Pssst, want to check out Archer in our new look?
- 22 min.
Action, Animation, Comedy
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Season 1: A very different kind of animated series is Archer, and based on the pilot episode showcased on a It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia release, I got and watched the entertaining first season. Archer is basically a spoof of James Bond, Man from UNCLE, etc. with deceptively simple animation and the irreverent humor FX series are known for. While there are spy missions involved (which invariably go wrong), the show is more about the office politics. Archer is only the top asset because his overbearing mother is the director of I.S.I.S. His ex-girlfriend is the actual top asset, now dating a regular office schmoe. And then there's the Miss Moneypenny type obsessed with Archer, and the HR person who blabs everyone's secrets. It's funny if you like comedies about unlikable people (and I do), and I was impressed that the soap opera elements are coherent and that the characters' personal stories are evolving, not being reset to premise with every episode. Bring on Season 2!
Season 2: Archer Season 2 continues the irreverent animated comedy of the previous season, but features much stronger spy action set pieces. So now it's exciting AS WELL AS funny. This time around, we get some back story or the characters in the cast - how Lana and Mallory joined ISIS, who Carol really is, etc. - and the show continues to allow them to evolve while slinging great stand-alone episodes at us.
Season 3: Archer Season 3 has perfected the formula of this animated spy satire - adding more "oh no you didn't!" moments to various relationships, and paying tribute to yet more spy films, as is usual - but they've improved the show in a couple of important ways. One is the car action, which is as exciting as anything you'd see in a Bond film or one of those Fast and Furious things (I'm guessing on this last one, never seen a F&F movie). It's so well done, I'm wondering how they do it. The other is the number of quality guest voices the production managed to wrangle this time around. Burt Reynolds is especially awesome as himself, but there's also Joaquim de Almeida, George Takei and Jack McBrayer.
Season 4: What can I say about Archer Season 4 that I haven't already said about the first 3 seasons? The irreverent animated spy comedy does more of what it did in Season 3, with plenty of laughs and action thrills, moving some stories along (Archer gets a stepdad, for example, though the biggest developments are really only set up for Season 5), and getting some cool guest-stars into the recording booth, notably Timothy Olyphant, Ron Leibman, and chef Anthony Bourdain (for a reality TV parody).
Season 5: Archer Season 5 AKA Archer Vice, a branding that showcases the animated show's new direction for the season. That's right, they literally blow up ISIS (no relation) in the first episode, and the cast recycles itself into rather incompetent drug lords for the duration. On TV, they promised it with a montage showing clips of what was to come, and that probably worked as a "we're not kidding" promise. On DVD, unless you're watching these very slowly, which I was not, it stays fresh in the memory as a sort of spoiler. So I wish they hadn't done it. Is the show on the wane? Either I know these characters too well by this point, or it really has lost some of its comedic spark, but either way, the last couple seasons have not had me in stitches the way the first three have. The longer story thread is appreciated, but perhaps gave the season a sameness that kept it from feeling fresh again despite the wind change.
Season 6: With Season 6, I would say FX's animated spy comedy... I would say "jumps the shark", but it doesn't do anything mold-breaking enough to be called that (not even the Fantastic Voyage spoof). It drops the ball, at the very least. Not that the episodes couldn't fit in any other season (give or take Lana's baby and the rekindled romance between her and Archer) - the show is still well put together, with the same jokes, action beats, etc., but I feel like perhaps those jokes have been played out. Aside from the aforementioned relationship, there's no character growth and at this point, nothing new to learn about the cast. The brain-damaged Cheryl is especially irritating this season, a caricature of I-don't-know-what-anymore. So the whole thing left me cold, despite some relatively high notes. Maybe I'm done, I dunno.
to see which of your friends have seen this movie!