets, Kevin and Tim-Tom, arrive and inform them that 21 has stolen the Monarch Mobile and probably intends to attack Monstroso. Dr. Mrs. The Monarch tells an incredulous Monarch that this development puts him in the clear: Guild regulations don't allow disciplinary action against the Monarch for 21's actions, but if 21 succeeds, then the Monarch's problem with Monstroso will be solved. The Monarch optimistically agrees.

At the Venture compound 21 encounters Brock and challenges him to a fight. Brock defeats 21 but comments favorably on his improved skill.

Inside S.P.H.I.N.X. headquarters Gathers promises Dr. Venture that he will solve his problem with Monstroso. Billy has had his memory wiped, and Gathers informs White that his memory will not be wiped because he poses no threat. Hank and Dean Venture walk in on the group, and Gathers directs Mile High to wipe their memories as well.

Outside, 21 awakens after having been knocked unconscious by Brock, and explains his plan to ambush Monstroso. Brock tells him to think bigger, and the two leave. A short time later, as Monstroso sits at his desk doing paperwork, 21 (dressed as a Jedi so as not to incriminate the Monarch) enters the villain's office and demands that Monstroso tear up the contract he made with The Monarch. Monstroso (who is approximately twelve feet tall) scoffs and advances on 21. As he does, Brock enters the room and the two launch themselves at Monstroso. The action freezes while they are in mid-air, and the credits run.

In the post-credits scene, a blood-covered but apparently uninjured Brock sits in Dr. Venture's kitchen at night, eating a bowl of cereal. Hank walks sleepily into the kitchen without noticing him and gets himself a glass of water. As he exits, he murmurs a sleepy, "Good night," to Brock, who responds, "Good night Hank." Offscreen Hank's glass hits the floor and he exclaims, "Brock!?"

Cultural referencesEdit

  • The episode title is a play on the phrase "pinstripes and polkadots."[citation needed]
  • Monstroso appears to be based on the Marvel Comics superhero Daredevil (a "devil"-themed costumed adventurer who also has a career as a lawyer) as well as elements of that character's archenemy, Kingpin (a crime lord surrounded by masked men in suits and known for his massive size). Monstroso also has many physical traits similar to Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan (including LaVey's famous demon cowl, which Monstroso puts over his head for the purposes of "Guild Business").
  • According to one of the certificates mounted on the wall behind his desk, Monstroso earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
  • The painting on the wall in Monstroso's office is Dante and Virgil in Hell by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
  • The S.P.H.I.N.X. title sequence mimics the title sequences designed by Maurice Binder for many of the early James Bond films.[2]
  • Col. Hunter Gathers asks Shore Leave "do you think Betsy Ross works here?". A reference to the seamstress who sewed the American Flag.
  • Brock Samson says that Shore Leave rips off his pants like a Chippendales dancer, who are known for wearing pants that rip away easily (due to the Velcro seams on the sides).
  • Col. Hunter Gathers tells her S.P.H.I.N.X. aide who has brought her news to "stop playing Jimmy Olsen," a reference to the news reporter in the Superman comics.
  • The after-credits scene is reminiscent of a scene in Billy Elliot in which the titular character hallucinates his dead Mother appearing as he gets himself a glass of milk from the fridge.
