Release Date(s)2018 (April 2, 2019)
Studio(s)Floyd County Productions/FXX Network (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: D+
Archer has had its ups and downs over its (what's soon to be) 10 season run at FX and FXX. It has managed to deliver and maintain its own brand of sardonic, crude, character-driven humor while incorporating various intertwining and ever-changing storylines, keeping the show fresh. Although the changes haven't always been thoroughly satisfying, the Dreamland and Danger Island seasons of the show (8 and 9, respectively), which place all of the characters within brand new environments with altered personas and new group dynamics to play around in, allow the story and its characters some much-needed breathing room – preventing things from becoming overtly stagnant like other primetime animated TV shows.
The entire cast of Archer returns for Danger Island, including H. Jon Benjamin, Amber Nash, Aisha Tyler, Chris Parnell, Lucky Yates, Adam Reed, Jessica Walter, and Judy Greer. Archer is still in a coma after the events of Season 7, meaning that he is still dreaming up new scenarios – including one that takes its cues from the 1980 TV series Tales of the Gold Monkey. In this incarnation, Archer is a seaplane pilot off the coast of a remote tropical island, Pam is his loyal copilot, Mallory runs a hotel and delivery business, and Krieger is their talking parrot Crackers.
Visiting the island is Cheryl, who has been left behind by her new husband after having an affair with Archer, forcing her to do anything in order to make money. Ray Gillette is now the French leader of the island's police force, Lana is a native princess, and Cyril is a Nazi, obsessed with finding a hidden idol on the island that will aid Hitler and his armies in taking over the world.
Once everyone else learns about the idol's existence, it's soon a race for riches as various groups attempt to be the first to reach it. Along the way, they run into deadly giant lizards, Nazi stormtroopers, callous and vindictive German fighter pilots, bubbling quicksand, erupting volcanoes, and local native cannibals. Hijinks ensue.
The presentation of Archer's ninth season outing on DVD is about what you'd expect from a modern day animated TV show, which is great, but softer than its HD source. Everything is clear and well-defined with strong colors and good contrast. There's really nothing worthy of complaint (other than its high definition counterpart's absence). Much of the same can be said about the soundtrack, which is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Digital with subtitle options in English SDH, Spanish, and French. The show doesn't often lend itself to surround sound activity as its primary function is to verbalize wordy comedic exchanges. Nonetheless, explosions, ambient activity, and directionally-driven dialogue does make the experience worth the effort when they occur.
Extras are limited, but they include Inside Look: Making Archer, an all-too brief (4 parts, 14 minutes total) behind-the-scenes look at the making of the show, hosted by Amber Nash and Lucky Yates, which features interviews with many of the show's animators and production crew members. However, it barely scratches the surface as it's more promotional than enlightening. There's also Crackers' Costumed Playthings, a 3 1/2 minute promotional featurette that was shown at San Diego Comic-Con, which features Crackers cosplaying as various pop culture characters for our amusement. Overall, an extremely lackluster selection of bonus materials.
Why shows like Archer, which are produced and fully available in high definition when broadcast and on streaming services, aren't readily available on Blu-ray, is beyond me. It’s both disappointing and infuriating in an age when even the most obscure titles are being given the deluxe home video treatment. It's true to some degree that TV on disc is not a viable commodity these days, but if studios can't be bothered to do it themselves then they should license these shows out to other companies that are more than willing to have them. There's no reason that a popular modern TV show like Archer should be languishing on home video in 480i.
Needless to say, the DVD release of Archer: Danger Island is disappointing, but at this juncture, it’s the only option in that arena. It‘s especially unreasonable considering that you can get this season of the show in HD on iTunes for around $24, while the DVD retails for about $30. As of this writing, it’s hovering at a price tag of around $14.99, so if you want a cheaper option, I suppose it’s the way to go, at least for now. This should go without saying, of course, but this show deserves better treatment on home video than this.
– Tim Salmons