Archer is worth all the hype we can give it and more. Suffice to say, if you are a fan of office humor, cruelty, animation, spies, Bond, Lara Croft or a myriad of other things, Archer is the show for you.
It’s nice being ahead of the curve but in a lot of cases I am woefully behind. Like Archer (2009). My friend Gus (the El Salvadorian Assassin), from whom a lot of great in my life comes, asked me last week if I had seen it. I responded in the negative and he was quite surprised. “You liked Sealab 2021 and you like James Bond. I’m surprised you haven’t seen it.” That was enough for me to be excited. The Sealab guys doing Bond? And all 10 episodes are on Netflix? Done and done. Devoured in days. Of course, a bunch of my buddies stopped over throughout and pretty much everyone knew about this series and was surprised I didn’t. I can’t be the only one, I thought. Thus, this public service announcement in an effort to spare someone else the shame of not being hip to this excellent series.
Which is annoyingly hard to talk about. Unlike Sealab, this is new animation over real (and animated) backgrounds and utilizes a lot of the same humor… It’s closest analogue is the stellar Venture Brothers in the sense they take a familiar property (Johnny Quest; Bond) and completely re-imagine it with modern sensibilities…. It’s like this: ISIS is an International spy agency, much like MI6. Their head is Mallory, who is exactly like the modern “M” except she is a domineering mother who sleeps with the head of the KGB and the head of rival organization ODIN, as well as constantly belittling her staff and quaffing absinthe like it was going out of style. Her top agent is the Duchess, none other than her son, Sterling Archer. Archer is a dead ringer for Bond except his worst traits of womanizing and drinking are maxed out and he’s an idiot. Still unintentionally the best, much to the chagrin of his co-worker, ex-girlfriend, serial work-dater and all around bad-ass Lana Kane…who looks exactly like Lara Croft (and voiced by Aisha Tyler!). So you’ve got a degenerate Bond and an over-sexed Lara Croft working for a bitch of a boss, which is already a series itself but add in Cyril Figgis, Lana’s new boyfriend and straight-laced corporate drone; Pam, undersexed blabbermouth head of Human Resources; Dr. Krieger, the team’s resident drug-snorting, absolutely insane “Q” and (my personal favorite) Cheryl the secretary…well, sometimes Cheryl - the first few episodes she keeps changing it because Archer (whom she had slept with) never bothered to remember her name so she changes it to whatever he calls her (she also loves to be choked during sex and has a tremendous fascination with the morbid) – and you’ve got the mix for a brutal workplace comedy combined with high level spy adventure.
The ten episodes comprising Season One are nice little 21 minute stories that tear right through to the end with zingers and pop culture references (“Like Burt Reynolds in Gator!”) fly so fast and furious you’re bound to miss something while you’re laughing hysterically at something else. Archer is also like the Venture Brothers in the sense that the humor is decidedly adult. Decidedly. Which was another huge draw for me. Some of the things they say to each other are downright cruel and “Jesus, did he say that?” which makes it even funnier, the unexpected nature of the gags. These guys know what their doing with comedy and it shows, especially in episodes like #5’s “Honeypot” where Archer has to seduce a blackmailer (Ron Perlman) to retrieve a tape of Mallory’s sexploits lost by the Head of KGB (and Mallory paramour). Or #6’s “Skorpio” where Lana has to take out the notorious arms dealer while Mallory observes (with her KGB boyfriend). When she gets into trouble (she lies to get a vacation) Archer, at the behest of Cyril, rushes to her rescue only to find out her scam. Meanwhile, Cyril’s co-workers convince him that Lana is back to sleeping with Archer because he’s a hero. Every episode is a gem filled with back-stabbing, lying, double-crossing, sexual escapades, verbal cruelty, harassment, disrespect and occasional spying. I wish I could say more specifically but the show is for adults and is some of the most worthy television I have encountered in the last ten years.
Archer is worth all the hype I can give it and more. Suffice to say, if you are a fan of office humor, cruelty, animation, spies, Bond, Lara Croft or a myriad of other things, Archer is the show for you. I am still ashamed I hadn’t picked up on this already but it ended on FX this past March and they’ve already announced an order for a 13 episode Season 2 some time in 2011 so it’s not too late to discover, or re-discover, the best animated series on television since the (over-quoted, in this article) and brilliant Venture Brothers (and I’ve seen it all now so I’m considerably less ashamed). You’ve heard it a million times but do yourself a huge favor and check out Archer.