  • Col. Hunter Gathers calls Master Billy Quizboy "Short Round," a reference to the short 11-year-old Chinese boy in the film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
  • Shore Leave refers to Brock Samson as "Brock Lobster," a play on words of the song, "Rock Lobster" by the New Wave rock band The B-52's.
  • 21 dresses like Obi-Wan Kenobi from the Star Wars films, and confronts Monstroso in a manner similar to Luke Skywalker confronting Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi. 24 provides another Star Wars reference when he helps waken 21 from unconsciousness after Brock Samson has beaten him. 24 tells 21 he "must go to the Dagobah system," an almost-verbatim line spoken by the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi to Luke Skywalker in the motion picture The Empire Strikes Back.
  • 24 admits that in the afterlife he speaks with Star Trek actor James Doohan and the Russian mystic Rasputin.
  • Shore Leave uses the phrase, " bet your bippy"—a slightly altered version of the catchphrase "you bet your sweet bippy" used on the sketch comedy television program Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In.
  • The Monarch complains that Dr. Mrs. The Monarch should fly the Monarchmobile higher to avoid tall buildings. 21 says that the last time they did that, they ended up on an episode of UFO Hunters, a documentary television series which began airing on The History Channel in 2008.
  • When 21 says he should tell others about the revelations 24 gave him about souls and such, 24 facetiously replies that he should write it down on a golden plate or get aviators and a compound in Guyana. The golden plate is a reference to Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon; the aviators refer to cult leader Jim Jones (who was known for wearing Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses) and the compound in Guyana refers to Jonestown.
  • When 21 calls for 24 after he breaches the Venture Compound, 24 asks, "What is this, I Dream of Jeannie?"
  • Sgt. Hatred has a red POW/MIA flag on his wall, a flag commonly displayed by U.S. military veterans and other concerned citizens.
  • The silhouette of the plane seen in the "S.P.H.I.N.X. Main Title" is that of the F-15 Eagle, which was featured in the OSI "opening" in "The Invisible Hand of Fate."
  • 21's tattoo across his abdomen reads "Hench 4 Life," similar to the way rapper Tupac Shakur had the phrase "Thug Life" tattooed across his stomach.[3]
  • Master Billy Quizboy refers to Pete White as "the Pink Phantom." In the film The Pink Panther, the villain, Sir Charles Lytton, is known as "The Phantom." Billy conflates the names "The Phantom" and "Pink Panther" in a reference to White's albinism.
  • 21 states that he met the cast of the television series, Firefly.
  • Shore Leave tells Brock to "go all Brock Ness Monster on them," an allusion to the Loch Ness Monster.
  • When 21 asks 24 the meaning of life, 24 responds "The color twelve" before asking 21 to "Ask me something less Hitchhiker's Guide." This is a reference to the novel The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, which states that the answer to life, the universe, and everything is "forty-two".
  • The Monarch asks 21 to "Cut the 'Alas poor Yorick' crap out". Yorick was the deceased court jester whose skull is exhumed by the gravedigger in Act 5, Scene 1, of William Shakespeare's Hamlet.
  • As with Season 2 episode "Hate Floats", the finale shot is a reference to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The two main protagonists leap into attack, the scene freezes and a sepia filter is applied to the frame.

