“Archer” is back with a bit of a departure from its normal set-up. In Season 8, Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) is in a coma while recovering from his gunshot and near-fatal drowning, so the entirety of the season is taking place inside Archer’s coma dreams, which are set in 1947.
This presents a unique challenge for a show so known for its pop culture references. Executive producer Matt Thompson told Screener in a pre-premiere interview that the show isn’t scaling back on references… But they did have to do their research to make the references time-period appropriate.
So here are eight references from the Season 8 premiere, titled “No Good Deed,” explained.
1. ‘You big lummox!’
This might seem like 1940s slang — and it was probably still used then — but this term for a big, clumsy oaf actually dates back to England circa 1825.
2. Archer’s military service
We know from his rank and list of service medals that “Dreamland” Archer served in the U.S. Army — more specifically, the “Croix de Guerre avec Palme” that Malory (Jessica Walter) mentions means that he was at the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium: That’s a French military honor that wasn’t given out to very many U.S. units in World War II. Members of the 440th AAA AW Battalion were awarded the medal for stopping the Germans in Gouvy, Belgium for four days at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944.
3. Len Trexler
In case you’ve forgotten, Len Trexler (Jeffrey Tambor) was the head of ODIN in the normal “Archer”-verse. He was Malory’s lover, and one of Archer’s possible biological fathers. We haven’t seen him onscreen since Season 2. In Dreamland, Trexler is one of the biggest mobsters in Los Angeles and one of Mother’s biggest rivals.
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4. A bottle of PBR
The Pierre Beauvoir Rouge champagne that Lana (Aisha Tyler) orders is unfortunately not a real champagne (that we could find, anyway) — but Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) was around back then — it actually began in 1844. And as for the Pierre Beauvoir — if it was a real $26 bottle of champagne, that’s equivalent to roughly $300 now.
5. ‘1933 called, they want their gold digger back.’
When Archer refers to Lana as a gold digger, he’s referencing “Gold Diggers of 1933,” a Busby Berkley musical starring Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Aline MacMahon and Ginger Rogers as aspiring actresses. It was one of that year’s most popular films, and featured the song “We’re In the Money.”
6. ‘They’re in defilade, I can’t see what they’re doing.’
Another reference to Archer’s military service, “in defilade” means they’re using natural or artificial obstacles to shield from enfilade, weapons being fired along the long axis.
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7. ‘You’re a regular Granville Sharp.’
Sharp was one of the earliest anti-slavery activists, working to abolish the slave trade in the 1700’s. He helped establish the Province of Freedom and Freetown in Sierra Leone, and Jamaica’s “free village,” Granville, is named for him.
8. Charlotte Vandertunt
In 1947 Dreamland, Cheryl Tunt is publishing heiress Charlotte Vandertunt. Her name is clearly a reference to the wealthy Vanderbilt family, who earned their money in the railroad business. However, Charlotte’s actual family fortune, which stems from a California-based publishing empire, bears more similarity to William Randolf Hearst and his family and publishing legacy, which still holds mighty sway to this day.
“Archer: Dreamland” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FXX.