FXX has renewed the Emmy Award-winning animated comedy series Archer for an 11th season, as announced today by Nick Grad and Gina Balian, Presidents, Original Programming, FX Entertainment. Season 11 will debut on FXX in 2020. News of the Archer renewal was shared with fans at San Diego Comic-Con during a sneak peek screening and Q&A with its cast and producers in support of the series’ current 10th season, Archer: 1999.
But there’s more to the story than just a renewal for the phenomenal, long-running animated comedy series. Some spoilers ahead: As Executive Producer Casey Willis put it: “We are incredibly excited for our 11th season and look forward to Archer waking up from his coma and returning to a spy world that has continued without him for the past three years.” That’s right, after a few years/seasons of coma-induced hallucinations that took Archer & Co. to the genre lands of Dreamland, Danger Island, and 1999, the title super-spy will be regaining consciousness.
As EW reports from their chat with Willis and executive producer Matt Thompson, that’s not the only change coming to the show. (I’d avoid reading their write-up since there’s a mega spoiler for the current season’s final episode; we’ll be avoiding that here.) As for why they opted to shift from the genre approach and return to the main story idea that took Archer through six seasons:
CASEY WILLIS: As we were doing these seasons of genre-hopping, we started thinking about how interesting it would be if Archer were to wake up to a world that’s had to move on without him. We thought it was so interesting that we wanted to do another season and explore that dynamic. In his coma we found out what’s important to Archer, and we want to see how he’s going to react when he’s back in the real world.
MATT THOMPSON: They say you can never go home again. Archer goes home again and finds that everything’s changed. One reason Adam, Casey, and I started genre-hopping is we got bored telling a mission-of-the-week story. It felt stale. We didn’t know how to do yet another story where Archer had to go get a dictator in a foreign country and bring him back. Now we’ve been gone so long from that it’s going to feel brand-new again. Because everything’s changed. It’s not a small matter. We want this to feel closer to season 2 and season 3, but at the same time Archer’s lost, and that’s interesting to us.
They’re going to play on the fact that Archer has been in a coma for three years and they’re going realistic with it:
WILLIS: He’s going to have a cane. That’s something we can give away.
THOMPSON: But it’s not just a cane. It’s a Tacti-Cane … Krieger has put all these devices in it like he’s James Bond. Because Archer can’t go out there and physically dominate any more.
As exciting as this all is, I’m kind of bummed that the genre ideas they talked about won’t be going into production:
THOMPSON: We talked about King Arthur/King Archer, with Krieger as Merlin. We couldn’t make it work out.
WILLIS: It turns out animating horses is really difficult.
THOMPSON: We had a zombie apocalypse thing we thought about.
WILLIS: This is a small spoiler, but [highlight to read] in the final episode of season 10 you might see a glimpse of what Archer would be like in the Old West
.THOMPSON: We talked about that one too.
They also talked about the fact that, for Archer to actually end one day, the title character will have to wake up some day:
WILLIS: Whenever the series does end, I think Adam and Matt and I will think of a great way to end it.
Which begs the question, with creator Adam Reed reportedly leaving after Season 10, will he be back for the next season and beyond?
THOMPSON: Adam has always said, “I’m out after season 10!” But it’s like Godfather III: “…then they pull me back in.” He’s not with us day to day. In season 10 he wrote four episodes, and then Casey and I came up and got the writers and the rest going. This season he’s taken a further step back but is still in. He plotted out the stories with us. At this time, he’s only slated to write one episode. His involvement was mainly at the front end of the production. It was Adam who said he wanted Archer to wake up, and for him to be atrophied and not able to perform.
While fans can expect some more family drama when Archer returns, especially concerning Archer and Lana’s daughter, one story idea from Thompson (which everyone passed on) was a storyline spent searching for Archer’s real father. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be, at least not in Season 11.
Meanwhile, Archer: 1999 returns Wednesday, July 24th, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FXX with the season’s penultimate episode, “Cubert.” In it, Archer is convinced a mysterious object is causing the crew to act strangely. Is it magnetic? Is it supernatural? Does it need to be cleaned with some sterile wipes? The episode was written by Reed.