Before getting an advanced look at Archer's Season 6 premiere, the audience at New York Comic Con was given an extra treat in the form of a clip shot specially for the panel. It featured Sterling Archer himself selling the remnants of “Archer Vice” (Season 5), including Ray-Bans, slightly used Kevlar vests, and a hydraulic cocaine press.
“Why’d you buy all this shit anyway?” asked Pam, in the process of selling off her "skinny bitch clothes" now that she's back to her lovably plump self.
“I don’t know, I really thought this Vice stuff would’ve been a lot more popular,” Archer said, pausing and staring down the NYCC crowd, who laughed and applauded in response.
“Are you kidding?” Pam asked indignantly. “You think those Comic Con nerds like change? They lose their shit when they change Doctor Whos, and that’s part of the fucking storyline!”
It was a ridiculously funny way to kick off what turned out to be an incredibly entertaining NYCC panel, and just a small example how the show’s humor is still spot-on after five seasons. Following the screening of the Season 6 opener (more proof of the same), the principal cast of Archer came together on stage for the first time in six years: H. Jon Benjamin (Archer), Aisha Tyler (Lana Kane), Jessica Walter (Malory Archer), Chris Parnell (Cyril Figgis), Judy Greer (Cheryl Tunt), Amber Nash (Pam Poovey), "The Diabolical" Lucky Yates (Doctor Krieger), and even Christian Slater (Slater). They were joined by creator/executive producer/writer Adam Reed (who also voices Ray Gillette), executive producer Matt Thompson and co-executive producer Casey Willis.
The Daily Beast’s Marlow Stern moderated the panel, and his first question was why they went the Vice route with Season 5, a move that many thought “got a little Jar Jar Binks.” Of course, the season brought an Emmy nomination (“Haters can suck a dick,” said Tyler), and the show was picked up for a sixth and seventh season, so it wasn’t all bad.
“We wanted to make sure nobody was feeling we were getting complacent,” Reed said, saying they decided to go all in on it. “But I was a little surprised at some of the outspoken -- I don’t know what to call it -- hate.”
“I enjoyed Pam’s super-hot body,” Nash said to many hollers of agreement. Even more cheers rang out when she said, “But I have to say, I’m glad she has her old super hot body back now.”
“And guys, if we didn’t have Archer Vice, we wouldn’t have met the other Krieger clone,” Yates pointed out. “So shut up!”
Season 5 opened with a montage, and some of the moments in there were left out of Archer Vice due mainly to time, like the tiger or how Pam and Cheryl were meant to form a rebellion in Central America. There was also a tease of Cyril and Archer opening a bank. “Wrote the script; not as compelling as you might think,” Reed laughed.
“Season 7!” Benjamin quipped. “Archer Bank.”
Stern asked where the idea for Lana and Archer’s baby, Abijean, came from.
“Where do babies come from?” Reed joked.
“From vaginas,” said Tyler.
“That’s just not true!” replied a disbelieving Benjamin.
In all honesty, Reed said he “thought it would be fun to have some other character to act inappropriate around.” Thompson reminded him that the seeds were actually planted in Season 4 when Lana is climbing up a building and hinting at her plan to steal Archer’s sperm. “And as we’ve already seen with the wee baby Seamus, if we grow tired of it, we’ll just make it disappear,” Yates laughed.
Season 6 kicks off with what Benjamin said was “Finally, an animated apology to Japan” for the atomic bombs. It also reveals that Pam and Krieger may be in cahoots. “It’s a build up for a spinoff,” joked Yates. “They are kind of a team this season. Characters sort of gang up sometimes, and I think Pam and Cheryl have had their run.” Greer disagreed.
Reed revealed that only Yates knows for sure if the character we see in a hot tub with Pam in the season opener is the real Krieger or not. There’s also a wonderful new character called Milton the Toaster, a reference to the mascot Kellogg’s used for Pop-Tarts in the 1970s.
Christian Slater’s Slater will see his role expand this year, something the actor is excited about. “I think it’s a very well-named character,” he said, “and I’m the only guy who could do it. He’s very well-drawn, and I absolutely love it.” Of course, the character is designed to look exactly like Slater himself. Stern joked that he wasn’t even animated and that the character was really him. “Well, I put on the full motion-capture suit, and had all the little balls all over me.”
“They’re not digital balls, either,” Tyler chimed in. “It’s in his contract, ‘Only real human balls.’ He’s a big movie star, we had to accommodate him.”
The testicular humor went on for a bit, ending with the idea that Slater actually has about a dozen (“That’s like an udder,” said Benjamin). When things returned to relative sanity, Yates was asked if it was weird that he voices one character and another, Ray, is modeled after him. “It is really a time when I freak out when I’m watching TV,” admitted Yates, noting that he’s a “live theater guy,” so he never expected this kind of role. “When I see a character that sounds like me talking to a character that looks like me, it’s why I smoke a lot of pot.”
There was another sexual sidebar addressing whether Cyril or Archer would be a better lover (“I think it comes down to, do you prefer erection or not an erection,” Benjamin laughed. “So the answer’s Cyril.” (Cyril is well known for being well-endowed), before Stern asked who was the most like their character.
“Christian Slater,” Yates answered without missing a beat, generating knowing laughter from the crowd.
