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Archer: The Complete Season Two(TV) (2011)
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 Two and the Archer: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray release, see Archer: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on December 30, 2011 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 Two Blu-ray Review
The filthiest, funniest animated sitcom on television.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, December 30, 2011
Like a spy, appropriately enough, Archer snuck up on me. I hadn't really heard anything about it, but from the moment I saw the pilot episode--which was included as a teaser in the bonus features for FX's The League: Season One--I was hooked. Although there are a lot of animated TV series that purport to be for grown-ups--see the entire Adult Swim roster--Archer is more sophisticated than most, while still indulging a juvenile love of bawdy humor, double entendres, and extreme awkwardness. It's creator, Adam Reed, describes it as "James Bond meets Arrested Development," and that's a good start, as the show--which features the voice talents of several former Arrested Development stars--is basically a spy satire about an undercover agent with severe mommy issues. But Archer's influences run far wider than that, riffing on Get Smart and The A-Team and Mad Men, the Cold War and Jonny Quest, with pop-culture allusions galore and whip-smart references that would soar miles over the heads of younger viewers. It has cult-classic status written all over it.
The show's enfant terrible is Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin), a womanizing, thirtysomething superspy with a Don Draper haircut who frequently forgets the "secret" aspect of being a secret agent, bragging about his espionage skills in order to get laid. Archer works for ISIS, a government-contracted intelligence agency run by his domineering, materialistic lush of a mother, Malory. (Voiced by Arrested Development's Jessica Walter, who basically reprises her Lucille Bluth role here, down to the winking and mid-afternoon hangovers.) "Intelligence agency" is quite a misnomer for ISIS. The company is staffed by a motley crew of weirdos who revel in their interpersonal problems and take workplace dysfunction to a whole new level. There's Malory's ditzy, glue-drinking secretary, Cheryl (A.D.'s Judy Greer) and the agency's overweight, spliff-smoking HR director, Pam Poovey (Amber Nash), mad scientist Doctor Krieger (Lucky Yates)--who may, we learn, be a clone of Hitler--and well-endowed but dorky comptroller, Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell). The only ones who seem remotely competent at their jobs are Archer's fellow field agents, his ex, Lana (Aisha Tyler)--a submachine gun-toting badass who's subject to frequent sexual harassment--and gay intelligence analyst Ray Gillette (Adam Reed), who's expletive of choice is "Dukes!"
Archer's first season took some time to find its stride, but season two starts strong and rarely lets up. In the premiere episode, "Swiss Miss," the ISIS crew is tasked with protecting a buxom, sixteen-going-on-seventeen Germain heiress and would-be Lolita. In rare form, the sex-obsessed Archer resists temptation, but his fellow field agents keep discovering him in compromising positions with the endangered underaged maiden, who tantalizingly reminds him that in Germany, the age of consent is fourteen. "What is it," Archer replies, "the Alabama of Europe?" Just two episodes later, in "Blood Test," Archer's past sexual indiscretions come back to haunt him when his "favorite hooker" gives birth to a child--Wee Baby Seamus-- that she claims is his. Judging from the kid's preference for a martini glass over a bottle, I think we can all agree that the prozzie's accusation stands up to scrutiny.
Later, in a two-episode story arc, Archer gets an even bigger surprise when he's diagnosed with breast cancer. Somehow, as our square-jawed hero foils the schemes of criminals selling counterfeit chemo drugs made from sucrose and Zima, the show wrangles big laughs out of a subject that's normally too taboo for most comedies. If I had to describe Archer's humor in one world, it would definitely be irreverent. This, after all, is a show in which the main character accidentally discovers his mother's vibrator in one episode, and goes on a dangerous mission to Monte Carlo in another to recover one of her sex tapes. Yes, one of them. There are presumably more. You could make a drinking game out of the number of times Archer throws up when imagining his mother with a man.
Like the best office satires, Archer thrives on zingy workplace banter, ridiculous situations, and well-written characters, and it has all three in spades. (Fans will be glad to see that Gillette has been given much more to do this season. Double-dukes!) I have fleeting moments where I really wish the show was a live-action series, but then my mind snaps back to reality when Archer does something that could never be done in traditional television, like throwing his newborn through the air as a distraction so he can push a decrepit WWI veteran off the ledge of a building. And besides, one of the show's main attractions is its slick visual style, a digital upgrade to Hanna-Barbera's Jonny Quest animation as filtered through the iconic 1960s production design of Mad Men. The show is set in a vague, alternate universe present where the characters use modern devices like cell phones but dress like they're straight out of a Sean Connery-era James Bond film. Russia is still the U.S.S.R., and the Cold War is very much in full effect. In the brilliant two-part season finale, Archer travels deep behind enemy lines, where he's captured by KGB head Nikolai Jakov (Peter Newman), whose last name is one of the series' best running gags.
Archer: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray, Video Quality
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 Two 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. Aside from some slight aliasing on a few fine parallel lines, I didn't really notice any 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 Two Blu-ray, Audio Quality
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 Two Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This two-disc set is unfortunately short on supplements--alas, there are no commentaries--but there are at least a few short, entertaining extras.
Archer: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
As far as I'm concerned, Archer is one of, if not the best animated sitcom on TV--witty, irreverent, and deliciously absurd in equal measures. The show seems tailor-made for Arrested Development fans, so if you mourned the demise of the Bluths, Archer should keep you occupied until the new Arrested episodes and movie debut next year. Although the set is slim on extras--I would've loved a commentary or two or three--the series looks fantastic on Blu-ray and comes easily recommended.
Archer: Other Seasons
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Archer: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray, News and Updates
• 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 ...
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