Netflix’s new show is hated by critics – but I ignored them and have no regrets
I think it’s fair to say that Netflix’s new TV show, The Pentaverate, hasn’t been well received by critics.
The show, which is created by and stars Mike Myers of Austin Powers and Shrek fame, currently has a flop-tastic score of 28%. (opens in a new tab) on rotten tomatoes.
The reviews have been fierce. Pajiba’s James Field, for example, says “it seems like Myers hasn’t learned anything in the past 14 years, and the Pentaverate is a failure like he’s never been.”
While critic Alex Hudson of Exclaim! said the show was “little more than a cheap excuse for Myers to put on prosthetics and do silly voices”.
Brian Lloyd of entertainment.ie simply stated that “the Pentaverate is unbelievably bad”.
Here’s the thing, though – I’ve watched most of the stuff Mike Myers has starred in since Wayne’s World, which I still quote to this day, so I ignored the reviews and watched The Pentaverate in its entirety to get my own opinion.
Here is my take.
Let’s do this in a good old structure of good and bad. But before we do that, here’s a quick summary of what Pentaverate is.
The Pentaverate, in the fiction of the series, is a secret society that has effectively guided the course of human development for hundreds of years from the shadows, much like the Illuminati. The society is controlled by 5 individuals, hence the title of the show, but the difference here is that unlike other world-controlling secret organizations, The Pentaverate is good and not evil, and their core members are selected by because of their ability to do good and further. human civilization.
It’s a pretty interesting show pitch in my opinion, flipping the usual evil illuminati-style secret society schtick on its head, and it’s made even better by the fact that every episode of the show has a voice-over by the famous thespian Jeremy Irons, who explains the show’s premise in increasingly comedic fashion.
Ok, so premise established, what does The Pentaverate do that’s worth watching?
The Good Truth About Pentaverate
If you’re a Mike Myers fan who gets fitted with a bunch of prosthetics and puts on a series of comedic accents, then you’re well served here, as Myers plays all but one member of the 5 Pentaverate leaders, plus the the show’s comedic Canadian protagonist, Ken Scarborough, who embarks on a mission to uncover the Secret Society. Myers also appears as a few other characters.
The show also has a visual impact, oscillating between medieval fantasy and modern Bond-style secret bases and facilities. You’ve got trippy lighting, decadent sets, and crazy, outrageous costumes, all set against a backdrop of a soundtrack that often leans toward religious, singsong vibes. It all comes together a bit WTF?!, which I think is kind of the base level of this show.
The strongest part of the show, aside from the comedy that lands (a bit on that in a bit), is its muddling up of certain parts of North American society, and in particular the conspiracy theorist movements that have gained so much popularity in parts of the United States over the past few decades. From a conspiracy theory shock jock to a deluded truth seeker, Myers has the money with these characters, and they have some of the best gags and lines on the show.
Indeed, the plot and the nature of truth (and how it can be twisted or presented in different and contradictory ways) underlies the entire show and determining what objective truth is is literally built into it. ‘plot. It feels really topical and relevant right now in an age of fake news, social media and the manipulation of events for profit by special interests. Pointing this out and cracking jokes is where Myers hits a home run in The Pentaverate.
Comedically, there’s a lot of talent in there besides Myers, including Jennifer Saunders, Keegan Michael Key, Richard McCabe, Rob Lowe, and Lydia West, and for me there were always great gags in every episode, although as we will see the type of comedy varies greatly and is in my opinion undoubtedly very random. My typical viewing experience with The Pentaverate has usually swung between being puzzled, getting WTF?!, enjoying sharp satire and self-referential comedy, and then, as we come to now, going “well, that didn’t didn’t quite work”.
But there’s no doubt that it’s retro and random
The things about The Pentaverate that didn’t work for me were the show’s fairly consistent use of typically Myers crude, crude humor. There are most definitely some scatological bits, as well as a bucket load of double meanings and repetitive puns where a character mispronounces a name, which seems crude. If anyone has seen Myers’ older vehicles for this type of comedy, think of a certain fat Scottish character from Austin Powers, then you’re in the right ballpark here.
Indeed, there’s no doubt that these types of cruder comedies really feel rather dated by 2022 standards – I’m not explicitly saying they’re bad, just that I felt they didn’t feel very modern and, at least here in The Pentaverate, they haven’t landed for me most of the time. I would find myself laughing at some pretty clever, razor-sharp satire one minute, then being faced with a scatological gag seconds later, which shocked me. There’s also only so many “ha ha, that name sounds a bit rude” gags I can endure on a 30-minute TV show.
This mix of comedy styles is also wrapped, for good bits of the show, in an overall Carry On movie vibe – which actually culminates in an episode with Myers donning his birthday costume. Yes, you have been warned!
Other things where I think the show misses the mark is in its use of its supporting cast. There’s a lot of talent in The Pentaverate but, perhaps Jennifer Saunders aside, they’re not used as much as I think they should be. Of course, that’s not helped by the sheer amount of characters Myers plays, who can often cycle through entire scenes with Myers talking to Myers talking to Myers.
So I have no regrets…
So yeah, honestly, I don’t regret watching The Pentaverate in full. Was it the best comedy show I’ve ever seen? No, far from it – it was hit and miss and a lot of his best gags got buried under grosser gags that didn’t work for me.
But I tell you one thing, I’m sure the Pentaverate will different to everything you’ve seen lately, so if you’re looking for something new to watch on Netflix, I say give it a try.