Archer Season 5
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Join suave super-spy Sterling Archer and his fellow covert government operatives for more irreverent adventures across the globe. With an overabundance of cocaine at their disposal, the team forms a cartel and sets out to sell the drug. As this dubious new venture speeds into hilarious motion, the team deals with addiction, Cheryl's turn as a country singer, an FBI bust, an open marriage, Kenny Loggins, a South American dictator, and an announcement Archer couldn't have imagined in his murkiest, tequila-influenced haze. Loaded with sexy, animated fun and all 13 outrageous episodes, the 5th action-packed season of Archer comes with a cool stash of classified extras.
Top customer reviews
The sheer number of commercials is intrusive (and kind of a problem if downloading to a storage-space-sensitive portable device)... not "I'm giving this funny series only one star on principle" intrusive, but "I gotta at least dock a single star" intrusive. You will hate Justified and The Americans by the time you are six episodes in, just from watching the promos over and over. Having to watch commercials in a show I paid for isn't quite bad enough to make me give up Archer just yet, but it's one of the only shows funny enough for me to grudgingly put up with it.
Long story short: start with season one if you have never watched Archer. If you are a long time viewer and still on the fence and actually need a review, wait for the DVD.
This series is about comically inept spy organization that free-lances. The lead character is Sterling Archer, qûite good at fighting but hit-or-miss in the IQ department, reminiscent of Maxwell Smart of Get Smart. His sense of morality is well-nigh non-existent. When it comes right down to it, he is capable of feeling love for some people but most of the time he is rude, uncaring, arrogant and cruel. It's to the creators credit that they've managed to make me have a certain liking of him. (He has a foe, a cyborg named Barry Dillon, who dearly wants to kill Archer. I naturally don't root for Barry but when I consider Barry's reasons for wanting Archer dead, I sympathize. In his shoes, I'd want to kill Archer, too.).
The questionable morality of most of the characters reminds me of the people in Howard Chaykin's American Flagg comic book series. Thank God that in Archer there is some heart and quite a bit of humor to leaven the ruthlessness.
This show is definitely not for a lot of people, but for those that can accept it, it is unique, intelligent and extremely funny.
Thanks to a certain licensing indiscretion on the part of Mallory Archer (Jessica Walters), the spy agency known as ISIS suddenly finds itself on the run from US authorities with nothing but its employees’ assets and a huge supply of cocaine seized in a previous operation to keep them afloat. From there, the story explodes into a bunch of different directions as each character does their own little thing while still staying within earshot of Cheryl (Judy Greer), who decides to become a country singer (called “Cherlene”) with Ray (Adam Reed) as her teacher and Mallory as her agent/manager. Meanwhile, Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) and Lana (Aisha Tyler), pregnant with their child, do their best to get into the drug-dealing business—with disastrous results—in the hopes that they can sell some before Pam (Amber Nash) ingests it all and loses a lot of weight. The musical tour and the failing drug ring lands them in a South American country with a dictator whose political power just might get ceded to Cyril (Chris Parnell) and potential proof to the rumors about those “Boys from Brazil”, much to Krieger’s (Lucky Yates) dismay.
No one can say Archer Vice lacks ambition – that’s really what this season is all about, and if it does anything, it proves that these characters are still entertaining and can retain their general characterization and zaniness even if you remove them completely from the safety of their established roles or surroundings. Sure, Ray is still the responsible spy who pays for Archer’s indiscretions or stupidity, and yes, Mallory is still her usual controlling self, but Archer Vice proves she doesn’t need the official rank of “boss” to inspire the obedience she’s so used to exploiting. None of the characters really need their traditional jobs to have the kind of adventures or do the stupid things we’ve come to expect of them. Who they are isn’t dependent on their environment or job, but rather on being part of the very strange family that Mallory Archer has assembled.
It doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment until you consider just how many sitcom characters are dependent on the very narrow role assigned to them. How many sitcom dads actually have much discernible character once you strip away the stereotypical “dad” persona? Or teachers or secretaries? In so many sitcoms the characters sink into their roles and rarely do they do anything crazy if it doesn’t make sense for the character in that role to do it. Archer has always kind of bucked that trend (with HR lady Pam and secretary Cheryl constantly stowing away on missions) but with Archer Vice it absolutely eviscerated that practice to see just how long the characters could stay intact when everything but their personalities get stripped away.
As great experiments as it is—considering it’s probably one that few other shows will likely endeavor to recreate—the ultimate sacrifice is the comedy. The fifth season has a lot of overarching narrative to cover and so you don’t get as many punchlines per episode like you used to when the writers didn’t have to worry where the characters will end up or how they’d get there. The long-form storytelling of the season takes precedence in the writing and it’s noticeable. It’s still very much worth watching for fans, but that shift in tone from a show that’s largely about comedy with elements of a larger spy story tied in to something with inverted priorities is felt even if you’ve only seen one or two seasons before it.
So admire it for what it is—a bold one-off undertaking—and then put it out of your mind, because if the sixth season has shown us anything it’s that while the events of Archer Vice will have lasting impacts, the traditional office- and mission-based format is back to stay.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
A music video for Cherlene Tunt’s hit song “Midnight Blues”, an interview with Cheryl in character as Cherlene, and, keeping with the musical theme of the extras, a little song-and-dance piece further reminding us of Pam’s farm-raised roots in “Old Pam Poovey Had a Farm”. They’re all amusing one-offs, though compared to the first two, Pam’s musical comes a little out of nowhere in the context of the season.
[Originally posted at JustPressPlay.net]
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