One Last Hodgepodge of Archer

My blog post about Archer might be a little crazy this week. Yet a crazily structured, haphazardly written, and poorly pontificated post (3 in a row! Yay alliteration!) may be the best way to represent a show as hectic as Archer. So without any more explanation I want to jump right into anything that crosses my mind about Archer that I want to write about! EMBRACE THE CHAOS!

An Ode to a fallen Hero

Anytime a show goes through a drastic reboot, change is inevitable. And in a show as violence-oriented as Archer, sometimes that means characters die (a few examples: Sterling’s best friend Lucas Troy, Sterling’s potential father Nikolai Jakoff, Bilbo, or any of the ‘loose cannon’ agents Sterling accidentally killed). So it was safe to say that fans of the show could have predicted the dramatic change in direction of the fifth season would be attached to death in some shape or form. The surprise (at least for myself personally) was what character the writers of the show decided to kill off. Brett Bunsen was never a lead character but he always had a presence in the show during all of the previous four seasons, mostly with his amazing ability of getting shot repeatedly. I mean seriously, check this guy out in action, he gets shot SEVEN times over the course of the first 4 seasons. Averaging about two gunshot wounds per season is actually pretty amazing, and I’m hard pressed to think of any other character in any other show with such a propensity for being hit with gunfire:

I know 5 minutes is pretty intimidating runtime for a youtube clip but you should make an effort to watch it. It had me cracking up just from the sheer ridiculousness of how this guy kept finding himself on the receiving end of hot lead. Poor Brett, RIP. “He died doing what he loved,” has probably never been used more hilariously than in reference to Brett the bullet sponge. Bullet number eight was just too much for the office’s favorite target.

Then again, maybe I shouldn’t have been too surprised a character nicknamed ‘Mr. Bloodmobile” died. You be the judge.

Why doesn’t Lana carry any ammunition?

This is a rather broad topic but I think it might boil down to two simple choices. Lana Kane is the strong female agent of ISIS. She’s everything Malory Archer used to be back in her heyday: sexy, dangerous, and capable of tackling any mission. Well – as long as that mission doesn’t involve much reloading. It’s referenced several times throughout the show’s existence that Lana only carries one extra clip of ammo each for her signature twin Tec-9 firearms with her at all times.

Now multiply that badassery by two and you get the idea

Now multiply that badassery by two and you get the idea of what Lana Kane is packing

So what gives? Why would one of the best secret agents in the world bank on only needing around 80 bullets (rounds which she loves firing off in full auto bursts – sometimes just to prove a point) to complete her missions? If you ask me, its a subtle way of showing Lana’s damaged self-esteem. There’s no two ways about it, Lana is an emotionally damaged character. Its what drives her to be the best, and what can make her seem vulnerable and more complex as a main character. This insecurity defines her personality, and is represented by her inability to carry heavy personal loads, even in the physical manifestation of bullets. That or I’m looking too far into it and the real reason she carries practically no ammunition is because Lana’s super sexy spy sweaters (4 this time! Holy alliteration batman!) are too skimpy and tight to carrying tactical equipment.

Where will the Archer Universe take Sterling next? 

Over its run, Archer has taken its lead character to some pretty amazing and exotic environments. The show’s characters have explored New York, and gone into space and underwater, as well as journeyed to the continents of Russia, South America, Africa, and Texas (disclaimer: I am aware two of those locations are not continents). This begs the question, where to next? You could probably place safe money on an episode in Australia – possibly in conjunction with tech support master Bilbo being reincarnated cyberneticly by Krieger (the Lord of the Rings jokes almost write themselves). Japan and the vast majority of Asia seem to offer lots of exciting possibilities as well due to Pam’s connections to the Yakuza. Wherever Malory sends her son, the one guarantee we have from the show is that Archer has already booked a one way ticket to fatherhood! It will be interesting to see what kind of parent Sterling Archer will be. Hopefully he hasn’t (Ah only 3 this time) been taking any lessons from his own mother.

Who knows where this is going to lead !