“I know Chris Parnell is the least like his character, if you know what I mean,” ribbed Benjamin.
“He doesn’t wear glasses,” clarified Yates.
“20/20 vision,” Benjamin said.
Stern then asked Walter, “Can you handle your booze like Mallory?”
“Can I handle what?” Walter replied, a bit perplexed.
“Oh,” she replied, putting a hand to her chest. “Thought you said ‘my boobs.’” She paused for laughter, and then said simply, “Ah, yeah.”
Asked if there would be more guest voices this season, Thompson revealed that Dave Willis' Barry would be returning, which the audience was extremely pleased to hear. “Actually, one of the best episodes from the season is the one with Barry and we meet Pam’s sister.” Named Edie, the character will be voiced by Allison Tolman of TV’s Fargo. “We’re big Fargo fans; there’s actually some cool Fargo music in that episode.”
Togo Igawa guest stars in the first episode, while Coby Bell will return as Conway Stern ("Finally, some black people in this bitch!" Tyler exclaimed.) and Walter’s husband Ron Leibman will reprise his role as Ron Cadillac.
Talking about the cartoon’s Arrested Development connections (Walter and Greer are in both shows), Reed noted that Walter was actually the first cast member brought on board after they wrote “think Jessica Walter” on the casting call sheet. “And then her agent called and said, ‘I have the real Jessica Walter.’” From there, they decided to go after who they actually wanted, not just anyone who would agree to do it. They would reach out to people saying Walter wanted to work with Tyler or was a big fan of Parnell. “We just dropped her name and that led to this.”
“You could not have read that pilot script as an actor and not wanted to be involved,” Walter added.
The panelists gave a shoutout to all the Archer cosplayers in the crowd before taking fan questions, the first of which actually came from someone dressed as Lana. She asked about preparation when voicing multiple characters, specifically referencing Benjamin’s roles on Archer and “Bob’s Burgers”. The crowd built a slow laugh as she progressed.
“I know why everyone’s laughing,” Benjamin said. He turned to the questioner. “Thank you for trying.” He joked that the characters were much different. “It takes over an hour to get into the Bob voice and a couple hours to get into the Archer voice.” Stern wondered if he’d ever been asked to make the Archer voice. “I’m making it right now,” Benjamin replied in disbelief.
“That’s Bob,” said Yates.
The next fan asked where Abijean’s name came from. “It’s my grandmother’s name,” Reed stated bluntly. “She’s the only Abijean I knew, so I wanted to get that name back in rotation. It was hugely popular in 1911.”
Tyler fielded a two-part question about Whose Line Is It Anyway? “The jackets are because of two reasons: One is that it’s 1 degree in that studio; my titties could cut glass. And our executive producer has this idea that bright colors are funny, ‘cause he’s stuck in 1977.” She also said she’d “love to get out from behind the desk” and join a skit.
Someone wondered what everyone’s ideal holographic wife would be, a nod to Krieger’s holographic girlfriend. Greer proudly stated she voiced the character. “They tried to get me to do it,” Nash revealed, “and I was so bad at it that they were like, ‘We’re just gonna have Judy do this.’” It turns out Greer is a bit of a utility player on the show, voicing everyone from Framboise to random loudspeaker announcements.
No one was forthcoming with an answer, though they all agreed Yates would go with Greer’s publicist. “Lucky’s been hitting on her all day,” Greer teased.
“You know better than to bring hot girls around me; I can’t control myself!” was all Yates could say in defense.
A massive groan rose from the audience as a fan made the connection between the show’s spy agency, International Secret Intelligence Service, and the headline-making extremist group ISIS. Reed quieted the crowd. “What we’ve done on the show is organically tried to address it without addressing the real life problem and bringing that into our cartoon world, because we’ve always tried really hard to keep them both separate. So it sort of luckily, I guess for us -- and it’s weird to say luckily because it’s such a horrible thing that’s happening in the real world -- the timing of Archer Vice and them working for the CIA, now we just don’t mention [ISIS] and we don’t have it in our visuals.” It’s not something they plan on addressing head on, though the first episode does see the show’s ISIS being taken over by the CIA.
“I suggested changing the name to AIDS,” Benjamin joked, adding off the top of his head, “the American Intelligence Defense System.”
Walter was asked whom she thought was a more loving mother, Mallory or her Arrested Development character Lucille. “That’s a great question. I love both my ladies," she replied. "You know, I think they’re both pretty bad. I have nothing more to say on the subject.”
After the panelists praised the querier for his intelligently phrased question, Reed guesstimated that only about 3% of the characters’ subtle eye movements or twitches are written into the script. He credits the show’s “fantastic” animators for the majority of those golden moments of comedy. “I’ll just write ‘fight scene’ or ‘car chase’ and they’ll come back with these amazing things.”
Tyler and Benjamin then broke into a full minute of Jew jokes, culminating in Tyler being surprised that it was after sundown on a Friday and Benjamin was still there. The detours were so hilarious and off-color that the last audience member could barely remember his question. (He asked if we’d get more of Woodhouse’s side adventures. “Yes,” answered Reed.) That sort of irreverence was laced throughout the panel, so much so that chunks of it had to be skipped to make this recap a reasonable length. “We really bring it for New York!” cheered Benjamin. “Suck it, San Diego!”
Archer Season 6 premieres in January on FX.