One would think there’d be nothing more left to do with James Bond spoofs, but then along comes something like “Archer,” a breezy, great looking, cheekily clever animated romp that FX is giving a one-time preview before an episodic run next year. Series creator Adam Reed brings the same irreverent tone to this silliness that infused his work for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim (a la “Sealab 2021”), and while such exercises are inherently limited in their appeal, “Archer” ought to be a bull’s-eye with young men and even some slightly older ones.

Sauntering around with square-jawed bravado (and so stylishly rendered as to largely trump the highly limited animation), secret agent Sterling Archer (voiced by Jon Benjamin) has serious mommy issues — in part because his domineering boss also happens to be his mother (Jessica Walter).

In what amounts to this stealth promotion-free premiere, Archer is hassled about his expense account (hey, some of those spy trips to Berlin might have been padded), as he goes about trying to cover his tracks with help from his longing but mostly ignored secretary, Cheryl (Judy Greer); and hostility from fellow agent and former paramour Lana (Aisha Tyler).

The sex gags are lewd, crude and relentless, but “Archer” nevertheless exhibits more wit than much of the below-the-belt fare visited upon cable since “South Park” demonstrated the bountiful market for adult-oriented (but almost invariably, utterly juvenile) animation.

FX is previewing the series behind “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” and given the difficulty in pairing live-action with animation, perhaps it’s just as well that “Archer” go dormant until “Sunny” runs its course.

Based on this preview, though, “Archer” gives FX something that the drama-heavy channel hasn’t enjoyed for awhile — namely, a sharp comedic arrow in its quiver.


FX, Thur. Sept. 17, 10:30 p.m.

  • Production: Produced by Floyd County Prods. and FX Prods. Executive producers, Adam Reed, Matt Thompson; producers, Neal Holman, Eric Sims, Mack Williams, Casey Willis; animation director, Williams; art director, Holman.
  • Crew: Music, Michael Kohler. RUNNING TIME: 30 MIN.
  • Cast: Voice cast: Sterling Archer - Jon Benjamin Malory - Jessica Walter Agent Lana Kane - Aisha Tyler Cyril Figgis - Chris Parnell Cheryl - Judy Greer