Who knows where this is going to lead !

Well ladies and gentlemen I think that will about do it for this blog post. It’s been a blast, but I really don’t think I have much to write about until the next season of Archer starts! (should be sometime in January!) So until then readers, hope you all have a kickass last month of the year, and remember to stay frosty.

-Adam

Let’s Break down Structure !

Heads up ladies and gentlemen! There is a graphic image below of a man and his hand separating violently. But if you are reading this blog you probably watch Archer so it won’t be anything too extreme for you. Just a heads up! Let’s get into it!

Hey there Archer fans! Today we are going back to one of the classics, “Diversity Hire”  episode 3 of the show’s first season, to check out the structure of the show. The show opens up with one of my favorite gags in all of the Archer universe when Malory opens up a day at the office with tragic news. One of the spy agencies top operatives had been killed in the field for unclear reasons. Agent Hector Ruiz was killed in the field when his cover was blown – by Sterling Archer calling and asking him to tell some chicks how they are ‘totally’ ISIS agents. This of course means he was discovered by the cartel he had infiltrated and subsequently killed. Sterling plays it off by calling Ruiz a “loose cannon” and that he had it coming. Apparently this sort of thing (i.e. Sterling Archer calling his fellow agents while they are on mission) has happened before, and lead to the death of all the non-Caucasian agents in ISIS. This opening gag leads to the title run of the show, and introduces the viewers to the main story line of this particular episode. This opening is a common element of every Archer episode as the writers aim to open with a quick hitting element that makes the audience laugh while also setting up the first act of the show to begin.

Each episode of Archer has three acts over the course of the show. This episode in particular revolves around the new ‘diversity hire’ Conway Stern, who is a black Jewish agent that Malory has hired to make up for all the “loose cannons” that Archer inadvertently got killed. Conway causes an instant splash in the office as the employees are either suspicious of where exactly such a perfect specimen of diversity mixed with badass secret agent skills came from or want to sleep with him. Yet Conway seems to fit in fairly well with the office, and it seems like a solid addition to the ISIS roster.

The second act of the show has Conway introduce the ‘whisper drive’ – technology that allows a submarine to move absolutely silently. He lays out intel that says the Cubans have a plan to buy the technology from its traitorous creator. He proposes a plan for Sterling Archer to take the place of the Cuban contact meeting the inventor of the drive, thus stopping the deal from taking place.

Third act is the completion of the operation, with Conway saving Archer’s life twice over the course of the execution – with the second one looking like Conway was about to turn on Archer. Then Conway literally stabs Archer in the back, and attempts a getaway on a helicopter. However Lana Kane, who never trusted Conway from the beginning, shows up with a speargun to snag the case, tearing off Conway’s arm in the process. Its a climatic ending to an exciting episode that will have anyone in stitches.

Notice the star of David around his neck! What a diversity wonderland!

Notice the star of David around Conway Stern’s neck! What a diversity wonderland!

If the plot woven around this three act structure seems fairly straightforward then bravo! It is a single item plot structure, with the main plot overwhelmingly dominating the run time of the show. From start to finish the audience is engaged by the new agent Conway, his efforts to fit into the office, and the climax of discovering it was all a setup. Archer utilizes this straightforward plot structure to its strength with great humor through conversation between its established characters. The single direction doesn’t get boring because of the laughs the show provides intertwined with the single direction story. There is one small secondary story line regarding an empty corner office that the ‘drones’ of ISIS want to claim as their own – but this petty office power struggle is resolved withing the second arc of the episode and doesn’t drive the main story in any discernible way. When you consider Archer’s viewer base of predominately younger men this story structure makes sense. As a member of said generation I just don’t want to think too much while watching a cartoon, I would rather laugh and be entertained by a simple story with plenty of guns, explosions, and helicopter chases (interwoven with crude humor that keeps me chuckling). I’ll leave the more serious stuff to more serious, live action shows.

That’s all for now boys and girls, stay frosty and log in next time for more things Archer!

