Thursdays at 10 p.m. on FX. Twelve episodes into the second season.
One of the things animation does best is to minimize the shock of action that, if performed by flesh-and-blood characters, would be completely horrifying. You see that even in kids’ cartoons. The violence of classic Tom and Jerry shorts, for example, is dismaying if you think about it too hard—but you generally don’t. The animation softens even the harshest of blows.
Not by any stretch of the imagination is Archer appropriate for children, but even it benefits from its medium. The animation gives cover for it to indulge in crazy, sick-puppy humor—not so much dark as anarchic—without becoming unpalatable. Perhaps that sounds unflattering, but I don’t mean it that way. Shock humor for its own sake is tiresome, but Archer is far too clever and enthusiastically loopy to fall into that trap. It might not be a warm, but with its bravura voice acting and perversely endearing eccentricities, it finds humor in the most delightfully inappropriate places.