Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"Archer" Catch-Up - "Swiss Miss"/"A Going Concern"

Spoilers for the opening two episodes of "Archer's" second season after the jump:

Note: I will be catching up with season 2 of FX's "Archer" throughout the summer: two episodes this week, and then one every week from here on out. Again, these won't be particularly long or in-depth reviews (at least compared to what I have planned for "Breaking Bad" in a few weeks).

"Swiss Miss" - "Archer's" excellent debut season ended with a number of cliffhangers regarding its title character's past and present. Archer had just found out his father was quite possibly the member of a rival spy organization, and also had a malfunctioning chip put in his head. "Swiss Miss" was a very funny and entertaining episode despite the fact that it addressed neither of these. Hopefully they'll be dealt with in upcoming installments.

I actually began to feel sorry for Archer, until I remembered what a jerk he really is. It's hard not to feel that what he went through in this episode (no one believing him when for once he actually didn't want anything to do with the underage Anka) was a kind of karmic justice for all his previous misdeeds: such as his tendency to try to sleep with every woman he meets as well as his general selfishness and bad attitude. In any case, it was definitely edgy and even pushed the envelope of good taste. And that's when"Archer" is at its best, in my opinion.

Also impressive was the rather lengthy snowmobile chase sequence. "Archer's" animation isn't particularly fancy, but it gets the job done. Here the show actually raised its game a bit in that regard. The scene was very well-staged and executed (and hilarious, of course). It was also a great reminder that Archer is actually pretty good at his job, which is something that sometimes gets forgotten on this show. Strong start to the season. Thus far, I don't like this series quite as much as "Parks and Rec" or "Community". But it's a close third, and gaining ground with every episode.

Other Observations

- I didn't have much use for the subplot involving Pam and Malory. It wasn't particularly funny or interesting.

- Ray getting stuck on the ski lift was, though. Funny, at least.

Grade: A-

"A Going Concern" - If the premiere didn't deal with any of the larger storylines from the end of season 1, this episode certainly did: and in hilarious fashion. Lots of nice running gags too, as well as the first appearance of a character (Popeye) only briefly hinted at last season.

There was just an excellent caper-like feel to the whole episode, which began with Malory's announcement of her intentions to sell ISIS to ODIN. Of course Archer would come up with the insane (actually pretty smart) idea to implant the microchip in Len's brain in order to stop the sale. The way he utilized the entire office to achieve this goal was actually pretty proactive.

The jokes flew fast and furiously, from Archer's initial attempts to shut off his mother's vibrator to the inexplicably hilarious mind-control sequence that resulted in Len wanting a large amount of lettuce. I wouldn't say this was quite my favorite installment of "Archer" to date (last season's airship episode is going to be awfully hard to top), but it's definitely right up there.

Other Observations

- Running gag check: Archer vomiting, "that's how you get ants", Barry's femur, and of course "phrasing!". Did I miss any?

- Ray waiting to inform Archer that he didn't install the bomb until after Archer had already cut the wires: too funny.

Grade: A

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