CHICAGO – Mention the name Harry Lennix, and images of his many character roles are bound to emerge – Harold Cooper in the TV series “The Blacklist,” General Swanwick from “Batman v Superman” and Commissioner Blades from Spike Lee’s recent “Chi-Raq.” The deeply knowledgeable Lennix brings his years of dramatic expertise, as he directs the Congo Square Theatre Company’s world premiere stage play “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red.’
TV Review: FX Finds Partner For Brilliant ‘Archer’ in Promising ‘Chozen’
FX has built a loyal following for the twisted genius of their animated hit “Archer,” which returns tonight, January 13, 2014 to start an incredibly strong series of episodes that spoof “Miami Vice” under the banner of “Archer Vice.” While “Archer” seems to garner more fans every year (helped ably by the popularity of the episodes on Netflix), FX has struggled to find it a partner. Maybe an obnoxious, fat, gay white rapper is just what Sterling Archer needed.
Television Rating: 3.5/5.0
“Archer” is still the vastly superior show but there’s enough promise in the anything-for-a-joke aesthetic of “Chozen,” which premieres after the fifth-season opener of the spy hit. “Archer” is a pretty well-known commodity at this point, building a fan base through repeats, Blu-ray releases, and streaming services to the point that most people know what to expect from it — raunchy humor, clever spy spoofs, silly action, whip-smart dialogue. If “Archer” is the suave, stand-up comedian who wears a three-piece for his routine, “Chozen” is the shirtless Andrew Dice Clay wannabe who is willing to show you his dick to get a laugh. While the first few episodes feel repetitive and a bit inconsistent, there are some big laughs in here, largely through the fearlnessness of its approach to its subject matter. Neither “Archer” nor “Chozen” are perfect but they’re so ridiculous that I’ll be there each week to see what they do next.
Photo credit: FX
To shake things up a bit to start season five, the writers of “Archer” go back to one of the foundational programs of the modern TV action show - “Miami Vice.” ISIS is shut down in the season premiere, sending the gang rogue with a whole lot of cocaine. The drug jokes over the first few episodes are amazing in their sheer ridiculousness but it’s the tangential stuff that I love about “Archer” like Cheryl trying to start a country music career or Lana’s pregnancy jokes. “Archer” is defiantly silly but it is so in a way that people could easily underestimate. In other words, it takes smart people to write characters this gloriously dumb.
Photo credit: FX
I’m not sure I’m ready to say the same thing yet about “Chozen,” a show that seems to be going for a record of male rape jokes for one series. The title refers to a burly white rapper (Bobby Moynihan of “Saturday Night Live”) who gets framed and sent to prison for a few years. When he comes out, he tries to regain his rap career but gets stuck on a college campus of all places, working open mic nights and frat parties with his X-rated raps about his prison-esque approach to sex — “Your face is the target, my dong is the gun.”
“Chozen” is a truly bizarre blend of programming as it mixes prison and rap culture with “Revenge of the Nerds.” It actually has echoes of “Eastbound & Down” (including supporting work from Danny McBride) more than “Archer.” Like Kenny Powers on that divisive HBO comedy, Chozen is an abrasive, egotistical, violent maniac at times. The writers hit some very funny lines every once in awhile — “Your LOL can S my D” — but the show needs more time to click as a weekly series. We need to get to know the supporting characters like we have the team on “Archer” to make the recurring jokes click. It’s a sporadically funny show for now that doesn’t quite live up to its lead-in but that could change in a season or two.
If you need to catch up on “Archer,” Fox released “Archer: The Complete Season Four” on Blu-ray and DVD last week. While I love that Fox thinks enough of the fans of this show that they release it in HD (unlike, say, “Family Guy,” which is not on Blu-ray for no good reason whatsoever), the release is a little light on special features. The transfers are great and the season may actually be the strongest creatively of the four that have aired so far so the lackluster bonus material can be forgiven. Just enjoy “Archer.” Again and again.
Archer: The Complete Season Four
Photo credit: Fox
“Archer: The Complete Season Four”
Travel the globe on a hilarious mission of international intrigue with Sterling Archer, the world’s greatest spy, and his fellow agents as they embark on another season of cocktails, carousing, and animated awesomeness! Follow is ISIS team from the mysterious Bermuda Triangle all the way to the Vatican, as they bicker, backstab, and blast their way through assassination plots, an ill-advised marriage, an unexpected pregnancy, and a venomous snake bite in a very, very bad place! Packed with terrorist threats, sexual shenanigans, and all things inappropriate, Archer: Season Four comes fully loaded with outrageous top-secret extras!
o Fisherman’s Daughter
o Archer Live!