The Best TV You’re Not Watching: Archer

ArcherI’m not going to sit here and write about how funny Archer is and why you should be watching it because it’s so funny. It’s one of my strongest personal beliefs that your sense of humor is so personal that it could define you just as well as a finger print. Archer is funny; you can’t argue that (well you could, but you would be wrong), but you should be watching it for many reasons greater than the simple fact that it’s really funny.

Why You’re Not Watching

It’s Smarter Than You

The fact of the matter is Archer is one of the smartest shows on TV. Warming Glow recently had a feature explaining ten of the most obscure references from the show. Now, I’m a smart guy. Well, maybe not the smartest guy in the room but I have a degree from a respected institution and it’s not that I didn’t get the references. I didn’t even realize they were references to begin with. Two weeks ago they ended the episode with Pam showing off her full back tattoo of a Lord Bryon poem. And Big Bang Theory thinks it’s smart because its characters know some basic calculus? Please.

And It’s A Cartoon

The animation is stellar. Of course, at first glance you might not necessarily agree but the beauty is in the simplicity, folks. It’s sad that most animation on television has been reduced to basic shapes for easy manipulation on the computer but that’s the way the world works. Archer takes advantage of that by creating a look not unlike 60s pop comics. The characters are big and bold with defined facial expressions. The backgrounds are beautiful in an almost watercolor-like manner. And because creating new set pieces is as easy as using photoshop, the animation allows Archer to travel to some crazy places.

What You’re Missing

They Go to the Most Exotic Locales, Even An Office!

True, this can be argued for any animated show. Live action shows are severely limited in terms of where they can shoot. It’s really expensive to travel to different locations every wee, which is why most shows are grounded in a central location (a house, an office, a hospital, etc). But animation isn’t limited in that regard. Archer has traveled to Russia, the Louisiana Bayou, Morocco all because the animators could draw it. Since that means Archer is only limited by the imaginations of its writers, the possibilities are endless. And that’s a good thing.

It’s a Damn Good Spy Spoof

Archer is set in the world of cinematic spies which means there are thousands of tropes, sets, villains, adventures, and weapons to can make fun of — and they do. But it’s not just James Bond they parody. They go after everything from 30s pulp fiction to the Cold War thanks to Archer’s always-in-flux-parallel-universe setting. Seriously, the USSR is still a threat but there are cell phones and luxury blimps? Sure, why not? It’s such a ripe premise that it’s a wonder there hasn’t been a show like it before. (Get Smart doesn’t count, why? Did Max Smart ever have to worry about dead hookers? Didn’t think so.) Actually there probably hasn’t been one because of the budgetary restraints, but as I mentioned up above, the animation takes care of that.

You Can’t Argue With An Incredible Cast

ArcherKnow what’s a great thing? Archer’s cast. H. Jon Benjamin has the perfect spy voice. Before I realized who he was (I had seen him plenty of times and just never realized it was him), I automatically assumed he was some suave looking dude that could pass for a international man of mystery. And well, he doesn’t look like that. But his voice? Awwww yeah. It’s the perfect blend of a teenager, James Bond, and the soup can from Wet Hot American Summer. To defend Aisha Tyler — who voices Lana — I only have to offer the way she says “yup.” That’s all I need. Jessica Walters practically reprises her Lucille Bluth role from Arrested Development and if you were to complain about that you would more than likely be introduced to my fist by way of your face. And Judy Greer is a secret billionaire that is into erotic asphyxiation. How can you not like that?

It’s Even Got Killer Secondary Characters

But the secret to the show and it’s awesomeness lives in two supporting players: Krieger and Woodhouse. Woodhouse is Archer’s beleaguered butler, WWI vet, and all around whipping post. Like Jerry on Parks and Rec, sometimes the best characters are the ones that the other characters just constantly shit on. Archer treats Woodhouse like hell and it is AMAZING. If you’re looking to insult someone or punish them in incredibly sadistic ways, look to anything and everything Archer says to Woodhouse. Krieger, on the other hand, is the demented research guy at ISIS, Archer’s spy agency. Like Bond’s Q on crack, Krieger constantly has the best lines in any episode. He’s a weird, twisted, genius and possibly a Nazi? The verdict is still out on that one. And like Creed on The Office, everyone knows he’s weird but they keep him around anyway. The world needs a whipping post and a maniac. Krieger and Woodhouse are Archer’s answers.

The Bottom Line

If you haven’t watched Archer, get caught up. It’s one of the best shows on television right now and you don’t want to be left out, do you? After all, if you are left out, you’re heading to the DAAANGER ZONE.

Archer airs Thursday nights at 10 p.m. on FX.