Archer – Season Two (Updated 04/07)

Posted: March 31, 2011 in TV & Webisodes

Like with films, most viewers have a pronounced slant toward television animation. The majority see the form as something slightly less than. Bring up The Simpsons and they’ll probably tell you they like it (or at least did at one point), argue its merits against a Seinfeld or a Newhart and you’ll likely be laughed out of the room. It’s good for what it is, but… That’s the common refrain, at least from one end of the spectrum.

Then again, the other side where I live is no better. I’ll be honest. I suck up cartoons faster than a seven year old that finally got the straw into his Capri Sun. I obsesses over American Dad and The Venture Brothers and don’t understand why you haven’t seen every episode of Metalocalypse. And here I am telling you about this Archer show, saying things like it should have been nominated for Best Comedy Series. Here’s the thing: neither side is right.

Animation runs the gamut from absolutely brilliant (South Park at its best) to juvenile and borderline unwatchable (The Cleveland Show at its worst). Archer may not quite be at the apex of television programs, but it’s damn close. If it keeps progressing, some day it will be nominated for Best Comedy Series. Don’t listen to the elitist snobs and don’t listen to me either, watch it for yourself and realize there’s a whole lot to love.

Boasting easily the best collection of voice talent on television, Archer follows the International Secret Intelligence Service, an insufferable bureaucratic institution that spends more time fretting over money and blatant ethics violations than actually doing its job. Its best agent Sterling Archer (brilliantly voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) is a walking personality disorder. He wines, carouses and whines like an immature James Bond that was shot down by Moneypenny one too many times. Nonetheless, he gets the job done, no thanks to ISIS’s boss, his mother (Jessica Walter). Malory Archer is an amoral throwback, a woman that thinks nothing of hopping into bed with powerful statesmen and then berating her underlings for their classless behavior. Those underlings include but are not limited to her son’s ex-girlfriend Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler), her masochistic secretary Cheryl (Pam Grier), her frequently-confused and sometimes drug-addicted accountant Cyril (Chris Parnell) and the onetime cannibal butler Woodhouse (George Coe).

It all seems ridiculous on paper, but through sheer wit and determination, series creator Adam Reed pulls the whole thing off almost flawlessly. I say almost because the show has the frustrating habit of occasionally making one comment too many. Archer especially is prone to long, hilarious rants, often delivered in uproarious mumbles, but now and again, after the joke is already out there, he will end the spiel on one final comment that’s more intentionally profane than actually funny. This wouldn’t be a problem for most shows that are all too willing to replace humor with obscene irreverence, but Archer is better than that. At its most sophisticated, it’s arguably the fastest and best-scripted show on television. I don’t mind filthy humor. In fact, I love filthy humor, there just needs to be more there than sheer filth.

Every few years, a show like Archer bursts onto the scene, rewrites all the rules during its first season and then edges toward the middle of the pack during its sophomore run. If the rest of season two is anything like the first handful of episodes, that definitely won’t be a problem.

Archer airs Thursday nights on FX at 10 PM EST. Below is the season to date, and I’ll update the post every Friday morning through the seasons conclusion. Some day soon America will be talking about this show. You might as well get there before it’s too crowded.

New episode added 03/17/2011.

IMDB: Link | Wiki: Link</a

Episode One: Swiss Miss | Episode Two: A Going Concern | Episode Three: Blood Test
Episode Four: Pipeline Fever | Episode Five: The Double Deuce | Episode Six: Tragical History
Episode Seven: Movie Star | Episode Eight: Stage Two | Episode Nine: Placebo Effect | Episode Ten: El Secuestro
Episode Eleven: Jeu Monegasque

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