Unconventional spy borders offensive
Published: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 24, 2013 23:02
For a long time, “Archer” has been one of my favorite comedies. I have always found its parodies and satirical plays on conventional spy tropes and storylines to be clever and entertaining, as well as separate from other spy parodies like the “Austin Powers” series. Unfortunately, I think that the current season has been largely unable to continue producing content up to the standard of its predecessors.
My first beef with the new season of “Archer” is best explained using an example from the second episode of the season, “The Wind Cries Mary.” In it, Archer has what can be described as very homophobic interactions with his best friend, Lucas Troy, in a manner similar to what we might call a “dudebro.” Let me be clear; my problem is not the script in and of itself. In previous seasons, Archer and Malory (among other characters) have said some pretty racist things, and they were funny. But they were funny because the punchline wasn’t “haha African Americans are all gangsters,” it was “haha Archer and Malory are so out of touch with modern sensibilities.” In this particular episode, the punchline is essentially “haha being gay is gross,” and that kind of cheap (not to mention harmful) humor is not what I have come to expect from this show.
The following episode, “Legs,” had Archer scrambling to stop Krieger from replacing Ray’s legs with bionic ones. I found “Legs” to be pretty decent as “Archer” episodes go. There were a lot of funny interactions between Malory and her husband Ron, as well as between Archer and pretty much everybody else. Still, I thought the episode relied a little too heavily on running jokes within the series, and also definitely overused Pam drinking beer during Ray’s surgery as a joke.
I think the strongest episode of the season so far is the next episode, “Midnight Ron.” First of all, it was nice to learn more about “Archer’s” newest character, especially one as presumably important as Malory’s husband. It was also good to see more of the deadpan humor that “Archer” is so good at utilizing. The episode had good pacing, and the jokes were fresh and not reliant on previous episodes to comprehend.
The next two episodes were only average in my opinion. “Viscous Coupling” pretty much just did some vigorous seeding for future episodes, with bringing Barry back to Earth and establishing Katya as the new head of the KGB. There were a few funny one-liners, but nothing really worth mentioning. “Once Bitten” was unquestionably mediocre. The episode tried to do a sort “Five People You Meet in Heaven” scenario with Archer, but in a lot of ways it felt stilted and awkward. It hinted at finally learning the identity of Archer’s father, but in the end didn’t even deliver on that.
As a whole, I find season four of “Archer” to be pretty disappointing. There are some funny moments, and it’s good that the show is beginning to explore characters beyond the “core group,” but it just feels like it’s lost a lot of its flavor.