on October 27, 2013
OVERVIEW: The comedy series "Archer," created by Adam Reed, was first announced on FX in the fall of 2009. Reed credits the inspiration for the show to a personal experience in which he was unable to muster up the charisma to hit on a beautiful woman; he later fantasized about a suave, debonair spy who would always have the right moves. I have absolutely fallen in love with "Archer;" I can't get enough of the continuous wit and exceptionally clever dialog. Unlike other animated shows, "Archer" utilizes complex plotting as well as character development, allowing viewers to watch and rewatch episodes without sacrificing entertainment value. I am personally humbled by the various cultural references employed by the writers--it just goes to show how involved intellect must be in creating comedy. I fully understand that much of the show's content may be deemed offensive to some viewers, so to enjoy it, it's best to keep in mind that "Archer" is written in a satirical manner. It is fair to warn, however, that the series earns its TV/MA rating quite well through use of crude language, violence, and sexual situations; basically, it's probably not suitable for children or anyone who isn't a fan of that sort of comedy.
The storyline centers around Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) who is the sort of spy Reed had imagined, only with a few extra character `flaws'--he is pretty much a sociopath. Despite bearing the codename Duchess, Archer is considered the world's most dangerous spy; were he not absorbed with promiscuity, alcoholism, expensive toys and tactlenecks, he might also be considered the world's best spy. Archer works for his self-centered and emotionally distant mother, Malory Archer (Jessica Walter), at the International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS) based in New York City. Fellow ISIS employees include agent Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler), comptroller Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell), agent Ray Gillette (Adam Reed), HR Director Pam Poovey (Amber Nash), Head of Applied Research Dr. Algernop Krieger (Lucky Yates), ISIS whipping-boy Brett Buckley (Neal Holman), and nut-job secretary Cheryl Tunt (Judy Greer). Other recurring cast-members include: ODIN agent Barry Dylan (Dave Willis) and Archer's valet, Woodhouse (George Coe; Roy McCrery in flashbacks).
Season 1 Guest Stars: mole agent Crenshaw aka Kremenski (Shelly Desai), Cuban agent Charles (Thomas Lennon), Cuban agent Rudy (R. Ben Garant), UN Intelligence Committee Chairman Torvald Utne (Jeffrey Tambor), head of ODIN Len Trexler (Jeffrey Tambor), freelance assassin Elke Hubsch aka "The Needle" (Audrey Wasilewski), former Cuban spy Ramon Limon (Ron Perlman), German freelance assassin Mannfred (René Auberjonois), German freelance assassin Uta (Kat Cressida), and double agent Conway Stern (Coby Bell).
ARCHER: THE COMPLETE SEASON ONE--premiered on January 14, 2010 with the episode "Training Day." The first season focuses on introducing the main characters and their manners of interaction. The various plots also set in motion a few themes that carry into later seasons; just a few examples: Who is Archer's father? Will Lana and Archer get back together? What will come of the rivalry between Barry and Archer? Why does Woodhouse take such abuse?
SPECIAL FEATURES: [10 Episodes/2 Discs] The Original Unaired "Archer" Pilot*, Deleted Scenes, Unaired Network Promo, The "League" Pilot Episode, "Louie" Pilot Episode, and The Making of "Archer": 3D Animation, Art Direction, Backgrounds, and Storyboards.
Episode 1*: "Mole Hunt"--(unaired pilot) The season opens on a simulation exercise where Sterling Archer is being interrogated by fellow agent Crenshaw. We learn Archer's codename, Duchess, is actually an homage to Malory's beloved and deceased Afghan Hound. When Archer is pressed to settle his ISIS expense account, he fabricates a mole hunt in hopes that fear-mongering will convince Pam to grant him mainframe access. Once he realizes none of his coworkers are going to help him get into the mainframe, Archer employs his super-spy techniques to break in. During his after-hours ISIS infiltration, Archer accidentally discovers a real mole, Crenshaw/Kremenski, misappropriating funds for his escape back to Russia. Now that the fabricated mole, coincidentally, turns out to be real, Archer must use his powers of `classic misdirection' to save ISIS (and settle his expense account).
Episode 2: "Training Day"--A drunken Sterling accidentally foils the plans of an IRA suicide bomber, thus saving the `bacon' of an English diplomat (who Archer refers to as Santa Claus). Lana, to the dismay of Cyril and Malory, appears a little gaga over Archer's knack for heroism. In order to keep Lana's attention on Cyril, Malory intervenes and orders Archer to train Cyril as an agent; Archer takes it upon himself to prepare Cyril for failure, prostitutes, and other smut.
