Archer: Then why be one?
When Adam Reed, the creator of Sealab 2021 and Frisky Dingo, went to [adult swim] with the idea for Archer, a show aptly described as "James Bond meets Arrested Development", the network passed it over. The FX network saw potential in Archer, however, and greenlit the show, which began to air in September 2009.note
The show follows titular protagonist, "superspy" Sterling Malory Archer, an agent for the open-market spy agency, the International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS; not to be confused with a certain real life Islamist militia), and his random misadventures both inside and outside of the office walls. Archer makes for a well-trained spy—but his Jerkass behavior and his tendency to remain oblivious to everything except himself often renders his competence in the field next-to-useless. One would think ISIS would have fired him or had him eliminated as a liability by now, but...well...the rest of the organization isn't much better.
Archer's humor, much like Arrested Development (and spiritual predecessor Frisky Dingo), relies heavily on Call Backs and Running Gags and, like that show, has a large Ensemble Cast (including a cast member or two from Arrested Development) and Two Lines, No Waiting plots. A fan of either Arrested Development or Frisky Dingo will almost certainly enjoy Archer, whereas someone who found either show repetitive or too low-key probably won't.
With Season 5, the show took a departure from its usual approach as a way to prevent Seasonal Rot and started the theme of titled seasons; In the first episode of Archer Vice, the FBI closes down ISIS, pointing out that the agency was never actually legally sanctioned in the first place. As spies with no other job skills, the staff remain in Malory's employ to further help her "dispose" of the leftover evidence in her concealed vault: a literal, not figurative, metric tonne of ISIS-confiscated cocaine, worth about fifty million dollars, literally changing the entire premise of the show from a spy agency to a drug cartel.
The Vice story finished in the season finale, with ISIS, no longer using that name because of the real life terrorist group, heading into Season 6 with a new direction: being subcontracted by the CIA. After a string of failures, they are permanently blacklisted from espionage.
Season 9, Archer Danger Island, continues the coma theme but goes from noir to Two-Fisted Tales: a tiny pacific island shortly before the outbreak of World War 2 with a new "jungle adventure" themed opening.
Seaon 10 Archer 1999 likewise continued the coma theme, this season being set IN SPACE. This was initially expected to be the final season of the show, but a week before the finale Archer was renewed for an eleventh season that will return the show to its original characters and spy agency setting.
This series has a character sheet, a Shout-Out page, a page listing tropes found on the characters' Twitter feeds, a page of episode summaries (which Needs Wiki Magic Love), and even a page examining the show's time period. You can vote for best episodes here.
Don't confuse this show with the BBC radio soap The Archers or the many other fictional characters who share Sterling's surname. It also has nothing to do with the Archer Archetype (that's about those guys with the bows and arrows).
Do you want tropes? Because that's where you get tropes:
- Tropes A to C
- Tropes D to G
- Tropes H to N
- Tropes O to S
- Tropes T to Z
- Archer Dreamland (Contains unmarked spoilers for the first 7 seasons)
- Archer Danger Island
- Character Blog Tropes