My Favorite Scene: 'Archer' Creator Adam Reed on the 4-Word Joke That Inspired 'Scooby-Doo'-Themed Episode

No one loves a great scene more than the person who first
dreamed it up -- the writer. We're asking iconic shows' creators and writers to
tell ETonline all about the moment on their series that they most cherished
getting to see make it from script to screen.

For Adam Reed, the creator of FX’s animated spy series, Archer, it’s a four-word joke -- well,
punchline -- that served as the nexus of an entire episode. In the season one episode,
“Skytanic,” Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) and his ISIS crew (the name of
which has since been changed due to the real-life terrorist group, also known
as ISIS or ISIL) find themselves aboard the maiden voyage of the luxury
airship,
Excelsior, investigating a bomb threat. 

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The episode grew out of a punchline that we tossed out while
sitting around the office, throwing a Nerf football. Somebody said, “M is for
Mancy,” and we all laughed. I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I wrote a
whole episode just to get to that one joke, which is not the world’s best joke --
and it was a very long walk for a very short drink of water -- but it just
really cracked me up.

The scene where the punchline finally lands is also the first
time we make fun of Lana’s big hands. [It’s
one of the series’ many long-running gags to come out of the first season.
]
I don’t know where that joke came from. It’s certainly not Aisha Tyler’s hands,
which are slender and lovely.

Another rip-off of this scene is from M*A*S*H, when a bomb landed in the middle of the compound and
Trapper and Hawkeye had to defuse it and Henry Blake is talking them through
it. He’s like, “OK, cut the green wire.” Snip.
“But first…” And they stop and just look at Henry. It just killed me as a kid.

The other thing about this episode is that it’s basically an
episode of Scooby-Doo. You know,
where Archer and the gang are the meddling kids, then there’s the sort of
misdirection with the person you think is going to be the villain, and then it
turns out to be “the other guy,” who gives his reasons at the end. I guess the
difference is this guy gets away on Archer.

A lot of time scripts are easier to write than others. This one
was a breeze because the structure was so well laid out. I knew going in: “OK,
we’re going to do Scooby-Doo.”

The episode was also written about the time that we got
picked up for season two. Up until then, we didn’t think we were going to get
picked up, so I might have been a little more relaxed as a writer and had a bit
more fun with it. Like, we see Cheryl (Judy Greer) getting into choking and Pam
(Amber Nash) is using the bathroom while somebody else is having sex in it. Everyone
started stepping into the roles that they would really become down the road. For
a lot of the characters, this was the first time you got to that sort of
weirdness.

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Archer returns with a Magnum,
P.I.
-themed season seven on Thursday,
March 31 at 10 p.m. ET only on FX.