Archer: The Complete Season Three
Created by Adam Reed
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 286 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, French
Release Date: January 8, 2013
Review Date: January 10, 2013
Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) is the leading secret agent of international spy agency ISIS run on a restrictive budget by his über-controlling mother Malory (Jessica Walter). Second lead agent is Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler) who once had a thing with Archer but now looks back on their liaison with something akin to horror. For all his gorgeous looks and super skills as a spy, Sterling has little to no common sense, definite mother issues, a raging ego, and complete insensitivity to anyone else’s problems, so the other members of the team: gay agent Ray Gillette (Adam Reed), accountant Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell) who ascends to the role of new agent this season, house scientist Doctor Krieger (Lucky Yates), receptionist Pam Poovey (Amber Nash), or secretary Cheryl Tunt (Judy Greer) along with his valet Woodhouse (George Coe) are mostly there in his mind to do his bidding without question, not that they cooperate all that frequently..
The season gets off to a rollicking start as the agency goes looking for the three months-missing Sterling who’s run away from home after the murder of his Russian fiancé in season two’s finale episode. Is it any surprise that Sterling turns pirate king for part of this three-episode story arc? Malory begins dating Burt Reynolds (much to Archer’s discomfort since his own man crush on the Gator star takes a back seat to the thought of his mother getting close to the legend himself). The season’s best episode is a hilarious surprise-filled caper where Malory asks the team to help her dispose of the body of a longtime lover dressed in a latex suit who’s been shot in her living room. Other fun stories involve Archer’s delight with a new car for his birthday only to find it stolen, the return of Bionic Barry for a couple of episodes, and the two-part season finale where the team travels to a space station to deal with some mutinous astronauts.
The cast, particularly H. Jon Benjamin, Jessica Walter, and Aisha Tyler, are expert voice actors who wring all of the comedy out of their characters and have impeccable comic timing with their delivery of lines. True, the program pushes for comic effect by having most of the cast braying at one another to drive home their jokes (which can become less effective and more monotonous if one watches more than an episode or two at a time). The comedy is adult-oriented, however, and can be fall down funny in its concentration on the various characters’ mercenary natures, their constant craving for adulation and appreciation, and the secrets all of them keep close to their vests until they come out, almost always at the most inappropriate moments. The animation is more detailed and impressive than, say, what one sees on The Simpsons or South Park, and an episode set in West Virginia has more sophistication than one might expect from an animated television series on a cable network. Unlike The Simpsons or South Park, however, there is much less utilization of guest stars voicing other characters. In fact, during this thirteen episode third season, only David Cross, Patrick Warburton, George Takei, Jack McBrayer, Michael Rooker, and Bryan Cranston (in addition to Burt Reynolds, of course) appear as members of the voice cast whose names might be familiar to the average viewer.
Here are the thirteen episodes which make up the contents of the two discs in this second season set. The names in parentheses refer to the actors appearing in that episode’s audio commentary:
1 – Heart of Archness: Part I
2 – Heart of Archness: Part II
3 – Heart of Archness: Part III
4 – The Man from Jupiter
5 – El Contador (Chris Parnell, Aisha Tyler, Adam Reed)
6 – The Limited (Judy Greer, Amber Nash, Adam Reed)
7 – Drift Problem (Jessica Walter, Adam Reed)
8 – Lo Scandalo
9 – Bloody Ferlin
10 – Crossing Over
11 – Skin Game
12 – Space Race: Part I
13 – Space Race: Part II
The series is presented in its television widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and these DVDs are faithful to that aspect ratio and are anamorphically enhanced for widescreen televisions. Sharpness is outstanding throughout the thirteen episodes, and while the show doesn’t go in for wildly saturated color or blindingly bright hues, the color present is also true and consistently rendered. Aliasing can be glimpsed on occasion, but it’s not a major problem, and most of the lines are firmly delivered and rock solid without any twitter. Each episode has been divided into 5 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix doesn’t quite make the most of the action-oriented aspects of some of the episodes. The rear channels don’t get much use either through the music or with ambient effects though occasionally noises have been spread through the soundfield to nice effect. Explosions make good use of the LFE channel. Dialogue is crisply recorded and is always easily discernible. It’s mostly in the center channel though the mix does make use of directionalized dialogue from time to time.
The three audio commentaries feature the show’s creator having fun chats with members of his cast, but they rarely if ever discuss anything having to do with the making of the episode. For fans of the show who want behind-the-scenes scoop on how the episodes are made, these aren’t for you (though Adam Reed does throw out a semi-spoiler for season four at the end of the commentary for episode #7).
All of the video featurettes are presented in anamorphic widescreen.
“Heart of Archness Trilogy Enhanced” basically strings together the three story trilogy that began the season into a 58 ½-minute episode. If there was any extra material, I didn’t notice it.
“Book on Tape Fail” finds Archer having a hard time understanding the concept of audio books as he attempts to record the Archer handbook. It runs 2 ¼ minutes.
“Cooking with Archer” finds the superspy in a throw down with noted chef Alton Brown in this 3 ¼-minute vignette.
Gator 2 trailer finds Archer mounting a homemade trailer for a proposed sequel to the Burt Reynolds movie starring himself in the leading role (as a Burt Reynolds lookalike) and attempting to peddle it to his co-workers for funding. This runs 2 ¼ minutes.
“Archer at Comic-Con 2012” is a 2 ½-minute animated greeting from the noted spy to attendees at Comic Con.
The disc includes promo trailers for FX drama series, Louie, Family Guy, Wilfred, and the Bond 50 box set.
4/5 (not an average)
Sterling Archer may not be 007, but he certainly puts to double-o’s in foolish, doofus, and boobish. His ribaldry and vulgar hilarity is on ample display in the third season of Archer, and the set offers pleasing picture and good sound along with some chuckle-worthy bonus material. Recommended!