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Blu-ray Review Archer: The Complete Season Two Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

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If Get Smart was TV’s first secret agent spoof, then FX’s Archer is the latest and undoubtedly the funniest since that venerable NBC series was on the air. In its second season, Archer continues furnishing an ample supply of belly laughs from the assorted loony toon members of international spy agency ISIS, and its adult-oriented, no-holds-barred approach to comedy means nothing is sacred. Those looking for politically correct comedy are fresh out of luck here. Those with a ribald sense of humor will welcome the raunchy, wacky antics of these sexy 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.



Archer: The Complete Season Two (Blu-ray)
Created by Adam Reed

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Year: 2011

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1   1080p   AVC codec
Running Time: 286 minutes
Rating: TV-14
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, French

Region: A

MSRP: $ 39.99


Release Date: December 27, 2011

Review Date: December 24, 2011



The Season

4/5


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 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), 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. Naturally, they all have something of a problem with that.


Three two-episode story arcs are major comic centerpieces of season two. In the first, Sterling and Malory must deal with the prospect of Sterling's fathering a baby with a Swiss nymphomaniac. A shocking bout with breast cancer makes for two of the most hilarious episodes from the second season with Sterling using his disease as a convenient excuse to do or say anything he wants. The season wraps up with two episodes featuring Sterling’s search for his father’s real identity taking him to Russia to deal with the excruciatingly inept remains of the KGB and meeting the love of his life in the process. Also memorable is a one-off episode in which a movie star gets permission from Malory to tag along with Sterling and Lana on a mission for research purposes declaring everything “awesome” and generally getting in the way.


The cast members, 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 points (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 times. The animation is more detailed and impressive than, say, what one sees on The Simpsons or South Park, and an episode set at the Grand Prix 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 Jeffrey Tambor, Joan Van Ark, Maggie Wheeler, and Darren Criss 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:


1 – Swiss Miss

2 – A Going Concern

3 – Blood Test

4 – Pipeline Fever

5 – The Double Deuce

6 – Tragical History

7 – Movie Star

8 – Stage Two

9 – Placebo Effect

10 – El Secuestro

11 – Jeu Monegasque

12 – White Nights

13 – Double Trouble



Video Quality

4.5/5


The series is presented in its television widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and has been given a 1080p encode using the AVC codec. Sharpness is perfection 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 solid and consistently rendered and with no banding. Only the tiniest bit of aliasing can be glimpsed on minor occasion, but most of the imagery is quite eye-catching in high definition. Each episode has been divided into 5 chapters.



Audio Quality

4/5


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 in one particular episode set in Louisiana, bayou noises have been spread through the soundfield to nice effect. Explosions make very 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.



Special Features

3/5


All of the video featurettes are presented in 1080p.


“Archersaurus – Self Extinction” imagines what the show would have been like had the leading character been a dinosaur rather than Sterling Archer. This short runs 3 ¼ minutes.


“Ask Archer” finds Sterling relaxing at home and answering a series of viewer-forwarded questions about his life and career. This fun vignette runs 5 minutes.


“Semper Fi” is a 1 ¾-minute shout-out to a specific serviceman and his crew serving in Afghanistan.


“L’espoin Mal Fait” is a terrific in-joke as an animated character resembling the actor (H. Jon Benjamin) who plays Archer is actually the real Archer trying to do his job or pick up girls looking like the actor rather than the character on the series. This very funny Twilight Zone-style short runs 5 ¼ minutes.


“ISIS Invades Comic Con” finds the following members of the cast at a panel discussion of the show at Comic Con: Amber Nash, Judy Greer, Chris Parnell, Aisha Tyler, Jon Benjamin, and Adam Reed. They each speak a bit and answer moderator and audience questions in this 13 ¼-minute piece.


The disc includes promo trailers for FX series and Wilfred.



In Conclusion

4/5 (not an average)


Sterling Archer may not be 007, but he certainly puts the double-o’s in foolish, doofus, and loony. His ribaldry and vulgar hilarity is on ample display in the second season of Archer, and the Blu-ray set offers expert picture and good sound along with some priceless bonus material. Recommended!



Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC

 

mattCR

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I have to admit, I LOVE me some Archer. I eagerly await Season 3, but the show manages to crack me up repeatedly in a half an hour. Swiss Miss, the premiere episode on this season killed me, and H Jon manages to pull the comedy out of everything he voice acts in (From Dr. Katz to Lucy Daughter of the Devil to Home Movies.. they are all funny)
 

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