[Note: I'll try to keep this spoiler free, but there are a few I can't avoid.]
[Another Note: I refer to those involved in the show as “them” and “they”, and not to any individual creative element, because I believe the show functions as a team, and every aspect and element of the team behind “Archer” excels. All the factual information you need on the show can be found here.]
I love "Archer" because it evolves. I tend to enthuse so much about Season 1 because I look at it through my "now" eyes instead of remembering back to my "then" eyes. It is true it took them about 6-8 episodes to really find their stride, working through some basic character elements, etc. Pam, for example, is by far NOT the person she seemed to be in the first few episodes.
That said, they do find their groove quickly, and once they do they don't make the mistake of letting it turn into a rut. They're not afraid to offend, and yet the characters retain an essential humanity that makes me like them all. God help me, Dr. Krieger is everything I would hate in a real person, and yet love in Krieger.The jokes themselves evolve, and although they do go the same well fairly often, they always come back with a new variation on the original that keeps things fresh and organic.
|"Uta!" That's how you talk.|
The litany of bad guys has only one flaw. SO many villains I love come and go so quickly I never really have time I need to enjoy them all. I want more Conway! More Mannfred and Uta! More Spelvin and Chan(s)! Charles and Rudy! Honestly, these characters are so great it's almost a crime this show isn't spitting out spin-offs like some sort of spitting thing that spits out a lot of other things.
Now, don't get me wrong folks, I love Ray and Woodhouse, but I'm going to focus on my favourites.
As for the main characters:
|First of all, it's "Dr. I'll Solve Your Ant Problem."|
Dr. Krieger. I should hate this guy. Like really, really. No spoilers, but jeez, the more you find out about Krieger, the more you keep wondering why the FBI hasn't made him Public Enemy #1. And yet, for some reason, I like him. He definitely keeps things interesting. He is the Venn Diagram where chaos and science overlap.
I didn't care for her at first, but once Pam found her backbone, I was like, wtf. Looking back, I think maybe she was playing possum at first, trying to fit in at ISIS, and keep her private life a secret. Eventually she realized that you probably can't keep secrets from spies. Luckily she had also realized everyone else working their was bat-shit crazy, she saw fit to unleash her inner bad-ass.
|It has to be your place. Mine totally reeks of ocelot piss.|
It's a damned good thing Cheryl's rich, because there's no way she could function in society without effectively-limitless wealth behind her. Her idiosyncrasies are bizarre, dangerous, unhealthy, and yet somehow cute, like say if a puppy was somehow firing a .50 caliber machine gun at a bus full of grade-school bullies.
Now Cyril is the kind of guy I love to hate. He seems straight-forward and honest at first, but soon reveals his inner douche. His neediness and insecurity act as feedback loops guaranteeing he'll live the exact life he fears to live, and yet he seemingly revels and rejoices in his own downward spiral. So yeah, it's a laugh when bad things happen to him.
Malory Archer I believes sets the adage: you can't be a good parent and a good spy. Malory appears to be okay with this, and has no problem enjoying making life bad for her son. Her parenting ranges from criminal neglect to deliberate, pointless cruelty, and yet she somehow manages to maintain a precariously-balanced dysfunctional relationship with those around her. I believe Malory Archer and Lucille Bluth would love meeting one another.
|Baby, I AM putting you in the corner!|
I would say Lana's the closest to an actual functioning adult at ISIS. She's bad-ass, and knows when to apply excessive force, and isn't shy about redefining the word "excessive" based on the situation. When someone acts irrationally and things get messed up as a result, Lana's among the first with a barb. However, act irrationally and somehow manage to achieve actual positive results, and Lana is smart enough to go along for the ride ... while still slinging a few piercing barbs along the way.
Archer. I would love this guy in real life. Don't get me wrong, he's a dick, but he knows he's a dick, is happy being a dick, and doesn't really care what anyone else thinks about that. Malory's parenting provides us with the ability to still love Archer, because no matter how bizarre his behaviour gets, we can't help but believe - in light of his upbringing - that he's actually a pretty well balanced guy. And he really is a good spy. A bit like “Get Smart” was a good spy, but he gets the job done. Archer may also be autistic, which is awesome.
|Something something danger zone. I know. I'm not even trying anymore.|
Despite their various severely deformed personality flaws, I like all the main characters. First, because they're funny. Secondly, and I think most importantly, because they are, for the most part, honest about who they are. They own their idiosyncrasies proudly, and (apart from Cyril) they don't try to hide from who they are. If they do something that offends, they don't hide behind false apologies (well, except again for Cyril). Their attitude is basically: “That's right, I did do that, now what are you going to do about it?”