If you like James Bond and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, you’ll adore Archer. This fast paced, ridiculous, smart, vulgar and most importantly hilarious show combines the wit and dark sense of humour of creator Adam Reed with an amazingly talented voice cast, to create one of the highest rated adult animated series on TV right now. In the honour of the latest episode being released tonight, I thought I’d talk a bit about the show’s current direction.
Something that every TV lover painstakingly awaits is a show’s demise. Sometimes it happens slowly, sometimes in a blink, but it usually happens at some point in a show’s airing. I, being an optimist, and seeing the true value of Archer, never thought this day would occur. The show is on its sixth season now, and the past five have been more than phenomenal. The fifth season took on a huge turn when the company we knew and loved, ISIS, was shut down by the CIA, and our lovable secret agents were turned into rogue drug dealers. It was a crazy turn of events, and in the beginning, something that I wasn’t a huge fan of, but as season five progressed, I began to fall in love all over again. The most important aspect of the show didn’t change: the characters. Each character performed in their predictable, crude ways, and it was so exciting seeing them in a variety of new environments and taking on new threats. It was amazing, and I loved it.
Season five ended last April, giving me not a lot to do with my time, seeing that Archer was really the only TV show I watched. I went three weeks with no television. Eventually, it fazed me that I couldn’t get along without my favorite characters, so I started re-watching old episodes. I was astounded; I went back to the first episode of the first season, and the show was flawless. I re-watched the entire five seasons in Archer’s 10-month hiatus, and was so proud to be a fan. I mean, how many shows can you think of that were perfect right from the get-go and stayed that way for the rest of their run? Not many. I mean even my other all time favorite show, Friends, wasn’t that great for the first and last couple seasons. I couldn’t wait until Archer returned to the screen, it had never let me down before, so why would it now?
Season six debuted, and it started out a little slower than I expected. The first episode, “The Holdout”, we see Archer in Thailand, once again running away from his problems, this one being his new child with Lana. Malory gives him a mission to blow up a crashed cargo plane and he then meets a Japanese war veteran who hasn’t realized the war was over, and ends up teaching him about the value of family. Archer returns to America ready to be a father. This episode wasn’t bad…it wasn’t great but I mean I didn’t have any major complaints, and I was excited that Archer was so ready to be a responsible parent. I mean this was the guy who got matching tattoos with Seamus, his other son (but not really – it’s a long story) with prostitute Trinette.
Episode two of the sixth season was where I was really let down. The premise of this episode was supposed to be where Archer and Lana rekindle their hatred of Conway Stern, a double agent who stabbed Archer in the back…literally. I was so excited to see Conway again, he hadn’t been in an episode since the beginning of the first season. Sadly, this episode didn’t quench my thirst. It seemed…fake. I honestly thought that someone else wrote this episode because it seemed like it was an imitation of Adam Reed’s style. The dialogue wasn’t as witty, the plot was stupid and the fact that Lana and Archer walked into Conway’s trap AGAIN was hard to believe. Lana has always been the rock in the show, she always knows what to do and what’s best, and now the fact that she was just following Conway and not thinking for herself was a hard to swallow. What I did like about this episode was again, the fact that Archer was taking responsibility for AJ, their baby, when asking Lana what would happen to AJ if they were both killed in action.
I enjoyed the third episode, “The Archer Sanction”, which was in reference to a really obscure Clint Eastwood movie. This episode reminded me of the good old days – Archer wasn’t prepared for the mission, Ray was being his fabulous, flamboyant self, and Lana and Archer’s witty banter was on point. One thing I didn’t really understand in this episode was when the rest of the gang went to Malory’s apartment to look for AJ (Lana was convinced that Malory absconded with her child while they were on a mission), and Pam went into the kitchen to find food. Later on in the episode, we see everyone in the apartment throwing up, and Krieger discovers the fogging insecticide NOT HIDDEN in the kitchen. How did Pam not notice that when she was in the kitchen before? Whatever, the episode ended off well and I thought things were getting back to the way it was before.
The fourth episode hit me hard. This was another episode that I was insanely excited for because of the introduction of a new character, Edie, Pam’s sister. Edie was getting married and Archer decided to be Pam’s date for the wedding. This also marked the return of Barry, who was last seen being controlled by his cyborg girlfriend, Katya in season four. Again, there was something missing with this episode. It didn’t seem real – for some reason the characters weren’t written in their usual demeanor. Archer was being way too nice to Pam, it was like he really cared for her well-being. Archer’s ‘kindness’ really hasn’t been a reoccurring theme in the show so it was a little offputting. Secondly, Pam’s sister wasn’t written in a way that you could connect with her. I’ve found that every single character in the show was written in a way that even if they were a bad person, you could still connect to them and they were still likeable and funny. Maybe in this episode, they were trying to make the audience hate Edie as much as Pam did, but to be honest, I just saw Edie as a minor annoyance. I mean if she wasn’t even in the episode, I don’t think I would have noticed or cared. The show has always had a moral code, a part of it being that family is family and you love them no matter what. We can see this with Archer and Malory or Ray and his brother Randy, but I really felt nothing between Pam and Edie. No sisterly love, no hidden warmth…nothing. Barry was also written in a different way. He’s usually oddly charming and funny, but in this episode he was just overly angry and trying to hard too seem crazy. This episode just didn’t have any heart to it; it was a major disappointment.
So far, the sixth season has had it’s ups and downs, but I’m hoping as the season goes on the show regains it’s footing. I had high hopes because FX did pick up the show for another two seasons last year, so I thought that they would have had more time to craft something excellent for the sixth and seventh season. Tonight’s episode is called Vision Quest, and the promo trailer debuted the plot ass the gang getting stuck in an elevator. I’m really excited for this episode, the idea is great, I love seeing all the characters interacting with each other, and I’m hoping that the writing is as sleek and smart as ever. As you can see, I’m still hopeful.