If we’ve learned anything about Mike Myers over the years, it’s that he’s a master of heavily made-up, over-the-top characters who speak with spot-on stereotypical accents. From the early days of his career on TV’s SNL when he introduced audiences to New York Jewish TV chat show host Linda Richman and, of course, Aurora, Illinois, cable access show co-host Wayne Campbell, to a slew of iconic movie characters like Austin Powers, Dr. Evil, Fat Bastard and Shrek, Myers has made audiences laugh for more than 30 years.
The Canadian writer-comedian is now back with a six-part Netflix series where he not only gives his talent for doing characters and accents a good workout, he gets help from a few of his old friends. Taken from a joke in Myers’ 1993 film, SO I MARRIED AN AXE MURDERER, THE PENTAVERATE tells the story of washed-up Canadian reporter Ken Scarborough (Myers) who tries to get his old TV news job back by going undercover and infiltrating a centuries-old secret society of five nice men who together solve the world’s most pressing problems. The Pentaverate, as the group is known both internally and by conspiracy lovers like gravelly-voiced radio host Rex Smith (also Myers), is headed up by electric wheelchair-bound British aristocrat Lord Lordington (Myers), and includes Australian media mogul Bruce Baldwin (Myers), Californian rock ‘n roll manager Shep Gordon (Myers), Russian oligarch Mishu Ivanov (Myers) and stoner tech genius Jason Eccleston (Myers). When one of the Pentaverate dies and the Maester of Dubrovnik (Jennifer Saunders, DEATH ON THE NILE; ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE) declares that he was murdered by one of the other four men, the kind-hearted Scarborough decides to solve the mystery and, in the process, save the world. The veteran journalist is helped along the way by his young production assistant Reilly Clayton (Lydia West) and New Hampshirite conspiracy theorist Anthony Lansdowne (Myers yet again).
The cast is rounded out by comedians Keegan-Michael Key (DOLEMITE IS MY NAME) and Ken Jeong (CRAZY RICH ASIANS), who appear as new Pentaverate recruits, the latter thankfully cranking the crazy knob up to 11 just when the story needs it most. AUSTIN POWERS alumnus Rob Lowe appears as a version of himself, AXE MURDERER alumna Debi Mazar appears as the society’s capable admin Patty Davis, and Jeremy Irons voices the episode intros with delightful British pomposity.
Like many things Mike Myers, THE PENTAVERATE unfortunately runs out of steam early on with some of the dialogue being repetitive, and its overreliance on penis gags and other sexual references. One would think that Myers was the editor too, but he wasn’t. If it weren’t for the comedic talents of the supporting cast, the series would be DOA well before the sixth episode. Thankfully, it has just enough laugh out loud moments to keep it interesting right to the very end. Amusingly, Scarborough and his colleagues at CACA-TV in Toronto, a city they all pronounce correctly, I might add, all throw in plenty of Canadianisms from “Sorry” and “eh” to “out” and “about”, which, of course, they pronounce as “oot” and “aboot”. Strangely, there’s no mention of “Timmy’s” though.
THE PENTAVERATE is streaming now on Netflix. It’s uneven but it’s still entertaining. If anything, it showcases how immensely talented Mike Myers truly is. Canadians will certainly find it more enjoyable than anyone else.
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