Adam Reed’s Archer season seven ended with a gut punch. So much so that the show itself wasn’t guaranteed to continue. But, in the tradition of long-running adult cartoons, it’s back. Following the continued trope of detective-noir, this season is set in the 1940s in both fictitious and literal Dreamland—in Sterling Archer’s head—rather than the ambiguous vintage-modern mix of previous seasons. For those who are fans of the series, we’re still in California, and have picked up immediately where we left off. Archer lies facedown in a pool, blood leaking from several gunshot wounds, and we learn soon after that he’s been in a coma for three months. Hence the literal Dreamland.
We still have the same cast of characters and actors—H. Jon Benjamin as suave asshole Archer, now private investigator, the fabulous Jessica Walter as crime boss dubbed “Mother”, Chris Parnell and Amber Nash as Cyril Figgis and Pam Poovey, respectively, the amazing Aisha Tyler as Lana Kane the lovely nightclub singer, and the unparalleled Judy Greer as Charlotte Vandertunt. It’s an interesting recasting of roles, throwing away our preconceptions about these characters into a completely new era and context. It’s fitting, though, that as the show has referenced the golden age of spying agencies and private investigation so much, that it’s now come to land in its birthright. The animation is, as usual, wonderful, even more so depicting a period piece.
Also interesting are the new attributes given to characters so they fit into this new era. Detective Figgis accepts bribes for ignoring mob activity, something he would never have done in previous seasons, and Pam Poovey has more of a leading role, a stark contrast from her usual position as comic relief. It takes some time to get used to the new cast, and it’s a mix of odd and refreshing to see characters we’ve seen together for years interacting as though they don’t know each other. Archer is offered a job by Malory (Walter) who is his mother in other seasons, and she works with the other familiar characters as usual; however, Archer needs to prove himself in order to work with the people who usually surround him. They all have similar personalities. Continued tropes include Archer’s infatuation with Lana, a relationship that’s been on the rocks for the past season, and Krieger creating robotic body parts, as he has in the past.
The jokes are hilarious, as usual, and continue into the second episode. It’s eerie, however, with the underlying question of whether Archer will survive his coma back in present time. It’s an entertaining interlude. While it’s still hard to tell where the season will go, it will be well worth the ride. Archer is on at 10 p.m. on Wednesdays on FXX and the rest of the seasons are available on Netflix.