“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.”
– Doesn’t matter who
Why is Lucky Yates’ voice so perfect for Archer’s lovably mad scientist, Dr. Algernop Krieger? “You tell me,” the voice actor and comedian counters when posed this question. The answer, after several hours of reflective chin-scratching and soul-searching, is that it just is. That’s why when the time came to actually give a voice to the previously silent and creepy background character in the series’ fourth episode, “Killing Utne,” the cast and Archer creator Adam Reed agreed that Yates was the one and only man for the job.
“Originally, Krieger was never ever going to speak,” Reed explains. “He was just going to be this scary guy that would lurk around corners or behind pillars, and he would glare at you. For whatever reason, we needed somebody to speak and we already had this character drawn, so now who will be the voice? We’d all worked with Lucky Yates for years, so we all as one went, ‘Oh, Lucky!’ He was born to play him.”
Obviously, with such a glowing endorsement, Reed can clarify what it is about Yates’ voice that makes him so perfect for breathing life into this bizarre Adolf Hitler clone*. “Lucky has the greatest voice,” Reed says. “The first time I ever saw him, he was emceeing a burlesque show, and he had the audience more captivated by his voice than any of the ladies. There’s something about his basso profundo, you can feel it in your chest when he talks. And yet there’s a ditziness to it, it’s just a lovely combination.”
The problem with the original plan for Krieger is that him being a creepy background gag probably would have run its course by the end of the first season. Yates, who was actually the model for Ray Gillette’s physical appearance, refers to this gig as his “dream job,” because he loves everything about the character, so it’s only natural that he views the decision to add a voice, his voice, to Krieger as the right one. “That type of thing would run out very quickly,” Yates says, “the guy who was there for almost non-reactions. He didn’t do much but ignore things. If you want to develop him, you have to make him talk and try to find out what makes him tick.”
It’s what makes Krieger tick that caused Yates to fall in love with the role, even though he knew so little about him. After six seasons, Krieger’s all-around weirdness hasn’t grown repetitive or stagnant, because Archer‘s creative stories deliver new adventures and ideas for the agency’s mad scientist, who is still as mysterious as he was in “Killing Utne.”
“He was sort of the weirdo Q,” Yates recalls of Reed’s description. “When I came on board, they gave me just the mildest breakdown: ‘He’s just this weirdo guy.’ The first line was, ‘I call him Fister Roboto,’ and it sort of said everything. He’s a really weird sexual deviant, so for me it was like, score! A direct hit! Because I love weird science and weirdos, and the darker side of things.”
After hushing Torvald Utne, Krieger continues describing his first of many insane inventions: “He’s a fully-integrated, multi-fetish artificial being. And the best part… is that he’s learning.” The voice was different at the time, a little more exotic and less endearing, but the craziness was there. Perhaps crazy isn’t the right term, as Reed instead calls him “an agent of chaos.” Better yet, Yates prefers to use some Dungeons & Dragons terminology to offer a bolder assessment of Krieger’s mental state.
“He’s Chaotic Neutral,” Yates offers. “Ultimately, he’s out for himself, but he’ll go either way. His heart is in the right place, and I think he is trying to do good. I say this as one of only two people who knows which Krieger we have [in season seven]. There’s a side of Krieger that is a great guy, but there’s a side of him that might turn at any second, and even I will be deliciously surprised if he ever turns bad. I know the answer to which Krieger we have and I still don’t know which side he’ll fall. I love where he is. I think questions are great. Having an ongoing mystery in shows is perfect. I would never want to be the good guy. You still need fuck-up Krieger.”
We’ll have to wait and watch to learn which “Krieger” that the agency formerly known as you know is dealing with in the seventh season. Without offering spoilers, Reed and Yates assure us that not only does the head of applied science have a role in operating a Los Angeles detective agency, but we’re in for even more Krieger.
“He does a fair amount of plot driving in season seven, more than we’ve seen in the past,” Reed says.
“He’s in the same sort of position he was in when they were spies,” Yates adds. “He’s sort of security. He’s good with cameras and surveillance. If they need anything that might involve chemicals, he’s there. He still has a lab, and I can’t wait to see how that works out, because it’s at a detective agency, which is odd.”
That’s a pretty good point. A laboratory would be a rather peculiar necessity when perusing L.A.’s commercial real estate listings, but Reed has an answer for that. “It’s even better and more well-equipped,” he says, “probably why they bought the building was because there was already space for a quality laboratory.” Fair enough.
Quality being the crucial aspect, as we’ve come to expect so much from Krieger’s inventions through six seasons. Amazingly, having created everything from a holographic anime bride to Katya’s bionic ladyparts, Reed explains that keeping Dr. Dickwad’s crazy inventions coming is actually the simplest part.
