I’ve never been a big fan of the spy genre. I couldn’t care less if they made another James Bond movie or Mission:Impossible. Sure, I’ll see them if a friend wants to go see the film, but left to my own devices I won’t venture forth on my own to watch them. And to prove just how apathetic I am, I still have yet to see any of the three Daniel Craig Bond films even though I own two of them on DVD.
So when the animated series Archer first appeared on FX three seasons ago I had absolutely no desire to watch it. Even though I’ve heard nothing but good things about the show and have one friend in particular who constantly raves about it, I was still not interested. That’s why when I was asked to do a review for season three, I was not looking forward to it. But at worst I could tell my friend I had tried it and didn’t care for it, or maybe, just maybe, there was a chance it would be good.
The season began with the three-part episode “Heart of Archness” and continued where Season Two left off. Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) was emotionally devastated when his fiancé, Katya (Ona Grauer), was murdered during their wedding by his arch nemesis, Bionic Barry (Dave Willis). Now his mother Malory (Jessica Walter) and owner of ISIS (International Secret Intelligence Service) has used all her resources to find her son who has gone into hiding. After her team of incompetent spies has no luck in finding him, probably because they really don’t want to find him, she hires a mercenary to track him down.
Almost immediately Archer is located at an island resort tending bar and comforting lonely women of all shapes, sizes, and marital status. But of course he doesn’t want to return home and puts up a fight. Not only does he manage to crash the plane he’s in, but he manages to get himself abducted by pirates and eventually becomes their king. What he lacks in skill and ability, he makes up for in clumsiness and what every spy needs, dumb luck.
Starting off watching a three-part episode was probably not the best idea for an introduction into the series. Many half-hour programs have a difficult time keeping up the laughs for an abnormally length of time. They tend to stray from their tried and tested formula and the story drags. While there were some funny moments, they were few and far between making all three episodes laboriously long.
I tried to give the show the benefit of the doubt. After all it was my first foray into the world of Archer. I could have missed some inside jokes, and I admittedly had a little problem getting into the show as H. Jon Benjamin was using the exact same voice that he uses as Bob in the animated series Bob’s Burgers, which sounds like he has a cold and is more fitting to a fry cook than an international spy. So while I was still willing to give the show a chance, I thought that it would take a miracle for me to embrace the show. And when I started episode four, I found my miracle. And that miracle’s name was Burt Reynolds.
Just like how throwing a random William Shatner guest appearance makes everything better, Burt Reynolds playing himself kicking ass and saving the day made “The Man from Jupiter” awesome. A fact that even Archer admits to as he finds himself confused and amazed by how great his idol is who is both saving him from assassins and dating his mother.
That episode was the turning point of the season as it returned to its regular format, tightened up the storylines, and consistently brought the comedy over and over again throughout the final ten episodes. Each adventure was creative, fun, and left me looking forward to the next one.
Some of the storylines included returning a terrorist to Canada, catching a drug lord, Drift Racing against the Yakuza, disposing of a dead Italian Prime Minister’s body, and a showdown with Bionic Barry and cyborg Katya. By the time I had finished the two-part finale with the ISIS team being abducted on the international space station that was hijacked and being taken to Mars for breeding purposes, I was completely hooked.
The DVD contains two discs with thirteen episodes. There is commentary on the episodes “El Contador”, “Drift Problem”, and “La Scandalo”. The special features are a little thin, while funny they are all basically Archer getting pissed off and ruining the entire feature. And “Archer Season 3 at Comic-Con 2012” isn’t the celebrity panel that you might expect but instead is just a short intro that they played before the panel.
But even though the special features were a little weak and the first couple episodes a little slow, it looks like I will have to confess to my friend that he was right. Archer is as good as he claimed it to be. But I’ll do that after I set my DVR to record the Season 4 premiere on January 17th, and while I’m trying to track down the first two seasons.