Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Archer: The Complete Season Three DVD Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
Archer Sterling and the ISIS team return for a third season of espionage. Although their work of espionage, reconnaissance missions, wiretapping and undercover surveillance is daunting and dangerous, every covert operation and global crisis is actually just another excuse for the ISIS staff to undermine, sabotage and betray each other for personal gain.

Show (5 out of 5 stars)

Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) is essentially an American James Bond but with a lot more issues.  The both share a love for their job, women, gadgets, Walther PPKs, but Archer is a lot more egotistical and more of a loose cannon than Bond.  Whereas Bond does what he does for Queen and country, Archer does it because he loves being a secret agent and isn't afraid to tell his occupation to any lovely lady he meets. His boss also happens to be his mother Malory Archer (Jessica Walter) whose indifference and harsh child-rearing techniques made Archer the man his is.  

Archer's one-time love interest and co-worker is Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler) who grew tired of Archer's cheating ways and his dependence on his mother.  She moved on to another co-worker Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell) who also had his own issues like sex addiction, and he also cheater on her with another co-worker named Cheryl Tunt (Judy Greer).  Cheryl also happens to be the least intelligent person in the office (which is quite a feat) who spends her time arguing with the most outspoken person in the office - Pam (Amber Nash).  Pam is the loudmouth of the office who is an expert bare nuckle fighter and can out-drink pretty much anyone. Rounding out the wacky group who works at ISIS (International Secret Intelligence Service), is Ray Gillette (Adam Reed) is an openly gay analyst who claims to have won an Olympic bronze medal for the Men's Giant Slalom, and Dr. Krieger (Lucky Yates) who is the son of a Nazi scientist and possibly a clone of Adolf Hitler.

This season Archer meets his idol Burt Reynolds, gets to be a pirate king, finally gets to fight on top of a train, gets an awesome spy car, and even journeys into space!

1. The Man From Jupiter - Archer is shocked to learn that his mother is dating Archerʼs idol/hero/man-crush, Burt Reynolds.

2.  El Contador - Cyril is promoted to field agent, while Malory institutes a strict drug-testing policy. Neither of which sit well with the staff of ISIS

3.  The Limited - The Royal Canadian Mounted Police enlist the help of ISIS to transport a captured Canadian terrorist. On a train.

4.  Drift Problem - Archer's surprise birthday present - a high-tech, souped-up spy car - leads to all sorts of other surprises. None of which are good.

5.  Lo Scandalo - Malory turns to Archer and Lana for help when she finds herself in a compromising situation with the Italian prime minister.

6.  Bloody Ferlin - Archer must help Gillette save his younger brother from a crooked sheriff in the backwoods of West Virginia.

7.  Crossing Over - Archer's sex life compromises his effectiveness as an agent. But more seriously than the countless other times.

8.  Skin Game - Archer is faced with a dilemma when his murdered fiancée, Katya, miraculously reappears. In Krieger's lab.

9.  Space Race: Part 1 - Archer and his colleagues at ISIS voyage to the final frontier in an effort to prevent a catastrophe on the International Space Station.

10. Space Race: Part II - Archer and his colleagues at ISIS wish they had never voyaged to the final frontier in an effort to prevent a catastrophe on the International Space Station.

This show just gets better and better with each season.  Every episode this season is hilarious and the show is just as fresh and original with no signs of letting up.  With each season, more time is spent focusing on Archer's supporting cast, which offers a ton of new story-lines and directions to take the show.  Cheryl is crazy but mega-rich, Pam is crazy and races against the Yakuza, Cyril becomes a field agent (bad idea), Lana deals with her relationship with Archer, Ray loses an eye and his handicapped (again!), Krieger gets even creepier, and Malory goes out with Burt Reynolds but loses another boyfriend.  Speaking of Reynolds, this season there's a ton of great guest stars along with him including: Bryan Cranston, David Cross, Patrick Warburton, Jack McBrayer, George Takei, James Hong, and Michael Rooker.

