@3 hours/10 episodes/2 DVDs
Available Dec. 28
Grade: 3.5 stars (out of 4)
It’s not often that a clear successor to the twisted-and-wrong animation throne appears, but Archer is such. Hilarious, subtle, in-your-face, and disturbing all describe this half-hour comedy series from the FX network. The protagonist, Sterling Archer, is a superlatively egocentric, sexist, educated, handsome, and self-serving sociopathic superspy with a monster of an Oedipal complex. His mother is his boss, the head of supersecret spy organization ISIS. His ex-girlfriend, Lana, is the agency’s best spy. Her boyfriend, Ceril, is … well, it’s all very convoluted and funny. And I haven’t even mentioned Archer’s lifelong and extremely aged butler, Woodhouse. There.
The series works best when it’s subtlely making fun of its lack of subtlety — “Hooray for metaphors!” cheers a wounded Archer at the end of the episode, “Skytanic.” This from the team that created – in order – Space Ghost from Coast to Coast, SeaLab 2021, and Frisky Dingo. With each series, these creators significantly improved on a good show, and with Archer, not only have they made their most notable improvement to date, but also they’ve achieved what their other series lacked: mainstream appeal. Longtime fans, never fear: Archer still contains plenty of absurdist humor and bizarre situations to bust your gut to. And it’s not for kids. At all.
This DVD comes very close to a 4-star rating. It’s a fabulous show. The extras aren’t great, with the pilot episode of The League being the highlight. The “unaired Archer pilot” is a joke that wears out after about 3.2 seconds. Or less. But it is kind of amusing for those few seconds.
Check out Archer. It’s really, really, really great. Really.
Ray Sidman is a former associate editor and longtime reviewer for Comics Buyer’s Guide. Read his reviews in CBG each month.
(Image (c)2010 Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment)