Twenty Years to Midnight

Twenty Years to Midnight

Infobox Television episode
Title=Twenty Years to Midnight
Series=The Venture Bros.
Airdate=6 August 2006
Writer= Jackson Publick
Director= Jackson Publick

Caption = "IGNORE ME!"
Production = 2-17
Guests = Stephen Colbert as Professor Impossible
Brendon Small as Johnny Quest
Mia Barron as
Sally Impossible
Prev=Escape to the House of Mummies Part II
Next=Victor. Echo. November.
"Twenty Years to Midnight" is an episode of the animated television series "The Venture Bros.", the fifth episode of the second season.


A strange craft lands outside the Venture Compound in the night. A twelve-foot-tall figure disembarks and scans the compound, locating Dr. Venture on the toilet.

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 ago. 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 him, the being speaks in a booming voice that nearly deafens the Ventures. He introduces himself as "The Grand Galactic Inquisitor" who will pass judgment on humanity (focusing specifically on Thaddeus), based on criteria they cannot hope to comprehend. He instructs them to go about their normal routine and not to speak to him, 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 (last seen in "Past Tense"). 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 smacks him in the face.

Jonas Jr. and the Captain scuba-dive to a bathysphere called "Quest Bell One." Inside, they are confronted by an emaciated, paranoid, gun-waving 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 1 Impossible Plaza, the headquarters of Impossible Industries (which resembles the Fantastic Four's Four Freedoms Plaza), 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 component is still hidden in the foundation. (Venture's previous dealings with the Impossible family were less than pleasant, as seen in "Ice Station -- Impossible!")

Inside the building, Sally Impossible is packing a bag when she is confronted by her husband Richard. 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 Sally's dimwitted cousin Ned. 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 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.I.E.," 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. He reluctantly picks up the infant, bellowing "Some one lost a baby...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 he is ready to pass his 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 as if 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?"

Cultural references

*The episode's title is a reference to the Doomsday Clock.
*It is also a reference to Iron Maiden's song 2 minutes to Midnight
*An adult version of Jonny Quest appears in this episode, and apparently the years have been even less kind to him than they have been to Thaddeus Venture. Paranoid and delusional, clad only in his white briefs and trademark black shirt, and sporting a horrible mustache, Quest apparently lives alone in a submerged bathysphere, and may be suffering from acute drug addiction. (While he is only referred to as "Mr. Quest" during the episode, the credits list him as Jonny Quest.)
*1 Impossible Plaza resembles the Impossible Industries symbol, a lower-case i. It also resembles the distinctive Grace Building in New York City.
*Among the toys Colonel Gentleman lists as toys he "wishes he had when he was a lad, but they weren't invented yet" are: Micronauts, The Scooby-Doo Monster Game, AT-AT Imperial Walker, and Which Witch?. A deleted scene on the DVD commentary has this list going on for much longer, with Colonel Gentleman going on to other lists.

*"(The full extended list of toys ,as noted in the DVD deleted scene , are : )" "Micronauts , Toss Across , Which Witch? , Hungry Hungry Hippos , Smurfs , Clue , Electronic Detective , Connect Four , Toss Across ,Trouble , Plush Garfield , Yahtzi , Triple Yahtzi or Word Yahtzi , Kuwahara or Red Line BMX Bicycle ,Family Feud Home Game , Stay Alive - A Survival Game , Twister , Scooby-Doo Monster Game , Big Traxx ,Legos , Stratego , Uno , Hoth Battle Action Play Set , At-At Imperial Walker , Gnip Gnop , Masterpiece , Slip-N-Slide , Luke Skywalker in his X-Wing Pilot Costume "( as a wee orange pilot )" , or a G.I.Joe Aircraft Carrier "( That was HUGE! )", 12" Chewbacca , Voltron Red Lion , Green Lion , Blue Lion , Yellow Lion , a wee Electric Jaguar "( That I could drive about the house )" , Wrist Rocket , Photon Laser Tag , Captain America Mobile , Super Mongoose with Chrome Murray Frame & Shimano Hubs , or those Velcro Darts that never stick to the target,they just bounce off on the floor."

*"Colonel Gentleman's Hollywood Actresses Who Need A Smack In The Mouth": Susan Sarandon , Dinah Shore , Meg Ryan , Leslie Uggams , Maude Adams, Lesley Ann Warren , Carol Channing , Cher , Denise Richards , Sean Young "( She's got a smart mouth! )" , Halle Berry, Annette Benning , Jane Fonda , Michelle Pfeiffer , Pam Dawber , "did I say Cher?" , Jennifer "J.Lo" Lopez , Courtney Cox , Rosie O'Donnell "( She's a monster! )" , Ursula Andress or the lass from "Who's The Boss?" with terrible frosted hair , The entire cast of "Charmed" up to and including Alyssa Milano." ( from the DVD deleted scenes. )

*The robot named H.U.G.G.I.E., which hugs H.E.L.P.eR., resembles an over-sized H.E.R.B.I.E., the Fantastic Four's robot nanny. Sally berates Richard earlier in the episode for building the robot as a replacement for actual affection.
*The alien impersonating Jonas Venture Sr. is a reference to Carl Sagan's novel "Contact" (or its film adaptation) which climaxes with the heroine meeting an alien who has taken on the form of her dead father.
*Posters resembling the silhouettes from popular iPod ads can be seen on the subway train.
*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".
*Professor Impossible cites "Of Mice and Men" as a reason for not wanting the mentally challenged Ned to babysit Rocket. John Steinbeck's classic novel 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.

Connections to other episodes

*What many fans assumed to be a scene of Dr. Venture and Dr. Jonas Venture Jr. swimming in diving suits in the opening credits for "Powerless in the Face of Death" is revealed to actually be the ex-pirate captain and Dr. Jonas Venture Jr. [Episode "Powerless in the Face of Death" (opening sequence)]
*It is later revealed in "Now Museum, Now You Don't" that Colonel Gentlemen was not dead when the boys found him, rather, he was merely suffering from a diabetic coma.
*At the end of "Ice Station – Impossible!" Sally learned she was pregnant. [Episode "Ice Station – Impossible!"] Her son Rocket, a 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. [Episode "Tag Sale – You're It!"]
*For some reason, Hank and Dean's "Go Team Venture" salute consists simply of a high five rather than the usual V sign.
*In a deleted scene from season two, Dr. Venture and Dean come upon the fake meteorite from the pilot episode and Dean finds its hatch and the very deceased henchman inside.Season 2 DVD deleted scenes for "Twenty Years to Midnight"]

Production notes

*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.


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