going deep

This Week’s Obscure Archer References Decoded: Sealab, Silly Cars, and Father Guido Sarducci

Continuing our ongoing Archer seriesexecutive producer Matt Thompson gives Vulture the lowdown on each episode’s inside jokes and obscure references. In last night’s installment, “The Papal Chase,” Archer must rescue the Pope from an assassination plot. Here, Thompson tells us about bubble cars, Guido Sarducci, and that blink-and-you-missed-it Sealab shout-out. 

Father Guido Sarducci
At one point, Pam calls Archer Father Guido Sardouchebag. It’s not an obscure reference if you’ve been around for a while. Father Guido Sarducci is the No. 1 most recurring character ever to appear on Saturday Night Live. In this episode, Archer looks exactly like him. Basically, he’s a Catholic priest who serves as the in-house rock critic for the Vatican.

The BMW Isetta
We are very cognizant of the look of the show, especially with respect to guns and cars. We cast guns and cars. The cars in our show have personalities. Krieger has his van. Lana had that kick-ass Ferrari GTO for awhile. Sterling has his Dodge Challenger or his El Camino… In this episode, our art directors found the silliest car I’ve ever seen in my life. I didn’t know it existed. It’s the BMW Isetta, pretty popular in the 50s, especially in Europe. It’s basically a motorcycle engine they put four wheels on and called the bubble car. There are no side doors, there’s only a front door and it opens across the whole car, and if you’ll notice the steering wheel is on the door. If you’ve been in a wreck, the actual design and plan of the car is to escape from the sunroof. We wanted you to feel like the gang was in something very perishable and small during the chase.

Oliver Cromwell
For people who don’t know, when Archer is telling Pam that she’s Oliver Cromwell because she killed the Pope, Oliver Cromwell really didn’t kill a pope. He did kill a bunch of Catholics in the 1600s.

The Cardinal
That was Rene Auberjonois. He has played other characters for us before. He was the German assassin Mannfred, who never died, by the way, from season one (“Dial M for Mother” and “Killing Utne”). People might remember him in M*A*S*H and Deep Space Nine. We call him whenever we want a cool accent because he’s kind of grown up all over the planet.

Sealab Headline
There have been hints in the last four or five episodes about us doing something with Sealab 2021 [the 2001 Adult Swim series created by both Thompson and Adam Reed]. The one in this episode went by very fast. We’d been talking about doing something at the very start of the year with the show, but we weren’t sure what. There’s a lot of legal issues that go into it because we have no rights to that show. Cartoon Network owns it. What I can tell you is that you’re going to see a lot of nods to it in our two-part season finale. People who know Sealab are going to be very pleased.

Obscure Archer References: ‘The Papal Chase’