Remember when Archer was a show about spies?
Adam Reed and Matt Thompson’s outrageous animated series started its run all the way back in 2009 as a humble parody of the spy genre. As both the sensibilities of the show’s characters and creators have grown and changed, the series has embraced experimentation by rebooting and “de-booting” the show several times over. This strategy has slowly turned into the norm for the show, which allows Archer to take risks like slip into a film noir parody during last season’s Archer: Dreamland. Archer’s ninth season looks like it might be attempting the show’s biggest re-invention yet, and you better bring some oranges and vitamin C along for the ride.
The cast and crew of Archer proudly showed off the beginning of Archer: Danger Island to many adoring fans at this year’s New York Comic Con. The drastically different premise for this new season had been teased since all the way back in July, but now there’s finally some details to get excited over.
Danger Island sees Archer and his former ISIS crew (ahem, not THAT ISIS) now operating as the owners and staff of an island-based resort hotel as well as a charter plane service. So basically, Talespin but with violence, sex, and vulgarity. Perfect. Archer, Pam, and Malory are the ones running the resort (which ensures a lot more interplay between Archer and his mother, a regret that Reed and Thompson shared over last season). Meanwhile, Lana slips into the role of an exotic island princess who’s eager to broker a deal with the show’s new version of Cyril by buying land on the titular “danger island.”
The broader strokes of the Archer cast might look different this season, but once again these characters continue to play into their inherent personalities. Archer is still having copious amounts of promiscuous sex with no regard for the consequences (which seems to involve Newlywed Cheryl this time around); Pam is still quirkily applying her bizarre brute strength wherever it’s needed; Malory continues to keep her thumb over Archer and pulls the strings. That being said, Krieger goes through the biggest character shift of all this year. The Machiavellian mad scientist (who may also be a clone of Hitler) is now Archer’s wisecracking parrot, Crackers. You’ll suddenly wonder how you ever got through this show before this parrot-ification.
Matt Thompson was quick to clarify that the events of this season are still the alternate timeline ramblings of Archer’s brain in coma mode. In spite of this season and the last not taking place in reality, Thompson praises how fundamental these changes have been to the show: “What it did, really, was re-energize us. I don’t watch a lot of TV shows that are in their ninth season because at some point, for me, the storylines kind of run themselves out.”
Thompson continued by pointing out that this breakthrough really took place for them during season 5’s Archer: Vice. “We kind of learned a little bit when we did the cocaine season.” In spite of any frustrations fans may have with the constant shifts in premise, Thompson reiterated that the show very well might have died if they didn’t adopt this approach. “It’s exciting for us as creators because I’m not just trying to figure out how to tell you another spy story today.” Thompson added, “And I think my partner, Adam Reed, just couldn’t bring himself to write another season of a spy thing.”
The audience responded to Archer’s latest facelift with much enthusiasm, but many people were still eager to learn if the show would ever deal with Archer’s coma (something that does not at all get addressed in Danger Island’s first episode). While Thompson and Reed may be content leaving their fans waiting for answers, Thompson assures that they are coming, “We’re going back to all that. We’re gonna’ get to everything… hopefully.” He then pledged to the audience, “We won’t leave it hanging.”
Fans may need to wait until season 10 to get the truth behind Archer’s fate, but executive producer Casey Willis did offer up a minor clue to what audiences are seeing in these alternate realities.
“Being in his coma subconscious, all the people that he cares about are what shows up,” Willis explained. That won’t stop guest stars from showing up though, with Jon Daly and Eugene Cordero being a fraction of the talent that will show up this season.
As to whether any of the swarthy crew that showed up in season 3’s “Heart of Archness” three-parter are set to re-appear, Thompson stayed mum on the topic. With the work that Archer’s been doing lately, anything seems possible. At this point the only thing that seems to be a certainty is that Archer’s spy days are over, so suck it up.