“Those are the easiest things,” Reed says. “He’s our deus who gives us our machinas. It’s like, let’s just saunter down to Krieger’s lab, because I’m sure he has what we need. Luckily we established that early on. He has grappling hooks and he has shrink rays. He’s gotten a little more outlandish over time. Now, Krieger’s cadre of highly-advanced robots plays a very important part in season seven. We teased that seasons ago, so it’s not like, ‘Wait a minute, he can’t do that.’ I picture Krieger’s lab as this imaginarium where anything is possible.”
While Reed has been the mastermind behind the bulk of Krieger’s creations, Yates has provided one of the more entertaining weapons. It’s the only time that Yates has tried to influence creative control for his character, and it was an absolute success. “The only input I’ve ever thrown at Adam that actually made it into the show, a couple seasons ago, was when Krieger developed the brown note gun,” Yates recalls of the weapon that makes targets poop. “He said, ‘Excellent work, you are a genius,’ and it was in the very next script. So that’s it, you’re welcome, I gave you Krieger’s brown note rifle.”
All this talk about inventions also begs an important question: if you could actually own one of Krieger’s inventions and use it in your everyday life, which would you choose? A half-man, half-pig named Pigley? Chokebot? Krieger Kleanse? A half-man, half goat named Goatley? Pigley III? Your very own Fort Kickass? Perhaps a romantic encounter with a holographic girlfriend?
“What would I do with a holographic girlfriend?” Yates asks. “One who is, quite frankly, kind of shitty. Well, they’re all shitty, so she goes right along with the pack. I love her so much, but she terrifies me.”
“I hate to say it, but probably his hologram bride,” Reed admits. “She seems sort of naggy to him, but maybe she could be reprogrammed and just praise me throughout the day.”
Reed isn’t alone in wanting an invention that caters to his own needs. “He’s built cybernetic human beings,” Yates ponders. “I feel like I would just get one of those, one of his cyborgs. He’d be my valet, so I’d have an Alfred Pennyworth to my Bruce Wayne. And I wouldn’t put skin on him, I’d just make him a robot. But I would dress him like Alfred, with the hair on the sides and around the back and his pencil-thin mustache.”
For the more hardcore Krieger fans among us, there is one pressing question regarding his role in season seven: will there be another incredible Easter Egg hunt? Last season, Archer fans lost their minds at the revelation that a super-secret Krieger website not only existed, but had been hidden from us by a series of insanely brilliant clues. Seriously, this was the stuff of actual mad scientists, as some behind-the-scenes geniuses offered their idea to Reed, who could really only smile and nod at what they were selling.
“It was so far over my head, I sat down and they walked me through it, but it’s so math-y and science-y and I couldn’t comprehend it,” Reed explains. “When they showed it to me, I was like, ‘This is fascinating, and wow, what incredibly talented and smart people, but nobody’s ever gonna figure this out. It’s just too obscure. There’s no way. Then, every week as another piece of the puzzle would come out, the crowds, especially on Reddit, were all working together to solve this mystery, and it was really fascinating to watch.”
Fascinating is an understatement. It’s absolutely mind-blowing how devoted Archer fans and Redditors became when the first clue was discovered, and this wasn’t just a situation of the fans rewarding the people who created this game. The effort was celebrated at the highest level.
“They actually invented an Emmy category to give to those guys,” Yates says. “That was like two dudes in accounting who had that idea, and while they were doing it, nobody had any idea what exactly was going on. This went so insanely deep, I thought it was brilliant. They kept me up on it the whole time, and I would try to follow it, but it’s beyond my tiny brain. It’s so amazing… like, there were Craigslist ads!
“The world of the Internet is a gigantic mystery to me,” he continues. “As far as I know, there are a bunch of wizards who live inside there and make it all happen. I don’t know how people find those things, I don’t know how somebody can see a little piece of code in a computer on-screen in a flash, and then know that leads you to a soundwave that has to be broken down numerically… it’s just insane! I’m completely shocked that people were able to follow that path.”
So, back to that pressing question: will there be another incredible Easter Egg hunt? Yates claims that he doesn’t know anything about it, but Reed is willing to offer the first clue to would-be detectives looking to begin their first case when Archer’s seventh season premieres on Thursday night. “Yes,” he says to the question. “I can’t spoil it, but they are hard at work making another multi-layered mind-breaker.”
It’s a testament not only to Archer’s creativity and brilliance, but also the character of Dr. Krieger that so much effort is put into making everything about this genius so darn smart. From his clever reactions and subtle one-liners to his bizarre laboratory creations and charming perversions, Krieger continues to be one of the most endearingly diabolical characters on television. That’s certainly why Yates loves playing him so much.
“If Adam had come to me before anyone else was cast on the show, gave me a breakdown of every single character and said, ‘You can choose whoever you want to play out of all these characters,” there would be no other choice. I would have gone with Krieger no matter what,” he says, referring to the question about his voice being so perfect for this character. “Maybe the answer is it was just meant to be.”
*Of course, Krieger’s counterpoint…