Friday, February 28, 2014

"Brokedown Merry-Go-Round" Show of the Week: Archer, "Southbound and Down"

Captain Chaos sure ain't coming to their rescue.
Every Friday in "'Brokedown Merry-Go-Round' Show of the Week," I discuss the week's best first-run animated series episode I saw. "Brokedown Merry-Go-Round," a two-hour block of original score tracks from animated shows or movies, airs weekdays at 2pm Pacific on AFOS.

"Southbound and Down," Archer's tribute to Burt Reynolds' Smokey and the Bandit movies, a franchise that both Archer creator Adam Reed and Archer himself are fans of, is an enjoyable episode largely because you don't have to have seen any of those movies to be entertained by the episode. I've never seen any of the Bandit movies (there's only one movie from Reynolds' box-office glory days that I really dig, and that's The Longest Yard). All I know about the Bandit flicks are that Sally Field is, like Pam riding shotgun in Archer's Bandit-style Trans Am, the one who does with Reynolds "snappy dialogue underscored by sexual attraction" in the first two Bandits; the theme song "East Bound and Down" was sung by co-star Jerry Reed; legendary stuntman Hal Needham directed the first two; and The Cannonball Run, which I did see as a kid thanks to early '80s HBO running it five times a day, was basically Bandit meets The Gumball Rally. Yet I still laughed throughout "Southbound and Down."

That's mainly because the Bandit references are kept to a minimum--kind of an odd move for a show where much of its humor thrives on how arcane its references are--and the dialogue is up to Archer's usual high standards, from a crazy Malory rant about PBS that sounds like every teabagger's rant about PBS to a nice bit of character depth where Archer honestly points out to Pam that she wasn't a ginormous asshole before she got hooked on coke and lost a shit-ton of weight. As Pam, Amber Nash owns this episode, whether it's displaying a rarely seen insecure side of Pam in that scene where Archer admits everyone liked her better before the coke--I don't think I've ever seen Pam be concerned about what others think of her, so this is an interesting turn in her character--or being a thorn in the side to Archer, especially after her inability to keep her mouth shut about their coke stash sends a biker gang chasing after them to take their stash.

This is like that Archer-Sons of Anarchy crossover FX viewers are dying to see.
The purpose of the Archer crew's cross-country trip in "Southbound and Down" is not to transport beer or an elephant but to drive Cherlene to a musical guest appearance on some Austin City Limits knockoff. I don't care for country music--by the way, Cherlene's cover of "East Bound and Down," performed by Judy Greer's musical stand-in Jessy Lynn Martens, is part of an actual Cherlene album that the show is releasing next week--but I'm eager to see how Malory, Archer, Lana and Cyril will handle both maneuvering their way into the country music industry and doing what I assume will be laundering their drug money into Cherlene's burgeoning country music career. And Kenny Loggins, the singer of Archer's favorite song from Top Gun and a guest artist on Cherlene's album, will somehow be involved in all this next week? I'm down for this, as long as his voice acting is better than Anthony Bourdain's.

Memorable quotes:
* "It's public television. They don't pay anything. All they do is suck money in. They take our taxes..." "Or donations, whatever." "Of pre-tax dollars from pot-taking Bolshevik lesbian couples! Then PBS mixes it all in with their huge NEA grants, launders it in inner-city methadone clinics and pumps it right back out to pro-abortion super PACs!"

* Malory: "Because if we miss that taping, I won't be responsible for my actions." Lana: "Are you ever?" Malory: "She said, single and pregnant. Oh, wait."

* Ray, whose newly repaired cybernetic implants are being forced by Krieger to make him goosestep: "This quit being funny two hours ago!" Krieger: "It's not supposed to be funny."

* "Ow! Whose ring is that, the Pope's?!"

* "We're talking about Texas. Somebody somewhere wants enough cocaine to forget they live there." "Yeah, but not a hundred pounds!" "Maybe we'll get lucky, find an entire town that wants to commit suicide."

* "Look, how hot am I now? Let me answer that for you. As balls."

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