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New season of ‘Archer’ seems promising for long-time fans

June 28, 2017

 

“Archer” takes on a film noir feel as the main character’s coma causes him to dream the events of the episode. – FXX

Archer: Dreamland
Rating – Four of Five Stars

 

Dillon Nelson
Staff Reporter | djn005@latech.edu

 

“Archer” started off as an episodic show about a group of loud-mouth spies at the now-defunct International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS) agency. The show was a consistently entertaining blend of action and comedy. It has since seen its characters become coke dealers and private eyes, and though the show has matured in terms of animation and character development, this ambitious approach to the story has yielded mostly successful, yet occasionally mixed results.

 

The premiere of “Archer: Dreamland,” titled  “No Good Deed,” takes place three months after the presumed death of Sterling Archer in season 7. The episode uses only a couple of scenes to establish that Archer is actually in a coma, and enters the comatose mind of Archer after he registers the fact that his longtime servant and father figure, Woodhouse, has died.

 

This satisfyingly gets the “how” of the season out of the way, and the new story-within-a-story, where the rest of the characters take on new roles in a film noir plot, is smoothly introduced.

 

The fact that it’s Woodhouse who has been murdered in this dream lends instant intrigue to the episode. This is perhaps what has been missing from the previous Archer experiments: an emotional core. Excellent banter between characters and the occasional story bombshell guided the show through middling story arcs, but there has, at times, been a glaring lack of a purpose to “Archer.” Though I’m not sure if this story will end up mattering in the grand scheme of “Archer,” using Woodhouse as the center of the dream-story provides a welcome opportunity to progress the character of Sterling Archer.

 

Since this is the show’s most drastic transformation yet, however, the shift from the real to the dreamy causes everything to be a bit off-kilter and talky in a way “Archer” normally is not. Sterling, his mother Mallory and the rest of the show’s masterful ensemble, all take a little bit of getting used to in their new characters as the story sets itself up.

 

There are a decent amount of familiar character moments which seem to indicate the characters will remain the same even as they take on technically-new roles. The way Krieger and Pam’s characters are translated work particularly well and contribute to the developing story in promising ways.

 

Some like Cyril, Cheryl and Lana are not given enough time to truly shine, but it is heartening that Mallory gets a meaty role running a private firm who Archer is made to work for. It is great to see Mallory’s particular sense of droll humor and commanding presence will have a consistent outlet this season after becoming a bit underused in recent seasons.

 

Though there is a slow start, the season premiere manages to truly capture the “Archer” spirit with the season’s first action scene on the back of a moving truck. Action scenes, through whatever changes the writers have made, have always been one of the shows strong suits, and that remains true here.

 

After several seasons of Sterling being somewhat sidelined by the writers, it is nice to see new wrinkles added to the show’s most intriguing character. Along with a fantastic noir-style aside spoken by this version of Sterling, he also seems to have PTSD. Though it remains to be seen whether anything will come of this in the main story, this development adds to a somewhat standard fight scene while also adding an interesting take to the well-worn, boorish character.

 

This fight scene in this episode seems to be the show’s concept snapping into place, and the episode continues to add small twists until it ends. Though it ends with a bit of noir silliness, the door definitely seems open for this dream-season to be entertaining and purposeful, even if it ends up as simply a dream by the end of the season.

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