There's more sipping, swearing, and even some occasional spying in the fourth season of FX's hilarious animated secret agent spoof Archer. The show offers an ample supply of belly laughs courtesy of the assorted loony toon members of international spy agency ISIS. Its adult-oriented, no-holds-barred approach to comedy means nothing is sacred, so those looking for politically correct humor are fresh out of luck here. Those with a ribald sense of the absurd will welcome the raunchy, wacky antics of these sometimes sexy, sometimes nerdy secret agents who banter and bicker while consuming ample amounts of alcohol, shooting a wild array of wicked weaponry, and engaging in as many duplicitous assignments that toss the rule book out the door with a vengeance.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 4 Hrs. 46 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-raykeep case in foldout slipcover with a removable Archer mustache
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 01/07/2014
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), one-time accountant and now spy Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell), suspicious, crack-headed 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 Production Rating: 4.5/5
As in season three, Sterling begins season four away from home for the past two months, a bout of amnesia driving him into becoming the proprietor of Bob’s Burgers (with a nod to that show) while the rest of the team tries their best to reawaken in Sterling his true identity. Malory’s new husband Ron (played by Jessica Walter’s real-life husband Ron Leibman) takes part in a very entertaining episode which finds Sterling trying to reenter the country from Canada as we (and the mother-fixated Sterling) get to know the former gangster now turned used car mogul. Other fun episodes involve Sterling’s bromance with one-time fellow agent and now rival Lucas Troy (a wonderful vocal turn by guest star Timothy Olyphant) who has more on his mind than guns and girls, a Heaven Can Wait/The Natural parody as Archer lays dying from a cobra bite and reflects on his life, a hilarious episode where the team masquerades as characters on reality series Bastard Chef with an imperious Anthony Bourdain putting them all in their place as the incompetents they are, a couple of episodes featuring the return of bionic Barry, Archer incomprehensibly protecting the Pope in the Vatican, and the two-part season finale which finds the team in the Bermuda Triangle in a trap with a bomb masterminded by a scientist played amusingly by Jon Hamm.
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 quite different and more impressive than, say, what one sees on The Simpsons or South Park, and the episodes set under the sea have more sophistication in the artwork than one might expect from an animated television series on a cable network.
Here are the thirteen episodes which make up the contents of the two discs in this second season set.
1 – Fugue and Riffs
2 – The Wind Cries Mary
3 – Legs
4 – Midnight Ron
5 – Viscous Coupling
6 – Once Bitten
7 – Live and Let Dine
8 – Coyote Lovely
9 – The Honeymooners
10 – Un Chien Tangerine
11 – The Papal Chase
12 – Sea Tunt, Part I
13 – Sea Tunt, Part II
The series is presented in its television widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and these Blu-rays are faithful to that aspect ratio in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. 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. All of the animated lines are firmly delivered and rock solid without any twitter, and there is also no banding. Each episode has been divided into 5 chapters.
Video Rating: 5/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 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 placed in the center channel though the mix does make impressive use of directionalized dialogue from time to time.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Fisherman’s Daughter (3:28, HD): Doctor Krieger and the gang watch an adventure featuring his love object.
Special Features Rating: 1.5/5
Archer Live! (20:03, HD); the cast (minus creator Adam Reed) appears at a fan event at Irving Center in New York City answering questions from the audience and participating in live scene readings. Hosted by Lucky Yates.
Sterling Archer may not be 007, but he certainly puts the double-o’s in foolish, doofus, and boobish. His ribaldry and vulgar hilarity is on ample display in the fourth season of Archer, and the set offers exceptional picture and good sound though the bonus material for this season’s set is decidedly a letdown. Nonetheless, recommended!
Overall Rating: 4/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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