Spy Spoofing in Archer
BD: And the heart of Archer is the tumultuous mother/son relationship, which parodies what's going on with Judi Dench and Daniel Craig.
AR: It's a lot more fun than the old M in the old Bond movies.
AR: It has been a lot of fun. These characters are all pretty dysfunctional and all pretty much jerks, but I think -- not to malign the good men and women who are in our intelligence services -- that if all you was lie for a living it couldn't help but seep into your personal relationships. But I think these people would be jerks no matter where they worked. But I guess writing about dysfunctional jerks has always been my thing.
BD: And they somehow bumble their way into outwitting the baddies, but not as ineptly as Maxwell Smart.
AR: That's an interesting thing because we went to great lengths not to make him a bumbling spy who wins despite himself. I also thought if Archer is handsome and rich and kind of smart and well-dressed with a lavish apartment and always wins, then you're not root for him. But we tried to figure out a way for Archer not to win all the time but not because he's stupid but sort of settled on that he gets in his own way because he's so self-centered. But I think he's supremely confident.
BD: Talk about working with your voice cast.
AR: It's been great working with all of them and to be able to hear them in my head when I'm writing. And they also ad lab in the booth a lot. We record these shows first and cut the audio together well before it ever gets animated.
BD: Do they work in the booth together?
AR: They don't. We haven't done that since the first episode of Sealab. It turns out to be a lot more work than it's worth, and you end up with a lot more blown takes than comedy gold.
AR: By Radical Axis. The characters are done in Illustrator using photographs for reference. We get models, dress them in vintage clothes and take lots and lots and lots of pictures of them. The backgrounds are built in 3D first. I believe 3ds Max. There's a firm out in Missouri called Trinity Animation that builds the backgrounds for us. And then we paint them. Once they build, like Malory's office, we can spin the camera around and repaint it in Photoshop. And I think it's saved us some time and money and, for me, I like the realism of it because it lets me focus on what these folks are saying, which is my favorite part of any TV show.
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.