Format: DVDMultiple Formats, Dolby, Color, Animated, NTSC
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Smart, literate, cheeky, profane, and frequently laugh-out-loud funny, Archer is one of the hippest animated comedies to come along in some time. That's hip in a retro kind of way; writer-producers Adam Reed and Matt Thompson, whose previous collaborations include Frisky Dingo and Sealab 2021 (both also animated, and both seen on the Adult Swim channel), have given these 10 first-season episodes a secret-agent vibe straight out of the Sean Connery James Bond '60s. At center stage is Sterling Archer (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin), top agent for an outfit known as ISIS, which just happens to be headed by his domineering, sex-starved mother, Malory (Jessica Walter). Others on the team include agent Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler), Sterling's once and no doubt future lover, nerdy company comptroller Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell), Lana's current boyfriend, and some colorful supporting characters. But this is mostly about Sterling, who, in addition to his fancy spy chops, is an irresponsible liar, ne'er-do-well, and wastrel (he spends an entire episode breaking into the agency's mainframe so he can blame someone else for his outrageous expenses). His missions, in which he's often joined by Lana (the better to hurl flirtatious epithets at one another), are fairly stock: Cuban missile submarines off the Florida coast; an arms dealer peddling stolen weapons; a bomb threat on a luxury airship. And the animation, while effective, is limited and unlikely to remind anyone of a Pixar movie. It's the writing that really makes this show shine, as Reed and Thompson revel in an unending stream of hilarious puns, insults, and bons mots: a shirt retrieved from an Indian dry cleaner "smells like Indira Gandhi's thong," karate is "the Dane Cook of martial arts," a particularly bloody shootout is "a Charles Whitman sampler." It's definitely not for kids, but Archer is a hoot. Extras include a version of the pilot episode with an "alternate" lead character, and an interesting making-of featurette. --Sam Graham