Binge Watchin' TV Review: Archer
Welcome to Binge Watchin,’ where we take a look at some of the best TV shows available on streaming or disc that have a great catalogue of seasons to jump into and get sucked into the beautiful bliss of binge watching! From crime, action, comedy, drama, animation, etc., we’ll be evaluating an assortment of shows that will hopefully serve as a gateway to your next binge experience.
Number of Seasons: 7 (85 episodes to date)
What’s the show about?
Archer follows the exploits of Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) and his team of spies and secret agents. Formerly of the organization ISIS and the CIA, Archer's team is led by his mother, Malory Archer. Archer heads on missions both political and criminal in nature and is accompanied by agent and ex-girlfriend Lana Kane, as well as openly gay field agent Ray Gillette, comptroller and wannabe spy Cyril Figgis, sexually voracious HR manager Pam Poovey, dimwitted secretary Cheryl Tunt, and possible Hitler clone Dr. Algernop Krieger. Through the years, Archer has bedded countless beautiful women and stopped numerous international threats, all the while managing to reference Kenny Loggins and drink as much as humany possible.
Why should I watch it?
There are not very many animated series aimed at adults quite like Archer. From the creators of Adult Swim cult favorite Sealab 2020 and Frisky Dingo, Archer sends up everything from James Bond to Magnum P.I. This is a show that has elements of Mad Men and WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER and is unlike anything else on television. What makes Archer so good is the freedom the animated format which allows for some of the most profane and insane imagery that would never be possible with a live action show. The great H. Jon Benjamin plays the lead role of Sterling Archer as the coolest douchebag you could ever want to be. Everything he utters is a memorable one-liner without compare. All of this on a show that has created an insane world that is somehow contemporary while also period specific.
The animation style of Archer makes it look as if it was set in a cliche 1960s spy movie and yet references to modern technology abounds. In a single episode, Archer manages to capture elements of 1980s detective series like The Rockford Files while also sending up films like SUNSET BOULEVARD. Much like Adult Swim series The Venture Bros., Archer manages to at once be very childish and incredibly adult. There are a lot of bodily fluids on this show, some of which you would never likely have expected to see on the small screen. Pam Poovey, voiced by the hilarious Amber Nash, manages to reference sexual positions and acts that even the most fervent Internet user may have to Google. The voice cast here is impeccable with veterans of everything from Arrested Development to Saturday Night Live and they all bring their talents for improvisation to make Archer feel off the cuff even though it is expertly scripted.
Keep in mind that Archer is full of horrible people. These are great characters but they are not good human beings. From violence to scientific abominations all the way to incestual references and adultery, Archer breaks every single moral you could conceivably have. But, they do it so damn hilariously that you don't have to feel bad about laughing when they do it. There are robots, spies, hookers, drugs, and so much more. It is also one of the most visually distinctive animated series on the air. I defy you to not watch any episode of the show and not laugh multiple times. Archer is perfect for binge-watching thanks to the loosely serialized nature of the seasons which carry narrative elements but also work as standalone viewing.
The second season is by far the best as every single iconic line you quote from the show probably originated in one of these shows. Featuring the origin stories and standalone episodes for several supporting characters, the second season of Archer features the first appearance by Archer's flame, Katya, and a brilliant guest appearance from Jeffrey Tambor. There are also dual appearances from Darth Maul himself, Peter Serafinowicz, who appears as two different characters.
With three more seasons announced, Archer is not going anywhere for quite some time. That means that you have plenty of time to binge the first seven seasons all the way up to the recent season finale which has one of the biggest cliffhangers on any television show. Stop along the way as creator Adam Reed has rebooted the show three different times and recreated it as a Grand Theft Auto style crime saga to the current private detective agency format. No matter where you start, Archer is definitely going to have you feeling like a terrible person in a way only the best series can.