Archer -- An early look
by Annie Wu, posted Jan 13th 2010 11:02AM
There is only one really bad thing about Archer, and that's the fact it's going to make my Thursday viewing line-up very, very full. Way to not anticipate my needs, FX. Geez.
I just sampled five episodes of FX's new animated offering, including the pilot that quietly aired a few months ago (reviewed by Jonathan Toomey here), and I already love it. There are a lot of appealing things about Archer: It's 60s-style super-spy adventures plus hilarious writing that maintains a great pace for the entire half-hour. Oh, and puns. Lots of puns.
The story revolves around the International Secret Intelligence Service's Sterling Archer, a cocky but not entirely competent spy who probably only got his job because his mother is the big boss. Nepotism! It makes for great TV. Archer also works with his ex-girlfriend, Lana, and her current boyfriend, Cyril. A diverse cast of baddies and office workers round out the cast. Different situations are presented and resolved in each episode, but it's really the evolution and complexity of relationships between characters that carry us through the season.
The voice cast is stellar. I'm not just saying that because I'm in love with H. Jon Benjamin's voice, which perfectly delivers Archer's smarmy attitude. I've also adored Chris Parnell's speaking voice for a long time, and he does well as Cyril. As for the ladies, even though I like Jessica Walter, Aisha Tyler and Judy Greer as actresses, I wasn't sure what to expect from their voice work. As it turns out, the three of them do beautifully as Archer's mother, ex-girlfriend and ISIS secretary (respectively).
Hands down, the best part of the series is the writing. It's endlessly quotable, and I find myself waiting for it to air so that I can say lines to friends without sounding too much like a crazy person. The one-liners are great, but here's one of my favorite conversations from the episodes I saw:
Archer: Ironic, isn't it?
Cyril: I'm not sure that's technically irony.
Archer: What!? This is like, O. Henry and Alanis Morissette had a baby and named it THIS EXACT SITUATION.
There are pop culture references here and there ("Karate? The Dane Cook of martial arts?") but Archer doesn't rely on them, which is really the best way to handle it. When they do come up in the dialogue, they are oddly specific enough to not count as pandering to what's hot right now, Family Guy style.
In fact, Archer was so good that it made me finally give Frisky Dingo (also by Adam Reed) another try. I'm very glad I did, as it has become my second favorite [adult swim] program, second only to the Venture Bros. For those that are already familiar with FD, Archer has a lot of similarities in the pacing and sense of humor. Unlike FD, though, it's easy to enjoy Archer at just about any point in the series and viewers won't get too lost if they start in the middle of an episode or season. Hopefully this helps Archer's numbers.
Archer premieres January 14th at 10 EST. Put your eyeballs to use and watch it.