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Archer: The Complete Season Three
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 1/8/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/11/2013
You've probably heard someone say "You can't please everyone" and it's very true. Try as you might, it's impossible to create someone which all of the audience will like. But, that doesn't mean that people don't try. At first glance, the television series Archer doesn't look like much of a crowd-pleaser, as it's quite odd. But, if you watch just a little bit, you'll see that the show shoots in a wide arc and approaches so many subjects that you are bound to find a joke that you'll like. And Season 3 of the show gives you an ample opportunity to explore this.
Archer focuses on the wild world of secret agent Sterling Archer (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) who works for ISIS, an agency run by his domineering mother, Malory (voiced by Jessica Walter). Archer is an alcoholic playboy who would rather party than travel the globe stopping criminals. He's often paired with Lana Kane (voiced by Aisha Tyler), an agent who is actually skilled and who is frustrated by Archer's lack of focus. The agency's other full time agent, Ray Gillette (voiced by Adam Reed) is an effeminate man who doesnít seem to go on many missions. The support staff at ISIS is: Cheryl (voiced by Judy Greer), a flirt who happens to be heiress to a railroad fortune; Pam (voiced by Amber Nash), a woman who (several) insatiable appetites; Cyril (voiced by Chris Parnell), an accountant who longs to be an agent; and Krieger (voiced by Lucky Yates), a scientist with bizarre interests.
Season 2 of the show ended with Archerís wedding to Katya Kasanova (voiced by Ona Grauer) coming to an abrupt halt when she was gunned down by Archerís nemesis, Barry Dillon (voiced by Dave Willis). Grief-stricken, Archer ran away to the South Pacific, where he was captured by pirates. Mallory sent the ISIS team to find him and Ray got shot, leaving him paralyzed. Back at home, Archer continues to get into all kinds of trouble, such as trying to intervene in a relationship between his mother and Burt Reynolds. He also tracks an ocelot on a train, helps his mother cover up a murder, travels to West Virginia, and comes face-to-face with his past. In the two-part season finale, the ISIS team finds themselves traveling to space. Meanwhile, Archer begins a sexual relationship with a very surprising person.
A lot of words can be used to describe Archer, but the one which always springs to my mind is silly. Ostensibly, the show is a spoof of the spy/action genre, but it moves far beyond simply lampooning things like James Bond into a world where nothing is taken seriously. The show comes from Adam Reed, who cut his teeth on Adult Swim programs Sealab 2021 andFrisky Dingo, so this shouldn't be surprising. But, whereas those shows we all over the map at times, the initial focus of Archer was to turn the spy movie on its ear -- something it did quite well, but as the show has gone on, the focus has shifted more towards the characters and their bizarre quirks.
This change continues into Season Three. Yes, each show has a plot and many of them are takeoffs on classic espionage stories, such as ISIS being assigned to transport a terrorist by train to Canada or holding a former KGB agent in their safehouse. But, for shows like this, the "plot" has always simply been a skeleton onto which the jokes were hung. Archer has reached a point where the story, for the most part, is incredibly inconsequential. It is merely a set up for the cast to throw out great one-liners and obscure references. The writers clearly go out of their way to reference as many things as possible, and it doesn't matter how odd it is or how far away it is from the scene at hand. Who does an entire episode which constantly talks about the 1976 Burt Reynolds film Gator? Who has a joke about Broca's area, a term used by speech pathologists? Shows likeFamily Guy like to be out there, but Archer blows them away. However, like Family Guy, the makers of Archer clearly work to make the dialogue feel organic, as the actors are constantly talking over one another and supplying reactions to jokes which feel genuine.
As a big fan of Frisky Dingo -- a show which ended with a big cliffhanger -- it took me a while to warm up to Archer. This transition has been completed with Season Three, as the show has really hits its stride and truly found its voice. And, as someone who missed the "Heart of Archness" story arc when it first aired (as it was broadcast between seasons 2 and 3), this DVD released is truly welcome. And Archer is a show which benefits from the back-to-back viewing allowed by DVD, as it loves call-backs and running jokes. Archer still isn't for everyone, but for those who like their humor to be a clever mix of stupid and jokes which will have your searching Wikipedia for the source, you'll find something to love.
Archer: The Complete Season Three says "Thank you, Dodge!" on DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The two-DVD set contains all 13 episodes of the show's third season. The episodes have been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no defects from the source material or grain. The colors look very good, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The transfer shows no flaws in the animation or jagged lines. The only real drawback here is that things look a big flat. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are fantastic, as Archer is one of those shows which acknowledges the existence of the front channels and loves to have characters yelling things from off-screen. The gunfights and explosions provide some notable, but not overwhelming subwoofers effects. However, the surround effects are somewhat weak and don't stand out in the action scenes as one would expect them to.
The Archer: The Complete Season Three DVD Set contains several extras. Disc 1 offers three AUDIO COMMENTARIES. We get Commentary on "El Contador" with Chris Parnell, Aisha Tyler, and Adam Reed, Commentary on "Drift Problem" with Judy Greer, Amber Nash, and Adam Reed, and Commentary on "Lo Scandalo" with Adam Reed and Jessica Walter. Disc 2 kicks off with "Heart of Archness Trilogy Enhanced". I had assumed that this would be a longer cut of the episodes or maybe have pop-up video or something, but I honestly didn't see anything different. "Book-on-Tape Fail" (2 minutes) is an hilarious short where Archer is asked to read the actual Archer book which is available in stores. Archer attempts to show off and share his new kitchen with chef Alton Brown in "Cooking with Archer" (3 minutes). "Gator 2 Trailer" (2 minutes) shows Archer attempting to make a promo for his Burt Reynolds dream project. "Archer Season 3 at Comic-Con 2012" (2 minutes) is an animated short which was made to promote the show at the popular convention.
Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.