STREAMING SATURDAY: The Pentaverate (Review)

Friends, you knew I would have something to say about this one. In a post from last month, I told you how I was looking forward to The Pentaverate, which expands on a bit from the seminal Mike Myers flick So I Married an Axe Murderer. Is it any good? Let’s dig in.

Spoilers ahead

Look, I’m going to try not to get into too much detail but there’s a happy ending here, and this isn’t the sort of thing where you’re really going to be hurt by knowing it. The plot of this show isn’t really the point, and I probably won’t divulge anything but fair warning in advance that I might. OK? Cool, let’s go.

The basic conceit here is simple. There’s a secret society called the Pentaverate, kind of like the Illuminati, but they actually do good things. A Canadian reporter (Mike Myers), fired for being out of touch, tries to find out more about them. He brings along his line producer, played by Lydia West.

Not surprisingly, he finds the Pentaverate with the help of a conspiracy nut, (Mike Myers.) The members of the Pentaverate, pretty much all played by Mike Myers, are broad stereotypes meant to make you think of Shaun White, Rupert Murdock, music producer Bruce Dickinson, Rasputin, and a sort of generic rich Englishperson. along for the ride at several points are Keegan Michael Key, Ken Jeong, Jennifer Saunders, and Debi Mazar.

As the plot unfolds, we’re treated to three basic things. First, as you would naturally expect, is a general lampooning of conspiracy theorists and the conspiracies they espouse. Second, also not unexpected, is a lot of Mike Myers in a lot of makeup. Third, far more unexpected, are comedic turns by Maria Menounos, Rob Lowe, and Jeremy Irons all playing themselves. Let’s stop for a second and talk about that before going further.

“I’m Maria Menounos.”

E! Online

The celebrities who play themselves seem to have a genuinely good time doing it. While Rob Lowe is sparsely utilized, Maria Menounos is pitch perfect as the announcer within the show, while Jeremy Irons narrates the titles with perfect indignation. It’s a stretch to say it’s worth watching just for these parts, but certainly they are among the best.

I should also tip the hat to the makeup people who really do a serviceable job of making Mike Myers look like about 8 different people. Yes, he still looks like Mike Myers. His voice acting sells a lot of it, but the makeup really is top-notch even up close.

I’m less inclined to congratulate Keegan-Michael Key, Ken Jeong, or Jennifer Saunders who really just play slight tweaks to characters they’ve done before. Even the voice of the computer, played with gusto by relative unknown Gregory Hoyt, is just his “Your Cousin From Boston” character from the Sam Adams commercials.

But is it any good?

I should tell you that there is practically nothing new or unique about this show. The plot is highly derivative of shows like The Prisoner and Lost. I don’t really feel like Mike Myers stretched a lot to create these characters, although he does them well. Props to Debi Mazar for doing a lot with a thin role, but it’s a thin role. Practically every gag or twist is telegraphed ahead of time. And the happy ending was so easy to see coming that it was just a matter of waiting for it. Don’t even get me started on the running (or dropping) gag about the Sasquatch.

None of that, however, is the point.

This was a pleasant romp filled with fairly light social satire, excellently proffered by Mike Myers in an extremely Generation-X-friendly manner. There’s a heaping helping of snark and sass, and even some fair-game digs at Netflix itself. I enjoyed it for the most part. This was a show that knew how silly it was being. Much like Airplane, Top Secret, and similar satire movies, it winks at the audience, fully aware of the relative skinniness of the jokes. There’s crudeness all over the place, and at some point you just stop caring because if you’re along for the ride, you begin to expect it.

My only complaint is…

The Pentaverate feels like it was a pitch for a 90-minute movie. At some point, someone believed that it could be padded out to six 30-minute episodes. That someone… was essentially wrong. In order to make this long enough, pretty much every gag is repeated twice. What ought to be a tightly-planned jokefest begins to feel rather tedious by the end. Even the delightful turns by Jeremy Irons get repetitive, although somehow Maria Menounos never does. Perhaps her gags feel judiciously used because they are such a small part of the show.

Stream it or skip it?

If you’re the sort of person who thinks that a little Mike Myers goes a long way, skip this one. The level of Myers-ness approaches overload pretty quickly. But if you’re a late boomer or GenXer who enjoys wry, winking humor, see it. Yes it’s too long. Yes it’s very predictable. But, it’s the kind of thing you can watch while playing with your phone and not miss much. And realistically, it’s the kind of silly fun that we need right now.

The Pentaverate is streaming now on Netflix.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.