Archer and Bob's Burgers

Archer (2009-    )
Bob's Burgers (2011-    )
Type: Crossover

   Well as I was Netflixing my way through some current cartoon shows this one took me completely by surprise. This is a crossover between two very different cartoons that actually doesn't fully make sense in terms of continuity. And it is awesome.

   First we have Archer, a spy spoof centering on arrogant idiot spy Sterling Archer. He works for the now unfortunately named spy agency ISIS. The head of ISIS is his mom. Guy works for his mom. His secret spy codename? The Duchess. He works alongside his ex-girlfriend, super sexy spy Lana Kane. Lana is now dating ISIS functionary Cyril Figgis. Rounding out the group are Pam Poovy, ISIS's heavy HR person and Cheryl Tunt, secretary, lush and company slut. Every episode the group vaguely manages to save the world while inflicting physical and emotional damage on themselves and others. In one episode Archer's mom throws a dinner party and he is not allowed to bring a date because every time he does he ends up bringing sluts who ends up dead. He arrives dateless and yet still by the end of dinner ends up with a prostitute date who ends up dead. That's about par for Archer. The look of the show is that of a very stylized 60s spy comic. The show was made for cable and is proudly raunchy and rude.

   On the other hand we have Bob's Burgers. Bob's Burgers centers on Bob Belcher and his family and the struggling restaurant they run, Bob's Burgers. Bob's wife Linda is an outspoken silly ball of trouble. She's also voiced by a dude. Their oldest daughter is Tina. Tina is a just hitting puberty wonderful mess of a kid. She has crushes on every boy she meets and dreams of kissing them all. At the same time she has a love/horrified-by relationship with zombies with them figuring too much into her sexual fantasies. She also is a nerd girl, resembling Simon from The Chipmunks if he was a human teenage girl. She is also voiced by a dude. Tina is amazing. Gene is the son. He's overly excited and determined to make it as a musician or a DJ or... whatever it takes. Insane with energy. He is also voiced by a dude but... he is a dude so for once that makes sense. Louise is the second daughter. (I'm guessing the girls are named Tina and Louise as a reference to Gilligan's Island actress Tina Louise.) Louise always wears a bunny-eared hat and her primary goal is always trouble and mischief. She may be a budding sociopath, but an adorable one. Louise is a female character actually played by a girl. Clearly something went wrong in casting.

   The general trajectory of a Bob's Burgers episode is Bob trying to run his restaurant and make some sort of progress in life while his family spins wildly around him causing trouble. Sometimes Bob is actually the trouble. It's basically an exaggerated version of how many families operate. The style of the show is very cartoony.

   So, before we even get to how these shows would cross over I think we need to address WHY they'd crossover. The answer to that is voice actor H. Jon Benjamin. Starting with Dr. Katz H. Jon Benjamin has done voice work for every cartoon under the sun as well as supplying the voice for a talking can of vegetables in Wet Hot American Summer. On Archer he is the voice of Sterling Archer. On Bob's Burgers he's the voice of Bob. It is a bit disconcerting if you watch Archer and Bob's Burgers back to back because you couldn't have two more different characters but sharing the same distinct voice. The strangeness of him playing both roles I think is what directly inspired this insane crossover.

   The fourth season of Archer opened with the episode Fugue and Riffs which oddly found Sterling Archer calling himself Bob and running the restaurant Bob's Burgers along with his wife and three kids. It's very clearly THE Bob's Burgers. His family is clearly the Belchers drawn in the style of Archer. Archer is sporting Bob's signature mustache. His wife's name is Linda and is voiced by the same guy who voices her on Bob's Burgers. (So weird to type, "His wife is voiced by the same dude.") The episode starts with killers from his life as Sterling Archer invading the restaurant and Bob/Archer dispatching them with extreme prejudice in a scene riffing off the movie A History of Violence. It soon turns out that months earlier Archer came down with amnesia and assumed the new identity of family man Bob Belcher (riffing off of The Long Kiss Goodnight), marrying Linda and adopting her children. By the end of the episode Archer's memory returns and he is back to being Archer.

   This is a crazy amazing but mind bending crossover. It makes no sense in terms of Bob's Burger continuity. On that show Bob and Linda have been married forever and his kids are his biological kids. And so far he has yet to run off to be a spy. It would be tempting to say this was a reference joke rather than a crossover but this is way too much to be just a reference joke. There is no explanation for any of this and, really, none is needed because they're goofy cartoons. That said I will now apply logic to this situation where logic should never be applied.

   I don't normally speculate on how shows might be connected but this is a very unique case.

   The first explanation is that both shows exist in their own separate realities where there happen to be some common elements in play. That is very boring and not at all fun.

   The second possible explanation is the one I prefer. I would put crossover in the same category as the finales of St. Elsewhere and Newhart (and the fake original ending of Breaking Bad). In those shows the entire series were revealed to be someone's dream. While it is never in any way stated, I would speculate that the events on Archer are all the continuing dreams of Bob Belcher. Family man Bob Belcher at night dreams of himself as a super spy right out of a movie. But as with most dreams they never really go how you want them to. Thus his spy fantasy is sort of a mess. I think there is enough circumstantial evidence to support this idea. First of all, Bob is known to have an active fantasy life. Every Thanksgiving he creates voices and personalities for his turkey and talks with them. He even has been shown to dream himself into movies. While hiding from his in-laws in the walls of his house (don't ask) he dreams that he is in The Shining. And he is a film lover. He regularly sits and mocks bad movies with his daughter Louise. He shares his love of a series of western films with his son Gene. It's no big leap to believe he would also be a fan of spy films and that they would fuel his imagination. Additionally cast members from each show have made guest appearances on the other. Kristen Schaal and Eugene Mirman who play his children Louise and Gene respectively made a joint cameo on Archer playing a bickering married couple working with ISIS. Bob's real life filtering into his dreams, although I'm not going to speculate on his turning his kids into a married couple. The crossover episode is simply another case of Bob's real life intruding into his dream life and him then shutting that down. He dreams he's Bob and then immediately shuts that down turning back into his dream-self, Sterling Archer.

   I will also assume his codename being The Duchess could very well be daughter Louise's doing, with her whispering screwed up dialogue into her dreaming dad's ear.

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