Mike Myers (l) as Ken Scarborough, Richard McCabe as Exalted...

 Mike Myers (l) as Ken Scarborough, Richard McCabe as Exalted Pikeman Higgins in "The Pentaverate." Credit: NETFLIX/ZOE MIDFORD

SERIES "The Pentaverate"

WHERE Streaming on Netflix

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Mike Myers returns from semiretirement exactly as one might have expected of him in 2022: creating, co-writing and starring in a Netflix series in which he plays eight characters.

It's "The Pentaverate," a loose spinoff from his 1993 movie "So I Married an Axe Murderer." Myers plays Canadian broadcaster Ken Scarborough, seeking to revive his career with a major scoop: Exposing the truth about a powerful secret society based in Manhattan's Hudson Yards that dates back to the 14th century.

The star also plays four of the five leaders of the society, dubbed the Pentaverate: Lord Lordington, its leader; Bruce Baldwin, an erstwhile Australian media mogul; the former Russian oligarch Mishu Ivanov; and, uh, the real rock 'n roll talent manager Oceanside-raised Shep Gordon (Myers made the documentary "Supermensch" about Gordon about a decade ago). 

But wait, there's more. Myers also inhabits the dearly departed Pentaverate member Jason Eccleston and not one but two conspiracy theorists: the talk radio host Rex Smith and the well-meaning but deeply gullible Anthony Lansdowne.

"The Pentaverate" runs for six episodes and co-stars Keegan-Michael Key, Debi Mazar as a character from Massapequa ("I like to call it Matzah-Pizza, because it's half-Italian, half-Jewish," she says, and hilarity ensues), Ken Jeong, Lydia West ("Years and Years" on HBO and BBC One) and more.

MY SAY Myers has made a career out of projects in this vein and even though it's been an awfully long time since he last wrote one (the less said about "The Love Guru," the better), there's surely still a built-in audience for something new from the comic icon, rather than a millionth re-watch of "Austin Powers."

So it's a logical endeavor for Netflix, standing out from the glut of streaming content because it finds Myers returning to his familiar form. There are few others upholding this sort of Mel Brooks/Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker ("Airplane!") comedy tradition these days.

A viewing of the first four episodesreveals little beyond a series of bits, running the gamut from amusing to groan worthy. It's the sort of thing where you either get on this broad slapstick wavelength and run with it, or you don't.

We're not talking about thought-provoking, form-busting comedy here: There's lots of Canadian jokes, mostly focusing on the age-old staples of the Ontario accent ("what are ya talkin' aboot"), a character sporting a sweatshirt that says Canada's been "living the American dream without the violence since 1867" and the like.

The self-reflexive humor ranks a notch or two below Brooks' "Spaceballs"-level cleverness: a cutaway to a Netflix executive here, Jeremy Irons playing himself as the narrator and hectoring us to pay attention and not hit the "Skip Recap" button during the credits there.

"The Pentaverate" makes some overtures toward skewering modern conspiracy theory culture but not in any way that's deeper than an average "Saturday Night Live" skit. Even the costumes and sets seem to have been lifted straight from an "SNL" storage room.

Still, its creator knows what he's doing. If there's any person who could wring the maximum amount of laughs out of playing screwball dress-up, it's Myers.

BOTTOM LINE "The Pentaverate" is simultaneously silly and pointless, and a welcome return to form for its star.

Top Stories