Monday, 19 January 2015

Archer Season 1 (2009)

A lot of TV shows suffer from something of an identity crisis.  That may manifest as inconsistent writing of characters (hello, Star Trek Voyager), or a crippling lack of consistency in the show's internal mythology (The X-Files, anyone?).  Sometimes it's more subtle than that: one of the (several) reasons I didn't like the Battlestar Galactica reboot was that I wanted to see the gritty military SF it presented itself to be, but that wasn't the show we got.

One of the nice things about Archer then, is that it knows exactly what show it means to be, and it communicates very effectively what that show is.  By the time the opening credits roll on the first episode, you'll already know if it is something you want to watch.

Sterling Archer - code name 'Duchess' - is one of the most feared secret agents in the world.  He's also a narcissistic manchild with serious Mommy issues ... which still makes him one of the most balanced and well-adjusted people in the ISIS agency.  It's just that he cares less about hiding his dysfunction than most of the people around him do.

Basically, if the idea of an animated James Bond parody with a hugely wrong sense of humour appeals to you, then you should check out Archer.  Just don't underestimate what I mean when I call it "wrong".  There's pretty much no sacred cow this show won't slaughter in pursuit of a gag.  And then it'll probably bathe in the cow's bloody entrails.

The show doesn't rely on lazy 'gross out' jokes, though.  It's definitely full of "I can't believe they just said that" stuff, but it's also very sharp and very clever, and slips in some great little references.  For instance, there's a deft little gag about Chekov's gun in the second episode.

Archer will definitely not be to all tastes, but if you watch the first two minutes and like it, you're going to enjoy the show.  What you get is exactly what is on the tin.

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