The cast is uniformly excellent - especially H. Jon Benjamin as the the loud and obnoxious Archer.  Despite Archer's considerable ego, he has the talent to back it up and he even takes on the mob while undergoing cancer treatment.  I'm glad the show is on FX since it's a lot edgier than traditional animated network shows, with plenty of bad language but it does draw the line at nudity.  Another interesting aspect of the show is that it's set in an indeterminate timeline.  While the look of the show seems to be set in the 60s, Archer and company use cell phone and modern day technology.  The show itself is a curious mixture of action and comedy.  As the show creator Adam Reed describes it, the show is a combination of "James Bond meets 'Arrested Development'."  In fact, the ties to 'Arrested Development' include several cast members of the former show in Archer.  If you're a fan of sharp dialogue and character based humor with a good dose of action, then you should give this show a shot!

Video (4 out of 5 stars)

This anamorphic widescreen transfer's colors pop off the screen, and every detail looks crisp and fantastic. The show has an interesting visual style since the characters have a dark thick outline around them as they are placed in front of 3D backgrounds that look very realistic. It looks very cool and I really like the unique style. Black levels are solid and I didn't see any defects in the image.

Audio (4 out of 5 stars)

Archer Season 3's DTS- HD Master Audio 5.1 has a lively mix that does well both for the snappy dialogue and the action scenes.  The dialogue comes through nice and clear though the front channels, and the rear channels contribute a lot to bringing the action to life.  There's some nice directional effect work here that makes it a fairly good immersive experience.  For an animated show, this mix is impressive and it sounds better than a lot of live action mixes.

Extras (3 out of 5 stars)

Once again, this extras proves to be the weakest link on this set as there aren't very many of them and the ones that are here are fairly brief.
  • Book-on-Tape Fail - A humorous look at Archer trying to record the audio-book for his latest book and failing miserably.
  • Archer Season 3 at Comic-Con 2012 - I was excited to see this included because I thought it would be the Archer panel from Comic-con that I had missed but unfortunately, it's just a short animated talk from Archer that served as the introduction to the panel. I have no idea why they didn't just include the panel as an extra along with cartoon, but here's hoping that they do for the next season.
  • Three Commentaries - We get three cast and creator commentaries for the following episodes: El Contador, Drift Problem, and Lo Scandalo.  Every one of these commentaries is fun to listen to but none of them address the episode they are recording for.  Instead they talk about other things such as the time Jessica Walter accused Christopher Walken of stealing her New York Times newspaper. I kind of wish they talked more about the show instead of themselves, but I have to admit I did enjoy all three commentaries.  What's really strange is the fact that H. Jon Benjamin doesn't participate in any of the commentaries along with the rest of the main cast.
  • Heart of Archness Extended Version - This is the way to watch the trilogy of episodes as it's cut together as an entire movie.  I feel like a sucker for watching these episodes one at a time but it turned out ok since I loved the show enough to watch this extended version even after seeing them individually.
  • Gator 2 Trailer - Archer's dream project is to make a sequel to Burt Reynolds' Gator and he makes his own home movie version of the trailer to see if he can get funding for the movie from his mother and co-workers.  Needless to say, it doesn't happen.
  • Cooking with Archer - Alton Brown stars with Archer in a cooking segment that turns into a brawl.

Summary (4 out of 5 stars)

Archer is a hilarious show that is most likely more appealing to men than women thanks to its raunchy humor and language.  While I wish I could have seen the Blu-ray version of this season, there's no doubt that this DVD set's audio and video quality are very good for DVD.  The extras are still limited, continuing the tradition from the past Archer sets which I hope changes for the next season.  This is a very funny show if you can appreciate this kind of humor. For myself, I think it's a very funny show and have recommended it to many of my friends so take a look at the video below and decide if it looks good to you too.  If it does, then go ahead and click on the link below!

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