Key Elements of Archer!!

lana_danger_zone_archer

What’s up Archer fans! Today will be an interesting post as I discuss what I believe are the key elements that make Archer the amazing visual phenomenon it is today. These parts of the show serve to foster a deeper connection between the audience and the show.

Recurring dialog is the number one key element that keeps coming back for more in the Archerverse. See the gif above for one of the classics, and the inspiration for the name of this blog. Sterling Archer’s first time watching Top Gun was a life changing event for our hero, and he finds a way to work in a reference to the Kenny Loggin’s “Danger Zone “in a ton of different episodes. Other examples of recurring dialog are Archer shouting “Phrasing!” whenever a character makes an awkward point or sexual innuendo. Referential humor is something that isn’t new or entirely original (Family Guy abuses the hell out of it for most of the laughs in their show) but Archer has taken the idea and worked it into a more refined form for their show. It is a testament to the writers of the show that a show centering on the world’s most dangerous spy is renowned for its quick wit and humor, which elevates the show above sexiness or mindless action.

giphy

Raunchiness is a key element that defines the show and will either delight or disgust most casual viewers. Archer is a guy that gets around and he makes no attempt to hide it. From Lana’s tight sweaters to Malory constantly talking about her sex life these guys have never heard the concept of too much information, and will flaunt sexuality in every episode. If there’s a way to work a hooker being rolled up in carpet into the script, Archer will take that option, and the viewers of the show will love it.

That’s all I’ve got for now boys and girls, make sure you stay frosty.

The brilliance behind Archer!

Today’s post will take you beyond the explosions, gunfire, and quick wit that Archer is so well known for and investigate the talent that makes Archer come to life – the writers of the show!

Adam Reed on the right, Matt Thompson in the middle. Aisha Tyler, the voice of Lana Kane, is the voice actor on the left.

Adam Reed on the right, Matt Thompson in the middle. Aisha Tyler, the voice of Lana Kane, is the voice actor on the left.

Adam Reed (Adams of the world unite!) is the brains behind the show. He’s the guy that gets a credit at the end of every single episode as the creator and principle writer of the show. Reed has an extensive career in animated television, with some of his other successes including Sealab 2021 and Frisky Dingo, both of which enjoyed runs on Comedy Central. Reed was aided on both of these shows by ‘partner in crime’ Matt Thompson, who would go on to act as executive producer on Archer in collaboration with Adam Reed. In case your wondering, the idea for the greatest show in history of ever came to Adam Reed while he was sitting at a cafe in Salamanca, Spain. A beautiful woman was sitting near our hero who looks like… well the like the guy on the right in the picture above. Reed imagined a secret agent who would have the perfect line to begin talking to this beautiful woman and boom – Archer is born.

While neither writer/producer has been a secret agent to the best of my knowledge they have been doing comedy work for a long time. That experience is evident in their work on Archer as the humor is what keeps people coming back – after all it got me reeled in! Then again… those glasses of Adam’s could easily be hiding the eyes of one of the most highly trained killers the world has ever known… but again I don’t know one way or another. Stay frosty boys and girls, I’ll be sure to write again if I get any more information on these wonderful human beings who brought us Archer and Archer: Vice!!

Episode analysis: A Kiss While Dying

pam gif

Hey readers! Rather than talk about inspirations or thoughts on the series as a whole this blog post will be a critique of a single episode. For this post, I will be analyzing “A Kiss While Dying,” the second episode of Archer: Vice. You guys know by now that I love the world of Archer, so this review will for the most part be positive, with a sprinkling of things that I believe could be improved.

