A couple of season back, Adam Reed's hilarious spy-com Archer took a sideways swerve, taking the show's cast out of their comfort zone and recast them as a drug cartel. Season six saw them back in the spy-game once again, this time working for the CIA. In the seventh season however, they find themselves unemployed again en-mass, and decide to set themselves up as private detectives.
Relocating to LA, Sterling, Lana, Mallory et al are all now working as employees of the Figgis Agency- as only Cyril turned out to be qualified to register as a P.I.- very much to everyone else's chagrin. The shift from secret agent to detective is a pretty straight-forward one and feels perfectly in keeping with the feel of the show up until now. It shakes things up just enough to keep things interesting and gives the writers a new playground to let the characters loose in.
The show has always had fun playing with spy-show cliches (often turning them on their heads), but the change in set-up allows them to shift gears. Just as the Archer Vice season sent up neon-soaked 80's shows, here they riff on detective shows, film noir and Hollywood-set crime movies. Continuing the move towards more serialised material as the show has progressed, a distinct through-line and over-arching plot connects the episodes, with recurring characters and a series of cases that turn out to be connected.
The season's arc plays out beautifully, with a tonally perfect cold-open in the first episode which sets up the mystery of the whole season, and dovetails wonderfully with the season's final moments.
The animation in the series has subtly improved as it has gone on (and presumably, the budget has increased). Although basic in a lot of ways- in Archer the animation has always been there to service the hilarious dialogue- there are still occasional outstanding touches that really bring it to life. It comes through for the action sequences too, and this season has a number of genuinely exciting set-pieces.
Above all else though, Archer is simply very very funny, and this is no less true for season 7. The character dynamics and running jokes are as hilarious as ever and the dialogue is reliably whip-smart.
Much as one of the most notable things about Archer is that it's not just another family sitcom, it's still the more 'sit-commy' elements that provide some of the best moments. As Sterling and Archer get used to being parents it guarantees some entertaining material, and the dysfunctional relationship between Mallory and Sterling is always good value.
Archer has one of the best ensemble voice-casts on TV and their work here lives up to the usual standards. A number of excellent new voices have come on board for this season as well, with top class turns from Patton Oswalt, J K Simmons and Keegan-Michael Key making this season even better.
The only complaint is that at only 10 episodes, this season is a little short- and we could have done with at least a couple more. However, when your only gripe of a series is that there's not enough of it, you can be sure the creators have hit it out of the park.
ARCHER SEASON 7 is available streaming on Netflix in the UK and on Amazon Video in the US.