A long, long time ago, in a period known to historians as the ’80s and ’90s, TV networks loved to have characters from one show visit the characters from another. Steve Urkel once stopped by the Tanner family home on Full House, and Frasier and Lilith Crane had a layover in Nantucket, where they got to know Joe and Brian Hackett on Wings. The crossover was always popular for promoting synergy and ratings, even if it was lazy as hell. Fortunately, we don’t see it all that much these days, but if there’s suddenly a crossover renaissance, we’ll have Archer and The Americans to blame.
On tonight’s episode of Archer, the two hit FX series will collide when Matthew Rhys provides the voice of a Welsh spy who “matches wits” with Sterling and Lana. Obviously, Rhys isn’t playing Philip Jennings on Archer, but Kirk Cameron didn’t need to play Mike Seaver to swing by Full House. Unlike those dorky TGIF and Must See TV ratings grabs in previous years, though, Rhys’s guest role is actually the result of FX’s Super Bowl XLVIII party, according to Archer executive producer Matt Thompson.
A little over a year ago, FX very kindly invited Adam Reed, Casey Willis, and I to New York City (you can just say New York) for Super Bowl XLVIII. This was the one where the Seahawks ran over the Broncos, not the one where they threw it all away in the final moment. The game was a blow out and for me, the best moment happened on the way to the game.
We were in a group of about forty FX talent, producers, and directors. We had to meet at exactly 9:30 for the buses to pick us up. It was imperative that we be on time as our buses would have a police escort to the stadium in New Jersey. Apparently you really did not want to miss the escort otherwise you are stuck in really long security lines. All forty of us show up on time… and wait.
It seems that our buses were to follow Rupert Murdoch’s bus, joining his police motorcade. I am fully aware that I just name dropped Mr. Murdoch, but please know that I am just a guy in Atlanta that makes a cartoon with lots of farts and boobies. I know this. But for that moment, I am sitting there with all of the other FX people (the hilarious The League cast was cracking everyone up), waiting on our benefactor to get rolling. As we all sat on the bus, people started to get a little antsy and a little bored. Matthew Rhys from The Americans graciously decided to entertain us all with a real life story from his homeland of Wales.
Matthew told us about the Free Wales Army from the 1960’s. They hated the English and attempted to bomb critical pieces of British infrastructure. The problem was they were a little bit bumbling and only succeeded in blowing themselves up. Twice. Matthew had us all laughing our asses off and, on the spot, Adam promised to turn his story into an Archer script starring Mr. Rhys. This coming Thursday is that episode and for the very first time in our show’s history, it contains the slightly odd writing credit of “Written by Adam Reed. Story inspired from a Rousing Tale by Matthew Rhys.”
You may miss a big nod to The Americans if you don’t watch and love that show like we do (and if you don’t, you are a dummy). In the episode, Matthew’s character goes back and forth between a Welsh and an American accent, putting on a wig and glasses to become American. It makes me laugh every time I see it.
If the result of this splendid idea is Pam removing one of Cheryl’s teeth in the most intense and sexual way possible, this could end up being the greatest episode of Archer to date.