Please note: minor spoilers here, just because I was having some trouble writing this review without mentioning how we got here and what is going on. Expect full spoilers for the previous seasons.
With Archer left for dead, and floating face down in a swimming pool, Archer: Dreamland follows on directly from season seven, and follows on from the fifth season, Archer: Vice, as a self-contained twist on the common formula. Set inside the mind of a comatose Sterling Archer (H Jon. Benjamin), Archer Dreamland is a take on 1947 Los Angeles, as Archer works on solving the case of his murdered Private Investigator partner. All of the regular cast members show up, in some form, as hyper-realised versions of themselves, and each will help or hinder Archer’s investigation in some way.
+ the setting is a welcome change of pace from the modern day-ish era of the previous seasons. The 40s aesthetic and utilisation of time relevant technology make for some more enjoyable confrontations
+ the characters all being charicatures of their non-dream selves was clever, as were the implications therein: “Mother”, Archer’s literal mother (Jessica Walter), is a ruthless crime boss, while Pam (Amber Nash) is an androdgynous sometimes-friend, sometimes-foe to Archer. When taking into account this is how Archer’s dream-mind manifested his friends and family. As always, Krieger (Lucky Yates) is my personal favourite, here re-imagined as a literal Nazi scientist, opposed to just being an implied Nazi scientist
– the show is funny, but not nearly to the same level as previous season. In many moments, the show was simply morbid or confronting, which made for more uncomfortable/shock humour. Both the opening scene of episode one, and the final scene of episode eight are horribly depressing, which didn’t really set the show up, or leave the show with any appeal
– there are some hanging plot points. One seemingly major character trait of Archer himself is left entirely unexplained, though I assume it is coming in the next season
Should you watch this show: This is a short review for a short season, and it was a hard one to judge. This was much more serious than previous seasons, and lacked much of the satire the show has become known for. At only 8 episodes, it is worth watching (and if you are this far into the show, why wouldn’t you?) but don’t expect the laughs you may have had from previous seasons.