Few shows demonstrate real promise with their pilots. Pilots are usually just enough to string their audience along, pique their interest to get folks tuned in for whatever they’ve got coming next. So when a pilot has actual and fully realized potential, it’s certainly something to write home about. Archer may be that show for the 2010 season. FX has already shown its talent for comedy with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but it’s breaking new ground with Archer. Archer is an animated sitcom about an international spy agency and its star pupil, Sterling Archer.
Its hard to do the show justice with a synopsis. The humor lies in the situation of the show itself. After all, sitcom is short for situational comedy so that should come as no surprise. However, there’s something unique about Archer that’s indescribable. The concept of mocking the spy genre is nothing new but Archer finds a way to bring something else into the mix. I believe this is where the cast comes into play. H. Jon Benjamin, who some may recognize from his work on Adult Swim’s Home Movies leads the cast as Archer, the bumbling, womanizing spy. However, and this may be my bias as an Arrested Development fan, Jessica Walter’s role as Malory, Archer’s mother and head of the agency, is the most enjoyable. She brings the same hard-ass sensibility and comic timing to this role as she did to Lucille. However, it’s not all the same. The material is entirely different than some of the earlier work that most viewers have seen Jessica Walters in or even H. Jon Benjamin. The two are already fairly established in their own cult followings, but when combined, the two are unstoppable. They play off each other in their scenes with a beautifully planned sense of comic timing, not frequently seen in animated shows. Although Archer and Malory are some of the most recognizable talent, other comedy favorites such as Judy Greer and Chris Parnell round out the cast. All in all, it’s clear that everyone is able to pull their own weight in this animated sitcom.
Finally, and perhaps unimportant to some readers, the animation itself is perfect for the material. As an animation fan, I’ve seen animation that doesn’t do justice to the writing. Sometimes the animation is too heavy while the material is lighter or vice versa, either way it’s a problem that plagues many animated shows. The animation is heavy, with the lines and angles very pronounced, in a sort of pop art Lichtenstein sort of way. Most importantly though is that it doesn’t pull focus from the jokes. With all of the advancements in animated films these days, it’s difficult to watch these things for what they are, a method of visual storytelling. Regardless, Archer has some very big shoes to fill going off of its pilot. With top notch voice acting and enjoyable animation, Archer is setting up to be FX’s next breakaway cult comedy hit.