Archer: “Heart of Archness”
Written by Adam Reed
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Archer is an animated spy spoof on the FX Network. Sterling Archer (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) is the top agent of the International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS). This position is due less to his competence than the fact his overprotective mother, Malory Archer (voiced by Jessica Walter), is the head of ISIS. Super agent Lana Kane (voiced by Aisha Tyler) is usually the one who saves Archer from disaster. Archer and Lana were once lovers, and there is still sexual tension between them, but Lana is fed up with Archer always getting the credit for her successes, and Archer is clueless about how Lana really feels. Rounding out the ISIS staff are Cheryl (voiced by Judy Greer), Malory’s utterly incompetent secretary, Pam (voiced by Amber Nash), the overweight and oversexed director of Human Resources at ISIS, Cyril (voiced by Chris Parnell), the harried comptroller of ISIS, and Ray Gillette (voiced by Adam Reed), an openly gay intelligence analyst and one of the few competent members of ISIS.
Archer is the creation of Adam Reed whose previous credits include Sealab 2021 (2000-05) and Frisky Dingo (2006-08), both for the Cartoon Network.
“Heart of Archness” is a 3-part episode that begins with Archer’s disappearance after his fiancée is brutally murdered. Malory, sparing no expense, hires world-famous adventurer and former colleague Rip Riley (voiced by the ubiquitous Patrick Warburton) after no one at ISIS can find Archer. Riley tracks Archer to a South Pacific island, but Archer has no intention of leaving his paradise. Thus begins Riley’s odyssey of returning Archer to ISIS while surviving sharks, starvation, drowning, exposure, pirates, and mostly Archer. Meanwhile, Lana and Ray mount their own rescue mission while Cyril, Pam, and Cheryl cope with Malory’s increasingly irrational behavior as she freaks out about Archer’s status.
Sharp writing and outstanding voice acting have always been the hallmark of Archer. This 3-part episode is no exception; in fact, this is one of the strongest story lines in the series. It undoubtedly helps to have more than the usual half-hour to fill in details and add humor. It also helps that the production is entering into its third season, so everyone has a very good handle on how to play it. Unusual for an animated comedy, “Heart of Archness” finds several of the characters changed at the end, setting up new dynamics for the rest of the season (unfortunately, not scheduled until early 2012).
Archer takes full advantage of being on FX; easily earning its content warnings for language, violence, and sexual content. This is not your father’s Get Smart. If you’re a fan of satire full of non-sequitur humor, even if you’re not a fan of spy fiction, you owe it to yourself to give Archer a try.