TV Series: Archer S01-S04 – Californication meets The Americans

Archer_2010_IntertitleI discover lots of stuff from podcasts these days. I listened to one from about The Americans and one of the writers was asked what his favorite shows were. I checked them out, Girls and Archer. I am still catching up on Girls (fantastic show from a mega-talented writer / producer / actress BTW that I will blog on later) and totally was drawn into Archer.

The premise of Archer is that Mallory Sterling runs her spy agency ISIS as a for-profit enterprise which also serves to keep her bar stocked, her office decorated, her lovers entertained, and her wardrobe full. Mallory’s son is super-spy Archer who inherited her alcoholism and her devil-may-care attitude despite her absence and abusive behavior that we learn via flashbacks throughout. The #2 agent is Lana, an amazonian ex-girlfriend of Archer that – despite her boisterous attitude and great field skills – is still plagued by a lack of self-confidence in either her professional skills or her capabilities to maintain a romantic relationship. The office staff consists of Pam in HR who is an overweight, oversexed farm girl who we learn over time kicks serious ass in the ring and becomes an agent in her own right as well as Janice (although her name changes nearly every episode) who we learns inherited over $1B from her railroad/shipping family and is turned on by violence (choking, slapping) and sniffs (or eats) glue to get off. Cyril is the accountant/spy wanna-be and current bf for the hapless Lana and is also a sex addict. Kreiger is the crazy-ass Q-equivalent who’s girlfriend/fiancée is a holographic manga chick and whos “junk” is radioactive. Let’s just say, it ain’t your normal spy agency.

What makes the show work consists of several factors:

1/ The story truly builds week after week as the back-story of the characters is revealed and becomes funnier and more twisted all the time. I have not often seen an animated show that can do the “caper a week” business while still building character and keeping all the backstories so consistent and hilarious

2/ Archer himself is a fantastic character – despite being a functioning alcholic, he is the most awesome field agent in terms of skills (sniper, acrobatics, bravery, taking bullets and continuing to fight, even dying and coming back to life!) and yet nearly always fucks something major up during nearly every mission. All these elements make the show unpredictable and hilarious. Another aspect of Archer I love is that he is deeply anchored in cinematic culture – standard cinema but also science fiction and even obscure anime (his reference to Lucy Daughter of the Devil being underrated was greeted by me from a hearty “hellya!”). Not to mention that he comes up with some fantastic lines and dialogs. Here is a classic interchange with he and Pam (yes, they actually do have a short fling):

Archer: If anyone found out, I’d literally die of shame.
Pam: And how do you think that makes me feel?!
Archer: I don’t care, Pam! [Pause] Having said that, would you please come into this dirty toilet stall and have sex with me?
Pam: Oh, alright.

Perhaps you have to watch the show to appreciate that but trust me, it is hilarious.

3/ The whole disfunctional office environment where no subject is taboo, no joke is too dirty, no one is sacred. No one is spared in the humor and everyone deserves everything that happens. Well, except for that poor guy that gets shot and nearly killed every episode 🙂 The way the characters work together, antagonize each other, and bungle the missions is incredibly funny and original.

So, give Archer a shot. All four seasons are great – but perhaps the best episodes are from season 4 where Coyote Lovely and The Honeymooners were extraordinary. That being said, there was Bloody Ferlin and the Space Race episodes in Season 3, Swiss Miss (awesome!), Jeu Monegasque (a nice piss taken at James Bond and Casino Royale), and Double Trouble (with the recurring character Katya!) and probably all of Season 1. Come to think of it, go ahead and watch ’em all. If you can keep from laughing out loud at least a few times and are not smiling ear to ear throughout, I’d be awfully surprised.

A little of column A, and a little of column B…


About mfinocchiaro

IT Architecture Guru for large PLM software company but dabbling in Web 2.0 and other stuff.
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2 Responses to TV Series: Archer S01-S04 – Californication meets The Americans

  1. Pingback: TV Series: Archer S01-S04 – Californication meets The Americans | Todd DeanTodd Dean

  2. Erik Spierenburg says:

    Hi Fino-

    Thought I should let you know I just discovered Community. No idea if you have seen it. But if you haven’t it is definitely something you would enjoy. On more than one occasion did I have to laugh so hard I spilled my drink. For me it has the same genius writing feel that Breaking Bad has (cannot wait for the last episodes!).

    Oh, and I like Archer too 🙂

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