Archer is the thinking man’s animated comedy. By nature of the limited animation style and rapid-fire dialogue, some episodes can feel like listening to someone recite a particularly hilarious Wikipedia entry. And between the insults and callbacks, you just might learn who the father of modern watermelon agriculture is (Charles Fredric Andrus, for the record).
This style is certainly working. Here we are in season six, and while it wouldn’t be entirely accurate to call the show fresh, it’s certainly remained funny. Still, “Pocket Listing” feels different from every other episode this season in that it incorporates a very a welcome element: some good old fashioned gross out humor.
“Pocket Listing” is so physical that it’s downright Three Stooges-esque at times – in the best possible way. Characters get slapped repeatedly by Queen Yazmin Fawaz (predictably Cheryl is into it), a group of bumbling guards get dosed with a powerful diuretic and waddle to bathrooms while viciously farting, and erections grow so rapidly that they make audible noises. “Pocket Listing” is sophomoric, and at times a little gross, but it’s also downright wonderful.
Impressively, Archer is able to retain its trademark wit and dialogue in addition to this new penchant for potty humor. Save for “Sitting,” no other episode boasts a better percentage of hits vs. misses for dialogue. Everyone is on from moment one. Slater presents the mission to bug Prince Fawad Fawaz via real estate opportunity as “Operation Because I Said So.” Mallory blames affirmative action for a foreign monarch’s wealth. And Krieger reacts to waking up from the CIA’s tranquilizer with: “They were goat feet and you threw them out! Damn you! Damn you all to hell!” That’s starting strong.
Krieger’s penchant for getting hit with the tranquilizer is a nice runner throughout the episode. No matter how far things may devolve into chaos, at least we know we can set our watch by Krieger taking another dart to the neck. “Pocket Listing” also puts two of Archer’s running jokes to excellent use. One is Cheryl’s immense wealth. It would be hard to find a way to get the office secretary in these larger than life plots. But the fact that she owns pretty much all the real estate in New York means that the CIA is forced to enlist her as a fake real agent named “Cheryl Escrow” (“Trust me, I’ve heard all the jokes”).
Another running gag is Pam and Archer’s budding friendship. Archer and Pam have long had the best chemistry among all of Archer’s characters, and Archer finally realizing that Pam is his best friend is excellent. The fact that he’s dressed as a butler named Butler is all the better (“Trust me, I’ve heard all the jokes”).
The episodic nature of Archer means that it exists outside of time and a traditional season structure. This means at first the decision to re-unite Archer and Lana (in a surprisingly graphic way, even for this show) seems like it’s coming far too early. It’s a finale kind of development. But believe it or not, we’re only four weeks away from the finale. It remains to be seen what Archer and Lana’s consummation of their sexual tension means for the rest of the season. It makes this episode undeniably better, however, and that’s all that matters for now.
Archer, being Archer decides to jeopardize the entire mission to bed a Queen. He’s had virtually every other version of royalty*, and the Queen is the only thing left in his weird game of sexual chess. It’s not his goal to make Lana jealous, but thanks to Cyril’s penchant for poor timing it does. Lana in turn decides to seduce the prince. This obviously leads to Archer shooting said prince with a tranquilizer dart, and then shortly after that shooting pretty much everyone else with tranquilizer darts. The mission is utterly ruined, but in true happy-go-lucky Archer fashion, he’s still somehow won.
*This includes a duchess, to which Pam responds: “YOUR MOM’S DOG?” “No.” THE WIFE OF A DUKE?”
“Pocket Listing” is a pretty stellar episode of Archer because it doesn’t worry about holding back. The episode brings the show’s normal bag of tricks to the table, adds something new and then begins an important plot that will presumably close out the season. Even if Archer and Lana don’t pan out, and the plot goes nowhere, at least 22 minutes of television was all the better for it.
– Krieger has a camera in every bathroom. Slater just seems to be realizing just how depraved the people he’s enlisted to work for him really are.
– The episode introduces a Chekov’s tranquilizer dart early in the episode and doesn’t wait until the third act for it to go off. I thought they were doing something similar with Babou, the ocelot but he sadly does not make an appearance. His spot must have been taken up by the giant plant Ray does battle with.
– Pam is so on point in this one: “You’re Moaning Lisa? Girl with a Pearl Necklace?”
– So is Archer for that matter: “Lana Cougar Mellencamp.”