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Archer is an American adult animated black spy sitcom created by Adam Reed for the digital cable network FXX, having originally aired on sister network FX. The series focuses on a dysfunctional group of secret agentsSterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) and seven other colleagues—and the exploits of their intelligence agency. Later seasons of Archer see the group tasked with different undertakings as new premises, character arcs, and settings are introduced over the course of the show’s evolution.

Archer
Against a black background a white silhouette of a man holding a gun. Two green rectangles with black silhouettes of women. Underneath the word 'archer' in white.
Intertitle from Seasons 1–4 and 6–7
Also known as
  • Archer Vice (Season 5)
  • Archer Dreamland (Season 8)
  • Archer Danger Island (Season 9)
Genre
Created by Adam Reed
Voices of
Theme music composer
Opening theme "Archer Theme Song"
Ending theme "The Killer"
Composer(s) J. G. Thirlwell
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 93 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)
  • Jeff Fastner
  • Neal Holman
  • Chad Hurd
  • Eric Sims
  • Bryan Fordney
Running time 19–24 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor 20th Television
Release
Original network
  • FX (2009–16)
  • FXX (2017–present)
Picture format 16:9 HDTV
Original release September 17, 2009 (2009-09-17) – present
External links
Website www.fxnetworks.com/archer

Reed conceived Archer while vacationing in Spain in 2008. Since its debut in September 17, 2009, 98 episodes of the show have been broadcast. On June 21, 2016, it was renewed for an eighth, ninth, and tenth season of eight episodes each, and shortly thereafter moved from FX to FXX’s broadcast lineup. The ninth season will air sometime in 2018. Reed plans to conclude Archer after its tenth season.[1]

Archer has received widespread critical acclaim. The series has received numerous accolades, including several Emmy nominations for Outstanding Animated Program, and has won several other honors recognizing outstanding achievement in writing, acting, and animation.

Contents

Characters and settingsEdit

Archer follows the exploits of eight dysfunctional secret agents of the International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS), a fictional New York-based intelligence agency. They are Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin), the show’s narcissistic, womanizing protagonist;[2][3][4] Malory Archer (Jessica Walters), ISIS director and Sterling’s snarky, emotionally-distant mother;[4] Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler), Sterling’s love interest and mother of his infant daughter, and by far the most professional field agent at ISIS;[5] Ray Gillette (Reed), the agency’s effeminate, only openly gay agent;[3] Pam Poovey (Amber Nash), the head of the agency’s Human Resources department who’s often ridiculed by her peers;[4] Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell), a poor, albeit mild-mannered and soft spoken agent;[4] Cheryl Tunt (Judy Greer), Malory’s delusional, psychotic personal assistant;[6] and Dr. Algernop Krieger (Lucky Yates), a bizarre, morally bankrupt scientist with little regard for the well-being of his subjects.[7]

 
The core Archer characters from left to right: Cheryl Tunt, Ray Gillette, Lana Kane, Sterling Archer, Malory Archer, Cyril Figgis, Pam Poovey, and Dr. Algernop Krieger.

The show features an array of supporting characters, a number of whom have gained expanded roles in subsequent episodes. Major supporting roles in Archer include Christian Slater as a fictionalized version of himself;[8] Katya Kazanova (Ona Grauer), head of the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (KGB) and Sterling’s former love interest;[9] and Barry Dylan (Dave Willis), Sterling’s archnemesis who vows to kill him.[10]

Early seasons of Archer take place in an anchronistic, Cold War-esque universe—the exact period is intentionally vague.[11] In Archer's subsequent years, Reed develops new settings and character arcs, often with self-contained stories as he experiments with new concepts for the series.[12] As a result, its creative team removed ISIS from dialogue, due to associations with the Jihadist terrorist group of the same initials.[13] These rebooted seasons see the group attempt to complete a number of laborious tasks in highly unusual circumstances, generally to no avail, that involve sustaining an illegal cocaine operation to keep afloat,[14] contract work for the CIA,[15] and running a private, Los Angeles-based detective agency after being blacklisted from espionage.[16] The forthcoming ninth season, Archer: Danger Island, will be set on a remote beach in the South Pacific in 1939.[17][18]

EpisodesEdit

Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired Network
1 10 September 17, 2009 (2009-09-17) March 18, 2010 (2010-03-18) FX
2 13 January 27, 2011 (2011-01-27) April 21, 2011 (2011-04-21)
3 13 September 15, 2011 (2011-09-15) March 22, 2012 (2012-03-22)
4 13 January 17, 2013 (2013-01-17) April 11, 2013 (2013-04-11)
5 13 January 13, 2014 (2014-01-13) April 21, 2014 (2014-04-21)
6 13 January 8, 2015 (2015-01-08) April 2, 2015 (2015-04-02)
7 10 March 31, 2016 (2016-03-31) June 2, 2016 (2016-06-02)
8 8 April 5, 2017 (2017-04-05) May 24, 2017 (2017-05-24) FXX

