FX’s Archer just premiered its full third season, save for a miniseries trilogy last fall, with “The Man From Jupiter.” While at a bar, Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) meets his hero, Burt Reynolds (voicing himself)! But things take a turn for the worse when Archer learns that Burt is there for a date with Archer’s mother, Malory (Jessica Walter). Disgusted, Archer kidnaps Burt. When the rest of the team attempts to correct the situation, they are assaulted by Columbians, who think that Ray (series creator and this episode’s writer, Adam Reed) is Archer. Burt, with Archer along for the ride, races to the rescue, and Archer backs off interfering with Malory’s relationship.
While Burt Reynolds has not been doing a whole lot of acting in recent years, he is still an icon for many because of the legendary roles he played, and the great talent he brought to them. Many of those parts are referenced in “The Man From Jupiter,” (though strangely not one of the best, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas), and it’s an utter delight to honor Burt in such a way. Many series might go for poking fun at Reynolds, or making him silly in somehow. But not Archer, who makes Burt’s character live up to the hero status bestowed on him. It’s actually refreshing and welcome.
It is also incredibly funny, in contrast to the title character. The two spend most of “The Man From Jupiter” together, and so there is plenty of room for comparison. Archer may claim he is the world’s greatest spy, but Burt quickly demonstrates he could do better, without being condescending about it. Burt also stays cool as a cucumber no matter what Archer puts him through, whereas Archer flies off the handle at the slightest things. Fans of Archer know that Archer is not the man that he thinks he is, but it’s a rare treat to see him so obviously compared to someone who is a legend, and would live up to that persona.
One should never pass up an opportunity to see a drunk, angry Malory, and this episode does not. Devastated by the break up letter Archer leaves pretending he is Burt, she goes off the rail, getting smashed and ranting. Poor Burt. Who would want to take out Malory in the condition he finds her in? Yet, true to the gentlemanly nature of this version of Reynolds, he is warm towards her, and keeps their date, even though that means taking Malory out in public fully inebriated. It’s too bad their date scene doesn’t make it into the episode.
One of the very strong elements of Archer is the workplace ensemble. “The Man From Jupiter” does allow for a bit of that, as everyone is upset at Archer for hurting Malory. They rush to her defense, which is sweet, considering they all constantly complain about her. But it’s not as though they like Archer any better. So what viewers get is the wonderfully funny image of Ray trying to use a wheelchair ramp to get out of Krieger’s (Lucky Yates) van, while Lana (Aisha Tyler) shoots at the would-be assassins, and the two argue over whether Ray is fit for the job any more. Classic, perfect scene!
In it’s third season, Archer continues to deliver the humor and characters fans have come to expect. “The Man From Jupiter” is a rousing success, and should build excitement for the rest of the season. Watch Archer Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX.