"Archer Vice:" The Cast of "Archer" are Now Drug Dealers

It’s been an abnormally long hiatus for The Boomstick, so naturally I wanted to start back with something important, a subject that exploded me back to the keyboard, a topic near and dear to me, but also something monumental, with gravitas.  So, after much pondering, I have decided to inaugurate 2014 with a truly meaningful, monumental subject: The FX cartoon Archer.

Are you guys watching Archer?  It's been FX's under-the-radar, hard "R"-rated adult cartoon since 2009, but this season premiered to dramatically high ratings because you guys are finally listening to me. It's a great, comedic Bond-lampoon -- or maybe more accurately a wittier, sleazier Get Smart -- featuring a cast of independent-contractor spies led by a pop-culture-obsessed, alcoholic Lothario, the eponymous Sterling Archer.  The L.A. Times might've best summed the show as "the smartest and filthiest cartoon in prime-time," and the cast refers to creator/writer Adam Reed as "the Aaron Sorkin of dirty cartoons."  It's the sort of rag-tag group of misfits comedy that would make M*A*S*H jealous, but with the sci-fi quirkiness of Adult Swim, the absurdism of Family Guy, and the building, repeating, inside-jokiness of Arrested Development.  

Indeed, it's hard to talk about the show without mentioning A.D., because Archer is voiced by a bunch of A.D. veterans (Jeffrey Tambor, David Cross, Judy Greer, and the marvelous, gravely Jessica Walter as Archer's mom and spy-boss -- essentially Lucille Bluth with a career and a better-looking Buster).  It's also staffed with some Atlanta locals (Amber Nash and Lucky Yates of Dad's Garage fame), so there's a little hometown pride for those of us in the A.

Some of the cast of Archer.
But, the reason I wanted to write about it was because season five premiered this month with a reimagining too complete to be called a gimmick.  The season's first episode reveals (with almost no exposition) that Mallory Archer (Jessica Walter, aka Lucille 3) was never actually authorized to run a spy agency and the U.S. government is shutting it down.  And when they're shut out of spydom, what is there for a dysfunctional group of newly-unemployed spies trained in espionage, weapons, and disguise to do but...become a drug cartel?  So, presaged by a lengthy season-montage trailer at the first episode's end, we've embarked on Archer Vice

Prior to the premiere, Archer's executive producer explained that the change came about because Adam Reed "got bored."  What a damn diva.  The big surprise here, of course, is that in view of Archer's increasing popularity, FX approved the change (especially since Archer inexplicably didn't make the move to FXX -- FX's new all-edgy comedy channel -- with its FX bretheren Always Sunny and The League).  For a network to be on board with an overhaul of a slow-build show that's only recently finding a broader fan base is certainly a rare, bold risk.  At the same time, Archer's setting was always only incidental to its plots -- the show's humor and irreverence came from character relationships and pop-culture nods, and many of its best scenes had little to do with the spy-work at hand.  The joke has always been Archer's misplaced emotions -- he's prone to panic at an off-brand vermouth, but pays little attention to the eastern bloc firing squad shooting through the door.  That device will be well-served against a backdrop of perilous drug deals and Scarface-esque shootouts.

Archer also may be the perfect vehicle to try out the mid-series reset because the show already exists in a time-period limbo.  Archer has never committed to taking place in any decade, and indeed, seems to straddle the last centuries by using "cellphone and modern technology, while driving 70s muscle cars, dressing like like Mad Men characters and battling to the Cold War."  With characters who are already displaced in time, how much of a stretch is it to plop them into a difference place?  I could really get behind Archer as a continually-reborn cartoon Blackadder.

And, its not like Archer hasn't done this before -- past seasons have dispatched the spies all over the world and the oft-disguised gang has blended into many a new backdrop.  Just compare the posters from seasons one through three, not to mention the mid-summer pirate-themed mini-season "Heart of Archness:"

Season 1
Season 2: The Spy Who Loved Himself
Season 3: Counter Intelligence
So, in honor of Archer Vice, here's some assorted Archer internet miscellany to tide you over until next week's episode:
  • Slate's "Gateway Episode" has hand-selected the best episode to get you hooked on Archer. And Babou.  
  • In the spirit of Boardwalk Empire's vintage subway car, Archer circulated a mobile barbershop-and-shoeshine parlor called "Debonair Repairs" around New York City in anticipation of the premiere.
  • But by far the best thing you can find about Archer on the internet is this amazing amazing music video, a full Archer-cast, Top Gun montage set to Kenny Loggin's hit/Archer's favorite catch-phrase, "Danger Zone."  Here it is in full:

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January 27, 2014 at 8:07 PM delete

I always thought Lana, Cyril, and Mallory looked exactly like their voice actors. Never knew the models were different people.


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