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Archer: The Complete Season Five
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/6/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/7/2015
In this age of DVRs, streaming from network websites, Netflix, and Hulu, there is no excuse for it, but it happened -- I missed Season Five of Archer. I forgot to record the season premiere and things just snowballed from there to the point that trying to catch up sounded like work. I did regret this, as I do enjoy the show. (But not as much as creator Adam Reed's Adult Swim entryFrisky Dingo-- Now that was a crazy show!) So, I spent months trying to avoid spoilers, even while I wondered about the "Archer Vice" moniker which had been placed on the show. Now that the Blu-ray Disc release of Archer: The Complete Season Five has arrived, I can finally be up to speed.
Season Five of Archer opens with a flurry of activities. The headquarters of ISIS is overtaken by the FBI and we learn that Mallory Archer (voiced by Jessica Walter) has been lying to her staff for years -- ISIS is not a government-sanctioned spy agency, but a rogue outfit which as broken many international laws. After being released from custody, the group -- Sterling Archer (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin), Lana Kane (voiced by Aisha Tyler), Cheryl Tunt (voiced by Judy Greer), Pam Poovey (voiced by Amber Nash), Cyril Figgis (voiced by Chris Parnell), Ray Gillette (voiced by Adam Reed) and Krieger (voiced by Lucky Yates) -- is forced to move into a mansion owned by Cheryl's family. It's here that we learn that Mallory is in possession of a massive amount of cocaine. It's decided that Archer will try and sell the drugs in order to raise money to get ISIS back on its feet. Thus begins a series of misadventures in which the group learns that selling drugs is harder than it looks, Pam becomes a drug addict, and Cheryl attempts to start a country music career, all while Lana's pregnancy advances.
Like a lot of shows, Archer has some multiple-episode story arcs, but for the most part, it's episodic. Themes and sub-plots are carried over throughout the season, but most of the shows are stand-alone stories. That is not the case with Season Five, as Reed and company have created a storyline which runs throughout the 13-episode season. This is where the "Archer Vice" tag comes in. While the show is still officially Archer, as this season tackles one long story, the powers that be decided to give it a secondary title. Taking this approach actually helps the show. Again, I like Archer, but it seems to be trying way too hard at times to be weird, and many episodes can get way out there. I'm not saying this doesn't happen in Season Five, but the structure of the over-arching storyline helps to keep things in check and the shows are much more linear and focused than their predecessors. This is not to say that the show has gone mainstream, but that it's simply a tiny bit more reined in.
And that tiny bit is an extremely tiny bit. Trust me, any animated show where a character can't stop eating cocaine isn't headed for Nickelodeon. No, Archer still shows its wild streak as we get countless sex jokes, countless cocaine jokes, South American dictators, odd Country Music references, Christian Slater, and a lesson about crocodiles. The writing staff at Archer continues to prove itself to be both incredibly well-read and very sophomoric. Archer contains some very clever jokes, many of which contain obscure references. (Someone on the writing staff must know a Speech Language Pathologist, as there have been two jokes on the series aimed directly at that profession.) These smart jokes often incite belly-laughs, as they are completely unexpected on such a crazy show. On the other hand, Archer also likes to push the envelope and be very rude and gross. For the most part, these jokes are simply too obvious. Some of them are funny, but most are simply groan-inducing. In short, the show tries to appeal to a wide audience (within a very narrow demographic), and the clever jokes win out every time.
It's very easy for a series, especially one which has proven itself on a cable network, to languish in mediocrity. So, the powers-that-be at Archer should be applauded for the whole "Archer Vice" thing. This has never been a show in which one can simply jump, due to all of the call-backs and inside jokes, so the season-long story arc made for an ambitious move. But, the show itself hasn't changed that much -- It's still insane, unpredictable, and funny. I can't wait to see what Season Six has to offer...assuming I remember to record it.
Archer: The Complete Season Five offers an awesome Myrtle Beach joke on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The two-Disc set contains all 13 episodes of the show's Fifth Season. The show is letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look fantastic and the show's unique animation, which has distinct outlines on the characters, doesn't bleed together. The level of detail is very good and the layers of the animation stands out. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are well-done and the show does a great job of using audio from the left or right channels to highlight sounds coming from off-screen. The surround sound effects aren't as noticeable, but they do work well at times. We get some mild subwoofer effects as well.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long