By James Field | TV | September 6, 2022 |
By James Field | TV | September 6, 2022 |
I’ve got a thing for FX/Hulu comedies, especially animated ones. Archer remains my most-watched show, and I was caught by the trailer for Little Demon, the new animated Antichrist sitcom from Danny DeVito and his daughter, Lucy. Both are worth your time, though maybe not the best the channel’s offered.
Archer’s 13th season began with both gun and wordplay, as the titular spy demonstrated his skills at the Clandesti-Con, an industry trade show and meet & greet for the world’s espionage agencies. “The Agency” is getting a facelift and launched as a boutique branch of IIA, the group led by wannabe super-villain Fabian Kingsworth. It’s complicated. Long story short, Archer and Lana have to win the skills competition to keep the Agency together, or Fabian will split up the team. There’s also a kidnapping plot and Lana’s billionaire ex-husband, Robert, is fighting her for custody of her daughter AJ.
For better or worse, this remains the new Archer, with plenty of cutting remarks but fewer bits and flashbacks. They’re not entirely gone, much to the show’s benefit. Mallory’s absence is strongly felt in the premiere and second episodes, in which Archer & co. must infiltrate a jungle compound while under Ray’s incompetent leadership. Even the credits, lacking Jessica Walter’s name, sting a little. But Archer is determined to enjoy his newfound freedom to its utmost, even as the mission to liberate medical supplies from a warlord goes tits up. The team is a hot mess, particularly Cheryl, whose steady decline into madness seems to be accelerating without Mallory pulling back on the reins. Lana remains incapable of seeing her own monumental flaws, while Cyril gets more useless by the day. Fabian’s British Elmer Fudd impression remains as annoying as ever, and it remains to be seen if having a season-long villain is to the series’ benefit.
Litle Demon, on the other hand, is all about its antagonists. Laura (Aubrey Plaza) and her teen daughter Chrissy (Lucy DeVito) move around all the time, supposedly due to Laura’s work. But Chrissy’s first period and first murders occur on the same day her absentee father, Satan (Danny DeVito), arrives to claim his offspring. Turns out Chrissy is the product of a debauched relationship between Laura and the Devil back in the day. Laura made a break for it when she learned the truth and has spent the last 13 years trying to keep Chrissy hiding from her father, who wants to use Chrissy for Maximus Dawnus, his plot to collapse the multiverse into one plane he can rule for all eternity. Chrissy just wants her mother to stop lying, and to get to know her father while negotiating high school and her burgeoning psychic powers.
Little Demon embraces the animation style, graphic violence, and high body count of shows like Rick & Morty (little wonder since they share a creator), but (so far) without asking the larger philosophical questions. Chrissy’s powers are varied but not entirely within her control. She is capable of destroying people with a thought or possessing their bodies for an extended period. Mother Laura is a hot mess, covered in tattoos and ready to shed blood at a moment’s notice. Needless to say, Danny DeVito as Satan is the top draw, and he’s perfectly cast. His voice remains as rich and well-suited to animation as it was in Disney’s 1997 Hercules. This is not the suave, debonair devil of FOX/Netflix’s Lucifer, nor the androgynous, Machiavellian Satan of The Sandman. He’s a profoundly corrupt character, gleefully manipulating humanity, his demons, and the hideous monsters from other dimensions. He has some feelings for his child, but everything is secondary to his quest for absolute power. Lucy and her father work very well together, and Plaza’s voice is perfect for the self-loathing and desperate Laura. Rounding out the cast is Lennon Parham as Darlene, Laura’s divorced new neighbor and potential BFF who is as excited to explore the hellscape as she is for a night out clubbing. Grating at first, she’s quickly becoming one of the show’s best comedic elements.
Neither is perfect, but Archer remains strong in its 13th season, and while Little Demon suffers from the same tonal and pacing issues of many first-season sitcoms, it could grow into something great. If you enjoy adult animation and aren’t turned off by watching random citizens turn inside out, it’s worth your time.