Monday, February 27, 2017
Orange County Screenwriters Association
Monday, February 27, 2017

Monday, February 27, 2017

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In Praise of - ARCHER

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Admittedly, I'm late to this party.  I've only been watching "Archer" for the last few seasons although I have recently gone back and I am re-watching everything from the first season that debuted in 2009.

How was I so blind?  I heard the word-of-mouth from a friend whose opinion I trust and didn't follow up on it.  I saw the awards, I heard the reviews...I just didn't act on any of that. Damn my lazy viewing spine!  I have miles to go before I sleep and watching a show this terrific should be on everyone's first up list.

And thank god for streaming.  Netflix specifically which has most of the seasons available allowing me to continue to right this egregious wrong.  😀

archer season 6 episode 10 lana and archerFor those who do not know, "Archer" is an animated (brilliantly drawn), satiric take (also brilliantly written) at many so-called spy novels and movies. Nothing is really sacred here including sexual mores, political and socio-economic establishments or - well, you name, the writers go after it.

I mean we all saw the Bond films where the bad guy sets a trap and captures Bond then leaves.  Of course Bond is going to escape.  And we're thinking: why did he just shoot Bond in the head and be done with it?  Why strap him to a table and send a cutting laser toward his balls? But we really don't think long or hard on it because Bond is just so damned cool.

"Archer" pops a lot of those sacred tropes.  The genius that is Adam Reed must have thought to himself those movie are both cool and stupid.  And Archer himself is both really cool and really self-destructively stupid.  In a hilarious way.

The titular character, Sterling Archer (voiced wonderfully by H. Jon Benjamin), is an abusive, alcoholic, ego-maniacal "secret" agent in a terribly dysfunctional spy agency run by his mother (Mallory Archer, voiced by TV pro Jessica Walter) who herself was a former secret agent with uh, questionable values.  The agency is populated by series regulars Lana Kane (voiced by Alysha Tyler) who has an on-again off-again relationship with Archer, office wonk Cheryl Tunt (Judy Greer), gay agent Ray Gillette (Adam Reed), accountant/agent Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell), HR officer  Pam Poovey, (Amber Nash), mad scientist Doctor Krieger (Lucky Yates), and Archer's Man Friday Woodhouse (George Koe/Tom Kane.)  Various other rotating characters float in and out of each season adding to the wonderfulness.

archerHow to describe "Archer?"  That's almost impossible.  There is no way to simply and succinctly characterize this truly amazing series created and written by Adam Reed.   These characters are so unique and their outlook so twisted and wonderful that your expectations are constantly challenged.  The character actors have such incredible comedic timing and the writing is so crisp, so razor fine you could cut yourself shaving on it.

Check out some of the more well-known Archerisms.

Phrasing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyLWrKh2fB0

"Phrasing" became so overused they finally stopped using it but every character still asks about it "Are we not using phrasing anymore?"

Nicknames: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjR8VphNdGo

No sacred cows here.  Everything is up for examination and ultimately sarcasm.

One of the more wonderfully twisted aspects of this show is the time frame; there is none really.  While in one scene a character might be using a cell a709 06phone that looks like an old Motorola brick, the next scene will have the characters on a space station.  Cars might be today's latest (or nothing you've ever seen before) or yesterday's classics.  Clothing (always wonderfully optional for any character) is somewhat retro but then again Cheryl always seems to be dressed in current finery and Mallory (Archer's mom) is always sartorially, classically splendid.

What's most compelling (and funny) about Archer is perhaps just the way they take characters to extremes.  Pam is a great example.  She is a pam usawonderful combination of down-to-earth farm-raised woman, eating and coke-snorting machine and sexual predator of any man or woman in the room.  She's a hard-brawling fem who can go bare-knuckle toe-to-toe with any man.  She can rock your world in many senses and does each show.  Nothing, and I mean nothing is seemingly beyond her.

Likewise Archer himself.  How many times has he thrown someone's clothing off the roof to punish them for a perceived slight?  Or drank himself into insensibility during a mission?  Or slept with just about anyone he fancied no matter the consequences.  Hmmm. well, he's a lot like Pam I guess in some ways but he's also the self-described "Greatest Secret Agent in the World."  And that in and of itself is hilarious because the very definition of a secret agent is, well, secret.  Archer is just as likely to try to impress a woman in a Russian bar filled with KGB agents (yes, they use the old-school Russian spy agency) by telling her exactly what he's doing there.  And he shoots an inordinate amount of people either accidentally or just to shut them up because they're irritating him.

There is nothing off-limits to this show including sexuality.  All manners of combinations of fetish is explored including Cheryl's love of being choked during sex, and Krieger's totally inappropriately-aged, 3D, Japanese hologram who he has married.  No, this one is not for the kiddies. 

I truly cannot think of a more profane and unique show.  I'm not what you'd call a lover of animation so I don't know what Adult Swim might offer - and the animation factor  may be one of the reasons I resisted Archer so long - but I have to think that this show tops them all.  I know that every single time I mention Archer  those who Archer.2009.S05E09.REPACK.720p.HDTV .x264 KILLERS.mkv 20140326 192116.609have followed it are effusive with praise.  They smile and go inward remembering their favorite moments.

There is just so many twisted, funny and unique things about the show I can't possibly do it justice.  Seek it out.  Watch it and be amazed at how lame everything else on TV (and movies) seems in comparison.

Archer started in 2009 and is listed on IMDB as going into 2019 - oh, pray that that's true.  In fact, could it please reign as long as The Simpsons?  Please?

Archer can be found on Netflix and it's original and continuing home on FX.

Long may it come into our homes.

Uh, phrasing?

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