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'Archer' Returns and Hasn't Lost Any of Its Brilliant Foolishness
April 25, 2018  | By David Hinckley

FXX’s Archer heads into Season 9 the way it started back in Season 1: It’s one of the funniest shows on television.

The animated spy satire launches Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET, and while its crazy blend of clever wordplay, slapstick, and absurdist humor requires a certain comic taste, it remains most impressive that after 93 episodes, creator Adam Reed keeps finding fresh new material and gags.

The ninth season, subtitled Danger Island, continues a bit of the noir motif of Season 8. This time the seriously flawed and sometimes brilliant spy/detective Sterling Archer (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) is living on a remote South Pacific island.

In the kind of exotic, vaguely seedy tropical hotel that almost screams “1930s.”

So sure enough, it’s 1939, and the hotel is owned by Archer’s mother Malory (Jessica Walter). Presumably, the gang will all appear, but at the beginning we mostly see Pam Poovey (Amber Nash), playing what looks to be a sort of odd sidekick. Naturally, Archer repeatedly insults her because even if dates and places change, some things do not. 

And speaking of things that never change, the first episode opens with Archer sleeping next to a good-looking redhead.

She turns out to be Charlotte Stratton, who is staying at the hotel on her honeymoon, except Archer isn’t the groom. The groom is a terribly rich fellow whose patronage is critical to the success of Malory’s hotel.

You see the issue here. You also see the potential for humor.

Setting the season in 1939 gives Reed the chance to insert numerous 1930s and World War II-era references. We learn, for instance, that Archer owns an airplane that seems to have much in common with the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes’s infamous monster plane the Spruce Goose.

Oh yes, and there’s also a prominent role for a parrot, a fixture in exotic-hotel movies of the era. This one is named Crackers, and he won’t shut up.

The hotel also gets a visit from a French police officer named Captain Renault, leading to an exchange lifted directly from the movie Casablanca.

It’s just as appropriate and amusing here as it is in the original.

Archer itself remains adult animation, both in language and in content, but it never gets dirty or graphic just because it can.

Its most satisfying humor lies in its wordplay. Like the characters in the Sunday night animation lineup on sister network Fox, the Archer crew can say all sorts of outrageous, ill-considered and offensive things that no live character could dream of saying, even in jest.

Sometimes being a toon makes all the difference. Gender jokes, sex jokes, ethnic jokes, everything just spills out here because animation is allowed to do that stuff and be seen as funny, not disgraceful.

Reed has said the 10th season of Archer will be its last, which probably makes creative sense even though it shows no signs of burning out. As of this writing, it would be unwise to think we can expect any sort of widespread redemption among the characters.

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