Posts Tagged ‘john ruberry’

By John Ruberry

After a long day at work earlier this month I clicked on the “Surprise Me” feature on Netflix. What popped up was Mike Myers’ new vehicle, The Pentaverate.

“Well,” I said to myself, “this might be pretty good.” 

In fact, The Pentaverate doesn’t even measure up to “pretty bad.” The six episode limited series is one of the worst shows I’ve suffered through. Oh, somehow I managed to view a couple episodes of The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer. I know about awful.

Warning: There are numerous spoilers and some rather disgusting things that I will mention in my review of this Netflix series.

The origin of The Pentaverate dates back to a throwaway line from Myers’ second film, So I Married an Axe Murderer, where the father of Myers’ lead character, also played by Myers, claims that a secret society, the Pentaverate, a five-man cabal, which at one time included Colonel Sanders as a member, rules the world. In this series narrator Jeremy Irons tells us, the original members of the Pentaverate discovered in 1347, contrary to the belief of the Catholic Church, it was fleas that spread the bubonic plague. 

As the first episode begins, the newest member of the group of five, Dr. Hobart Clark (Keegan-Michael Key), a scientist, is accepted into the Pentaverate after he is kidnapped. Apparently, he is the first non-white fellow of the all-male group, replacing a member who mysteriously died. The other members are played by Myers. Lord Lordington, an elderly Englishman, Bruce Baldwin, an Australian media mogul, who of course is based on Rupert Murdoch, Shep Gordon, a manager of various rock acts, a real person who is the subject of a documentary directed by Myers, and Mishu Ivanov, a Russian oligarch and Vladimir Putin crony.

Warning! Not-safe-for-work language in the trailer.

But Myers isn’t done with his roles. The lead character of The Pentaverate is Ken Scarborough, a television reporter who wears plaid sportscoats; he is a quirky throwback from the 1970s who does man-on-the-street interviews of other oddballs, while overshadowing them. Scarborough works for, wait for it, Toronto-based CACA news. Yep, caca. 

The other four Pentaverate members manufacture a story that Dr. Clark, who was invited into the secret society because they believe he can reverse climate change, is dead. Clark’s phony passing occurs while attempting to mimic an internet video fad–kissing your own anus. Clark’s room at Pentaverate headquarters is guarded by a sasquatch, who immediately defecates outside the scientist’s door. 

In addition to a Shrek cameo, Myers plays two other characters, internet personality Rex Smith, a stand-in for Alex Jones, and Anthony Lansdowne, a conspiracy theorist from New Hampshire. 

Besides being an assault on good taste, The Pentaverate is an attack on right-wingers, with the implied message that all conservatives are conspiracy whackos like Lansdowne. He is a believer, or has been a believer, in QAnon, Pizzagate, and the Illuminati. His last words as he falls to his death is, “But what about her emails?” 

Lansdowne, in his bumper-sticker laden van, which not surprisingly has a malfunctioning portable toilet, drives Scarborough and his pre-woke Doctor Who-like young female companion, Reilly Clayton (Lydia West) to New York City, which looks nothing like today’s NYC, but more like your standard Doctor Who “future metropolis.” Scarborough, recently fired by CACA, is convinced by Clayton and Lansdowne to infiltrate Pentaverate headquarters, and he does so after a painful penis tug initiation. 

Clark, following an intimate evening with the Pentaverate’s executive assistant Patty Davis (Debi Mazar) in the Moon Room studio–did the Pentaverate fake the moon landings?–suddenly dies, this time for real. He is promptly replaced by casino billionaire Skip Cho (Ken Jeong). Oh, I have never thought Jeong was funny. Jeong recently showed his true political colors after childishly storming off the set of The Masked Singer after Rudy Giuliani was revealed as a contestant.

Myers seemingly hasn’t emotionally moved on from being an 11-year-old. Flatulence jokes are among the things that ruined his cinema take on Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat, a children’s film, by the way. Scatological so-called humor also undermined another Myers movie bomb, The Love Guru

Outside of Myers’ fading fame, why did Netflix greenlight this debacle? Could it be that woke Netflix executives fell in love with The Pentaverate’s snide attacks on conservatives, who they probably believe are personified by Smith and Lansdowne? I have liberal friends. Really, I do. And many of them insist that I take marching orders from Alex Jones.

Here’s a tip for Netflix and Myers: the first rule of comedy is that comedies need to be funny.

Netflix lost 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2022. Its stock value plummeted 35-percent last month. Yes, when you go woke you go broke. And I can’t think of a single Netflix dramatic series that is aimed at conservatives. Longmire was the closest show I can think of, but production of it ended in 2017, and Longmire was originally an A&E offering. And as I wrote in last week’s review of Ozark, that otherwise quite enjoyable show contorted itself to find ways to attack Republicans.

Over 70 million Americans voted for Donald Trump in 2020. That’s a lot of viewers, Netflix. We don’t live in vans with clogged toilets. We own televisions. 

Cloying use of easter eggs, that is, references to other works that do nothing to advance the story or add laughs–assuming of course there is even one laugh in The Pentaverate–is also another problem here. Winks to other Myers’ works, along with yet another tired replay of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, as well as Game of Thrones, are simply annoying. Rob Lowe, a veteran of several Myers movies, makes an unnecessary appearance.

