I couldn’t have picked a better time to start re-reading The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler’s 1939 detective novel that details a hardboiled, detached private investigator discovering the seedy criminal underbelly of LA while investigating a murder. Archer Dreamland premiers and honestly feels like a small screen size retelling of The Big Sleep…if only Chandler dropped a tab of acid before dropping his pen to paper and decided to star suave spy Sterling Archer in lieu of Marlowe. Or at least, that’s what I hope it will be. No Good Deed kicks off the new season with a funeral and a fake-out after last season ended floating in murky waters with Archer’s face down in a swimming pool courtesy of his cougar crush, Veronica Deane. Though we all knew (or at least, hoped the creators wouldn’t pull a final season of the Office and omit the focal point of the series) that Archer wouldn’t be gone for good, it was really nice to see the passing of Woodhouse addressed and really set the plot in motion in a big way, as the original real-life voice actor, George Coe, recently passed away.
After this brief intro, we find Malory and Lana in a hospital to address just what exactly happened after those events closed the season. They are next to Archer in a coma and although they don’t know when he will wake, they take comfort in the solace that hopefully, Archer doesn’t know about the passing of the man who practically raised him. Except, he does. Dreamland is a coma series taking place in Archer’s literal dream that sees our old characters placed into totally new scenarios and roles. The avenue that the creators of Archer chose to pursue Dreamland has so much promise; although this premise is executed better in theory than in practice during the first episode of this new direction, as No Good Deed was an episode that unfolds a little too slow at points but still excels on intrigue and writing quality.
The direction reinvigorates the series in a way both refreshing yet familiar; our old pals that we knew since ISIS have the same personality as back then but entirely different lives and social roles.
Overall, the animation, the writing, and the thought process behind certain devices remain truly top-notch, and as expected from Archer, the verbal interplay between characters was beyond sharp and witty. The scene is set for an amplified version of Season 7, allowing Adam Reed and the other writers of the series to totally immerse themselves deeper in whatever whimsies crossed their mind while dipping their toes into the private investigator business back with the Phygis agency in real life LA. Archer’s own warped, dreamy version of noir remains at the top of must-see television throughout the remainder of Dreamland.