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The last season (season 9) of Archer was an atrocious piece of television that didn't make me smile once. I don't use rating systems in my reviews, but season 10 is easily 1.5 points better than the last season. It's not really enough.
Continuing the theme of not being the regular Archer theme, season 10 is a sci-fi adventure. And all that's can be said of it without retreading the same ground I followed after the previous goddamn seasons: we have to reinvent all the relationships and all the character dynamics, just to try and create something that's vaguely similar, sans running gags and clever in-bedded humour.
I get why they do this. They took the piss out of 60s/70s spy tropes, why not take the piss out of other adventure genres? Why not try the franchise on other settings, if that stuff is purely the window dressing to clever writing and fun characters? But as soon as I finish season 10, I revert back to season 2 and see how much smarter and snappier the writing is, even when they're joking about fucking teenage princesses, presented with scratchy Flash-style animations.
As I said, season 10 gets 1.5 points better than the last season. I occasionally smiled. Some episodes I even laughed. And the finest thing about it is the season ends on a two parter episode that promises to FINALLY promises to return to the original 60s spy format. That earns them half a mark alone. But only half, because I have no idea if they understand the rest of the things that make Archer work.
Last week I suggested that the new animated TV show Disenchanted needed a couple more seasons to develop its gags and characters. Archer as of now is into its ninth season and is doing its damnedest to avoid all of its already developed gags and characters.
For the last couple of seasons, Archer picks a new setting each time, and as such, has to reinvent the wheel each season. Each of the same characters need to be reintroduced, their dynamics re-established, their story role recreated. It's a horrible handicap to give to a series that is renowned for running gags, callbacks and longform story telling, bringing us weaker and weaker seasons. Which brings us to season nine, yet again hitting the reset button and displacing the story to a 1930s adventure island. How does it fair this time? Well, by the time I finished I realised I hadn't laughed once over all ten episodes.
Nine is a disaster, with infrequent and unfunny jokes, a lack of decent character dynamics to play off of, and a lack of imagination when it comes to the brand new setting. It even recycles a few gags from the previous better seasons, only to start playing them straight for the sake of this new story. Most of the main cast don't have enough to do in their new roles, and have to act out of character to accommodate some of the more bizarre conceits thrown in. For instance, Klinger is a talking parrot now, and that's his entire joke for the whole season; hey, parrots aren't eloquent! What's the deal with that? Where did that rapid wit and knack for clever, esoteric references go?
The worst thing though is how the season ends with an assurance that we will, yet again, be jumping to another location for the final season. What a disappointment.
Its about a secret agency company called ISIS. They have a lot of messed up people working there, which is why they are always getting outclassed by a rival secret spy agency called ODIN. The main character (Archer, yea his name's in the show title) is a real douche (funny word !!) with some real bad mom and dad issues. Then there's his ex-girlfriend, Lana Kane. I fucking hate that bitch. It's mostly stems from her uppity attitude because she's considered the most attractive female working at ISIS. Also, I don't like how she treats my favorite character Cyril. I mean, She treats the guy like someone she only keeps around as a romantic safety measure but actually acts like she's the victim when he cheats on her (typical bitch behavior). The other characters, eh I don't like them enough to even write anything about them. Just know they're either assholes, bitches, annoying as hell, fucked in the head, or I just don't like them / care about them
Archer is a bizarre hybrid of spy fiction and the workplace comedy, with the show slowly drifting from a spy-fi parody to a character comedy as time goes on. The closest thing to it on TV is theVenture Bros, which shares its twisted pulpy throwback-feel and character and dialogue driven comedy. If you like one, you'll like the other. They also share an awesome amount of weird, esoteric references – how many shows would feature a line like “Who are you, Horace Greeley?”
The show's animation has limited fluidity but great, detailed design work and facial animation (one of the best examples is the episode "The Double Deuce," which contains some absolutely sumptuous flashbacks to the Great War). The show has a cool, retro aesthetic and color palate, influenced by “the dry, martini, tuxedo, and sexy babes” subtype of spy fi. Notably, it is set in a vaguely defined time period in which the Cold War is still on and women wear their hair in beehives and flips, but there are references to modern topics and attitudes, with things like cellphones co-existing with telex machines.
The greatest asset of the show is its superlative voice acting and characterization– every character is fun and shockingly deep at times (some character notes between Archer and his mother are downright heartbreaking). Even the straight woman Lana Kane, who could have been boringly perfect, is played with aplomb by the awesome Aisha Tyler (Yuuuuuhp!). For me, the stand-out characters are the mad scientist Krieger and those two office girls, the gossipy, sad Human Resource officer Pam and the secretary Cheryl, a stupid, insane, evil nymphomaniac/sadomasochistic/asphyxiation-enthusiast who has some of the show's best lines and funniest quirks.
I would strongly recommend this show, with the note that the first six episodes are probably the weakest of the series.
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