For the past four years, FX and writer/director Adam Reed have entertained audiences with Archer, an animated action comedy that centers on suave, self-centered spy Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin), his domineering mother/boss and his co-workers at the International Secret Intelligence Service.
But when Archer returns in January, the show’s world will be shaken as it abandons the central premise -- that the characters are incompetent spies working for ISIS -- and send the cast on the lam, attempting to sell drugs after the government shuts down the agency.
The big twist was revealed to fans during the Archer panel at New York Comic Con, but beforehand a nervous yet smiling Reed told members of the press, “We’re doing something different with Season 5. … It’s a pretty dramatic departure from what we’ve been doing that, now that we’re ready to show it, I think it’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever had -- but hopefully people will like it!”
As to why Reed decided to take such a big step away from the show’s premise, the creator joked, “Exactly, why change that? I don’t know! Now I’m starting to have a panic attack. I just thought, maybe this will be fun.”
“We’re doing something super-different. Hopefully it’ll be good and people will still watch,” he added with a laugh.
Looking toward the new season, Reed joked that after having the Archer crew mangle international incidents on land, air, water and outer space, there’s only one place left to go. “The human mind,” he laughed. “We’re going to plumb the depths of insanity!”
Those depths are something actor Lucky Yates, who voices mad scientist/Hitler clone Doctor Krieger, knows much about. Addressing how he gets into character, Yates joked, “There are those experiments I do in my basement.”
Looking at his character’s escapades over the past four seasons, Yates admitted that when it came to a favorite Krieger experiment, it fell “between bionic people and animal/human hybrids.”
“I’m a huge fan of Pigley III,” he said, referring to the heavily irradiated pig with a fondness for human flesh. “I hope that sticks around. I haven’t seen him yet in Season 5, but that doesn’t mean he’s not around! I love that sweet, glowing green pig” But as every Archer fan knows, Pigley III is only the tips of Krieger’s animal-obsession iceberg.
“I don’t know what that tiny pig that he puts in his pocket in one episode is. There’s another tiny pig floating around. It’s like the mouse wedding. What?” Yates added, shaking his head. “Dude, I don’t know about that guy.”
The actor who also runs the official Krieger Twitter feed, told reporters that the doctor's madness also extends to the web as he’s planning world domination via social networking.
“I decided, ‘Hey man, I want Krieger to start building this weird army of hobos and people. Can I do that? Is there some kind of logo I can get?’ And they were like, ‘Yeah, we’ll get the animators to do it,’” Yates said, explaining that Krieger will be “recruiting” people and updating the growth of his army through Twitter.
“Vansectomies are coming. Krieger is going to do some vansectomies on Twitter. Take that Obama!” Yates added with a laugh.
He also dismissed the idea of seeing the return of Goatley, the half-man, half-goat creature. “Goatley is dead,” Yates said. “It’s a about the Pigleys, guys. I want Pigley III to stick around! Pigley III is still kicking!”
Beyond a possible Pigley III/Krieger reunion, Reed said viewers should expect to see old villains and guest voice actors, although not necessarily in the same roles they played in their first appearances.
“We try not to kill the villains too often so they can come back,” he said. “We’ve got some returning villains that we’ve seen in the past come back this season. Ron Perlman comes back, although not as a villain. Gary Cole is going to be in this upcoming season in several episodes.”
Also returning is Mallory’s car dealership-owning husband Ron Cadillac, played by veteran actor Ron Leibman. Reed said the inspiration for the character, who was introduced in the Season 4 premiere already married to Mallory (Jessica Walter), came from the fact that, “Jessica in real life is married to Ron Leibman, who is brilliant, and we wanted to find a way for Ron to be on the show. And because we thought Ron Cadillac was a cool name! So it fell into that.”
“I’ve worked with him before -- as a human, not as a cartoon. But it was great, he’s good!” Walter laughed.
The actress also took a moment to compare her two recent television matriarchs, Arrested Development’s Lucille Bluth and Archer’s Mallory Archer.
“They’re both controlling mothers, let’s put it that way!” she joked. However, Walter was quick to point out that Mallory and Lucille aren’t clones of each other.
“First of all, physically, Mallory has let her hair go gray and Lucille would never let her hair go gray,” she explained. “Mallory is a self-made woman, Lucille is not; she’s coasting along with her husband’s success or failure. She’s a more slippery slope, and I think that makes a big difference for somebody’s character. But I do get those roles!”
The actress also confessed that when it comes to the reference-heavy Archer, she has to make Reed actor out or explain her lines -- such as Mallory’s refrain (and porn music reference) “Bow chika wow wow!”
“I had no idea what it was and I said, ‘You do it.’ He did it and I said, ‘OK, that makes sense,’” Walter deadpanned, adding with a laugh, “I trust [Reed] totally, so I just say, ‘What does it mean?’ Sometimes he says, ‘I feel funny telling you,’ and I’ll just say it. We don’t have to be that realistic!”
While she may not know the references, Walter fully enjoyed her character’s weird appetites, laughing as she recalled some of the oddest Mallory moments in the show.
“One of my favorite episodes, I don’t remember specific lines, but last year it was ‘Los Scandalo’ [with] the guy in the Saran Wrap,” she said of the BDSM murder episode. “I think it was based on truth! It was a real story about some guy in Italy!”
As for whether viewers would ever find out who Archer’s father is, Walter observed, “You know, I’m not sure Mallory really knows. You know what I mean? I think she goes, ‘It could have been – uh ...?’ It’s more fun not to know in a way, and something to look forward to, should we live so long, to get to Season 10.”
Reed’s favorite Archer moment was actually the Season 6 teaser trailer, a recreation of the Top Gun/Kenny Loggins “Danger Zone” video with the Archer cast (below).
“It really surprisingly got a lot of views! It’s in the millions!” Reed laughed, admitting he never considered that the video would go viral.
“It was pretty weird in the Top Gun video because I was like, look how I look in uniform,” Yates laughed, pointing to the character Ray Gillette, a gay field agent based on the actor’s appearance. “They call me, and this is all Season 1, and they’re like, ‘Hey, man, we’ve got a character coming up in the next episode that already kind of starts to look like you, so would you just be the face model?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I don’t care, man’ ... and then everybody loved Ray so he just became a main character.”
“I guess I should have asked for money,” he added.
Sneaking a look around the press room, the actor then jokingly “spoiled” his favorite line from Season 5, deadpanning, “He’s down here.”
The last line may have gone to Yates, but the last word on the season went to Reed, who summed up all his hopes in just 10 words: “I really hope it’s not going to be a bust!”