At an international spy agency, global crises are merely opportunities for its highly trained employees to confuse, undermine, betray and royally screw each other. At the center of it all is suave master spy Sterling Archer, whose less-than-masculine code name is 'Duchess.' Archer works with his domineering mother Malory, who also is his boss. He also has to deal with his ex-girlfriend, Agent Lana Kane and her new boyfriend, comptroller Cyril Figgis, as well as Malory's lovesick secretary, Cheryl.
Where Archer: Dreamland improves upon the formula is its story. I wouldn't be surprised if Reed and his writers carefully plotted out each beat of the season before getting started as the ongoing film noir detective story is satisfyingly rich and twisty.
What seems, at first, like a complete clearing of the board, quickly reveals itself as a brilliantly surgical excision, cutting away the show's accumulated baggage and leaving behind only those things that work.
What started out as a goofy spy series has almost backdoored -- phrasing -- its way into becoming a limited series, with a new adventure and setting every season, like some sort of Ryan Murphy show. That's pretty cool.
There's no expansion or even mutation of the noir style beyond an increase in humor and a moderate amount of self-awareness, neither of which is strong enough to override how plodding and unadventurous this all feels.