FX's Archer starts Season 2 by successfully getting away with just about everything
01/26/11 03:00 PM
By ED BARK
The cartoon teen in Archer's Season 2 opener can do what none of MTV's can -- get naked and be sexually explicit without raising concerns that these might be violations of federal pornography statutes.
Perhaps you've heard about the semi-uproar over Skins, MTV's explicit adaptation of a hit British series about an oft-time teenage wasteland. Some of the actors in the cast are under the age of 18, which has put the network on the defensive after the Parents Television Council attacked Skins as a "dangerous" dramatization that includes possibly illegal sexual content involving minors. Since the show's Jan. 17th premiere, several major sponsors have dropped out, including Taco Bell and Subway. Audiences also dropped, from 3.3 million for the opening episode to 1.6 million for Monday's second hour.
Both Skins and FX's Archer are rated TV MA, the strongest viewer advisory available. But Archer, which returns for a new 13-episode run on Thursday, Jan. 17th (9 p.m. central), is strictly a sendup of the well-worn spy genre. And in that guise, it's both jaw-droppingly funny and brilliantly voice-acted by a cast that includes Jessica Walter, Aisha Tyler, Chris Parnell and H. Jon Benjamin in the lead role of vain and awkwardly adept master spy Sterling Archer.
Now back to the teen scheme of things, during a provocative season premiere episode subtitled "Swiss Miss." Archer's demanding, tough-love mother Malory (Walter), who runs the ISIS agency, takes her operatives to a snow-covered European resort for the purpose of protecting a Swiss billionaire's 16-year-old daughter, Anka, from a kidnapping threat.
Fellow agent Lana Kane (Tyler) isn't quite over Archer. So she gets a little miffed at him for eyeing Anka a little too closely after she clandestinely squeezes his tush.
"I saw you totally eye-bang a teenager," Lana carps before stalking off.
Anka turns out to be a sex-craving Lolita who doesn't at all mind Archer dubbing her "Countess Von Finger Bang." She's further aroused by the sight of his chiseled bod in a bath towel. Which is inadvertently dropped when Anka jumps into his arms after he saves her from a would-be abductor.
In her native state of Germany, the age of consent is 14, Anka has informed him. An incredulous Archer wonders whether her homeland is "the Alabama of Europe."
"In many ways, yes," she purrs. "But we can talk about that in bed."
Anka's father then barges in to see his daughter straddling her flustered, naked and still upright protector. And perhaps at this point it should be noted that the actress voicing Anka is 33-year-old Kari Wahlgren, a veteran of numerous animated outings on big-screen and small-. FX and Archer might be in big trouble if it instead were one of the underage actors from Modern Family. That indeed would be going too far.
The episode ends with a prolonged and splendidly animated snowmobile chase in which Anka is topless throughout after initially asking Archer, "Do you think I need a boob job?" He keeps a hands-off attitude until the bitterly cold end, when Anka begs Archer to put his "big mitten-y gloves" on her freezing chest. "Only because this is a medical emergency," he says, finally relenting before Lana drives up to again draw the wrong conclusion.
Adult animation hasn't yet reached the point -- at least on an advertiser-supported cable network -- where female endowments or male tools can be shown with abandon. But side views of ample breasts (including Anka's) and fully bared bottoms again are part of Archer's landscape, as they were in Season 1. The S-word also is used with regularity, as when plus-sized ISIS Human Resources director Pam Poovey (Amber Nash) exclaims "Holy shitcakes!" in next week's outing.
Archer in short can get away with just about everything Skins can't. And it does so in ways that are often laugh out loud funny. In every way imaginable, Archer is about as far removed from The Flintstones as Guy Fieri is from a vegetarian diet.
Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim" block or Comedy Central would kill for a show like this. Instead it's FX scoring again with another out of the box, jump-in-your-face series that most assuredly isn't for everyone but most definitely knows what it's doing.