The best [adult swim] cartoon today (airing on FX though)
Sterling Mallory Archer (voiceover gold H. Jon Benjamin) is a slick superspy and all-around ladies man, but he's also a massive momma's boy and generally a lazy screw-up. But somehow, he's built a reputation as the best field agent at ISIS, the international spy organization that happens to be run by his mother Mallory (Jessica Walter, Arrested Development.) His ever-present bumbling and general stupidity annoys those he works with, especially his ex-girlfriend, Agent Kane (Aisha Tyler). The series is part spy spoof, part family comedy and part workplace silliness, as Archer has to navigate these worlds he'd rather not be a part of, as they take up his time from sexing the ladies.
Though Archer is the star of the show, he's not the main reason to tune-in. In fact, he's something of a straight man, letting his co-stars shine in their reactions to his behavior. Walter is once again amazing as the worst mother on the planet, while Tyler is perfect as the much more capable agent and tremendously put-upon ex-girlfriend, who's having her own relationship issues, dealing with the very clingy Cyril (Chris Parnell), the agency's nerdy comptroller and her rebound boyfriend. One "Yup" from her can make you laugh (and when Walter imitates her its even funnier.) Meanwhile, always hovering nearby are Pam and Cheryl (Amber Nash and Judy Greer), the big-mouth HR rep and masochistic secretary respectively, who inject their own bit of crazy into every situation. Greer as Cheryl is incredibly ridiculous, looking to sleep with every man or maybe just get choked to orgasm by one of them, but she's a memorable one to be sure.
If it's not obvious, this series is very adult, with shocking dialogue and behavior coming as a regular occurrence (one scene with Archer's sexy immigrant maid being a "Whoa" moment.) There is sex everywhere, with everyone, and it doesn't come off as gratuitous or anything. It's simply funny, because these people, who work for any agency that's supposed to help the world, are just insanely self-absorbed. That's the key element for the first season's 10 episodes, as they can't look beyond themselves for a moment, but if they did, they'd do a much better job as spies. Archer alone costs his co-workers their lives, breaks up their relationships and kills innocent people, simply because he's thinking too much about his expensive turtlenecks. Oddly, for a show that does the spy spoof so well, it also manages to be the best workplace comedy since the early days of The Office as common office topics like HR mediation, diversity policies, sexual harassment, health insurance and headhunting are skewered with ease. The show has a little something for everyone, as long as everyone can deal with violent sex and careless murder.
The audio is delivered by Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks that are just fine for this series, presenting clean, clear dialogue and quality sound effects (there's not a lot of music in the show) but there's hardly anything in the way of dynamic mixing, outside of some minor echoes in a few scenes.
On the second disc, there's a six-part "Making of Archer" featurette, running over 21 minutes, which focuses on the visual elements of the series, including 3D, animation, art direction, backgrounds, illustration and storyboards. The presentations (seemingly made by the team or office being highlighted) are all about the showing, with lots of behind-the-scenes images and footage, so you get an idea of how the cartoons are made, but with a lot of parts (like the writing and acting) missing in action.
Also found on the second disc are a short "Unaired Network Promo," which isn't anything great, but it's definitely Archer, and four small deleted scenes. Nothing too impressive, but if you like dongs, you'll find them here.
In an act of pure promotion, this set also includes the pilot episodes of two other FX comedy series, The League and Louie. Both shows are terrific, but this kind of extra is more of a commercial than bonus content. At least the studio recognized that, tucking them into the special features listing under the umbrella of "much more," instead of padding the back of the box.
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