|The seventh season of FX's Archer premiered on March 31st.|
I’ve spent approximately 30 hours of my life watching a goofy cartoon about a super-spy’s ridiculous adventures. That might seem like a waste, were it not for the fact that, as it progresses through its seventh season, the FX comedy Archer remains one of the funniest things on TV. In its most recent seasons, that’s been a function of its willingness to significantly tweak – I won’t say reinvent, because it remains fundamentally the same show – its basic formula to stay fresh. It’s a reminder of how even shows that are light, trifling entertainment (and it’s no disparagement to Archer to call it that) can find ways to develop and even, in their way, grow.
As Mark Clamen’s 2012 review of the show for this site indicates, Archer isn’t exactly highbrow. It’s frequently violent and crude (albeit loaded with surprisingly intelligent references, a trademark of creator Adam Reed’s work). While it functions as a satire of the James Bond franchise and all of the hyper-masculine trappings that go with it, it’s still often gleefully immature and politically incorrect. It’s also a great showcase for the voice-acting talents of a number of underappreciated actors, including H. Jon Benjamin in the title role of secret agent Sterling Archer, Aisha Tyler as his long-suffering girlfriend Lana, and Jessica Walter as his mother (she’s essentially reprising her role from Arrested Development here, but she does it so well that it doesn’t matter). Perhaps the best example of how Reed understands how to utilize his talent is his use of Judy Greer, who’s so well-known for playing second bananas that she’s gamely made fun of herself for it. In Archer, she gets a chance to shed that bland persona, playing the deeply demented Cheryl (or Carol, or any of a variety of other names), a role that provides some of the strangest, and occasionally most disturbing, jokes on the show.