Episode 3: "Diversity Hire"--Due to some recent `vacancies,' ISIS is low on minority agents. Malory hires Conway Stern, a `double whammy,' to fill the diversity quota as is mandatory for tax deduction status. Lana, for fear that her continuing tenure as top agent may be threatened, questions Conway's legitimacy as an ISIS agent; Archer focuses on intercepting the possibility that his mother and Conway might engage in a sexual relationship.
Episode 4: "Killing Utne"--In order to swindle a lucrative contract, Malory plans a dinner party to seduce Torvald Utne, the chairman of the UN Intelligence Committee. Even though Sterling is forbidden to bring a date, he runs into Elke Hubsch on the street. Elke, aka "The Needle," gives Archer the impression that she is `for hire,' but she is actually an undercover assassin tasked with killing Utne. Meanwhile, Malory has hired Mannfred and Uta (German freelance assassins) to pose as wait-staff; she actually arranges for the fair to pretend to assassinate Utne so that her ISIS agents can foil the plot and save Utne's life, and thereby secure the UN contract.
Episode 5: "Honeypot"--Ramon Limon, a Cuban spy, obtains a sex tape that stars Nikolai Jakov, head of the KGB, and Malory Archer, head of ISIS. If the video is leaked, Malory can be charged with treason, which is possibly a ploy by Nikolai to force Malory to defect to Russia. In order to retrieve the video, Malory gives Ramon her South Beach condo. Archer is then dispatched to carry out the `honeypot,' which involves Archer attempting to seduce Ramon. In the meantime, Woodhouse regales undercover Cuban agents, Charles and Rudy, with romantic war stories from his past.
Episode 6: "Skorpio"--Lana takes a job recovering stolen missiles from notorious arms dealer Skorpio; the bounty will allow her to remodel her kitchen and the cruise of the French Riviera, aboard Skorpio's super-yacht, will given her a much-needed vacation from clingy boyfriend, Cyril. Malory tags along for a `conference' that is actually her own romantic cruise aboard a boat with Nikolai Jakov. Back at ISIS, the crew torments Cyril with thoughts of what Lana is ACTUALLY doing. When Lana's mission goes south, Archer is dispatched to rescue her.
Episode 7: "Skytanic"--The new rigid airship, Excelsior, receives a bomb threat which targets its maiden voyage. ISIS is contacted to place agents Lana Kane and Sterling Archer aboard in hopes that they can thwart the terror plot. Malory, jealous that her neighbor Trudy Beakman will on board for Excelsior's premier voyage, uses her connections to con a VIP cabin, thus bumping Trudy from the trip's roster. Fearing what may come of Lana and Archer sharing a cabin, Cyril sneaks onboard along with Pam and Cheryl; Cheryl continues to blackmail Cyril into sleeping with her.
Episode 8: "The Rock"--In hopes of gaining a security contract, Lana and Archer infiltrate San Mariano's palace, exposing any flaws in the security system. Despite their work, the long-term contract is awarded to rival agency ODIN, headed by Len Trexler. Cyril reveals to Pam and Cheryl that he has bought a ring and plans to propose to Lana; he is humiliated when the girls laugh at the tiny ring, spurring all ISIS employees to reflect on their meager salaries. The `drones' form a union and go on strike; Lana, Archer, and Malory are considered `management' because of their more significant incomes. Because of the strike, Lana and Archer must attempt a mission designed to reap revenge on ODIN and San Mariano without the aid of agency intell and satellite support.
Episode 9: "Job Offer"--Lana becomes frustrated when Archer fumbles during the pursuit of Kasparov. After ODIN swoops in and takes credit for the capture, Barry Dylan (Archer's nemesis) offers Lana a position at ODIN. Cyril fears Lana may leave him for Barry, so he follows her to Paris for the interview. When Malory fires Sterling, he seeks employment with ODIN as well; Malory retaliates against her son by blacklisting him. Archer further antagonizes Barry by sleeping with his fiancé, François, in his new office. Once ODIN receives the burn notice on Archer, Barry happily accepts the opportunity to assassinate him; Lana has to choose between Archer and her new job.
Episode 10: "Dial M for Mother"--Now that Cyril's secret has been exposed, ISIS puts a ban on interoffice relationships. Lana seeks revenge on the cheating Cyril by sleeping with everyone in the office. Malory's secret about Sterling's paternity comes into question as well, and the top candidates seem to be Nikolai Jakov of the KGB, Len Trexler of ODIN, and Buddy Rich. Upset that he may not be Archer's father after all, Nikolai arranges for Mannfred and Uta to capture Sterling and implant a mind-control chip in his brain; Nikolai intends to use the chip to force Archer into killing his mother.