ProductionEdit

ConceptionEdit

Before the creation of Archer, Adam Reed had worked on animated comedies with longtime collaborator Matt Thompson. The duo came to attention for their work on a number of Adult Swim television projects, most notably Sealab 2021 and their follow-up Frisky Dingo, which aired for several years.[11] After the cancellation of Frisky Dingo in 2008, Reed took a vacation to Spain to brainstorm ideas for a new project. The creator’s experiences walking along the Vía de la Plata and people watching in Plaza Mayor in nearby Salamanca allowed him to conceptualize his vision for Archer.[19] Reed recalled, “So I sat on the Plaza Mayor for three days—drinking either coffee or beer or gin, depending on the time of day—surrounded by these Spanish women who seemed both unaware and completely aware of their beauty. Occasionally they would glance over—and catch me gaping at them—and just smile at me like, ‘I know, right?’ And for three days, I couldn't even splutter ‘Buenos dias’ to any of them—not once. And thus was Sterling Archer born.”[20]

He pitched his idea to FX, which accepted it and ordered six episodes, along with an additional four scripts.[21] Originally, FX wanted to pair Archer with another FX comedy series, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, in September 2009. However, during the starting phases of the series, producing one episode of Archer took "almost a whole month", meaning that it became "impossible" to air all of Archer's episodes at the time. FX decided to delay the official premiere of the series, but opted to air the pilot episode as a special sneak peek in September after an episode of Sunny, set up as a "programming stunt ... purely for the numbers and aimed at seeing who sticks around to watch".[22] The series made its official debut on January 14, 2010.[23]

While developing the seventh season, the creative team took inspiration from Magnum, P.I. while developing the stories, and they also used the series' location switch from New York City to Los Angeles to change the series from the 1960s-aesthetic of prior seasons forward to 1970s-style, which included new clothing for the main characters.[24] The seventh season also marked the first time the show had a composer, J. G. Thirlwell, scoring the soundtrack for the season,[25] a notable difference from previous seasons, in which only the opening and ending music themes were made by composers (Scott Sims and Mel Young, respectively), and the episodes used stock library music.

The seventh season was originally announced to contain 13 episodes,[26] but creator Adam Reed later stated in an interview that the season would be a "10-episode story".[27] Before season seven premiered, the show was announced to be moved to sister network FXX to be paired with a new action-buddy comedy series, Cassius and Clay.[28] However, when Cassius and Clay was cancelled before it started airing,[29] Archer stayed on FX for season seven. The move to FXX occurred for the series' eighth season, which premiered on April 5, 2017.[30]

in September 2016, Reed stated that he intends to end the series after its tenth season, saying, "The plan is to end Archer after season 10... I was gonna end it after 8, but then I had sort of a brain explosion of a way that I could do three more seasons and really keep my interest up. So the three seasons that are coming up are gonna be pretty different from what has come before, and they’re gonna be different from each other."[1][31]

 
From left to right: Aisha Tyler, Adam Reed, H. Jon Benjamin, Chris Parnell, Judy Greer and Amber Nash at Comic-Con International in 2010

In an interview before season five, show producer and art director Neil Holman stated that "An average episode takes about eleven weeks from the moment we get a script to the moment we turn it in. We generally have four episodes in production at a time in staggered phases, so we end up doing 13 episodes in 10 months."[32] In an interview before season 6, show creator and main writer Adam Reed stated that each episode takes five weeks to make, from start to finish.[15]

AnimationEdit

The show is mostly animated by Reed's Floyd County Productions in Atlanta, Georgia,[33] while 3D background models are made by Trinity Animation in Kansas City, Missouri.[34] Originally, Radical Axis housed the show's animation staff for season 1, but the crew has since moved to their own facilities close to Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The artistic style of the series was designed to be as realistic as possible, so the character designers used as much reference material as they could.[35] The character drawings are based on Atlanta-area models; they coincidentally resemble some of the voice actors in the series.[11] As Chad Hurd, the lead character designer for the series, noted, the end result resembles "a 1960s comic book come to life."[36] Television critics have also compared the show's overall visual style to that of the drama series Mad Men,[37] and noted that lead character Sterling Archer bears a substantial resemblance to Mad Men protagonist Don Draper.[38] Characters in the show have made references to this resemblance on several occasions. The artwork is also similar to the original Jonny Quest cartoon series penned by artist Doug Wildey in the 1960s.[citation needed]

Stylistically, the show is a mix of several different time periods; show creator Adam Reed described it as "intentionally ill-defined", noting that the show "cherry-pick[ed] the best and easiest from several decades".[11] Numerous plot details arise from contemporary culture, such as affirmative action and sexual harassment complaints.

