Published on January 12th, 2010 | by Erich Becker0
Archer – Pilot (01×01)
Summary: Brilliantly irreverent and absurd, spy games have never been so disfunctional
Plain and simple FX’s new series Archer delivers the irreverent comedy that was experienced during the glory days of Warner’s adult swim. Not since the days of Sealab 2021 (another Adam Reed project) has a show come up with some of the most ridiculously funny and brilliantly absurd comedy as does Archer. Having seen the first five episodes of the series its no wonder why the network ordered more, aside from ABC’s Modern Family, Archer is the frontrunner for the best new comedy of the 2009-2010 season.
Sterling Archer (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) is a secret agent for ISIS, a freelance spy agency run by his mother, Malory (the always funny Jessica Walter), and works with a cast of characters including his ex-flame Lana (Aisha Tyler), her new beau, and ISIS comptroller Cyril (Chris Parnell), and secretary Cheryl (Judy Greer) who changes her name from episode to episode.
From the very beginning the roots of the aforementioned adult swim classic, and Reed’s follow-up Frisky Dingo, are readily apparent, and that’s what makes Archer such a pleasure to watch. For an animated show to not be about the animation is always a risk, but the story, dialog, and just overall fun of the series clearly make up for it. Granted the animation has come a long way from Reed’s reusing of frames from Sealab 2020, but it has always been about the story, the situations, and the gratuitous violence that has brought viewers in.
The style of the show, set in a contemporary world, but with throwbacks to the spy movies of the 1950’s and 1960’s is excellent. More than a few Bond gags make their way into the early part of the season, including ridiculously named villains with quirks built in. Archer himself is a bumbling moron who, at times, seems to only have made it this far because of his overbearing mother, but does show flashes of how good he can be in later episodes.
Being on FX gives the animators and producers some more leeway on what they can show and what they can say, and while it’s usually shameful to push the envelope for the sake of shock, that’s what really works here. No show has done better cutaways since Family Guy, and even FOX’s cash cow could take a few notes.
In the end Archer comes together in a great mix of classic characters, hilarious dialog, visual gags, throwback jokes and a sense that we haven’t learned anything in the last 22 minutes, but we had a damn good time spending it with the ISIS team, even if our codename is Duchess.