January 18, 2013
Archer Season 4, Episode 1 Review: “Fugue and Riffs”
I am so glad to be back not just reviewing TV shows for you, the internet, but back to actually watching great television. And you, my dedicated reader, have humbled me by clicking on this article and sharing your love for Archer by reading my inane and circuitous thoughts on something that I think is universally agreed upon: Archer is fucking hilarious. Insanely sharp dialogue, exceptionally strong characters, and a willingness to evolve them over time, Archer has everything a comedy needs to stay relevant in today’s world of YouTube videos of cats and archive footage of people being hit in the nuts repeatedly. And to have our lovable cast of colorful agents interact in new ways every season through ridiculously fun stories and classic espionage troupes and clichés, the show has always been a terrific concept with even better execution. Adam Reed and the writers, and the celebrity voice actors are always on the same page and everything coalesces so perfectly, it would be an understatement to go ahead and call it the best animated show currently on TV.
But enough of my navel gazing, this show has been stellar for some time now, and you know this already, so enough with the run-on sentences and let’s get to the premiere. And what better way to discuss any form of media than at the beginning? I for one do not watch Bob’s Burgers, but I could still recognize that it was a very cool twist on the tried and true TV show crossover. It didn’t have the power of a Detective Munch on [insert anything], but it worked. Really the whole set-up of the episode I was in love with, the tone, the violence, the amnesia story. I didn’t know how long they were going to continue the amnesia plot for, and while it ended with a nice bow, it would have been fun to get a few more episodes out of it. There could have been an infinite number of new ways to have fun with Archer’s memories being wiped clean, and him interacting with the whole ISIS gang. They did, however, correctly keep the old Archer personality intact, which would have been a crime if they hadn’t, because he is the best character on the show. H Jon Benjamin deserves an Emmy for his voice over work, and I love everything about that character and his Dicky tattoo.
So for two months apparently, ISIS just lost track of Archer, which is ironic because he never even left the city. I was confused on what has transpired between the seasons, and the whole introduction of the wedding and the Ron character was a bit rushed. And while it was the premiere, and obviously we want to see all of the characters again, the whole plan at the spa was just kind of there to get everybody on screen. While I won’t complain about the cast all being there to take acid or yell about ostriches, the actual mission was just a weak narrative to string everybody along together. But the real humor came from everything involving latex gimp suits, fake mustaches, Shazam, and She-Hulk references; the writing and characterization is still flawless, and I haven’t seen a more perfect combination of characters since Arrested Development. There was an extra bit of exposition to waft through this time around, but I think we are all caught up on everybody enough to go into the season without any more amnesia.
Watching it live, it seemed as though the episode was shorter than usual. Maybe because I haven’t watched a 30 minute show live in a while, but I wanted more because it all went by so fast. Stupid commercial breaks, disrupting the flow of the story; I understand that they can’t just put the show on for 22 minutes straight, and then 8 minutes of commercials, but imagine if they did. No one would watch the commercials, but it would make for the narrative to not be broken up with tiny unnecessary cliffhangers all the time (HBO never has to worry about this). And it’s not like they are counting my views, are they? Fucking Nielson ratings, those son of bitches with their demos and statistics, I hate how TV works behind the scenes. Anyways, not to get off on that tangent, but I was reminded on how amazing some of the dialogue on Archer is by the way they transition between two conversations just on one word. Somebody will say something, and then it will cut to another conversation, and it will flow together in fantastic editing. It’s a nice touch that some may miss, but it is Robert Altman Shortcuts level good, so I had to bring it up.
The rest of my notes on the episode are just quotes I loved, and they’ll be listed so you can revel in their comedic genius. Some of the quotes you pull from an episode are crazy when out of context, but they all blow my mind brain…that’s a thing—shut up. The opening and closing of “Fugue and Riffs” are what really made this episode shine, and while I could talk about the Memento problem of remembering one has amnesia, I’d rather end with what maybe the biggest revelation of the episode: Barry and other Barry are back, and still in space. The potential for him to foil all ISIS missions is too good of a premise, and I can’t even dream about all of the space odysseys that Barry will go on this season. There wasn’t a real threat this episode, or a convoluted plan, or any gigantic plot twist, but it’s still Archer and I’m stoked he’s back. I look forward to seeing what more season 4 has to offer, and you can catch me every weekend reviewing Archer for you, so until next week—go grab a burger!
- “The health inspector’s coming at 8 AM so…you better break out the purple stuff.”
- Mallory in reference to Lana: “Like a big brown giraffe.”
- “For who, crippled gay hillbilly spies?” Ray is more minority than most, isn’t he?
- “So try against all odds not to cock it up.”
- “Bup bup bup bup gimp suits!” There were a lot of gimp suit references, but this was the best.
- “You hypocrite cooze, I just watched you eat a whole bag of LSD gummi bears!” “Right, and I am tripping bear balls!” Every dialogue scene between Pam and Cheryl is a work of art.
- “Phrasing, first, boom!”
- Pam throwing the fistful of confetti at Mallory and Mallory’s reaction was hilarious.
- “Barry, are we losing our mind?” “Could be, other Barry…could be.”