Following the dramatic turn the writers of Archer unveiled at the start of the show’s fifth season, the beloved characters of the officially disbanded ISIS had to attempt to sell the ton of cocaine Sterling had stored in their headquarters. Their first foray into the drug smuggling business formulated the basis for “A Kiss While Dying”. In this episode the gang decides the best way to smuggle cocaine is to hide it in plain sight, in this case by encapsulating the drug in a full body cast worn by Pam with Sterling and Lana posing as Pam’s doctors. While it makes sense to use the… erm…. largest…. person as a delivery vehicle, Pam’s obsessive and at times crazy behavior should have been a red flag for this particular operation. Pam develops a strong addiction to coke by sweating in the cast and absorbing the drugs through her skin. Her addiction – to the point where she literally ingests cocaine to stay on her highs (see gif above!) – has all the makings of one of the running gags Archer is beloved for. Additionally the drug deal Malory set up involves characters previously seen on the show, centering on Ramon the homosexual Cuban secret agent.

Ay Caramba!

Ay Caramba! Ramon returns! 

With a premise like that how could this episode be dull? On the one hand “A Kiss While Dying” suffered from too much exposition, explaining what led up to the events of the show. However for the most part this episode is like a breathe of fresh air, keeping the laughs rolling while still developing numerous story lines to be explored over the course of the season.  While at the end of the day Archer and his gang got screwed over by Ramon and his incredibly well-dressed henchmen, the stage is set for Archer: Vice to deliver exactly what we fans want: kick ass action, stories, and jokes that keep us coming back for more. See you next week boys and girls, stay frosty.

Archer puts the D in Dialog!

Wow that phrasing…

You guys have seen Archer.  If you have not seen Archer… for the love of god follow one of these links, sign up for one of their quality video services, and correct your grave error: https://www.netflix.com/?locale=en-US,https://www.netflix.com/?locale=en-US, http://www.amazon.com/Instant-Video. Ok now that its established that we’ve all seen Archer, we know that the dialog between the characters is one of the greatest strengths of the show.  In fact I would go so far as to say the snarky responses and rebuttals of Archer have become legendary among followers of the show.  All you have to do is drop a well-timed “LANNAAAAA”, invite them to the “Danger zone” (referring them to my blog gets you bonus points!), or ask your friend to check their “phrasing” will all elicit unique Archer-related responses.  From the first episode onward, the writers of Archer have made the dialog of the series something the audience should look forward to in every show.  Whether its Malory and Sterling trading verbal barbs or the entire crew mocking Pam for running her fat mouth the diatribe and abrasive humor in every line is comedic gold for the show.  There’s no way Archer would be as successful as it is today if the acidic, quick witted dialog wasn’t present.  Without the interpersonal relationships, and thus communication, the show is reduced to just being a bunch of drones working to get one old lady rich – not exactly what I want to spend thirty minutes watching. I look forward to hearing Sterling’s smooth voice seduce my eardrums every week – and you guys should as well. Stay frosty guys and gals, see you on next week’s Archer installment!

Meet the agents of Archer !

Archer: Vice boasts an engaging cast of interesting and surprisingly complex characters.

Just another day at the office

Just another day at the office

This blog post will be an attempt to derive what drives the characters in Archer: Vice and what forms the basis for their interactions between each other. What follows is a description of the major players in the Archer universe as of season 5 of the show, so without any further ado lets get into it!

Archer. Sterling, Archer.

Archer. Sterling, Archer.

STERLING ARCHER

Casual viewers often assume that Sterling Archer, the title character of the show, is a masochistic selfish asshole. They aren’t wrong, but this view is too focused to surmise all of the character driven plot in  Archer’s universe. The vast majority of conflict, and therefore episode plot, of the Archer series originates in decisions made by the leader of the now-defunct spy organization ISIS – Malory Archer. In earlier seasons of the show, Sterling is working for Malory, his mother, which on its own is a complicated mother-son situation. As the show progresses it becomes increasingly clear that Malory’s problems, notably alcoholism, are reflected in her son. These manifest themselves as ‘mommy problems’ of Sterling Archer and form the basis for one of the most common recurring gags in the show, especially in reference to Malory’s common flings with men (including a brief stint will Burt Reynolds, one of Archer’s heroes). Nevertheless Sterling is a product of his mother’s upbringing. He is fiercely loyal to his mother, despite her absence from almost every aspect of his upbringing. In my opinion Sterling takes out his abandonment issues on his personal butler, Woodhouse, who is often the subject of Archer’s derision. Sterling wants to be the most bad-ass, capable secret agent in the world – bedding the hottest women and pulling off the toughest jobs. However his family issues tend to interject themselves into his work, and are a point of contention between Archer and his fellow agents as they try to make his problems apparent.

