Spoofs are hard to pull off. But with “Archer,” Atlantans Adam Reed and Matt Thompson have found a way to successfully mock the hoary spy drama circa 1966 with modern day elements.
The FX animated series begins its second season tonight at 10 p.m. While it was not a ratings smash (averaging 800,000 to 900,000 toward the end of season one last year), it brought in a young audience FX likes. And the costs are certainly not that of, say, “Rescue Me.”
“Just renting one of those fire trucks,” said Reed, “is an entire episode for us!”
“I’m actually a bit exhausted,” he added earlier this week by phone from his Atlanta offices. He writes all the scripts and had just finished the 13th. This enables the show to have a consistent voice but is also a consequence of Reed admitting to be a “control freak.”
He chooses to stay in Atlanta, which helps to “remove us from external pressures – at least until the show starts.Then, I’m obsessively nagging for numbers- unless they’re bad. Then I turn off the phone.”
Continuity is not a big issue in a show like this. In fact, shows often air out of order, he said. “They like to put the funniest ones first,” he said, facetiously. A reference that was meant to be a callback to a previous episode, he said, sometimes ends up just being a “smart call forward.”
Tonight’s episode has the promiscuous Archer fighting his internal impulses when he tries to protect the daughter of a potential investor at a German ski lodge. The daughter, however, starts hitting on him when nobody else is around. The problem: she’s 16. Originally, Reed had her at age 15 but FX Standards & Practices said that was too young. “I pointed out the age of consent in Germany is 14,” he said. “They said, ‘That’s awesome for Germany. This is America. She has to be at least 16.’ 16 it is!”
He also learned he could show plenty of animated skin though certain frontal nudity is still prohibited. In this episode, “you see more than enough nakedness,” Reed said.
Reed chose a ski resort because “that’s the sort of classic place rich people do for vacation in the 1960s,” he said. And there’s a chase scene, of course, with snowmobiles. “Easier to animate than actual skiing,” he noted.
While writing the scripts, he said he hasn’t had time to research old spy dramas but has seen some recent ones, including “Salt.” “That Angelina Jolie,” he noted. “I think she’s going places.”
“Archer,” 10 p.m. on FX
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog