Best Episode of the Season: Archer Season 5

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Season Analysis: Re-branded as Archer: Vice, the season-long transformation of ISIS into drug runners did not produce laughs as consistently as in previous years, but it was always admirable in its ambition.


I will admit that my lack of laughs this season may have had to do with me watching the episodes at a time of night when I was tired and/or my mind was just elsewhere.  But I think the arch humor of this show has not really evolved and has thus lost some of its zest.  But as all the pieces came together in the season finale, and it was clear that this year had been designed by creator Adam Reed and his team like clockwork from the beginning, it began to click for me, and I was feeling the satisfaction that Archer: Vice was attempting to inspire in its viewers.  It was like a real-life dream (or nightmare) that the ISIS crew actually lived through, as everything essentially reset at the end.  The actual events at San Marcos seemed like they would have little long-term bearing (beyond the psychological effects), and that wasn’t because what had happened was going to be ignored but because everything was dealt with as it needed to be.  There was a bit of a deus ex machina feel to the machinations, but they were as narratively justified as they needed to be.  Then there was the surprisingly affecting final scene, in which Lana introduced Sterling to his daughter.  The slow fade out of the sound as he struggled to process the news was audiovisual storytelling at its finest.

Best Episode of the Season: Archer Season 4

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Season Analysis: I did not laugh as much during Season 4 of Archer as I did during Season 3.  I generally do not like that line of criticism, because it is about as subjective as one can get it, so I will also say that this season did not feel as significant as the last one.  But the decrease in laughs comment is significant, since Archer is so much about the construction of comedy, and I was not as impressed with that construction this year.  I still enjoyed it, though.  And looking over the grades I gave to the episodes this season, I’m not really sure what the hell I’m talking about when I say I didn’t like it.  And that bit about not laughing as much – turns out, that may or may not be true.  But the lack of significance thing, I’m sticking with that.


“The Honeymooners”
I am tempted to just list the best quotes I wrote down while watching this episode of Archer, because it is the hilarious banter that makes the show what it is.  The plots are usually beside the point; they’re just settings for the ISIS crew to have conversations that are infuriating for them and delightful for us.  So, “The Honeymooners” worked particularly well because it teamed up its characters in ways that are particularly electric.  Honestly, any character combination on Archer is electric, but those of “The Honeymooners” were especially so, at least for this instance.  There’s the classic duo of Sterling and Lana (which leads to Archer sarcastically that he sarcastically climbed the building that Lana was scaling just so that he could find out how much her bonus was worth), and Pam and Cheryl stick themselves into Cyril’s situation, which is perfect, because Cyril is easily egged on and Pam knows how to egg him on (leading to such exchanges as “They are on a mission.” “-ary position!”).

Best Episode of the Season: Archer Season 3

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Season Analysis: Brought to life by one of the most – if not the most – talented voice casts in the business, Archer is a truly unique animated vision, thanks a great deal to its retro vibe, which seems almost accidental, yet also integral.

“The Limited”

“The Limited” – the wildest, fastest, most hilarious, most joke-filled, most hilarious, and best episode of Archer’s third season – was practically Shakespearean in its comedy.  As in the Bard’s yukfest The Comedy of Errors, if something could make the situation in “The Limited” any funnier, then that something happened: there is an ocelot loose, the train will not slow down because Cheryl’s family owns the train and she wants to break the travel time record, a Nova Scotian separatist movement exists, etc.  Also, just as Will Shakespeare employed doubles and mistaken identities, so did Archer include villains disguised as Canadian Mounties at the same time that the actual Mounties appeared.  But Archer ups the ante even further, as its characters are not plainly the Renaissance stock comedic characters of the clown, the straight man, and the put-upon fool – they are bursting with their own idiosyncratic, slightly absurd, personalities: Sterling Archer is a spy who fancies himself the star of his own spy movie (a silly attitude to have when you are actually a spy) and thus he takes a self-aware view of his own life, in which he makes highly literate, obnoxious comments (“Thanks, Freddy Foreshadowing”) and leaps at the chance to live out a classic action-movie scenario, and pays the price for it (a standoff on top of a speeding train can be quite hellish for all parties involved).  In general, the spies of Archer are all too self-aware for their own good, which means they are self-aware enough to be absolutely fascinating for viewers, and with all that there was to be acutely aware of in “The Limited,” there was almost too much to be fascinated by.

Thursday is the Best Night of TV Ever!!!

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Year after year, Thursday continually proves itself to be the most loaded, most rewarding night of television, and I feel like singing that out in a blog post.  Here are all the shows that I have regularly watched on Thursdays this season (September 2011-now), ranked in ascending order of quality (of the current season).  And, for your entertainment, I have also included a memorable quote from several of these shows from their current seasons.

12. The Secret Circle
11. The Office (“I haven’t had this much fun since seeing Zoo E Desk Channel at the Cocarella Music Festival.”)
10. The Big Bang Theory
9. Up All Night
8. Awake
7. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (“Dennis is asshole. Why Charlie hate?”)
6. 30 Rock (“I finally understand the ending of The Sixth Sense. Those names are the people who worked on the movie!”)
5. Billy on the Street (“I LOVE MERYL STREEP!”)
4. Archer (“Thanks, Holly Hindsight.”)
3. Beavis and Butt-Head (“Masturbation frequency dialed in.”)
2. Parks and Recreation (“Anyone want to go to JJ’s for some after-dinner omelettes?”)
1. Community (“Boopy doopy doop boop sex!”)