Sterling Archer, the super spy of FX’s profanely entertaining animated series “Archer,” has little in common with the title character of Fox’s “Bob’s Burgers” aside from the fact that both are voiced by comedian H. Jon Benjamin (also of “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist” and “Home Movies”). One’s a hard-drinking, completely immature but, when needed, very able undercover operative, the other’s a beleaguered family man struggling to keep his small seaside town restaurant open.
But the worlds of the two shows did collide a few weeks ago in the terrific opening sequence to the “Archer” season four premiere, which started with Archer, suffering from amnesia, having taken up with Linda, Tina, Gene and Louise under the name “Bob,” working the grill and acting as a stepdad. When agents track him down at the restaurant (redone in the “Archer” animation style), what unfolds is a “History of Violence” tribute by way of two very funny animated series. On a press call, Benjamin explained that the crossover happened easily.
It basically came about from Adam Reed, the creator [of “Archer”]. Apparently, he was a fan of “Bob’s Burgers” and mine, so he came up with the idea to do it. He asked me to ask Loren Bouchard, the creator of “Bob’s Burgers,” so I was the middle man. It went really smoothly. It was around a 15-20 second phone call — then they turned it over to hundreds of thousands of lawyers. It all came from Adam wanted to open the season like that — it was really well done, I thought.
Benjamin said he felt “it’s a good balance” playing the constantly undermined Bob and the consistently id-driven Archer. “A lot of people have complained that I don’t do anything different for either, and, you know, fuck them,” he added of voicing the two characters. “It was funny to do, I did notice, finally, that Archer is a little bit different. When I had to do him as Bob — it got very convoluted. Real subtlety there.”
As for Archer’s temporary stint as a family man, Benjamin thinks whatever maturing the character manages with his memory back will happen very slowly:
Maybe really glacial progress. At some point I think he has to. And I just think that his lifestyle’s going to catch up with him if it in any way mirrors real life. I want him to gain, like, 15 pounds. He won’t metabolize alcohol as well soon, right? He’s pretty rock solid, that doesn’t change. Maybe he’s gotten in better shape, I haven’t checked.