You know what the worst thing about Archer is? Seriously? Because I have no idea. I can’t even tell you one single negative thing about it at all. If I’m held at gunpoint, and I knew there was one bullet left – because like Sterling Archer himself, I count all shots fired – I could only complain that there aren’t nearly enough episodes per season. If The Simpsons and Family Guy are still getting around and above twenty episodes a season, Archer should be right alongside them. Why aren’t these decisions mine to make?
This stellar third season followed an only slightly less-stellar second season, which bounced episodic adventures perfectly with multi-episode arcs, often with emotional undertones that didn’t feel as ridiculously out of place as one might thing from a show that is more perverse than a thousand junior-high school boys’ conversations. Luckily, the formula is even more honed-in during Season 3, impressively building the lives of many of its characters, adding more relevance to characters that might only appear as a one-off in other series. Beyond the befitting animation, the show is such a well-crafted mesh of creator Adam Reed’s impeccably clever comedic writing and the nuanced personalities the voiceover cast gives this group of severely misguided spies.
Sterling Archer is H. Jon Benjamin unhinged in all the right ways, and this season gives him a chance to aspire to be a pirate king in the three-episode arc that starts out the season, a season that also finds guest spots for David Cross and Patrick Warburton, and also sends the cast into outer space. In the middle of all this-- Spoiler!--Archer finds out what Pam is like between the sheets (or at least on top of a dirty toilet). Malory Archer, played with Jessica Walters’ signature indignity, hits familiar story points, involving being disappointed by nearly everyone on her staff and having a robust sex life with foreign diplomats. She also carries on a fling with a self-aware Burt Reynolds in a mustache-bustingly funny episode, complete with the best car chases animation can provide. Lana (Aisha Tyler) is once again the most important character without a central plotline, but she is the powerful female foil to Archer’s masculinity-dripping whims, so this is easy to ignore.
The supporting cast is as baffling and off-the-wall as they’ve ever been. Cyril seems like he’ll always be Chris Parnell’s most reserved character, but he has cemented his place in the ISIS, and he finally gets a chance to momentarily shine as a spy in Season 3 (albeit with “muddy” pants). Pam (Amber Nash) and Cheryl (Judy Greer) ooze a type of estrogen opposite that of Lana’s, fueled by sex and egotism respectively, and ignorant incompetence equally. Dr. Kreiger (Lucky Yates) is a scene-stealer, and his involvement in a company drug test includes some of the season’s most bizarre animation. Adam Reed shines as Ray, who is paralyzed for half the season, allowing the show to wallow gloriously in the dark waters of paralysis jokes, and he also gets a solid story involving his brother (Jack McBrayer) and their hometown sheriff (Michael Rooker).
Part office comedy and part villain hunt, Season 3 provides plenty of opportunities for guest stints. Dave Willis returns as cyborg Barry Dillon, making everyone’s lives miserable in the process. Those familiar with the Trailer Park Boys will enjoy their cameos as freedom fighter Mountie terrorists. George Takei plays a fine American businessman. Just kidding--he plays a Japanese crime guy who Archer thinks stole his amazing new spy car. And most notable of all is a two-episode turn by Bryan Cranston as a survivalist gone mad with ideas of repopulating the human race from a space station before humanity destroys itself. There are no untalented people involved in this show.
I could always use more extras with a comedy like this, but I have no complaints about what’s included on the disc. Three of the offseason’s hilarious webisodes are here. Archer avoids reading his own audiobook. Archer has a cooking show where he gets in a fight with Food Network’s Alton Brown. Archer makes a Gator 2 trailer and the gang rips him apart. Long-form or short-form, this show doesn’t miss. Archer also presents a message to the fans at Comic-Con 2012, filled with derisive nerd jokes, and drops an F-bomb while not quite spoiling the season’s plotlines.
Aside from those, three episodes get commentaries from Adam Reed, joined for an episode each by Greer, Parnell, Tyler and Nash, and each is more akin to a podcast than a commentary, using the episode as merely a distraction for fun storytelling. And the “Heart of Archness” arc gets an enhanced hour-long single version with a few changes included.
I’m not quite sure I could recognize it if this show would get any better. Its ability to draw such a wide variety of fans speaks to the intelligence of the writing far more than the juvenile atmosphere most of the jokes inhabit. With a crossover episode from Benjamin’s other hilarious show, Bob’s Burgers, occurring later in Season 4, perhaps there will be a peak among these massive mountains of comedy. But until then, this season of Archer is worth running out and purchasing. Just try not to get into any fights on top of trains on the way to the store.
Length: 282 mins.
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: 01/08/2013
Starring: H. Jon Benjamin, Jessica Walters, Aisha Tyler, Judy Greer
Directed by:Adam Reed
Created by: Adam Reed