Both shows carry a retro-cool feel and appear to be — how novel! — actually written, as opposed to the seemingly made-up-as-we-go-along dreck that has filled most of Adult Swim’s slate since its second year. That kind of improv nonsense may work for baked couch potatoes, but the rest of us prefer their humor a little more refined.
That’s not to say “Archer” doesn’t get naughty, but more on that in a minute.
The title refers to spy Sterling Archer (voiced to seething perfection by H. Jon Benjamin), who’s also a smug, self-absorbed, vain, misogynistic a-hole. He works for the secret agency run by his mother (Jessica Walter) and often undergoes missions with his former girlfriend, the black and buxom Lana (Aisha Tyler), who currently dates the agency’s nebbish comptroller, Cyril (the great Chris Parnell).
From de-bombing a dirigible to sniffing out moles, Archer’s adventures in espionage are almost secondary — OK, they are secondary — to the devilishly deviant banter in which the characters continually engage, matched only by their bad behavior. Yes, this is a cartoon in which characters cavort between the sheets — and elsewhere — and lines like “My vulva is smoother than a veal cutlet” are par for the ever-coarse course.
The jokes never let up, and that extends to the double-disc set’s extras, where the “original unaired ‘Archer’ pilot” is really just the first episode, but with Archer replaced by a screeching dinosaur — a gag that absolutely gets tired almost immediately. There’s also a featurette on how the show is animated on computers, but the best bonuses are with pilots for two other FX comedies, both live-action. Apparently, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment thinks that by including full episodes of “Louie” and “The League,” more viewers will be won.
It worked; my ordered copy of “The League” is on its way from Amazon. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the second season of “Archer,” which just kicked off. —Rod Lott