It's hard to condemn Canadian funny man Mike Myers for his latest act of long-form puerility because his new show is "dedicated to local journalists everywhere".
Not only are local journalists - those perennially unsung and unfashionable ambulance-chasing, council-bothering, parish-pumping content creators - still very much extant and still very much working their guts out to keep their communities informed and entertained seven days a week, 365 days a year, without them our streaming platforms would be scratching for quality and quantity.
From The Wire to The Jinx to The Staircase - local journalists (particularly court reporters, a weird, antisocial subgroup even less-appealing than the average scribbler) are the ones who put in all the legwork and parse all the red herrings to serve up precisely those kind of freaky, truth-is-stranger-than-fiction ripping yarns which attract big-time TV producers to town before they swoop in to take the glory and the Emmys after the fact.
If - and it's a big "if" - you can hang around until after the credits roll on the very last episode of The Pentaverate, Myers' mostly woeful but dad-joke-funny comedy series now streaming on Netflix, you'll come across his dedication to the Fourth Estate, as well as a touching piece of footage of Myers in his younger days sharing a hug with veteran Canadian reporter Glenn Cochrane.
Cochrane, who died a decade ago, aged 84, was an institution. A newspaperman who turned to broadcasting, he worked at Toronto's CFTO for 25 years and developed something of a trademark by reporting intermittently with bikini-clad women in the background. The anachronistic anchor clearly inspired Myers' Pentaverate protagonist Ken Scarborough (Myers, incidentally, grew up in Toronto's Scarborough neighbourhood, which now has a street named after the man who brought us Austin Powers).
Scarborough, old, irrelevant and headed for the scrapheap, needs a big scoop to stay on the air and he just may find it at the Canadian Conspiracy Convention (CANCONCON), a crucible of crazies where he gets a tip about the Pentaverate, a benevolent secret society of five men which has been running the world since the Dark Ages.
And off we go ...
It's actually a bit of a pity we have to leave Canada at all (crossing the border to the States proves one of the series' better gags) because Myers loves to poke fun at his kind and gentle countryfolk, their favourite game show is called Close Enough, "where to win you only have to be close enough".
It's in the Lower 48 Myers is let loose and The Pentaverate morphs into a virtually plotless meta miasma of genital jokes, celebrity cameos and facial prosthetics.
Myers is all but Sellersian as he dons kilos of silicon to play multiple roles, including a number of Pentaverate members, the two best being a former Australian media mogul called Bruce Baldwin and real-life talent agent Shep Gordon, the subject of a real-life 2013 documentary produced and directed by Myers.
Packed with fourth-wall-breaking asides, self-serving pop culture references (Shrek ... gawd ...) and post-Trump America realities, Myers' brand of comedy can't be written off as unsophisticated but it does make you wonder about its shelf life.
Like Peter Sellers, a genius, yes, but these days ripe for retrospective cancellation (Exhibit A: The Party), Myers must be only a few smutty jokes away from oblivion. In fact, you get the feeling his return to comedy 14 years after his last serious attempt at the genre is more Trojan Horse assault on the status quo than any real belief his brand can flourish in a market which has moved a long way since he hid Elizabeth Hurley's chest behind a pair of milk jugs. Surely Myers, whose British parents insisted their kids grew up appreciating comedy from the home country, is having the last laugh and does indeed know time's up on the old ways. He may as well go out with a bang (and a pee-pee joke) rather than a whimper.
Luckily for him, he's found a willing partner in a streaming platform on the semi-decline, a forum where a hackneyed idea with barely sufficient comedy to fill a 90-minute movie can be extrapolated across six 20-plus-minute episodes.
Way back in 1995, The Simpsons only needed 24 minutes to pull off a far superior parody of the whole secret society thing. That memorable episode, Homer the Great, featuring the Stonecutters, even had time for a song.
Yet, despite the fact his new series would also be more at home in 1995 than 2022, there's still something about Myers which makes us want him to succeed, probably because we're still withdrawing plenty of joy from the joint account he set up with Wayne and Austin.
If we're honest, the world is a better place with Mike Myers in it.
Just like local journalists. Even court reporters.
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