I recently found out Archer has been renewed for 3 more seasons, which pleased me greatly as it’s one of my favourite TV shows. Here, let me try and explain why.
Archer is an animated TV show about a superspy and the wacky cast of characters who work alongside him. It’s been described as “James Bond meets Arrested Development”, but I prefer to think of it as more James Bond meets the real world. Can you imagine how annoying the smug, know-it-all Bond would be to actually work with? And just how petty he would be if he didn’t get his own way all the time? Well, you don’t have to with Archer!
So, a show about a spoof Bond. If you think that means it’s stuffed full of cheap innuendo, well, you’re right. But it’s more than that; the show can and does do juvenile puns, but it’d rather be smart about how it acts dumb.
It’s undeniably well written- running jokes that other shows might allow to drag on as a cheap laughter crutch are ended before they have time to get tired, there’s some deviously obscure references and the plots are usually tightly focused – but the main strength of Archer is the characters. Each participant in the show has their own unique voice and perspective on things that they, by and large, maintain consistently. That’s a fairly hard achievement for a TV writing room, where it can be very tempting to write someone out of character for an episode or scene, just to get past a plot requirement.
To take the main character as the an example: Sterling Archer is extremely confident in his abilities and with good reason, he is one of the best field agents in the spy world. However, when not on an operation his selfcentredness, jealous nature and boastfulness tend to make any field successes moot, usually by saying something he shouldn’t to someone or by pigheadedly doing things his way regardless of orders.
That’s not to say that characters stay rigid; the show does make permanent changes far more than the industry norm. The early premise that Archer and a few others were field agents and the rest of the cast were the office-based support staff was fairly quickly discarded, primarily so the whole cast could be used in the non-office scenes rather than be restricted to just the office. However, in another example of the show’s sharp writing, the agency’s tendancy to put untrained and completely unsuitable people in sensitive situations, as well as Archer’s disregard for following protocol, was noticed by the organizations hiring them. In at least two series (so far) the spy comedy show has had the entire cast stop being spies after being blacklisted, in a rare case of comedy characters actually suffering (mild) consequences for their actions (that doesn’t really stop business as usual, although the stakes just keep getting lower, to the annoyance of Archer).
To sum up: if you’re in the mood for a comedy that’s not only very, very funny but sharp as well, Archer may be up your street.