Ever since the sharp left turn that was Vice, which transformed the spy outfit formerly known as ISIS into a wacky, cocaine-munching drug cartel, FX’s animated spy-comedy Archer always keeps its fans on edge. The creative nimbleness is thanks to Adam Reed, the breezy Southerner at the helm of one of television’s funniest shows. And Season 7, which premieres March 31, is like nothing Archer adherents have seen before.
Whereas Vice was a tribute to Miami Vice, uprooting Sterling Archer and Co. from their workplace/case of the week confines, the latest iteration was inspired by ’80s detective series’ like Magnum P.I. and The Rockford Files, as well as Hollywood noirs in the vein of Sunset Boulevard. All the usual suspects are back, and this time, after being blacklisted by the CIA, they’ve relocated to sunny Los Angeles and set up a private detective agency dubbed The Figgis Agency.
“I’ve probably only been to L.A. five times!” says Reed. “[EP] Matt Thompson and I spent a couple of days driving around Los Angeles with a map of the stars’ homes. FX has a private eye on retainer—as a TV consultant, not as an actual private eye—but it’s this grizzled guy who was a private eye in the ’80s. They tried to set it up so we could do a ride-along with him, but it never ended up happening! We were so ready, had our bags packed and everything.”
The series opens in media res, with a body lying face down in a pool (see: Sunset Boulevard), before backtracking to the genesis of The Figgis Agency, which sees Cyril at the helm since he’s the only one with a license to P.I. They’re soon embroiled in a wild plot involving a glamorous A-list film actress, Veronica Dean; a creepy, gun-toting manager, voiced by Patton Oswalt; and a missing disk containing some very sensitive files.
“They get pretty deeply tied up in the big-money, Hollywood studio film world. They discover corruption left and right. Archer and Lana don’t have a great season together, too,” says a chuckling Reed. “Archer develops slightly more than a crush on a movie star, Veronica Dean, which doesn’t do his relationship with Lana any favors.
“The back half of the season they spend a lot of time on a film shoot, and the film being done is a film noir/detective movie set in the late-’40s,” he adds. “On Moonlighting, they each had dream sequences about the 1940s and it was all in black-and-white. We’re not doing quite that, but we spend a lot of time on movie sets.”
Archer is famous for its fun celebrity cameos, from Jon Hamm and Bryan Cranston to Mr. Danger Zone himself, Kenny Loggins. And while Season 7 is set in Hollywood, Reed says we won’t be seeing the return of Burt Reynolds. We will, however, be treated to the return of CIA Agent Slater (aka Christian Slater), who recruits the gang for “a top secret, off-the-books mission,” along with cameos by J.K. Simmons and Keegan-Michael Key as a pair of cops hot on The Figgis Agency’s tail.
“Keegan and J.K. pop up throughout the season,” says Reed. “They’re homicide detectives, but there’s a hostage situation halfway through the season and Lana runs afoul of the law at one point, so they come and go.”
As for Sterling Archer, well, Reed says he’s at a similar stage as Daniel Craig’s Bond at the beginning of Skyfall. The age and injuries have started to catch up with him, and he’s lost a step.
“Archer gets clobbered a bunch. It might be [penance] for treating Lana badly, although I don’t know if that was a conscious thing,” jokes Reed. “As this season’s progressed, I hate to say this, but Archer starts noticing that he doesn’t necessarily bounce up from, say, falling off a cliff as he once did. All the years of unspeakable physical abuse to his body are starting to take its toll, and he’s starting to wonder if he’s actually capable of aging. Archer is grappling with the inevitable.”
The rest of The Figgis Agency is in slightly better shape. Cyril relishes the fact that he’s nominally in charge; Pam and Cheryl enjoy dealing with the less glamorous side of the gumshoe biz, e.g., going on stakeouts; Krieger has become the group’s Q, and designs “a big-ass invention” that plays a big role in the latter half of the season; Lana is juggling trying to get baby AJ into a nice pre-school and the spy biz; and Malory is as Malory as ever.
Reed says that, although he only turned in the Season 7 finale script a few weeks ago, he’s already started brainstorming where Archer will go in Season 8. “We’re gonna explore what happened to Woodhouse. He’ll be a key catalyst moving forward,” says Reed, adding, “and we don’t talk a lot about Archer’s father this time. Next season it might come up…”