Does the world need another bourbon-soaked, spy-themed cartoon aimed at connoisseurs of the mundane realities of cubicle life, inappropriate mother-son relationships and the randier dialogue allowed on air by the FCC after 10 p.m?
Then again, maybe "Archer" is the only show (officially debuting tonight on FX at 10 p.m.) that fits that niche, so consider it good enough for a test drive to see if it suits your type of humor. Besides, if it wipes away the memory of that one time you accidentally watched five minutes of "American Dad," Seth MacFarlane's unfunny parody of a CIA agent dad's suburban life, "Archer" is worth a viewing.
The title character of this half-hour show is Sterling Archer (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin), a supposedly suave master spy for the International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS), a decidely second-rate spy agency that operates above a dry cleaner's. His code name is "Duchess," and he reports directly to his domineering mother Malory (voiced by Jessica Walter), who spends her afternoons pleasuring herself with phone sex calls to a Russian general.
So you know this show isn't going to play it straight when it comes to high-stakes spy games.
And attention, "Arrested Development" fans: if you close your eyes while Malory is talking down to her secretary or berating Archer, you can't help but think of Walter as Lucille Bluth shredding one of her children's self esteem with one slurred, cutting remark.
At least in the first three episodes, the show revolves around the less glamourous, tedious obligations involved in working at a spy agency struggling to control costs while failing to compete against larger, more competent agencies for security contracts.
Archer spends his time shrugging off his mother's demands to stop embarrassing the agency — "ISIS isn't just for you to jet off to Whore Island," Archer's mom says — bickering with buxom ex and fellow agent Lana Kane (voiced by former "Talk Soup" host Aisha Tyler) and trying to get Lana's new boyfriend, ISIS controller Cyril Figgis (voiced by former SNL cast member Chris Parnell), off his back about those high-priced hookers and Monte Carlo gambling debts on his expense reports.
It's as if Dunder-Mifflin were a spy agency, with a healthy dose of South Park raunch (minus the flatulence).
Archer may be a booze-addled, perpetually aroused spy hound who appears to have little going for him, but the show that takes his name has enough wit to stick around a bit.