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Archer: The Complete Season One(TV) (2009)
At ISIS, an international spy agency, global crises are merely opportunities for its highly trained employees to confuse, undermine, betray and royally screw each other. At the center of it all is suave master spy Sterling Archer, whose less-than-masculine code name is "Duchess." Archer works with his domineering mother Malory, who also is his boss. He also has to deal with his ex-girlfriend, Agent Lana Kane and her new boyfriend, ISIS comptroller Cyril Figgis, as well as Malory\'s lovesick secretary, Cheryl.
For more about Archer: The Complete Season One and the Archer: The Complete Season One Blu-ray release, see Archer: The Complete Season One Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on January 17, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: H. Jon Benjamin, Aisha Tyler, Jessica Walter, Chris Parnell, Judy Greer, Amber Nash
Director: Adam Reed
» See full cast & crew
Archer: The Complete Season One Blu-ray Review
The spy who'll shag anyone.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, January 17, 2012
If you're an animated comedy fan and you're not watching Archer, the spy satire sitcom currently in its third season on FX, well, shame on you. Big shame. On you. Funnier than Family Guy or The Simpsons have been in years, every bit as smart as Futurama, and as charmingly dirty as an R. Crumb cartoon, Archer is most definitely for adults who love sharp writing and bawdy, wink-wink innuendo. Series creator Adam Reed describes his show as "James Bond meets Arrested Development," and I can't think of a more apt comparison. Archer borrows the suave cool, un-PC womanizing, and international intrigue of Sean Connery-era Bond and comedically saddles it with a dysfunctional mother/son relationship of Freudian proportions. Not only that, but it actually features Arrested Development star Jessica Walter--who played the withholding, vindictive Lucille Bluth--in a practically identical role as Malory Archer, the alcoholic, flagrantly sexual mother (and boss) of the show's protagonist, super spy mama's boy Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin), a pistol-packing, turtleneck-wearing ladies man with more mommy issues than Oedipus.
Archer is predominantly set at the headquarters of ISIS, a governmentally-contracted "intelligence" agency--yes, "intelligence" belongs in quotes--run, with startling inefficiency, by the martini-swilling Malory, who's typically found in her wood-paneled office, drunk and/or sexily video-chatting with her covert lover, KGB officer Nikolai Jakov. (Say it out loud.) In the vague timeline of the show's anachronistic universe, the U.S. is still fighting the Cold War with the U.S.S.R., and the characters use tech culled from the last forty years of spy gadgetry--from reel-to-reel recorders to cell phones, archaic mainframe computers the size of a room to night-vison goggles and laser sights. Oh, and they dress like they're straight out of Mad Men. It's a stylistic jumble that perfectly mixes the 1960s, the '80s, and the present.
The darling of ISIS is Sterling, the most dangerous secret agent in the world and an HR department's worst nightmare, routinely stealing money from the company coffers and sexually harassing, well, everyone. If Malory is basically a spy agency- owning version of Lucille Bluth, Sterling is most like Arrested Development's Gob, selfish and self-aggrandizing, a thirtysomething man-boy smartass who's never been able to fully leave his mother's clutches. Archer gets help on his missions from his busty, machine gun-toting and lingerie-wearing ex, Lana (Aisha Tyler), and there's no lack of pent-up physical frustration between the two, especially since Lana is now unhappily dating ISIS's comptroller, Cyrill Figgis (SNL alum Chris Parnell), a dorky but well-endowed wallflower who's so clingy that "Seran-wrap could take a lesson."
The show also follows the ineptitudes of the office "drones," including Cheryl (Judy Greer), Malory's ditzy, erotic asphyxiation- obsessed secretary, Pam Poovey (Amber Nash), the obese and sexually unfulfilled HR director, and Doctor Krieger (Lucky Yates), a kinky mad scientist who enjoys taping "bum fights" when he's not developing a sex-bot named Fister Roboto. ("It does more than just fisting," reminds Pam, helpfully.) If you haven't figured it out by now, sex figures prominently in the characters' minds, and there's no lack of double entendres, dick jokes, and explicit onscreen behavior. In the pilot episode, Archer saves ISIS from a mole when he inadvertently gets an erection while imagining his mother dead in a gutter, which should give you a pretty good idea of how hilariously dark and twisted the show can get.
Archer takes a good two or three episodes to find its narrative stride, establishing the characters and their relationships, but what's apparent from the get-go is how smartly the show is written. Like Arrested Development or Archer's network-mate It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the dialogue is fast and sharp, and there are frequent callbacks to earlier jokes and visual gags, like the on-going allusions to Lana's "man-hands" and Archer's ping-pong paddle spanking fetish. And it's not all low-brow, mind-in-the-gutter stuff. (Though much of it is, loveably.) There are also some cleverly obscure lines that poke fun at their own high-mindedness, like when Archer answers "I would rather not" to some inane request and has to explain to everyone that it's a Bartleby the Scrivener reference.