Connection to previous episodesEdit

  • This is Monstroso's first appearance in the series. He was first mentioned in "The Trial of the Monarch", where The Monarch accuses Doctor Girlfriend of having had a sexual relationship with him. Henchman #21 reveals in the second season episode "Hate Floats" that, except for himself and #24, most of The Monarch's henchmen had "joined up with Monstroso's crew". In "Showdown at Cremation Creek (Part I)," Brock Samson mentions that Monstroso was invited to and is seated in the audience at The Monarch's wedding—likely being tortured with Snapple facts by Dean Venture.
  • Twenty-four is shown to be haunting #21, while previously through season 4 it was ambiguous as to whether or not #21 was just obsessively talking to #24's skull. Given the closing to "Return to Malice", in which #21 is confused when the skull moves itself, it appears as though he may have only recently discovered #24's ghostly existence. Ghosts have been an established part of the Venture Bros. in previous episodes, and in season 2, the ghost of Abraham Lincoln appeared as a prominent character.
    • Following the rules established by Abraham Lincoln's ghost in the episode "Guess Who's Coming to State Dinner?", #24's ghost is incapable of interacting with physical objects, although he aids #21 by reconnoitering for him. He may be able to interact with certain objects that have not been established yet, as Lincoln's ghost could touch objects with his face on it such as pennies and $5 bills. The closing to "Return to Malice" suggests that #24 is not as incorporeal as he suggests, as that episode ends with a Henchman's hand crossing a name off of #21's list, yet when #21 enters the room it is empty and #24's skull has moved.
  • Speedy has a brief appearance as one of #24's friends from the afterlife. He was a rookie seen in the season 1 episode "Dia de Los Dangerous!" who was given a mercy killing by other henchmen as they could not get him out of Brock Samson's choke hold.
  • Brock Samson is seen for the first time since the season 4 premiere episode, "Blood of the Father, Heart of Steel". He also still has the metal plate over his chest where H.E.L.P.eR.'s head was lodged in.
  • Based on the explanation given by Gathers and Shore Leave for why the new S.P.H.I.N.X. was created, it can be inferred that in "Blood of the Father, Heart of Steel", Gathers and S.P.H.I.N.X. were attempting to take down Molotov Cocktease and her Blackhearts because they were not Guild-sanctioned villains.
  • Brock tells Doctor Venture that S.P.H.I.N.X. has been based on the Venture Compound "next to the boys" for a year now, indicating that the time between the "Blood of the Father, Heart of Steel" and this episode has been a full year. However, the storyline in that episode jumped back and forth across a period of nine months, so this is difficult to date.
  • Master Billy Quizboy comments "I hate you" to Col. Hunter Gathers after she mentions Billy's mechanical hand, a reference to the mission Gathers sent Billy on (in which Billy lost his eye) in the Season 3 episode, "The Invisible Hand of Fate."
    • This is not the first time that Master Billy Quizboy has had his memories erased. As revealed in "The Invisible Hand of Fate," Billy has had his memories wiped repeatedly by the O.S.I., Pete White, and Doctor Venture.
  • Doctor Venture tells Hank and Dean about their mother (a mystery discussed in depth in the Season 2 episode, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Kills") and that they are both clones (a fact first revealed in the season 2 episode, "Powerless in the Face of Death"). However, this happens off camera, and both boys are subsequently mind-wiped by S.P.H.I.N.X.
  • When #21 confronts Brock in the Venture compound, #21 says, "Brock Samson, at last we meet." Brock replies, "Do I know you?" These are the same lines spoken by these two characters in the season 1 episode, "Tag Sale – You're It!". Brock even leans into #21's face and says "Boo!", hoping to scare him off as he did previously, although this time there is a different reaction.
  • First mentioned in "I Know Why the Caged Bird Kills" and later built upon in "Tears of a Sea Cow", #21 once again shows that he has sexual feelings towards Dr. Mrs. The Monarch. Even 24 states to the Monarch (though unable to hear him) that "21 wants to nail your wife" and the fact that he photoshopped her head to many soft core porn pictures under a file labeled Special Software. At a later point, #21 accidentally peeks at her cleavage while she congratulates him, flashbacking to his first sexual experience - the reading of an abandoned pornographic magazine found on a hike.
  • The laser defense system Dr. Henry Killinger installed in "The Doctor Is Sin" is still fully operational.
  • Shore Leave and Mile High's reappearance references that their Christian lifestyle they were shown to be engaged in during the first part of the season 3 finale "The Family That Slays Together Stays Together", mentioning it was a facade while they were forming S.P.H.I.N.X. Hunter Gathers also confirms that she did in fact go through a transsexual operation in "Assassinanny 911", but had it reversed soon enough as shown in "Blood of The Father Heart of Steel."
  • During their first interaction in well over a year, Brock continues his habit of referring to Rusty as "Ass". Though this time around the term seems more endearing than usual. The last time the phrase was heard was when Hank secretly tagged along with Brock during the chase with Herr Trigger in "The Family That Slays Together Stays Together: Part 1."
  • This is not the first time that Master Billy Quizboy has attempted to get Pete White to give him a high five hand-slap. Billy also asked Pete to high-five him in the first season episode, "Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean". White declined to engage in the gesture in that episode, but gave a half-hearted completion in this episode after Billy complained about being left hanging.
  • The zoning regulations that endanger the Compound are noted to have been created by Dr. Venture's grandfather Lloyd Venture, who appeared in "ORB" and "The Revenge Society".

Production notesEdit

  • 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 "Pinstripes & Poltergeists" the credit reads Kimson "Brockness Monster" Albert.
  • The "S.P.H.I.N.X. Theme" is credited to "WEEP" which is Doc Hammer's band.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. Clark, Christian. "Seeing More Venture Bros. in HD." Animation World Magazine. March 18, 2009. Accessed 2009-03-21.
  2. Taylor, Charles. "The James Bond Title Sequences." July 29, 2002; Chapman, James. Licence to Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001. ISBN 0231120494
  3. White, Armond. Rebel for the Hell of It: The Life of Tupac Shakur. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2002. ISBN 1560254610