Thursday, May 01, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Archer, season 4 (2013) ***½

TV-MA, 13 20-min. episodes
Creator: Adam Reed

Directors: Adam Reed, Brian Fordney

Writers: Adam Reed, Chris Provenzano, Tesha Condrat, Mike Arnold, Rick Cleveland

Voices: H. Jon Benjamin, Aisha Tyler, Jessica Walter, Chris Parnell, Judy Greer, Amber Nash, Adam Reed, Lucky Yates

Guest voices: Dave Willis, Ron Leibman, John Roberts, Timothy Olyphant, George Coe, Andrew Donnelly, Bobby Ford, Neal Holman, Ona Grauer, Peter Serafinowicz, Anthony Bourdain, Dayton Callie, Carla Jiminez, Nick Searcy, Casey Willis, Chi Duong, Rene Auberjonois, Jon Hamm, Eugene Mirman, Kriten Schaal

Season 4 of FX’s animated spy spoof “Archer” is the best since season 1. During seasons 2 and 3 the very adult comedy seemed to be trying almost too hard replicate what had come before and to build some sort of mythology to the series. Season 4 seems to relax a bit and just tell some silly spy stories involving the most perverse and incompetent group of spies ever seen.

This is one of those series I find hard to write about for each individual season because the formula works so well, the creators don’t ever really try to fix it. There doesn’t seem to be as much emphasis on ongoing story arcs with multi-episode arcs and recurring characters. This season the recurring characters are still there, but don’t really have the spotlight shown on them so much.

Adam Reed does have some fun with his voice talent star H. Jon Benjamin by including references to Benjamin’s other cartoon voicing from “Bob’s Burgers” in the first episode and final two. In the first episode we find Archer has suffered amnesia and thinks he is his cover, the owner operator of a burger joint with Archer style versions of Bob’s family members. In the final two episode arc guest voice stars include Eugene Mirman and Kristen Schaal, who voice two of Bob’s children on that show. These episodes are also referential to the hit Lloyd Bridges television show “Sea Hunt” and Adam Reed’s early adult swim cartoon “Sealab 2021”, which in itself was a spoof of the 70’s Saturday morning adventure cartoon “Sealab 2020”.

Season 5, which has already aired but won’t be seen by me until it hits Netflix just before season 6 airs, will be a stark contrast as it is a heavily serialized season, known as “Acher: Vice,” that sticks to a theme inspired by 80’s television and movies. Despite my pleasure that this season contained mostly only episode long stories, I’m excited to see where that takes the Archer crew.

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