Another season of "Archer" comes to an end, with another AMC star stirring up trouble for Sterling Archer and company. In the Season 3 finale, it was "Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston who messed with the ISIS crew in space. In this week's Season 4 finale, "Mad Men" leading man Jon Hamm guest stars as Captain Murphy, who's gone a bit, well, mad, because he's been living alone in an underwater lab for a wee bit too long.
While it's a sad event for "Archer" fans to bid adieu to the world's (self-proclaimed) greatest spy guy for the season, the Emmy-worthy animated comedy has been renewed for a fifth season, so here's hoping "The Walking Dead's" Andrew Lincoln or Norman Reedus get the call to play the Season 5 finale baddie.
In the meantime, Yahoo! TV talked to "Archer" series creator -- and the voice of ISIS's bionic agent Ray Gillette -- Adam Reed about the show's stellar guest stars, the one thing FX wouldn't allow Archer to do, whether or not Archer will ever find out the identity of his father, and the awesome road trip he has planned to celebrate another successful season of the show.
You always give us great season finales …
This season, we have an epic two part finale that takes place mostly in an underwater laboratory. We have great guest stars, Eugene Mirman, Kristen Schaal, and this guy named Jon Hamm. Who you might know from television.
We might have heard of him. Actually, we always think of him as the human Archer. He looks like Archer.
He is the human Archer. Probably a much nicer person in real life than Archer.
How did that come about? Did he approach you, or did you approach him?
Oh, no, he definitely didn't approach us. We've been begging him for, like, three years, and he finally, I guess out of pity or something, agreed to do it.
But you routinely have great guest stars. They must be approaching you, too, at this point.
Some do, some do. But it is pretty rare. People don't actively hate us and refuse. It's usually they just don't know who we are.
Do you have a wish list for guest stars? Burt Reynolds must have been high on the list.
He was very high on the list, because I've been a fan of his since I was a little kid. As far as a wish list, hmm, you know, I don't know. I'm sure there are, but it seems like it's such a … I feel so lucky to get to work with everybody that we already have, and everyone who's on the show regularly. I hate to be greedy for stars.
Is there any chance that we will see Mr. Reynolds return?
Possibly. We've been talking about Malory becoming bored with her marriage to Ron Cadillac, and maybe seeking companionship outside the marriage.
Ron has been a great addition this season, particularly in "Midnight Ron," where he and Archer have their road trip adventure.
That was a great one, and Ron Leibman (real-life husband of Malory portrayer Jessica Walters) is fantastic. He brought an almost boyish enthusiasm to Ron's character, where he's just this chipper, upbeat guy. Originally, we had everybody roll their eyes whenever Ron walked in. But he just sounds so fun loving that now whenever he walks in everybody's like, "Hey, Ron!" Except for Archer, of course.
Have you found it to be true, in general, that the guest actors come in and find it very freeing to do comedy voice work, that they just jump right in?
I'd say very much so, they jump in. Either people that we have on have done a lot of voiceover, in which case they're very comfortable with it, or they've hardly done any at all. Lots of times they are freed by, just that they don't have to hit their mark or even wear pants if they don't want to. They can just go in the booth and really, nobody's looking at them. They can just be totally goofy.
And you really can't oversell the no pants thing.
Yeah, I'm sure that a lot of our cast is in sweatpants all of the time when they're recording "Archer."
Watch a preview of the season finale:
Circling back to Jon Hamm's resemblance to Archer, the show itself also has a lot in common with the style and the look of "Mad Men," yet the ISIS crew has a lot of modern technology. Is that ambiguity on purpose, with the retro setting but modern gadgets?
Oh, very much so, very much so. We wanted to be able to take our favorite things from several eras. It's cars from a rather narrow slice of time. From 1967 to 1973 are the cars. All the clothes, most of the clothes are from 1958 to 1963. Cell phones is just laziness so that people don't have to go into phone booths to call each other.
It really does change the stories you can do. Cell phones factor into plots quite a bit.
Yeah, people can text each other or you get an important bit of information while you're riding in the elevator with the bad guys. They've had such a profound impact on our lives that it would be hard to write without them and without the Internet, because those characters, they're on the Internet. Their computers are all wired up. It's something that we take for granted, which makes some things so much easier to handle logistically.
NEXT: Will there be an "Archer" movie?
Congratulations on your fifth season renewal. Is it easier to write for these characters at this point because we know them so well, or is it tougher because it's constraining that we know them so well?
Not constraining, and it is easier in some ways, but in other ways [not], because I'm neurotic and need something to worry about. I worry about getting in a rut or routine-ing myself too much. It's a double edged sword.
Who is the most fun character to write for?
I've always really enjoyed writing for Pam and Cheryl, because they're just so bonkers, and early on … I came from Adult Swim, which has a very different sensibility from FX's. It was hard for me to switch gears from Adult Swim to FX and really basically learn about character motivation … what's behind the thing that people are doing, rather than having characters just act crazy. But for whatever reason, Pam and Cheryl got a pass really early on. They were just allowed to be bonkers. They're always fun to write for, because you don't have to think too deeply behind their motivations.
