Jan 5, 2011

New Spy DVDs Out Last Week: Archer and The American

I don't think there are any major new spy releases this week, but there were two last week that I didn't get a chance to post about.  And one of them is a must-have, in my book.  Last Tuesday was my birthday (thank you, thank you) and Fox Home Entertainment decided to honor that by releasing my favorite new spy series of last year on DVD: Archer: The Complete Season One. A workplace comedy about a Bond-like (or, more accurately, Eurospy-like) superspy who's also a huge jerk and his dysfunctional family (some of them literally, some only figuratively) who all work at the spy agency, Archer is a show that lends itself to rewatching.  It's not for all tastes, though.  While the amazing Bond-inspired retro look of the FX series will appeal to Sixties spy fans, the sense of humor is more appropriate for fans of South Park or people not easily offended by the ribald. Personally, I think it's hilarious. 

Fox's 2-disc set boasts plenty of extras. Among them: the original unaired Archer pilot (I'm really looking forward to seeing that!), an unaired network promo, deleted scenes, a six-part "The Making Of Archer" featurette ("3D", "Animation", "Art Direction", "Backgrounds", "Illustration" and "Storyboards"), and bonus episodes from unrelated FX sitcoms The League and Louie (the latter of which is quite funny, if not at all spy-related).

I'm particularly excited about all of that behind-the-scenes material.  Archer is a great looking show, and I'm eager to see more about what goes into it.  It's so good looking, in fact, that I'm sorry this release is DVD only, and not on Blu-ray as well. I rarely care about that, but this is one series that would look great in HD. Oh well. At this year's Comic-Con panel, the creators of Archer went into a bit of detail about creating the look of Archer's perpetual Cold War world, which incorporates Bondian elements of every era from the Sixties to the Eighties to now (including suits that could have come off of Sean Connery's shoulders, stylish Sixties office furnature and a Living Daylights Aston Martin Volante).  They said that the design team was constantly flipping through Sixties style and design and fashion magazines, picking what they liked.  I hope that's in the documentary.  It's a shame that the Comic-Con panel itself isn't included, but it's hard to complain when there's so much else.  Archer: The Complete Season 1 retails for $29.98, but naturally it's significantly less on Amazon.

Meanwhile, that same day Universal released director Anton Corbijn's George Clooney assassin thriller meditation The American on both DVD and Blu-ray.  I'm really glad the studio has the courage to stick with that awesome theatrical poster art and not just stick a bluish close-up of Clooney's face on the front instead! Extras on both versions include deleted scenes, an audio commentary with Corbijn, and a featurette called (rather uncreatively) "Journey to Redemption: The Making of The American."  Retail is $29.98 for the DVD and $39.98 for the Blu-ray, but of course both can be found much cheaper than that. They're currently $14.99 and $23.99, respecitvely, on Amazon. While I didn't find The American to be quite as profound as it seemed to think it was, I really liked it nonetheless.  (Read my review here.) It's not fast-paced, but it does offer lots of beautiful location photography, which is a crucial element for me in good spy and assassin movies. It's a great looking movie, and I'm looking forward to watching it again.

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