Archer is the latest adult-themed cartoon to try its hand, following in the wake of South Park, Family Guy and American Dad. Its deliberately low-fi animation style (it feels like something from the 1960’s) works just fine with its self-proclaimed “James Bond meets Arrested Development with a Mad Men twist” approach and as with all of these sorts of shows, the emphasis is on the jokes, the script and the comedic scenarios, rather than trying to out-do Pixar for immersive world-building.
Archer himself is an excellent comic creation – vain, deluded, mean, stupid and shallow – but always enjoyable; the sort of person you would enjoy as a friend but would never want to have to rely on. The supporting cast are a little inconsistent. Some, like his colleague Cheryl and his long-suffering butler Woodhouse are laugh-out-loud funny, while others quickly become predictable and derivative. But plenty of imagination has gone into the characterisation for the most part and the show undoubtedly feels like and is its own creature rather than trying to hang onto the coat tails of better known and established brands.
The stand-out episodes see Archer trying to avoid getting in trouble with a randy but under-age heiress (Swiss Miss), struggling to cope with an unexpected paternity suit (Blood Test) and battling an eco-terrorist in the Everglades (Pipeline Fever), but there are strong elements to most of the episodes, even if there could be a better, more consistent overall hit-rate with the gags (Movie Star and Stage Two run out of steam noticeably quickly).
Season One is about to be screened on one of the Channel 5 spin-off channels in the UK and they are up to Season 3 already in the US, so this hasn’t died as quickly as some live-action shows have. It is unclear from this season whether the show has the legs to join its animated small screen forebears in running for many years, but for this season alone it is at least worth a look.
Extras: Featurettes are on both formats, but were unavailable to review.