Why come no one told me about Archer before? I only recently discovered it and now I’m hopelessly hooked. The US had a major spy fad, inspired by the success of the James Bond movies, in the mid 1960s at a critical stage of my development. There was the Man from U.NC.L.E. and The Saint and I Spy and Get Smart and lots more. In all of these the Secret Agent was a debonir gentleman cad living a jet set lifestyle. The enemies were rival spy organizations as much as foreign governments and I found the whole concept replete with gadgets and secret organizations to be incredibly fascinating.
Archer is a simultaneously a send up, deconstruction and loving homage to the genre. A lot of the humor comes from juxtaposing office politics in the second tier spy organization ISIS and the petty grudges of the characters who’ve worked with each other for years and know each other’s dirty secrets.
Livin’ the Vida Spy
It’s set in a weird anachronistic time (rather like the movie Blue Velvet or Hollywood Western Serials) with elements and technologies and politics of the past and present cohabitating (the USSR or something like it is a thing and they all have modern mobile phones which are actually a lot more advanced than the secret phones the 1960s spies used. The animation is deliberately crude (with 1960s style characters in a 1970s grubby decor) and weirdly static like the Marvel Super Hero cartoons form the 1960s.
And it’s the funniest thing I’ve seen in many years, almost every episode I’m laughing so much that I have to pause because my head stoppage means I start coughing and can’t breathe. I find relentlessly cynical and negative characters to be hilarious (my favorite characters on the Simpsons in its heyday were Mr Burns and Marge’s sisters) and this show is brimming with them. The funniest is probably Archer’s alcoholic and acid tongued boss (and mother) Mallory. Often the caustic delivery combines with the static animation to make it even funnier. I’m sure most people will not like this as much as I do because I can’t imagine anyone liking it as much as I do right now.