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By Chris Rebholz
Jan 27, 2014 04:07 PM EST

Archer: The Complete Season Four Blu-ray Review

call, Archer definitely hits the bullseye. Once again, the show looks and sounds great on Blu-ray and this release (despite the absence of any copious supplements) comes highly recommended.
Archer: The Complete Season Four Blu-ray Review
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It's been a longstanding conceit for television shows featuring the same production houses or other creative staff to occasionally cross-promote themselves by having various characters show up on sibling series. The incestuous "rural" comedies that were CBS' mainstay in the 1960s are a prime example, with various characters in The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction and Green Acres traipsing between the various properties. And Dick Wolf's long running Law and Order franchise, in all of its many variants, has also seen various characters from one iteration pop up in another outing. Similarly the two NCIS series have had various characters roam through their differing geographical borders. But in the entire history of crossover appearances, probably none is as patently odd as the weird and completely bizarre mash up of Archer and Bob's Burgers which starts out the animated FX spy series' fourth season. The connection here isn't quite as ephemeral as it might seem—in both shows the lead voice actor is H. Jon Benjamin, certainly a testament to his versatility. In Archer's fourth season debut, Sterling Malory Archer has developed amnesia and has "become" Bob from the other series. It's an extremely droll conceit, one amped up considerably by seeing the Bob's Burgers family now rendered in the kind of quasi-rotoscoped style of Archer. But the conceit is short-lived once a gaggle of KGB agents shows up and Bob—er, Archer has a sort of genetic memory kick in of how to handle a threat. Needless to say, Linda has quite a clean up on her hands once the mayhem has ended, and within a few minutes, the Archer clan is reunited and things are back to normal—or as normal as they ever get in this consistently outré, outlandish and often hilariously ribald series.
The "extracurricular" references continue to fly fast and furiously throughout this fourth season of Archer. Sometimes they're quite explicit, as in the homage to Bob's Burgers, or even a passing comment in that same episode, where mad scientist Dr. Krieger informs the ISIS crew that "this isn't The Flintstones" and that Archer's amnesia can't be cured by whacking a skillet on his head. (Three guesses as to how Archer's amnesia is ultimately cured.) Other episodes, though, are a good deal more circumspect—if no less hilarious—in sly, winking pointers to other shows or characters. When Timothy Olyphant shows up as a "guest voice" in the season's second episode, there's an unmistakable tip o' the Stetson to Justified that perhaps only diehard fans of that series will catch. While this means that at least some of Archer's often very dry humor will zing over the heads of some audience members, it's also a sign that the series' writing staff absolutely refuses to cater to the lowest common denominator.

Archer continues to be (appropriately) arch, with a perfectly skewed deadpan sense of humor that is frequently pretty smutty (though almost always hilariously so). Mama Malory's penchant for drinking of course provides plenty of laughs, but there's perhaps a useless attempt to slightly humanize her character with the now recurring character of Ron Cadillac, who becomes Archer's stepfather. One of this season's funniest episodes sees the two attempting some male bonding which of course devolves into all sorts of chaos.

The show also continues to mine the simmering sexual interplay between Archer and Lana, as well as the hilariously grotesque machinations of the two ISIS "drones" Cheryl and Pam (who could just as easily show up in any given episode of The Office: Season Nine, speaking of unlikely crossovers). There's also some decidedly politically incorrect fun made out of Ray's paraplegia (caused by Archer, of course), including a great episode where Krieger thinks he has come up with a cure. The humor here is often whip smart, if often a bit on the juvenile side, and deals as much in physical shtick (especially with regard to Ray and his disability) as in verbal humor.

The sort of acerbic humor that is regularly on display throughout Archer will of course not be to everyone's taste, but for those who like their comedy on the dark and twisted side, and their martinis shaken, not stirred, Archer continues to be one of the most consistently funny shows on television. Aided by a really great looking animation aesthetic and spot on voice work, this is one animated series that really deserves to be seen by those who normally wouldn't dream of watching a mere "cartoon".
Archer: The Complete Season Four is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. Archer is one of the more distinctive looking animated series on television right now, with (as noted above) a kind of quasi-rotoscoped, almost photo-realistic, approach that is a lot of fun to watch. Archer: The Complete Season Four continues with the tradition of the other seasons' Blu-ray releases by offering a pretty bombastic lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 that regularly utilizes the side channels for great foley effects like gunfire and the occasional Molotov cocktail explosion. Dialogue is always clearly presented and well prioritized, even in some of the busier, noisier action sequences.

Special Features:
  • Fisherman's Daughter is a completely bizarre short (you expected anything less?) that posits Krieger as a youthful letterman taking out a girl, all in anime style--until a surprise "reveal" shows what's really going on.
  • Archer Live! is a 2013 New York appearance by the voice cast with a live audience.
Archer has lost little if any of its mojo as it glides into its fourth season. Archer and Malory are still a picture perfect example of everything Freud warned about, and the completely dysfunctional ISIS "family" is still as hilarious as ever. The show shows little signs of slowing down, continuing to mine pop culture for a lot of zinging references, while also continuing its bizarrely multi-temporal look which combines everything from a kind of proto-Mad Men vibe to more high tech gizmos that speak to current times (by the way, Jon Hamm has a guest star turn this season in yet another extracurricular reference, though not the one that might be expected). The show may be a bit too nasty for some, but for those with a certain jaded cynicism at their beck and call, Archer definitely hits the bullseye. Once again, the show looks and sounds great on Blu-ray and this release (despite the absence of any copious supplements) comes Highly recommended.
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Read More Reviews For Archer

  • Chris Rebholz   (B)  (Archer: Season 1 DVD Review)
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  • Nathan M Rose   (C)  (Archer: The Complete Season Five Blu-ray Review)
  • Nathan M Rose   (A)  (Archer: The Complete Season Six DVD Review)

About Chris Rebholz

FlickDirect, Chris  Rebholz

When Chris was but a wee lad growing up in the slums of suburban New Jersey, he happened to rent a little movie called Tron. Then his head exploded. It was at the moment that he realized that he loved movies, and since then Chris has made it a habit of renting movies, going to the movies, discussing his favorite movies, and anything else in between when it comes to that genre. Read more reviews and content by .



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