If I were reviewing...oh, I don't know, season one of Archer, I'd need to spell out the backstory and premise and generally try to sell you on the whole thing. This is season four, though. If you've been tuning into Archer up till now, all you really need for me to do is say "yup, still pretty much the best thing on TV", and then we can both move on with our lives. If you're uninitiated and clicked on this review thinking it was a season-long retrospective of Powell and/or Pressburger or the guy who's not Daniel or Midland, then maybe you should back up a few seasons.
There aren't as many stone-cold classics this season as there have been for the past couple of years, but every one of these thirteen episodes is still genius. The opener is meta enough that an amnesiac Archer has grown a moustache and set up shop at a burger joint with his new family, and if you don't get that extended gag, you haven't been paying attention. Archer tries to clear the name of his maybe treasonous one-time bestest friend, and along the way, he's offered a chance to get in on the ground floor at a B&B in Vermont, wonders if the Predator can hunt in snowy New England or if it's just a jungle thing, and maybe could have the mighty Ant-Krieger fighting by his side. There's a Sealab 2021 two-part crossover. Dogsitting in Morocco. Going undercover as waiters and chefs at a ritzy New York restaurant to stop an assassination. A buddy road trip thing with Archer and his Cadillac-shilling stepfather with spiderweb-eating and a truckful of trannies. Love it, love it, love it.
Yeah, so I don't have any scowly-faced criticism about this fourth season of Archer. Even if this run doesn't approach the same heights as the incomparably brilliant couple of seasons before it, Archer still outclasses just about everything else on TV and with a consistency that even the likes of Community can't touch. It does feel like Archer was getting to a point where it needed to be shaken up, and if you tuned into the season five premiere the other night, the new direction jabs a syringe of adrenaline straight into the heart of the series. This run is still a hell of a way to wave goodbye to ISIS, though. It's smart. It's vulgar. It's sexy. It's hysterical. It's witty. It's fat-packed with action. Its gunny sack of obscure, inspired references is better than yours. There's a word for shows like this, and it's Highly Recommended. Two words. Whatever.
I made the mistake of tearing through this Blu-ray set and then watching the season premiere on cable. Charter overcompresses the holy hell out of FX-HD in my neck of the woods, so the colors looked a little off, the linework was awfully fuzzy, and basically everything about the season five premiere was riddled with nasty digital artifacting. Makes me clutch this Blu-ray set that much closer to my heart.
If you've already devoured the first three seasons of Archer on Blu-ray, you know what to expect here. These episodes are superhumanly sharp in 1080p, and the silky smooth linework isn't dragged down by any aliasing or stairstepping. Black levels are deep and inky, and colors pack more of a wallop than I'm used to seeing on FX. There aren't any sputters or stutters in the authoring. The definition and clarity here far outclass anything DVD (or even cable HD!) could hope to deliver. There are all sorts of fine details that'd get lost in the shuffle on any other format. If you want a case in point, take a look at the texture of the rug in the background and all the stuff that's going on in that wad of hundreds that Cyril's holding here:
It's perfect, and when I use bold and italics like that, you know I mean it.
Thirteen episodes. Pair of dual-layer discs. Aspect ratio of 1.78:1. AVC encodes all around.
Once again, you're staring down the barrel of thirteen 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtracks. That's a lot of numbers in a single sentence, and for that, I'm sorry. If I'd written more Archer reviews, I could probably just copy and paste stuff here; the story's pretty much the same as ever.
There's a strong sense of separation across the front channels, although Archer mostly shrugs off the sub and surrounds. Light atmospherics occasionally creep into the rears, but don't expect the whole 5.1 deal to ratchet up the intensity of the action or anything. The sound design doesn't aim for immersion or envelopment so much, with such limited surround usage that I double-checked to make sure all the
Sorry! No dubs, alternate mixes, or audio commentaries this time around. Subtitles are about it as far as other options go, and they're dished out in English (SDH), French, and Spanish.
This season of Archer has what's pretty much my all-time favorite packaging. Y'see,
The Final Word
Wait, I had something for this. Oh, yeah: Highly Recommended.