[Related: Yes, That Was Linda Cardellini on 'Mad Men']
There've been rumors of an "Archer" movie -- is that something that's in the works?
A movie? Live action or animated?
W assumed animated. That's what the story was, though again, this was an unsubstantiated story on the Interwebs, so …
That sounds great!
Yes, it sounded like a great idea.
We should do that. I personally haven't heard about that. But I'm intrigued. You should have those people call me if they're, like, investor types. Did these seem like titans of industry that you overheard talking, or …?
No, sadly, it was a story on a blog.
Ah! Not a titan of industry.
But those guys make things happen sometimes, right? So, should this ever happen, what would you do with Archer in a movie?
You know, that's a good question. I would want to do something epic, like space or underwater, but we've already done those. We would have to find a new epic thing for him to do. Center of the earth, maybe? Or shrink him down really tiny and go inside someone's body.
Burt Reynolds, maybe.
He could shrink down and go inside Burt Reynolds's body.
All you need now is the money.
Yes. Yahoo!'s rich. Let's make this happen. Who do I call? Even if you can get me to the main receptionist for all of Yahoo!. Then I can probably find it from there.
You've said that the greatest thing about Archer is that he's just as jerkish as he can be. He also has no filter, which leads to some of his funniest moments, and sometimes, oddly, his most endearing ones. But do you ever go, "We can't take him this far"? Is there any place you won't let him go?
Not really. Way back in Season 1 or Season 2, we were going to have him throw a baby at a bad guy to disarm the bad guy. The network didn't want him to throw the baby. That was about it. He really does get away with a lot. I think a lot of that has to do with Jon Benjamin's voice, delivery, and timing. It is just so charming and also disarming that Archer says the worst things and does such terrible things. There is just this great thing about Jon's voice that makes most of what Archer does pretty OK, because we know, deep down, he's not a horrible human being.
What about his father? Will we ever get a final, "This is Archer's daddy," or do you plan to keep that an open question?
I think in probably the very last episode they'll find an envelope that's just been sitting in a desk. They just go, "Oh, and it's this guy. It's been here the whole time, huh?" Or just, "So and so called. He's your dad." [It would turn out that] Malory just couldn't be bothered to tell him.
Is there anything that you wanted to do with the other ISIS characters that FX didn't love so much?
No, really, they're pretty open to almost all of our ideas. They're good to work for. We always joke about having a spinoff with Pam called "The Poovey Files," where she's a private detective. We'd do a backdoor pilot and have the other stars show up as she's starting her new life. Then that will probably go on to be more successful and last longer than "Archer." It will be like "Frasier."
Have you started working on Season 5?
Just barely. I'm on my break right now between seasons. I usually take a long trip. Last year was motorcycling in Vietnam. This year is motorcycling in the U.S. I've been out in the garage tinkering on the motorcycle and just coming up with possible sweeping epic changes and plot lines for "Archer."
Are you doing a cross-country road trip on your motorcycle?
I am. This guy has put together … he's spent 10 years putting this trip together called the Trans America Trail. It basically goes from Eastern Tennessee to Oregon, all on dirt. He's put together a box of maps, about 15 pounds of maps. It's for service roads and county roads, stream crossings, and just a backwoods motorcycle adventure.
That sounds like an incredible adventure. How long does it take to do the whole trail?
I'm excited. It takes 20 to 25 days. I don't know what I'm going to do when I get to Colorado, because apparently the Rockies are snow-covered still on July 4th. I might have to put the bike on a truck and just drive through the Rockies, then get back on the bike. I have to go when I can go and not when the weather says I can go. I have to go when FX says I can go. They're my weather.
Are you doing this trip alone, or is that a big group event?
Me and my girlfriend, who is very game. I have a regular motorcycle, and then I have a motorcycle with a sidecar. We did Vietnam with a sidecar motorcycle. We'll be doing this one with the sidecar. Actually, what I've been doing the past few days is putting heated seats in the sidecar, because she does not like to be cold. In Vietnam, we were so far out, we were places where the people didn't even speak Vietnamese. It was among the hill tribes. She bounced around in the cold and the rain in the most muddy, rocky, pothole filled roads and never complained. I am going to continue to exploit that weakness in her character and now bounce around with her across America.
Maybe you can call it a research trip, for a future "Archer"/"Sons of Anarchy" crossover episode.
Oh, my God. We could ride right into Redwood. I wonder if I could get FX to pay for this? Doubtful. I'll submit an expense report and just see what happens.
Thanks so much, Adam, and have an amazing time on your trip.
Thank you. If it turns out we hate it, we're just going to drive to some nice hotel, lie, and say we went and did this whole trip. Don't print that.
The Season 4 finale of "Archer" airs Thursday, 4/11 at 10 PM on FX.