The show we all needed.
The Pentaverate feels like a social experiment, like we’re being tested by Netflix and Mike Myers to gauge interest in the potential for an Austin Powers reboot. Does the comedy still stick? Do people still like Myers playing two dozen roles in the same film? Does Mike want to be involved in a full-ass movie again? Nothing like a six episode mini-series to find out, right? Can you believe it’s been 20 years since Goldmember? Damn.
Myers hasn’t been in much outside of very small roles or playing himself in documentaries for the last twelve years. Maybe it was decades of being an asshole on set that got him somewhat blacklisted (and actually sued) in Hollywood. Maybe it was the knowledge that Austin Powers probably contributed to Verne Troyer being a self-destructive alcoholic and eventually killing himself. But The Pentaverate feels like a callback to early 2000s Myers comedy with a bit of flair of 2022, and while I don’t expect this show will get much love from the critics, fans of Myers will generally have a much more positive opinion of it.
The Pentaverate is a six episode series running roughly three hours. The premise of the show revolves around the existence of The Pentaverate, a secret society that uses its influence to change world events but as series narrator Jeremy Irons (played by Jeremy Irons) notes, are good guys. The members of the Pentaverate include Lord Lordington (Mike Myers), Bruce Baldwin (Mike Myers), Mishu Ivanov (Mike Myers), Shep Gordon (Mike Myers), and Jason Eccleston (Mike Myers). Most of the characters have real world equivalents, such as Bruce Baldwin being a parody of Rupert Murdoch but benevolent, or Shep Gordon being the actual Shep Gordon, the band manager. Others exist so Myers can do crappy British and Russian accents. Mishu exists just to mispronounce words in a way that sounds dirty, so another character can clarify and then say “he’s Russian.” The group brings in Dr. Hobart Clark (Keegan Michael Key) and Skip Cho (Ken Jeong) as new members over the season. The Pentaverate basically exists as a way to remind us that Myers can do accents. Bad accents, but accents.
There is a ton of juvenile humor throughout the series, like the fact that general protagonist Ken Scarborough (Mike Myers) works for a Canadian news channel called CACA which nobody ever pronounces phonetically or acknowledges. Dr. Clark learns that his faked death is portrayed as him breaking his neck trying to kiss his own asshole as part of a TikTok challenge. The Canadian characters are constantly apologizing and then apologizing for each other’s apologies. You start to think that the Sasquatch character was written into the show because it’s about conspiracies, but then it becomes obvious his purpose is to shit everywhere because poop is funny. And poop is funny, just ask Danny DeVito.
There’s a lot of cute jokes that are equally ham-fisted and self-aware such as when Dr. Clark is given the ultimatum choice between taking the Pentaverate key and joining the group and ingesting a suicide pill to reject the offer, with Myers in a bad Russian accent saying “you must choose between key and peel” where Key looks directly at the camera and says “come on now.” I’d be interested to know if they wrote the whole key/pill concept into the script after they got Key on as an actor.
Scarborough finds himself an old man being pushed out of the only job he’s ever loved, his work doing human interest stories being replaced by social media, and heads to America to a conspiracy convention to land his big piece that will save his job. Joining him is Lydia West as Reilly Clayton, and the two eventually meet with conspiracy theorist Anthony Lansdowne (Mike Myers) who introduces them to the existence of The Pentaverate. There’s a whole running joke about how all of Canada is actually in low definition with the show swapping picture formats and resolutions between scenes. Debi Mazar plays Patti Davis, the executive assistant to the Pentaverate who basically runs the place given the doddering old white guys farting around and losing focus constantly. There’s a whole bit about how even the Pentaverate, a benevolent group, is run entirely by rich old white guys.
Without even looking at the reviews I can tell you that The Pentaverate is going to get panned by critics who presumably will take offense to the fact that the show addresses conspiracy theories without shoving something about Trump into the mix or trying to have a deep message. Myers is one of those guys who even if you don’t like his humor, it’s hard to deny his charm. The Pentaverate is going to be a hit or miss with its viewers, but it genuinely feels like a series that was made with heart rather than something machine-engineered and focus tested to death. It leans hard on some running gags like the Maester (Jennifer Saunders) and his speeches causing confusion to his servants Anso and Ergo. I will also never get the image of Mike Myer’s oddly shaped penis out of my mind. It feels like Myers uses one episode to make up for thirty years of not being allowed to show dicks on screen.
I hope there isn’t a season 2 of this show, just because I can’t imagine it would capture the heart of the original without feeling forced.