If you tuned into FX at 10pm last night looking for a solid hour of animated comedy, you probably left half satisfied. The third season of Archer, which is arguably TV's funniest show, premiered and didn't miss a step. It was half-an-hour of rapid-fire zingers, cartoon danger, and Burt Reynolds. That was followed by the premiere of Unsupervised, arguably TV's worst new show. It was half-an-hour of zero jokes, annoying characters, and me trying not to smash my brain into unconsciousness. Unsupervised barely stood a chance on its own, but airing it after Archer? Ouch.
First, let's discuss how awesome Archer was, even if doing so is like talking about how mint chocolate chip ice cream tastes great. Of course Archer was awesome, it always is. Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) met his match in Burt Reynolds, his oft-mentioned idol. But because this is Archer, and because Malory Archer (Jessica Walter) is a well-known slut of monumental proportions, Burt was dating Malory and that obviously didn't sit well with our Sterling.
Conflicted over being in the presence of his hero and knowing the legend was banging his mom, Archer threw a tantrum and plotted to break them up. But there was a very wise writing choice in making Burt Reynolds a sweet old man who just so happened to be a legendary badass. The easy choice would've been to make him out-asshole Archer, but in casting Burt as a kinder, gentler version of Archer, the writers created a scenario where, try as he might, Sterling just couldn't bring himself to hate Mr. Reynolds and his sweet 'stache. Let's not forget that while we love Sterling Archer, he also happens to be one of TV's jerkiest jerks. Watching him be slowly won over by Burt, who gained Sterling's confidence through touchy-feely logic and suave action-hero moves, was a legitimate character arc for a man whose previous biggest arc was switching from blondes to brunettes.
Okay, that was a poor attempt at an academic approach to Archer, because really, it's a silly show that happens to be really, really funny. That car chase alone was one of the best scenes in the series' history, and it was made better by what looks like some improved animation techniques. And Dr. Krieger's van? Best new ride on TV.
On the exact opposite side of the bell curve was the premiere of Unsupervised, which is currently sitting right alongside Work It, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, and How to Be a Gentleman on my list of the worst new comedies of the season. The show is essentially a modern-day take on Beavis and Butt-head, but without any of that classic's subversive humor. Or any humor in general. And that's a shame, because it's assembled quite a cast.
The show is about Gary (Justin Long) and Joel (David Hornsby), two average high-schoolers with sex and partying on their minds. And like most average high-schoolers, they're fucking stupid and shouldn't be on television. Quality TV teens have been on the rise lately, but how these one-note, generic characters made it to my screen is beyond me. The awkwardness of our teenage years is a tried-and-true comedy gold mine with plenty of veins left to tap. But Unsupervised handles that territory with a complete lack of cleverness. We're talking uninspired "jokes" about new hairs on character's butts, the difficulty of boner control, and boobs as fat sacks. Those subjects dressed up with wordplay or angst would be funny, but Gary and Joel simply yammer on about them, assuming the mere idea of wanting to 69 with a schoolmate is funny. It's not.
Unsupervised was promoted with an It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia connection, as Hornsby (who also wrote and created the atrocious How To Be a Gentleman) and Kaitlin Olson are involved in both shows, but that's about it. It's Always Sunny knows how to dress up its jokes. Unsupervised doesn't.
Believe it or not, I don't like trashing new shows. It's not fun. But after one episode, Unsupervised is terrible. Having it follow the vastly superior Archer, which is everything an animated comedy should be, is suicide. This a rare whiff by FX, which is normally a gold mine for original TV programming.
Funnies from Archer:
"You drive like an egg." —Burt
"Leave me for some hot little 20-year-old? Well, I'll show him... I'll go find me a 10-year-old." —Malory
"I'm going to watch Hooper and masturbate 'til my fingers bleed." —Pam.
"Just tape them up." —Carol/Cheryl
Funnies from Unsupervised: