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TV Review: Archer – “Sea Tunt: Part 2″

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FX’s Archer completes its fourth season with “Sea Tunt: Part 2.” Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) and the other ISIS agents journey to Sealab to stop crazy Captain Murphy (Jon Hamm, Mad Men) from firing weapons at the United States and other world powers.

How appropriate that Archer‘s fourth season, which begins with a major play on Bob’s Burgers, ends with another cartoon spoof, this time of Sealab 2012. While the first three seasons didn’t have winks at other shows this blatantly, this new element has slipped in effortlessly, especially as cartoons with a similar type of humor are single out as the targets. I hope next year sees more of the same kind of gag.

While the man who voiced Captain Murphy on Sealab 2012, Harry Goz, was not available to reprise the role, having died before Sealab ended, Hamm does a fine job. For those doubting Don Draper’s comedy chops, have no fear. As he did in 30 Rock and Childrens Hospital, Hamm hangs with the actors more accustomed to getting laughs, and does so with skill and charisma.

Murphy is killed off in this episode. This may be a bit satisfying for fans of Sealab, as the character never got a proper send-off, and the series was considered inferior after that. Now, they finally get their closure.

“Sea Tunt: Part 2″ actually corrects a slight from the first episode of this season. Kristen Schaal (The Daily Show) and Eugene Mirman (Delocated), both main characters in Bob’s Burgers, did not lend the voices to the season premiere. Both get to guest star in “Sea Tunt: Part 2,” as well as the first half of the two-part episode, making up for their previous absence. Now, if only a role can be found for Dan Mintz next year, the  crossover be complete.

As for the story of “Sea Tunt” itself, it’s a pretty good one. Archer, Lana (Aisha Tyler), Cyril (Chris Parnell), and Ray (Adam Reed) go after Murphy. The half hour is full of their bickering and personality clashes. It’s a pretty typical episode of the series, because of the way they interact, and how it gets in the way of doing their job. The mustache bit is funny, as is Archer’s incessant alcoholism. Classic Archer.

In the end, Ray loses the use of his legs. Again. Will there be no end to his suffering? Actually, I hope not. The fact that this is something continually solved and then becoming an issue again, over and over, is very funny.

I am undecided over the twist of learning that Lana is pregnant. Sure, it will be interesting to watch someone who is the opposite of maternal take care of a child. But Archer thrives on the chemistry of the cast, and despite some character development prior to this, a baby may shake things up in unexpected and major ways, unprecedented for the series. I worry what it could do to the show.

At least neither Cyril nor Archer are the father. By using a donor, Lana does avoid much typical sitcom fodder as the guys try to guess who the baby daddy might be. Though, knowing Archer, the donor may still end up being someone we’ve seen before. Which could be fun, if done right. Since this is Archer, I’m relatively certain that it will be.

While the mission plays out, Malory (Jessica Walter) searches for booze, hanging out, though not really by choice with Pam (Amber Nash) and Cheryl (Judy Greer). Again, the interactions between the characters make this series, and while nothing major happens with these three, every moment they are on screen is joyous.

I like that Cheryl’s family is worked into the episode, and we learn more about her. Any chance to uncover the backstory of any of the characters is welcome, and Cheryl’s is done in a cool and clever way. And of course, her last name, teased in the episode title, makes for the punchline of many jokes, though Archer wisely avoids overdoing it.

I am glad that Cheryl’s brother (Mirman) ends up getting his own money back, though, so he isn’t a recurring villain. He works better as an amusing side character, rather than a bad guy.

The fourth season of Archer maintains the comedy’s quality, and I will miss it until it returns for season five next winter.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com