The strong female lead

The strong female lead

LANA KANE

The yin to archer’s yang, Lana Kane is the other top agent in the show. The two are almost always competing to prove who is a better agent, much to the hilarity of the show’s audience. These competitions often come down to preferential treatment Sterling gets from his mother, which is absolutely infuriating to Lana. Lana and Sterling used to be lovers, which is a recurring gag in the show as Archer will often underscore their conversations with sexual innuendos that Lana finds exasperating. In season 5 this relationship is being put under new stress due to Lana becoming pregnant by an unknown man. It isn’t Sterling, but we have seen an uncharacteristic amount of concern for Lana’s well-being during the process. Lana Kane is a woman who knows what she wants and knows how to get it, but is often thwarted by circumstances that are out of her control.

Big Boss Mom

Big Boss Mom

MALORY ARCHER

Alcoholic, bossy, a general pain in the ass. Malory Archer is a boss we’ve all had and hated every minute of it. Her motivations for pulling heists and jobs almost always revolve around bettering herself, and her constant sarcastic tone she takes with her agents (or drones as she calls them) is grinding and irritating to everyone involved. All she really wants is to be rich and retire which she has done through many methods: Stealing valuable objects, bedding rich men, operating an illegal espionage operation, and as of season 5, selling off a literal ton of cocaine as a de-facto cartel. She’s pretty much completely unfeeling except for moments that her son Sterling is in undeniable, potentially fatal danger – and she reverts to her normal caustic self when he proves ok. Her conflict with the other characters on the show almost always stems from her selfish interests or the favoritism she displays for her son, and honestly I can’t say I blame the  other characters of the show for being pissed.

Pam goes hard.

Pam goes hard!!

PAM POOVEY

Once the much-abused, nosey PR rep for ISIS, Pam is now one of the most intriguing characters in the show. Her backstory (not counting the above image, heh) is incredibly diverse, including time spent within a Yakuza-run illicit gambling den. Whenever the show needs a character to have random information or ties to illicit organizations it normally turns to Pam to provide plot-driving information on the subject. In season 5, Pam ties in the crew with the Triads by double crossing them in a drug deal, and is nursing an insanely obsessive cocaine habit-eating pounds of it at a time. All Pam really wants is respect from her coworkers, which she is starting to receive, and cocaine. Lots of cocaine.

He even looks like an accountant.

He even looks like an accountant.

CYRIL FIGGIS

If there is one character in the show that gets under Sterling Archer’s skin it’s this guy. His voice, mannerisms, and the fact that he dated Lana after Archer all serve to annoy the head agent. Cyril is the downtrodden puppy of the team, and he has a serious self-esteem issue as a result. Recent episodes have had Cryil contributing more to the actual decision making process of the group, but he is undeniably the foil that everyone makes fun of over the course of each episode. Like Pam, Cyril wants the respect of his coworkers, but none is forthcoming. Maybe he should try dressing like less of a boring accountant these days.

So there you have it! These five characters drive most of the plot in Archer, but they also have their counterparts like Cheryl, Ray, and Dr. Krieger that all make important contributions to the direction of Archer: Vice. Keep an eye out for the next installment, and stay frosty.

Who actually watches this show anyway?

If you ask me, Archer has something for everyone to enjoy! It has guns and raunchy dialogue, what’s not to love?

