Archer is a half-hour animated comedy series created by Adam Reed for the FX network. The first season premiered on Thursday, September 17, 2009, the show generally carries a TV-MA rating, though a few episodes are rated TV-14. Frequent Adam Reed collaborator Matt Thompson is the Executive Producer, Archer Distributed by 20th Television
The inspiration behind Archer came to Reed while in a cafe in Salamanca, Spain. Finding himself unable to approach a beautiful woman seated nearby, Reed conjured up the idea of a spy who "would have a perfect line." Reed conceived the show's concept while walking along the Via de la Plata in 2008. His basic pitch was, "what if James Bond was played by Charlie Sheen as Charlie Sheen?" Being a longtime "rabid fan" of FX Network and its original programming, he pitched his idea to the network. They accepted it and ordered six episodes, along with an additional four scripts.
Set in a unique universe at the International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS), suave master spy Sterling Archer - complete with less-than-masculine codename: "Duchess*" - balances the demands of global espionage work for his domineering, hypersexual, late middle-aged mother/boss Malory Archer (and her crazy secretary Cheryl/Carol) with those of his agent ex-girlfriend Lana Kane and her on/off partner comptroller Cyril Figgis; the burly head of HR Pam Poovey and the insane scientist/inventor of dubious origins, Dr Krieger. The ISIS office is a notoriously "hostile work environment" - as insults fly in every direction - and the rule of thumb amongst the workers is ABBAB - always be berating and belittling.
On the surface, Sterling Archer is a classy, devilishly-handsome spy reminiscent of James Bond. He is skilled in "improvised" combat and Krav Maga, as well as small firearms, scuba diving and "Honey Pot" (blackmail through seduction). Although he is capable of being superficially charming and is highly regarded in the field, he is in fact destructively bitter and has a habit of charging outrageous expenses (such as prostitutes and $900 turtlenecks) to his ISIS account. Everyone loves to hate Archer. His less appealing qualities include masked "mommy-issues," jealousy towards Cyril, raw male-chauvinism, dehumanizing treatment of his elderly butler and his frequent verbal assaults on everyone in his path.
- It was supposedly chosen at random by the agency's ISIS mainframe computer but in fact is the name of his mother's deceased dog, of which she has a disturbingly erotic photograph with herself similar to the Rolling Stone cover with John Lennon and Yoko Ono in bed.
- Main article: Episode Guide
- 2009-2010: Season 1 consisted of 10 episodes, airing between September 2009 and March 2010.
- In March 2010, The FX Network ordered a 13-episode second season.
- 2011: Season 2 aired between January and April.
- FX announced that they had renewed Archer for a 13-episode third season.
- The first three episodes aired in September.
- 2012: Season 3 concluded between January and March.
- A fourth season was ordered by FX for another 13 episodes.
- 2013: Season 4 aired between January and April.
- A fifth season was ordered by FX in 2013 for a further 13-episodes.
- 2014: Season 5, or Archer: Vice, aired between January and April, 2014.
- The first season to break away from the episodic storytelling employed to date and experiment with a season-long arc, Archer Vice saw the beginnings of the dismantling of ISIS, a decision no doubt brought about due to the unfortunate sharing of their name with a newly formed terrorist organisation.
- A sixth season was ordered by FX in March 2014 for another 13 episodes.
- 2015: Season 6 aired between January and April 2015.
- The ISIS sign is seen being rolled away at the beginning of the season as the team begin work as subcontractors for the CIA, further reinforcing the decision of the writers to distance the show from the tarnished acronym.
- A seventh season was ordered by FX in March 2015, for a reduced run of 10 episodes.
- 2016: Season 7 aired between March and June, 2016.
- The gang move operations to Los Angeles and set up as private investigators working for the Figgis Agency.
- The eighth, ninth and tenth seasons were ordered by FX in June 2016 for a further reduced run of 8 episodes each.
- 2017: Season 8, or Archer: Dreamland, aired between April and May 2017, on FX's sister channel, FXX.
- 2018: Season 9, or Archer: Danger Island, aired between April and June 2018, again on FXX.
- 2019: Season 10, or Archer 1999, premiered May 29th and concluded July 31st, on FXX.
- 2020: Season 11: Premiered September 16th on FXX after being pushed back from its original premiere date of May 6th due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Techniques and Trademarks
Due to the extreme amount of control Adam Reed has over Archer, he has been able to continue some long running jokes and keep a consistent style and pacing.
Some of the conventional (and unconventional) methods of story telling include (but are not limited to):
- Rule of 3
- Running gags
- Smash Cuts
- Meta-Humor: Implied/Intended
- Crude, Lewd and Nude Humor
- Sarcasm, Irony and Satire
- Use of Figuratively vs Literally
- "Read a book"
- Breaking the Fourth Wall
For a much more detailed look under the hood, see here.
Archer is a kind of visual hypertext, using hypotexts of other genre-defining office-based sit-coms, spy-themed romantic/action-adventures and sci-fi silliness as launch pads for Reed to weave his own literary and scenic references from the threads of memory we all share into a grand parodic tapestry. This is evidenced by the density of this wiki.
For further insights and analysis, see here.