You were supposed to click the 'Play' button on that, by the way. Just making sure.
It looks like no one here at DVD Talk got around to reviewing the first season of Archer on Blu-ray, so I guess I'm supposed to write some kind of overview here. If you've never tuned in before, Archer is basically a workplace sitcom, only instead of being set at a paper company or whatever, it swirls around the action and intrigue of an elite, globetrotting intelligence and security agency. Well, okay, "elite" is pushing it. ISIS is more like the K-Mart KGB: underfunded, understaffed, and desperate for whatever the next paycheck might be. I mean, their secret HQ shares a first floor with some dingy laundromat, and the place is staffed just about wall-to-wall with sociopaths and fuck-ups. ...and then
The first season of Archer was right in my wheelhouse...basic cable Methadone to get me through a stretch when The Venture Bros. was off the air. There's kind of a lot of the same DNA in both of those series: using vintage genre spoofs as a springboard to something a hell of a lot greater, devastatingly witty senses of humor, the smart kind of vulgarity, an ensemble cast of characters that wind up being shockingly compelling the more you tune in, and an eye for worldbuilding. They're the kinds of shows that reward obsessive viewing. ...and, yeah, the same as with The Venture Bros., I liked the first season of Archer a lot, but season two wound up being a whole other thing completely. Hand to God, Archer might be my single favorite series on television right now. I can't think of another comedy that can make me laugh this hard, this often, and still kill me even the second or third time through.
Archer's sophomore season builds off the strengths of those first ten episodes and improves upon them in pretty much every conceivable way. The pacing is more manic. It's a hell of a lot funnier. The high-octane action sequences -- sharing a snowmobile with topless heiress jailbait while fending off a half-battalion of armed-to-the-teeth kidnappers, chasing down millions of dollars on the streets of Monaco during the Grand Prix, or a breast cancer-riddled Archer going on a rampage against Irish mobsters after being duped into paying for Zima-and-sucrose "medicine" for months on end -- are bigger in scope and more awesomely ridiculous than ever. One of the fascinating things about the first season of Archer was looking on in horror as the layers were peeled back on the working stiffs in the ISIS offices, revealing the sticky, depraved creme filling that was lurking inside. Those characters -- such as
If you're going in completely blind, the second season of Archer is a pretty friendly jumping-on point, although I think you'd ultimately get more out of it if you've watched the first season beforehand. The show's still finding its footing in those early episodes and is kind of uneven, but the foundation it lays ought to give the uninitiated a much greater appreciation for what's to come. Whatever you wind up deciding to do, just make it a point to pick up this second season of Archer on Blu-ray. Every last one of its thirteen episodes are pure, unadultered genius, making for a series that's in the running as the single best comedy on television. Very, very Highly Recommended.
Well, obviously it's perfect. The animation in Archer is ridiculously sharp and well-defined in 1080p, and this Blu-ray set really sets itself apart from anything DVD could deliver when the camera eases back and everything's still all crystal clear. The series' streamlined-but-super-gorgeously-designed visual style is reproduced flawlessly, veering away from any digital artifacting, stairstepping, edge enhancement, or all those other things I guess I'm supposed to complain about when I see 'em. Black levels are deep and inky, and its colors all look spot-on to me. I mean, this isn't the sort of Blu-ray set you'll grab off the shelf just to show off your overpriced HDTV or anything, but this presentation is absolutely flawless just the same.
The second season of Archer is dished out on a pair of dual-layer Blu-ray discs. All thirteen episodes are presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 -- the same way you saw 'em on FX-HD -- and have been encoded with AVC.
The same as the first season Blu-ray set before it, this run of Archer is lugging around 24-bit, six-channel DTS-HD Master Audio. It's technically 5.1, yeah, but it's more like stereo-and-then-some. There's a really strong sense of
No dubs, downmixes, or commentaries this time around. The only other audio options are -- hey! -- subtitles: English (SDH), French, and Spanish.
There's not a lot in the way of extras, but pretty much all of it is new animation, and that's kind of a lot better than just another standard issue making-of featurette. I'm pretty sure the way the show's produced hasn't really changed since the first season DVD set came out anyway, so what'd be the point? I could've gone for some audio commentaries, but whatever.
The second season of Archer also has a BD Live gateway thingie, but for right now at least, the only thing all that Archer-centric on there is the "Ask Archer" extra that's already on this set.
The Final Word
Yuuuup! Highly Recommended.
Oh, and that's totally an Archer reference and not a Storage Wars thing because, seriously, fuck that show.