Friday, January 21, 2011

# 10: Archer: season 1

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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful: 5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT!, October 29, 2010 This review is from: Archer: Season 1 (DVD) You know, I don't normally put my review titles in all caps. But what can I say? This show is... well, BRILLIANT! I've always thought that there are far, far too many five star reviews here on amazon. But if there ever was a show that genuinely deserved a rave, this is it. Oh, and for the record, for the purposes of this review I am writing solely about the show itself, not the DVD. At the time of writing, I have that on pre-order.

Archer is a wonderfully absurdist frolic for strictly adult audiences. Fundamentally this show is a giant spoof of 1960s spy thrillers; a spoof made for decidedly 21st century sensibilities. It's the show Get Smart would have been had all the characters been perpetually high on crystal meth.

In fact, the characters on Archer are all selfish, petty, and utterly and completely venal: the three great ingredients from which comedy is made. They seem to think and act more like deranged adolescents than grown-ups. Deranged adolescents with access to firearms. Add all this together and you get some idea of the flavor of the show. Archer is very much in the spirit of the original Williams Street adult swim cartoons, but is never merely derivative of them. Which of course is exactly what you'd expect, given that this show is produced by Adam Reed, whose previous producing and directing credits include both Sealab 2021 and Frisky Dingo. Indeed, Reed's voice credits go all the way back to the original Space Ghost Coast to Coast.

But while a similar sense of humor can be found throughout, Archer definitely has a flair all of its own. Visually it has kind of a pseudo-realist "ligne claire" (clear line) style that matches perfectly with the creatively anachronistic world the characters inhabit. Cell phones and other contemporary technologies may abound, but jet-age fashions still prevail, and the KGB and the Soviet Union remain major adversaries.

But the first thing long time hard core animation fans will notice is that voice of H. Jon Benjamin brings its own uniquely laconic comic genius to the title role of "Archer" himself. Many of us remember Benjamin best as Coach from Home Movies. Others may recognize his voice from various bit parts in Family Guy and the Venture Bros.. But wherever you know him from, I for one am overjoyed that a suitable vehicle has finally been found for this great talent.

Better yet, Benjamin is complemented by scarcely lesser talents such as Aisha Tyler, a standup comedian who plays Lana Kane, another top operative at the same spy agency; and Jessica Walter, who plays the head of the agency - who also just happens to be Archer's mother. However, I should stress that this rather unusual combination of relationships is never reduced to mere sit-com hijinx. Archer is the kind of show were things get genuinely disturbing. In fact, this is one of those rare shows where the entire cast is incredibly strong - and backed up by an equally strong writing team, too.

What more can I say? See it!


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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful: 5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious! Awful!, October 27, 2010 This review is from: Archer: Season 1 (DVD) Adam Reed has an impressive resume. With each series he has gotten better at his craft and drawn a bigger following. Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Sealab 2021, Frisky Dingo. Watch some of those in order and then the extraordinary (ultra-raunchy) humor and overall quality of "Archer" won't surprise you much. The animation and production values are better. The setting ("James Bond meets Arrested Development," says Reed) is better. The stories are better (and funnier, oh are they funnier).

But none of that matters. What matters is the way the characters are hilariously brought to life through the exceptional dialog and voice acting, much of which is ad-libbed. The timing, so important to...("to what?" "First of all...") to comedy, borders on miraculous.

Never mind, forget all that pedantic nonsense. This is simply the funniest damn show I have ever seen, and if you are 18 or older you must buy it now. Go!

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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful: 5.0 out of 5 stars Sexy, Sexist, And Oh So Wrong--This Cartoon Isn't Bad, It's Just Drawn That Way, November 4, 2010 This review is from: Archer: Season 1 (DVD) In an effort to capitalize on the audience from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," the FX network has tried a number of promising shows. "Sunny," to me, has always been a completely inspired bit of lunacy that defies everything about the age of political correctness in which we find ourselves. It is so wrong--but that's what makes it so right. Unapologetically demented and offensive, the show has moments of brilliance. "Archer," of all the programs that have followed the "Sunny" time slot comes the closest to the ribald and irreverent tone and works exceedingly well as a companion piece.

"Archer" is a terrifically entertaining animated piece featuring perhaps the most obnoxious and oblivious central characters you're likely to encounter. Sterling Archer (aka Duchess) is a spy who fulfills every sexist cliche one might expect from a boozy, clueless, womanizing James Bond wannabe! In other words, he is awesome! Voiced impeccably by H. Jon Benjamin, it is sheer madness to follow Archer as he blunders his way through assignments, familial entanglements, and romantic assignations. His flirtations with fellow spy Lana (Aisha Tyler), his rivalry with Lana's new beau Cyril (Chris Parnell), his workplace banter with easy Cheryl and inappropriate Pam (Judy Greer and Amber Nash), and his wonderfully dysfunctional mother love (the incredible Jessica Walter) are juggled nicely amidst a bevy of "Get Smart" missions. It's all great, but patently disturbing, fun.

Season One represents 10 episodes. Two standouts to me are "Mole Hunt"--the first episode, and perhaps the funniest, that strikes the perfect balance of wackiness and character introduction--and "Honeypot" where Archer must put his life and his body on the line as an irresistible gay boy toy. By all means, check this series out if you like comedy that straddles the line of good taste and then jumps over it! I loved this creation named Archer and his relationship with his mother is one of this great show's true highlights. Benjamin and Walter are a perfect pair! About 4 1/2 stars. KGHarris, 11/10.

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