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Clear and Present Doofus: FX Spy Satire 'Archer' Returns
January 8, 2015  | By Eric Gould

Mallory Archer, animated mother and boss of blundering super spy Sterling Archer, is in tears arriving at her headquarters. She's wailing not because it was bombed out by the CIA last season, but because it hasn't been rebuilt as a state-of-the-art facility. In fact, it’s been redone as an exact rundown replica of what it previously was, right down to the dated '70s furniture and the coffee-stained carpets. She smashes down the malfunctioning handset and cries, “Even the phone is the same!” Mallory’s secretary Cheryl (Judy Greer), who has headed up the project, sighs at the lack of appreciation of her obvious tour de force. “Everything is the same. Jesus.”

And that’s pretty much the point for the return of the FX animated Archer, tonight (Thursday, January 8) at 10 p.m., ET. Everything is the same – the crass sexual remarks, the throwback hairstyles and Archer’s usual first-rate bungling of almost everything he touches.

Last season was a detour for Archer and his underachieving fellow operatives. Mallory (Jessica Walter) confessed that their agency was never authorized by the CIA. Under investigation, the entire team had to go on the run, selling confiscated cocaine from their evidence room to finance their covert work. Cleared in last season’s finale, they’ve returned back to their New York headquarters and all is rebooted back to normal for the egotistical, back-stabbing group of spies – more absorbed with themselves than their work, even though they’re out saving the free world on a weekly basis.

That stunted emotional development – along with the usual mash-up of sixties clothing, arcane technology and a steady drip of jaded pop references – continues to be the fun of Archer as it begins its sixth season. It’s still a fast-paced, 30-minute joyride to the bottom of everyday bitterness and pettiness while the spy team – as do we – grudgingly get stuff done.

One big change for the series this year is the retiring of the Archer agency name, the International Secret Intelligence Service, or ISIS – for obvious reasons. The Guardian and others report that association with the jihadi group was just too much for FX and series creator Adam Reed to continue to use.

For the premiere, the suave and high-functioning alcoholic Archer (voiced with sophomoric delight by H. Jon Benjamin) parachutes down for another jungle assignment. Meanwhile, co-spy and ex-girlfriend Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler) begins the wary co-parenting of their newborn little girl. 

Of course, to do that, Lana first has to track Archer down on a Far East bender. We find him drowning his sorrows in bottles of “cobra whiskey” (and a couple of hookers living it up in the bathtub) after learning his fatherhood was a result of an unwitting sperm donation that was schemed, in part, by Lana with his mother’s assistance.

While Archer and Lana enter the next chapter of their on-again, off-again relationship, Thursday night’s episode results in typical Archer style with Archer escaping his usual black ops gone bad. He tells a cohort, “Things just usually work out for me… which I usually take for granted.”

Meanwhile, the rest of the Archer gang are still full of snark and continue mucking things up at the home office. Things at the newly authorized CIA subdivision are once again dysfunctionally in order. 

“I’m not a huge fan of change”, Archer wryly observes to the camera. 

And with FX having renewed the series through 2016, Archer fans are the better for it.

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