‘Archer’ returned on Wednesday for its eighth season, and TV’s funniest show had one of the series’ best moments in ‘Archer Dreamland: No Good Deed.’
Adam Reed’s animated comedy Archer started its eighth season on Wednesday with a lot of aspects that were different—a new network in FXX, a new premise subtitled Dreamland that reset the series to 1947, and even a little bit of a different tone.
But TV’s funniest show got its most serious moment perfectly right.
“Archer Dreamland: No Good Deed” opened with a funeral, which fans worried may have been for series hero Sterling Archer (voice of H. Jon Benjamin) after he was last seen floating face down and shot in movie star Veronica Deane’s swimming pool at the end of Season 7.
It was revealed that the memorial service wasn’t for Archer, but for his loyal valet Woodhouse, who had passed away after being missing for some time.
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Fans know that Woodhouse vanished due to the illness of his voice actor, George Coe, who died in July 2015 at the age of 86. Coe had been fighting an undisclosed illness for an extended period of time, leading to his being replaced by Tom Kane for Season 5 (aka Archer Vice) and Woodhouse being declared missing in Season 6.
So the funeral scene that opened “Dreamland: No Good Deed” wasn’t about Archer pulling off a surprise for the fans or just getting closer to where Woodhouse was. It was about both the show and the fans having a chance to mourn George Coe, as well as the character that he brought to life that had found a special place in everyone’s hearts.
And the series handled that moment exactly the way it deserved.
Archer is a show that isn’t afraid to joke about death; this is the same program that killed Archer’s fiancee Katya Kasanova (Ona Grauer), then had Dr. Krieger (Lucky Yates) bring her back as a cyborg who left her vagina in Archer’s sink and became the new head of the KGB. But it didn’t try to crack jokes about Woodhouse’s passing. It didn’t need to.
Instead, “Dreamland: No Good Deed” brought us to a hospital room where we discovered that our hero was actually in a coma from his injuries, and there was another legitimately touching scene as Malory (Jessica Walter) and Lana (Aisha Tyler) discussed what Woodhouse had meant to Archer. It confirmed what audiences had known all along: that as cruel as he could be to his valet, and often, Sterling had a genuine soft spot for the man.
That then became the segue into the subconscious realm that gives the new season its subtitle, with Archer—imagining himself as a private investigator in 1947—on the hunt for his partner’s killer. Who was the partner? Of course it was Woodhouse.
Adam Reed should receive serious credit for delivering the tribute to Woodhouse, and by extension to George Coe, that he deserved and that we as fans all wanted. He gave us closure just as much as he gave it to the characters. And by then using that loss as the springboard for Season 8, that gives this new season a poignant meaning underneath.
As P.I. Archer avenges the death of 1947 Woodhouse, so too can we have a final sendoff for a great character. Rest in peace, you crazy old heroin addict. You will always be missed.
What did you think of “Archer Dreamland: No Good Deed”? Did you appreciate the farewell to Woodhouse? Are you excited for the premise of the new season? Leave us your best moments in the comments.
Archer airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on FXX.