At only ten episodes, the show's first season is rather short, but this makes for a satisfying quality-over-quantity approach. Each half-hour outing is jam-packed with comic absurdity. In "Honeypot," Archer is tasked with seducing a gay Cuban agent in order to retrieve Malory's missing sex tape, and in "Diversity Hire" ISIS's office is turned upside down by a suave new Jewish/African American employee who isn't who he says he is. Other episodes feature run-ins with "food rapists" and chocolate-loving arms dealers, "frothy" loins, non-flammable dirigibles, and a gay bar called The Cockfight where, well, you get the picture.
Archer: The Complete Season One Blu-ray, Video Quality
I'll reiterate exactly what I said in my review of Archer: The Complete Season Two, as both seasons featuring practically identical picture quality. And that's a very good thing. For any of you out there who still think that a high definition presentation doesn't really benefit simple digital animation, I challenge you--compare the DVD and Blu-ray editions of Archer: Season One side by side and tell me there's no difference. The show simply looks fantastic on Blu- ray, with a 1080p/AVC encode that's crisp and vibrant and nearly entirely free from compression artifacts, despite all ten episodes being crammed onto a single dual-layered disc. Aside from some slight aliasing on a few fine parallel lines, I didn't really notice any real encode or pipeline issues, which definitely gives the Blu-ray a leg up over the show's 1080i, low bit-rate broadcast quality. Archer's visual aesthetic is definitely catchy--with an almost rotoscoped, realistic style that features thick black outlines and eye-popping colors--and it's reproduced just about flawlessly here. There's no color bleed or flicker, and no banding or blotchiness, just a pristine image that looks exactly how it's intended to look. The high marks are well-deserved.
Archer: The Complete Season One Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Audio is also similar to season two. For what's essentially an animated workplace sitcom, Archer features some rather punchy, dynamic sound design, brought to life here via DTS- HD Master Audio 5.1 surround tracks for each episode. Of course, it helps that Archer's workplace is an international spy agency--so you'll hear plenty of explosions, gunshots, and roaring automobiles-- but still, you don't really expect animated shows to have live-action quality soundtracks. The mixes here are very potent-- especially during the more action-heavy scenes--and while the rear channels probably aren't engaged as often as they could've been, the surrounds do get used fairly often for effects. The Mad Men-meets-James Bond score is lively too, and everything sounds clean and bright and balanced. The voice acting sits comfortably in the center channel, and the dialogue is always clear and easily understood. The disc includes optional English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles.
Archer: The Complete Season One Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
I would love to have a few hilarious audio commentaries with the cast and showrunner Adam Reed, but alas, the only substantive bonus feature on the disc is a twenty-minute making-of documentary. Oh, and a version of the pilot where Archer is played by a six-foot-tall velociraptor. No joke.
Archer: The Complete Season One Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Smart, irreverent, and loveably filthy, Archer has quickly become my favorite new animated sit-com. I think I laughed more during this 10-episode collection than I did during the latest seasons of Futurama, The Simpsons, and Family Guy combined. If you're into vintage James Bond and double entendre-laced humor, Arrested Development and Jonny Quest, Archer's definitely worth checking out. The show also looks fantastic on Blu-ray, with a distinctive art style that's gorgeous in high definition. Highly recommended!
Archer: Other Seasons
Archer: The Complete Season One Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Amazon's TV Deal of the Week: Archer on Blu-ray (Expired) - January 16, 2012
Amazon's TV Deal of the Week affects Archer on Blu-ray. This spy spoof stars H. Jon Benjamin (Bob's Burgers) as Sterling Archer, a secret agent more concerned with maintaining a jet-setting lifestyle and annoying his mother (Jessica Walter, Grand Prix) than he ...
• Archer: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray - October 26, 2011
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will bring Archer: The Complete Season Two to Blu-ray in December. The second season of this animated comedy details the misadventures at the ISIS spy agency, focusing primarily on the egotistical, sexist, and casually ...
• Archer: The Complete Season One Blu-ray (Updated) - September 9, 2011
After releasing Archer: The Complete Season One on DVD last December, Fox Home Entertainment has decided to provide a Blu-ray version. FX's animated spy spoof stars H. Jon Benjamin (TV's Bob's Burgers) as Sterling Archer, a secret agent more concerned with maintaining ...
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