That being said, the creators of Archer definitely knew the people most likely to watch their show fall in the teen to immature adult range of viewers, as reflected by the decision of FX as a network to place Archer in its 10 pm time slot. The show now has a dedicated fanbase that stays connected to the show by tuning into every episode during the season. The proof of the show’s popularity is in its results as FX has renewed the show for a sixth as well as a seventh season. Check out this link http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2014/03/06/archer-renewed-for-seasons-six-seven-by-fx/242924/ for more news regarding the continuation of God’s gift to television. The shows intense following has kept up with the show by voicing their approval of the show’s dramatic turn to take the agents of ISIS out of their office building and into the streets for Archer: Vice. Their was fear that the show might have been “jumping the shark” (as made famous by Happy Days) but the strong ratings the show put up during its fifth season put these fears to rest by showing that the viewing public approved of the dramatic change in direction for the show. With this power play the writers of Archer, (or rather, Archer: Vice) have put themselves in a strong position to further develop characters, create new and exciting plot lines for episodes, and generally keep their show fresh and entertaining.

As long as men continue to love explosions, scantily clad women, and uber-manly men, Archer is in good shape. It appeals to the base emotions of people (well… men mostly) and makes entertains with its quick wit, running gags that connect the audience to the show, and the delighful charm of a supporting cast thats full of surprises. Don’t believe me? Just check out some of these http://www.tv.com/shows/archer/reviews/ reviews of fans of the show. But lets get real you believe me… right?

Stay frosty boys and girls, see you next week!

Transmedia and the Archer universe

Hey archer fans! So if you guys are anything like me you need to know the best way to stay connected to Archer at all times to know the most about what’s going on in the world of Sterling Archer. Well never fear for I am here to fill you in on the best ways to diversify your Archer experience. During the airing of an episode, make sure to check of FX.com. During the show they offer an as you go experience that fills you in on extra tidbits and information on plot points throughout the episode, such as inspiration for a certain villain or location in the show. Also make sure you watch the video extras! They hold awesome little bits of intrigue and Archer hilarity that we have all come to love about the show. The first time I learned that Archer was taking its comedy to space was when I watched a teaser featuring action on the Space Station seen in the third season finale. So if you want to know more than your friends about the show your mother wishes you didn’t watch, make sure to check all the tie-ins FX offers for their gift to television. Another great way to learn more about the real men and women behind the show is to watch the casts interviews, conducted at comic-con, that illuminate exactly what making televisions greatest cartoon is all about. Finally I know you all have the Archer app already, but just in case you didn’t, head over to the app store now to get mobile alerts and updates on the show. Of course you can also follow Archer on twitter and Facebook but you’ve already done that… right? I mean what kind of Archer fan would you be if you weren’t following @ArcherFx and weren’t a fan of archer on Facebook? See you next week boys and girls, stay frosty.

Lets talk Archer!

Welcome to my first blog post about FX’s show Archer!! Without any more delay lets get started on the rundown on what is currently one of my favorite shows on television!

This blog post will be centered on the history of the show, so everyone following this blog is up to speed on the show before we dive into analysis on the show’s most recent season, the show’s fifth. Airing for the first time on September 17th, 2009 the show follows the adventures (or perhaps the misadventures) of  Sterling Mallory Archer, codename ‘Duchess’. Archer is considered to be the world’s most dangerous secret agent who spent the majority of his career working for ISIS, the International Secret Intelligence Service. Brought into the spy fold by his mother, Malory Duchess Archer, Sterling works with the supporting cast of ISIS on missions that generally focus on garnering wealth or prestige for Malory.

That being said, what is said above is simply broad strokes discussing what Archer is really about. Sterling is a self centered, egotistical, and obsessed with sex, who could care less about any of his coworkers whom he often fights with either with his words or literally. Archer has a serious case of both mommy and daddy issues from a largely absent and thoroughly alcoholic mother and from never knowing his father, and these issues seem to be a major running plot point throughout much of the series.

Nevertheless the show tends to be lighthearted and thoroughly geared towards male viewership. Ultra manliness ideals and running gags are omnipresent throughout the series, which will be discussed in depth in my next blog post! Now that you have some background information on the show I am looking forward to dissecting what makes Archer the character that you either love or despise, and analyzing a show that is, if nothing else, perpetually entertaining to watch. Make sure you take a quick look at the other page on my blog, Behind the Blow, to get further information about the start of season 5!