“Archer” takes on a new twist for season eight

“Archer” returns on a new channel with a new premise. The eighth season moved from FX to its sister channel FXX. Dubbed “Dreamland,” this season finds former super spy Sterling Archer dreaming himself as a detective in 1947 while in a coma. The shows trademark wit is in full display. 

The new season also brings a new premise for the show. This isn’t the first time “Archer” has changed its form, the spy comedy has dabbled placing the cast as drug dealers and PI’s in Hollywood, but this might be the most ambitious one yet. Instead of merely switching jobs, the entire premise has been changed. Minor spoilers for the end of season seven beyond. 

After being shot in the seventh season finale, Archer finds himself in a coma. In Archer’s dream, he’s a WWII vet living in a 1947 city working as a detective. He finds himself entangled in a brewing mob war while trying to solve the murder of his partner. It’s a fun play of old noir detective stories.

The acting is superb. There’s a scene early in the episode where Archer’s mother and Lana have a conversation about Archer’s condition. Jessica Walter delivers a great subdued performance as her character deals with what had happened to her son. The other actors are still great in their roles, even in a new world.

It’s interesting to see the Archer cast completely recast as new characters. They all have the same personalities as they did in the real world of “Archer,” but in new roles. Archer’s mother is now a mob boss while his on-and-off again girlfriend Lana Kane is now a lounge singer. Archer’s co-workers are now police detectives. It’s fun to see the show play with traditional 40s mystery tropes. The mix up with the status quo is well handled. It’s refreshing to see these characters have new dynamics with each other after seven seasons. 

Even in Archer’s mind, the show is still as clever as ever, with its trademark humor on full display. Archer’s as snarky as ever, even trapped in his own dreams. While past seasons were never afraid of drama, this season seemed to have more heart than “Archer” episodes normally have. From the quiet opening, to Archer wanting to solve his partner’s murder, the show seems to have the character’s care more in this episode than they normally do. 

This first episode seeds plenty of plot points to bloom throughout the season. It will be interesting to see where the show take this strange premise.