With Family Guy, The Simpsons, and now, arguably, South Park in the sunsets of their respective reigns, a new generation of cartoons has begun creeping into the spotlight. However, unlike that other trio, network television is no longer the main stage. Comedy Central has Futurama, HBO has The Life and Times of Tim, Adult Swim has The Venture Bros, and FX has Archer. All things considered, FX should thank its lucky stars. In Archer, FX has one of the consistently funniest shows on television, despite the fact that Archer’s premise is a spy parody – a subgenre that has seemingly been done to death. The first season of Archer established the show as one of the best non-network comedies, and its second dispelled any doubts that it was all just a fluke. Archer stands as one of television’s most reliable comedies, thanks to, or perhaps in spite of, its cast of pathetic and mostly despicable characters.
Archer continues to expertly balance standalone episodes with those that expand on the sure-to-fail business practices of ISIS, the spy agency headed by Malory, a moody and self-serving matriarch, whose son Archer, though an excellent spy, is also a Grade A douchebag. He’s a self-centered, womanizing, and easily distracted killer whom everyone loves to hate. Splitting his spy duties is the competent and focused Lana, and a support staff of idiots with a wide range of behavioral deficits. If you ever thought the spy genre had been mined of all comedy gold, Adam Reed must have struck upon another vein because Archer delivers solid half-hours of laughs courtesy of bickering, obscure pop culture references, and off-color situations.
The 13 episodes of Archer’s second season include:
"Swiss Miss" – Isis is tasked with protecting the horny daughter of a wealthy Swiss magnate.
"A Going Concern" – Malory proposes selling ISIS to rival spy agency ODIN.
"Blood Test" – One of Archer’s old lays comes back into his life—with a son in tow. Archer must take a blood test to determine whether or not the child is his.
"Pipeline Fever" – Archer and Lana attempt to foil a plot to destroy a natural gas pipeline in the bayou. (Easily one of the best episodes in the season.)
"The Double Deuce" –The old RAF comrades of Archer’s manservant Woodhouse begin dropping dead, and it’s believed their deaths are related to an old wager.
"Tragical History" – Cyril unwittingly helps a shadowy figure infiltrate the ISIS systems with a computer worm.
"Movie Star" – An actress is doing research to take on the role of a spy in an upcoming spy and begins shadowing Lana for experience. The rest of the office gets caught up in the Hollywood fever.
"Stage Two" – One of ISIS’s top people has multiple breast cancer scares.
"Placebo Effect" – When cancer medicine being sold to unsuspecting patients is revealed to be fake, Archer goes on a rampage to find the people responsible.
"El Secuestro" – Cheryl gets Pam kidnapped by her own would-be captors, and ISIS takes the appropriate steps to make sure the valuable assets are protected.
"Jeu Monegasque" – ISIS takes an assignment in Monaco, but Archer plays fast and loose with the money intended for the mission in order to enjoy the high-life.
"White Nights" – Archer wants to finally put to rest any question as to who his father really is, and the process leads him to Russia where he finds himself in over his head.
"Double Trouble" - While in Russia, Archer falls in love with an opposing agent who resigns from the Russian KGB to be with him. Or does she? She does. Or does she?
Perhaps the one gripe to be had with Archer’s second season is the blurry line that separates seasons 2 and 3: the "Heart of Archness" arc. The storyline is directly related to the events of the second season’s final episode and so would have made more sense as an extension of the second season instead of an odd start to the third. Alas, that’s just how it is. Otherwise the episodes are hilarious without fail, and see ISIS battling a computer virus, the bayou, a movie star, Robo-Barry, and Archer’s possibly double agent fiancée.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
The set’s best extra, "Archersaurus – Self-extinction", has to be seen to be believed. It’s a “Behind the Music”-esque look at the downward spiral of the raptor originally cast to play in Archer’s titular role. An animated series of “Ask Archer” questions have Archer answering harmless questions with ridiculous advice. Other lesser but amusing extras include a letter to a Marine, a short about a gruesome accident, and footage from the Archer panel at Comic-Con.
"Archer: The Complete Season Two" is on sale December 27, 2011 and is not rated. Action, Animation, Comedy. Written by Adam Reed. Starring Aisha Tyler, Chris Parnell, H Jon Benjamin, Jessica Walter, Judy Greer, Amber Nash.