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Film Reviews | Style & Culture

TV Review: ‘Archer’

Animated spy comedy only gets better as seasons roll on

It is surreal that “Archer” is already a month into its fourth season on FX. I still remember stumbling upon the first episode in 2009, skeptical at first, but continuing to laugh harder and harder as the episode, and eventually the series, continued.

The spy cartoon revolves around a secret agency called ISIS. The show’s namesake is a perfect cocktail of James Bond and the cockiest kid you knew in high school. The show has established legitimacy as it enters its fourth season with an ever-expanding cast of guest stars — the often-mentioned Burt Reynolds even guest starred as, well, Burt Reynolds. I still find myself pining to anyone and everyone I know that they should watch it. Every episode.

And just a quick tangent, while it may seem like a member of this paper bought stock in FX, I will now list a number of FX shows that I would rather look at a blank TV screen than watch: “Anger Management,” “Brand X” with Russell Brand, “Legit,” “Terriers” and “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.”

“Archer’s” popularity is no longer in question, but the show has developed the difficult task of taking on more storylines and characters without getting convoluted, confusing or inconsistent. In this season’s third episode, a character that had been seen just once in Season 1 was given a brief 5-second cameo, as if creator Adam Reed was saying to his audience, “Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about him.”

H. Jon Benjamin, who voices Archer, has only grown in popularity since the show’s debut, thanks in part to the show’s success and also to a lead role on Fox’s “Bob’s Burgers,” which took me a while to get into — the main characters share the exact same voice.

Archer’s brilliance was affecting my ability to watch other cartoons.

While Benjamin has benefitted from the success, the most famous regular will always be Jessica Walter, who voices Archer’s mother and head of ISIS, Malory Archer. For any “Arrested Development” fans, Malory’s character is more or less the cartoon embodiment of Lucille Bluth;instead of a construction company, the Archer family runs a spy agency.

The show’s main attraction was and continues to be the ambiguity of when it takes place. Between the style, the sociology and the political landscape, it screams 1970s Cold War, but the pop-culture references are all present day. One of the show’s best lines from Season 1 was when accountant Cyril Figgis was training to become a secret agent and asked Archer excitedly if he gets to learn Karate. Archer laughs it off. “The Dane Cook of martial arts? No.” Season 4’s latest episode had a shout-out to everyone’s favorite astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson.

While it continues to bend time with its pop-culture references, the show has started to develop its own inside storylines that fervent followers tend to grasp a hold of, as it separates him or her from the casual observer. If you haven’t followed Archer from the start, then you’ll have no idea why he hates cyborgs. Or why after Ron Cadillac told Archer about sewer alligators, Archer couldn’t defecate for weeks.

Archer is already through three seasons, but I hope there’s not a near end in sight. Thankfully, the odds seem in my favor: Any character they kill off, they can just bring back as a cyborg. Much to Archer’s dismay.