In the endless parade where I watch every show that’s ever been recommended to me, I’ve now landed on Archer, an FX series that looks more like a newspaper comic than an actual animated cartoon. But this is no Mary Worth, rather Archer is something all its own, and is one of the most unique shows on TV right now. Oh, and did I mention its absolutely hilarious?
The concept is simple, it’s an office environment like the one you might find at Sterling Cooper Draper Price in the early sixties, which also happen to be the Golden Years of Mr. James Bond. Combine the two, and sprinkle decidedly M-rated humor on top of it all, and you have Archer, and this really is one of the better finds I’ve made in quite some time. Errr, since Spartacus three weeks ago I guess.
Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) is an all-star agent with a massive ego and a penchant for screwing up a mission, but finishing it anyways. He works for Isis, a boutique spy agency that earns off contracts, and it happens to be run by his mother (Jessica Walter).
He works alongside his ex and fellow super spy Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler), now currently dating the dweeby office drone Cyril (Chris Parnell). He occasionally bangs his secretary when he’s bored (Judy Greer) and much to her displeasure, never the chubby head of HR, Pam (Amber Nash).
TV enthusiasts will make a very quick spot after listing that cast, two of its members, Jessica Walter and Judy Greer were part of the Arrested Development crew as Lucille Bluth and Kitty respectively. If that wasn’t enough, Jeffrey Tambor (George Bluth Sr.) shows up to do a guest voice practically every other episode. Walter’s Mrs. Archer pretty much IS Lucille, in looks and mannerisms, and it’s inherently hilarious to see her running a spy agency here.
If that’s not animated Lucille Bluth, I don’t know what is.
The only one funnier than his mother is Archer himself. H. Jon Benjamin is a veteran voice actor who has been on every animated show from The Venture Bros. to Family Guy to Aqua Teen to Dr. Katz. Yes, Dr. Katz. But his oblivious, vain and immature Archer is the highlight of this series, and the could hold the show solo if he needed to. But he doesn’t.
The show works because it restricts itself to a tight supporting cast, only bringing in recurring characters every so often. The writing is incredibly smart for a show that often deals with lowbrow subject matter, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve laughed so loud or so often at a comedy in the last few years. With all your current favorites getting older and more stale, The Office, 30 Rock, Always Sunny, definitely check out Archer for a breath of fresh air and a truly original show in an era where that rarely happens anymore.
The animation is sharp and distinctive, the lines are smart and cutting, and I can’t imagine a more cohesive voice cast. Season one is only ten episodes long, so you can knock it out in a weekend if you wanted to, and I’m really looking forward to see what they do with season two.