Archer ‘Bel Panto’ I & II Review


Anyone who is a fan of Archer knows the show has a penchant for multiple episode arcs, sometimes to its betterment, sometimes to its detriment. The past two week’s installments form a dual-episode arc that had its entertaining moments, but was not a high point in the season or the series.

It involved lawyer Alan Shapiro attempting to protect Veronica Dean from robbery of one of her priceless jewelry pieces while attending a swanky benefit for the American Tinnitus Association (which apparently really exists). The gang is hired to attend the fundraiser, some as guests and some as wait-staff, and keep Veronica’s valuables from being poached.

There is, of course, an attempt to poach them which transforms into a hostage situation, because that’s how TV shows work. The perps? A bunch of masked clowns, each color-coded with a profoundly goofy nickname: Giggles, Yum-Yum, etc. The episode is punctuated by the crazed leader, Mr. Rompers, calling out their names dramatically amidst his temporary reign of terror, which was perpetually amusing.

Relationship drama between Archer and Lana also flares up over Archer’s continuing, very blatant crush on Veronica Dean, and Lana’s wooing by Dean’s ex-husband, director Ellis Crane. I still have yet to be totally converted to this storyline. While it does enable them to take some quality pot-shots at the absurdity of L.A.’s entertainment elite — “Lana, this is Hollywood. None of this is even remotely necessary” – I do not find Archer’s fixation on Dean to be particularly fruitful of much comedy, interesting conflict, or character development.

However, admittedly, the situation does enable one of the funniest scenes of the arc in part II, when Lana believes she is talking to Archer undercover and she is really just talking to one of the actual robbers. She unloads on him, and, after realizing it’s not him, overpowers him, takes on his costume, and bemoans, “Now I have to have that exact same stupid argument all over again with Archer!”

The mistaken identity gag gets another good play when Lana, Archer and Pam all meet later as undercover clowns, and start having a fist-fight showdown, none of them realizing who the others are until Pam lets out her one of her catch-phrases (“Holy sh-tsnacks!”). And speaking of catch-phrases, there are a few good uses of ‘phrasing’, and I did get a bit of a giggle out of Archer’s futile attempts to navigate Crane’s house which ended in the old classic, “eat a dick mansion.”

The hostage situation ends when the robber clowns escape by trading their costumes for their captive’s clothes and pretending they were the hostages all along. Part II ends after it is revealed that Shapiro actually coordinated the whole affair in the first place as an insurance scam to try to get Veronica Dean out of debt.

While rewatching part I, it occurred to me why exactly I do not find Veronica’s presence all that compelling on the show. For all her silver screen diva persona, she’s just too normal to fit in with the character dynamics on a show like Archer. She is way too down-to-earth, and her average-person responses to Archer and everyone else make her stick out like a bland sore thumb. As much as the characters on the series can be obnoxious, they all have very strong personality traits, and they need equally larger-than-life characters to riff off of. Veronica Dean just falls so flat amidst the colorful hyperbole of Sterling Archer and his crew.


About Author

Rachel is a PhD drop-out and fangirl extraordinaire (at least on her better days). She is painfully addicted to genre TV and follows too many shows to list. But some of her current favorites include Supernatural, Lucifer and Bob's Burgers. She also has a deep-seated love of kittens and red wine.

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