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DVD Review: Archer – The Complete Season Three

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If I said it once, I said it at least three times over: “There’s nothing new under the sun.” Originality sailed off into the wild blue yonder a long, long time ago. And there is no better example of a current FX animated series called Archer. Check this out, kids: in 1975, actor Brian Keith found himself miscast in a short-lived series called Archer. A good thirty-five years later, FX debuted their own series called Archer. And the comparisons between the two are downright frightening — since they both center on a guy named Archer. I know, right? This is major conspiracy theory fodder, people!

Seeing as how nobody recollects the previous series, it should probably go without saying that the most important difference to take into account here is the present-day Archer seems to be able to hold people’s attention — something Brian Keith’s sorry butt was unable to do all those years ago. Of course, had the previously referenced, long-canceled ’70s “Free TV” Archer attempted even one-fifth of the things today’s Archer gets away with on contemporary cable television nowadays, he would have been canned even sooner than the once-believed untoppable number of six episodes he lasted to way back when.

Really, folks, I have no idea what I’m talking about here. I supposed I could have made some (just as) dumb quip about famous archers throughout history — and included Edgar Wallace’s The Green Archer as well as the musical stylings of Arch Hall, Jr. and the Archers — but I think I pretty much just did in hindsight. I probably shouldn’t write out every single thought that pops into my head, huh? I like coffee. Darn. Did it again. Of course, not all men are capable of subduing their inner dialogue — no matter how useless or redundant it might be. And then there are those men who are utterly incapable of not being true 100% manly men; prime examples of homo sapien superiority such as ISIS secret agent Sterling Archer.

He’s the guy from the other, newer series called Archer, kids — just in case you hadn’t figured that out.

Taking his cue from numerous classic spy film and television series many of us males came to be somewhat dependent upon during our awkward years of adolescence, Archer series creator Adam Reed has come up with a popular item here — combining it with the seemingly-mandatory air of off-color humor shows like Reed’s previous résumé listings (Sealab 2021, Frisky Dingo) need in order to either not become marketed as kiddie shows or to simply survive in a post-South Park reality. And, while Archer‘s level of absurdity often stoops to being far too sophomoric for my tastes, I must admit it’s still entertaining enough to sit back and chill out to — so long as it’s in small doses, that is.

Archer is set in a world that only an animated series would probably be comfortable in unleashing upon viewers: one where the past and present collide with fact and fiction, and real events are intertwined with fake ones — while a thoroughly modern electronic device may sometimes take a mighty bow out at the powerful behest of something that has been obsolete longer than that other Archer show I mentioned earlier. Hey, maybe I did have a reason for bringing that up. Nah, probably not. Anyhoo, at the heart of this animated realm lies the International Secret Intelligence Service (or “ISIS,” sil vous plais) — an agency that quite often finds itself getting into more jams than it is supposed to get people out of.

And most of that honor can be attributed to ISIS’ star pupil: Sterling Archer (as voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) — who is actually nothing more than a spoiled, barely-intelligent brat with a passion for booze and broads. It’s no surprise, naturally, that Sterling just happens to be the son of ISIS’ alcoholic controller, Malory Archer (Jessica Walter, who all but plays the same role as she did in Arrested Development here, except she doesn’t have to get into costume), and this annoyance can be felt from everyone else at the agency — and, nine times out of ten, usually helps ever-so-slightly for something to go wrong somewhere for someone. In the beginning of Archer: The Complete Season Three, our hero has all-but vanished from the face of the Earth, following the assassination of his bride-to-be by his nemesis (Bionic Barry) at the conclusion of the previous season.

Though his services are hardly needed (they’re not required at all, in fact), Malory sends in the rugged adventurer Rip Riley (giving the great Patrick Warburton another chance to delight us with his magnificent tenor) to “rescue” her baby. As you can imagine, it leads to nothing but disaster: an episodic three-part disaster. Hey, all good shows need multi-chaptered conclusions to cliffhanger finales, don’t they? I’m sure Brian Keith would have tried it back in ’75. But then again, more than likely not. So, once that mess is cleared up, it’s back to the daily grind as usual: gadgets, sex, drinking, sex jokes, more drinking, and mucho accion galore.

But for me, this season’s high point is a guest appearance by the one and only Burt Reynolds, who appears here (in animated form, naturally) as his suave, lady-killin’ actor self — fused with the knowledge and ability to accomplish the impossible just as he was in his classic films of yore. Though he’s only supposed to be Malory’s love interest, Burt soon gets mixed up with Archer (and his childish behavior), who happens to worship each and every movie Reynolds has ever made. Series creator/writer Reed places Reynolds on a high pedestal indeed here, jokingly nudging him with a stick whilst allowing the faded action star to also poke fun at himself (even Burt knows how bad 1965’s Operation C.I.A. was, and is quite surprised that Archer is fond of it).

Other plot points in Archer: The Complete Season Three find ISIS attempting to assist the men of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (I’m sure you can deduce how that one goes over), encounters with both a South American drug lord and the Yakuza, the sale of stolen ISIS weaponry, and the promotion of Bionic Barry to the head of the KGB (because that organization still exists in this universe). Series regulars Aisha Tyler, Chris Parnell, Judy Greer, Amber Nash, and Adam Reed are on-hand as always (with assistance from Lucky Yates and George Coe), and guest voice actors include George Takei, David Cross, Michael Rooker, Robb Wells, and Bryan Cranston.

Fox Home Entertainment presents this thirteen-episode season on DVD in a two-disc set in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio with 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. Accompanying The Complete Season Three are three comical audio commentaries with select cast members, an extended opening episode (the three-parter, reedited into one glorious whole), and several silly animated extras (a trailer for a faux Gator sequel, cooking show spoof, Archer’s unsuccessful reading of his own audio book, etc.). The season is also available on Blu-ray, for those of you who appreciate attentively anachronistically-ambiguous animation presented in High-Definition.

And why shouldn’t you? This season does have Burt Reynolds in it, after all!

Oh, if only Brian Keith had made an appearance.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.
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