Originally posted by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Ten years after Atlanta’s own “Archer” debuted on FX, the show has survived thanks to a fan base that joyfully imbibes its witty putdowns and hilarious characterizations.
Originally a Jame Bond-ish spy spoof, it has since taken its characters into a “Miami Vice”-style cocaine operation, an “Indiana Jones”-type island Nazi romp from 1939 and now literally into outer space. This season is simply called “Archer 1999” and harkens to every old sci-fi television show ever.
“The idea has been floating around for years,” said Matt Thompson, a co creator with Adam Reed for Atlanta-based Floyd County Productions. “Adam and I are both huge sci-fi fans. Even the title is a nod to the sci-fi we grew up with. We wanted that feel of the first ‘Alien’ movie.”
The “Dallas”-style joke is that this is now the third season in a row that is a “coma style” dream from the mind of Archer Sterling (H. Jon Benjamin.)
As a result, the last couple of episodes this season may harken back to earlier seasons in a way die-hard fans will pick up, Thompson teased.
Not all “Archer” fans have embraced this approach.
“The show keeps changing and reinventing itself,” said Atlanta-based actress Amber Nash, who plays wise-cracking Pam Poovey. “Plenty of people on Twitter hate it. But you have to keep something fresh and that means stretching and trying new things.”
Now that Archer is in the #MeToo era, he isn’t quite the cad he was back in the day. But he remains fundamentally stupid and arrogant. “It’s more about bickering roommates and getting into life-and-death situations than about Captain Kirk impressing all the space ladies,” Thompson said.
For example: “He loves using jet packs to fly around space and keeps running out of fuel. He doesn’t worry about the consequences of anything.”
Lana (Aisha Tyler) is now his co-captain on the ship, but they are now a bickering divorced couple.
His mom (Jessica Walter) - the leader still - is now a beam of light who can turn into anything, an unexplained power. Pam has transformed into a big masculine-looking Hulk-like rock monster. Dr. Krieger (Lucky Yates) is, well, Dr. Krieger but now full robot - or as he calls himself “a synthetic human.” Put-upon Cyril (Chris Parnell) is pretty much back to his old self after playing a Nazi last season. Cheryl (Judy Greer), once an incompetent secretary in the early years, is now a Starbuck-like fighter.
The crew is largely scavengers trying to make a quick buck. They have no higher Star Trek”-level purpose. “There are laser guns and big monsters,” Thompson said. “It’s not what the monsters represent. It’s how many jokes we can get out of killing monsters.”
Thompson loves that both budgets and technology have improved to the point he can make the show look more lush and populated than it did season one.
He looks back at early seasons and cringes because the streets of New York looked so empty since they couldn’t afford to fill them up with people. “Now we can create these awesome space visuals,” he said. “It shows how far the show has traveled.”
And the animators at Floyd County were re-animated themselves, so to speak, by the shift to space. “They get to create characters from whole cloth,” such as a starfish-like blob who likes cereal.
Will there be a season 11? That’s up in the air, Thompson said.
“I am ready for other challenges but there are still some things I want to do with this show,” Thompson said. “Me and my partner Adam are still talking about it with FX to see what makes sense. We haven’t all come to agreement. We’ll know soon.”
“Archer,” 10 p.m. Wednesdays, FXX.
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