Archer is influenced by the early James Bond films, as well as OSS 117, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Pink Panther,[11] and can be compared to Reed's former shows for Adult Swim, Frisky Dingo and Sealab 2021.[35] Driven by rapid-fire dialogue[39] and interaction-based drama, the series is "stuff[ed]...with pop-culture references"[40] and features an anachronistic style, using fashion from the early 1960s, cars and vans from the 1970s, a mix of 1980s-era and modern technology, and a political status quo in which "the Cold War never ended".

ReceptionEdit

Archer has received critical acclaim. It has been called "jaw-droppingly funny and brilliantly voice-acted",[41] with a "wonderful, perverted world, rich with running gags and meta comedy",[42] and that it "succeeds where so many of the snarky animated series tend to fail".[43]

Season Reception
Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
1 92% (13 reviews)[44] 78/100 (20 reviews)[45]
2 100% (9 reviews)[46] 88/100 (12 reviews)[47]
3 100% (6 reviews)[48] 75/100 (6 reviews)[49]
4 93% (15 reviews)[50] 79/100 (6 reviews)[51]
5 100% (10 reviews)[52] No score[53]
6 100% (8 reviews)[54] 78/100 (5 reviews)[55]
7 100% (5 reviews)[56] 78/100 (6 reviews)[57]
8 88% (8 reviews)[58] 72/100 (6 reviews)[59]

Home releaseEdit

Season Region 1 release date Region 2 release date Region 4 release date Episode count Discs Additional content
1 DVD: December 28, 2010[60]
Blu-ray: December 27, 2011[61]
May 2, 2011[62] March 2, 2011[63] 10 2 "Unaired Pilot"
Unaired Network Promo
Deleted Scenes
Six-part "Making of Archer"
Pilot episodes of The League and Louie
2 December 27, 2011[61] May 7, 2012[64] February 29, 2012[65] 13 2 Archersaurus - Self Extinction
Ask Archer
Semper Fi
L'espion Mal Fait
ISIS infiltrates Comic-con
3 January 8, 2013[66] July 1, 2013 March 13, 2013[67] 13 2 Commentaries on episodes El Contador, Drift Problem, and Lo Scandalo
Extended version of episode Heart of Archness
Answering Machine Messages
Cooking with Archer
Gator 2 trailer
4 January 7, 2014[68] February 5, 2014[69] 13 2 Fisherman's Daughter
Archer Live!
5 January 6, 2015[70] February 2, 2015 [71] 13 2 Midnight Blues Music Video by Cheryl Tunt
Cherlene Tunt Interview on Wake Up Country
Old MacDonald Pam Poovey Had a Farm, The Musical
6 March 29, 2016[72] February 17, 2016 [73] 13 2 Conan & Archer Battle Russian Mobsters
Slay-J
Cooking with Milton

Each season of the series, except for season 1, has received a DVD and Blu-ray release on the same date, in region 1. Season 1 was originally released only on DVD, but the Blu-ray was released later, on the same date as season 2's DVD and Blu-ray.[61]

BooksEdit

How to Archer: The Ultimate Guide to Espionage and Style and Women and Also Cocktails Ever Written (ISBN 9780062066312), a book with information on how to get a life like Sterling Archer, the series' main character, was released on January 17, 2012.[74]

A second book, The Art of Archer, was released on December 6, 2016, and features "240 pages of concept art, exclusive interviews, script excerpts and the never-before-released original pitch for the series".[75]

Cherlene (Songs from the Series Archer)Edit

In 2014, after season 5 was finished, an album filled with country songs recorded by Cheryl Tunt (as Cherlene, with singing voiced by Jessy Lynn Martens) was recorded and released, including many of the songs featured throughout season 5 (including a cover of "Danger Zone", featuring Kenny Loggins).[76]

Awards and honorsEdit

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2010 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Voice-over Performance[77] H. Jon Benjamin for voice of Sterling Archer Nominated
NewNowNext Award Best Show You're Not Watching[78] Archer Won
2011 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Comedy Series Archer Nominated
2012 Comedy Awards Best Animated Comedy Series Archer Won
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Animated Series[79] Archer Won
2013 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Animated Series Archer Won
Annie Awards Best General Audience Animated TV/Broadcast Production Archer Nominated
2014 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Animated Series Archer Won
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Animated Program[80] For "Archer Vice: The Rules Of Extraction" Nominated
2015 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Animated Series Archer Won
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Animated Program[81] "Pocket Listing" Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media - Multiplatform Storytelling[82] Mark Paterson & Tim Farrell for "Archer Scavenger Hunt" Won
2016 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Animated Program[83] "The Figgis Agency" Won
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media - Multiplatform Storytelling[84] Mark Paterson, Tim Farrell, & Bryan Fordney for "Archer Scavenger Hunt 2" Won
2017 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Animated Program "Archer Dreamland: No Good Deed" Nominated
2018 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Animated Series Archer Pending

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit