I had never heard of Adult Swim’s “Frisky Dingo” before I saw previews for “Archer’s” premiere on the FX network. I suppose to those who knew “Frisky Dingo,” or “Sealab 2021”, it seemed as if Adam Reed (creator or co-creator of all of the above) was copying what Seth McFarlene did with “American Dad” and “Family Guy” (and now “The Cleveland Show”? Yeah, how is that going?). It’s the same humor under a different name and characters, and it doesn’t even live up to its predecessor’s freshness or that damned word, “originality.”
Okay, fair argument. The new spy comedy does not have Caribbean androids, clones, frat-guy-like robots or Killface — whatever he is. But “Archer”, solely created by Adam Reed, has a charm nevertheless.
If it’s not Sterling Archer’s male-chauvinist, GQ persona, it’s his Blahnik-wearing mother, Mallory Archer, or her mostly incompetent office staff and their absurd, inappropriate behavior. The whole thing is staged in a high-rise international spy agency, not-so-cleverly disguised as an Indian Laundromat.
Arguably, the best part of the show is the dialogue. The voices, though great, are hardly familiar. Among the cast are H. Jon Benjamin (“Family Guy”, “Aqua Teen Hunger Force”) as Sterling, Jessica Walter (“Arrested Development”) who plays Mallory Archer, and Aisha Tyler (“Ghost Whisperer”) among others such as Judy Greer, Chris Parnell and Amber Nash, who carried over from “Frisky Dingo”. Their relative obscurity seems to work for the novelty of the show, instead of against it.
The dialogue is fresh and unafraid; the conversations are very well extracted from reality and put into the intelligent-ish environment of the Isis. The conflicts of the show are mostly ridiculous and trivial: a compromising tape, a jealous boyfriend, an overbearing mother. All issues hardly deemed top-spy-worthy, but we’re not complaining. Where “Frisky Dingo” spoofed superheroes, “Archer” spoofs the less sci-fi spies, the likes of James Bond or any other film with damn Jason Statham.
The show premiered on FX in mid-January of this year and just finished its first season, with 13 new episodes on order for season two. It appears that things are looking up for Reed and his unabashed sense of comedy, which is great to see working somewhere outside Judd Apatow films.