Film and television spy spoofs are a dime a dozen. From Get Smart to Get Smart, Again! to the film version of Get Smart to Austin Powers to I Spy and oh-so-many others, it is a well-trodden road. Now, FX is entering that territory with their own spoof, Archer. How is Archer different? It’s animated.
If that doesn’t sound like a big difference, truth be told, it isn’t. It isn’t wholly bad though, either.
Archer revolves around the exploits of suave alleged superspy, Agent Sterling Archer (code name: Duchess), voiced by H. Jon Benjamin. Sterling works at ISIS, the International Secret Intelligence Service, where he answers to his mother, Malory Archer, voiced by Jessica Walter. Archer is your typical spoof spy, in the job for the free booze, trips around the world, and the ability to use his job description to pick up women – both the lonely and desperate kinds. He doesn’t get along with mommy, who certainly also doesn't get along with him. Malory, may in fact be too busy with her hidden and clearly against the rules relationship with a Russian counterpart. As for the incompetent Sterling, exactly why he continues to be employed at ISIS despite his gross incompetence and the fact that no one likes him is unclear.
Sterling’s fellow employees include Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler), who dated Archer for an extended period of time and has since moved on to ISIS comptroller Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell). Lana is competent at her job, and consequently the humor with her character revolves around her more than ample cleavage, man hands (which was funnier on Seinfeld), and domineering attitude towards Cyril. As for Cyril, he’s the comptroller, which seems to be enough to make him a funny character.
The rest of the characters on Archer include Malory Archer’s secretary who constantly changes her name and has a thing for Sterling (Judy Greer); the office gossip and HR head, Pam (Amber Nash); and Sterling’s devoted-no-matter-how-he’s-treated butler, Woodhouse (George Coe). Though they are all characters we’ve seen before, perhaps more problematically, save perhaps Malory, they’re all characters we’ve seen in this exact sort of setting before.