Myers’ acting, outside of his sympathetic portrayal of Scarborough, is subpar. In his review of The Cat in the Hat, Roger Ebert noticed that at times Myers sounded a bit like his Linda Richman “Coffee Talk” character from SNL. The use of convincing accents is supposed to be one of Myers’ strengths, but his Lansdowne character’s accent, rather than sounding like what you’ll hear from a rustic New Englander, varies from a Canadian to a New Yorker style of speech–that is, when Lansdowne isn’t coming across like Wayne Campbell from Wayne’s World.

Oh, when there is a crack within the five members of the Pentaverate, who do you think is behind it? Why of course! It’s the casino billionaire and the Murdoch stand-in. 

I hated The Pentaverate. Hated, hated, hated. If you have any sense of taste or decency, you will hate it too. 

You have been warned. 

Oh, if you think I am just a grumpy old man with a minority opinion on this actual sh*t show, as of May 15, the average critic score on Rotten Tomatoes is just 20 percent. Only once in the last week have I noticed The Pentaverate ranking as a top-ten most viewed program on Netflix. And based on the CGI and the A-List (to some people) cast, I imagine Netflix wasted a lot of money on this fiasco.

The Pentaverate is rated TV-MA for full frontal (possibly with use of prosthetics) nudity, animals engaged in sex, violence, suicide, adult situations, foul language, and scatological references. Well, at least no one smokes in it. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

Five years after the fictional story of the Naperville, Illinois crime family, the Byrdes, began streaming on Netflix, Ozark has come to an end. 

Late last month the final seven episodes, comprising of Season 4 Part 2, were released. 

If you haven’t heard of the Byrdes, the family is headed by Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman), a financial planner whose firm makes the fatal mistake of laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel run by Omar Navarro (Felix Solis). Marty is married to Wendy (Laura Linney), a former Democratic Party operative, although the word “Democrat” hasn’t been mentioned for the past two seasons. Their children, Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz), and Jonah (Skylar Gaertner), are reluctant partners in the family business, which is based in the Lake of the Ozarks region of Missouri. A riverboat casino is the centerpiece of their laundering operation.

Leaving an organized crime network is much harder than joining one. But that’s what the Byrdes continue to strive for, looking back at the Chicago area as a safe haven. For real. Clearly, the Byrdes haven’t been keeping an eye on the dramatic rise of violent crime here. 

The Byrdes have formed a shaky alliance with a member of a local small-time crime family, Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner). A two-time Prime Time Emmy winner for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for that role, Garner is simply fabulous. Marty and Wendy can’t protect and grow their operation, let alone leave it, without assistance from other villains, convenient and tired ones, including a former Republican US senator from Illinois, Randall Schafer (Bruce Davison), and the CEO of a Chicago-based pharmaceutical corporation, Clare Shaw (Katrina Lenk). Yawn. Republicans bad, pharmaceutical firms, also bad. The money laundering Brydes? Not so much, at least according to the scriptwriters. Wendy, to protect their rackets, finds herself a reluctant participant in a Midwestern vote-suppression scheme that Schafer is behind. 

In real life, between the release of Part 1 and Part 2 of Season 4 of Ozark, the decades-long Democratic boss of Illinois, Michael Madigan, was indicted. But never forget, in television land, the GOP is evil.

Oh, what was that about Netflix losing subscribers?

A character introduced in Season 4, a disgraced former Chicago Police detective with good intentions, Mel Sattem (Adam Rothenberg), confronts the Byrdes over their hubris gained from their power and money, equating them with the Kennedy family and the conservative Koch family from Wichita. Slow down there. There is no Koch-equivalent to the Kennedys using their influence to allow Ted Kennedy to walk away with only a hand slap after arguably murdering Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick

Okay, I’ve hit the things that I didn’t enjoy with Ozark. Back to the good stuff–and there is plenty of it. 

The Navarro family has its own struggles. Omar’s nephew, Javi Elizondro (Alfonso Herrera), has plans that don’t coincide with those of his uncle. One of the many appeals of Ozark is the shifting of alliances–and the betrayals that accompany them. And of course, so are the performances–led of course by Garner–of the major characters and minor ones. One of the minor characters, Rachel Garrison (Jordana Spiro), makes a surprise return.

The cinematography of Ozark is at a feature-movie level. 

While of course set in Missouri, Ozark except for some Chicago scenes in Season 1, is filmed in the Atlanta area. In Part 1 of Season 4 I noticed a light rail train in what was supposed to be downtown Chicago. What were called streetcars way back when haven’t been running in Chicago for decades. In Part 2 of the final season, I spotted what appears to be a cabbage palm tree in front of Ruth Langmore’s Lazy-O Motel. That tree cannot survive a Midwestern winter.

And what about Wendy and Marty Byrde? As I remarked in a previous review, they are the television version of Tom and Daisy Buchanan, who in The Great Gatsby “smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness.”

All four seasons are available for streaming on Netflix. The series is rated TV-MA for graphic violence, drug use, nudity, and obscene language.

Earlier post:

Review: Ozark Season 4 Part 1.

John Ruberry regularly blogs from the Chicago area at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

While calling public figures “Orwellian” goes back decades, usually it’s an exaggeration. 

Not so with the new Misinformation and Disinformation Governance Board, whose existence was revealed by the soulless hack Alejandro Mayorkas, Joe Biden’s secretary of Homeland Security. The board’s executive director is Nina Jankowicz, a misinformationist. 

Among other things, Jankowicz in 2020 called into question the veracity of the Hunter Biden laptop revelations.

George Orwell’s “Ministry of Truth” in 1984 of course propagandized lies. 

The Democrats’ Orwellian attacks on their opponents began during Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, when he created groups such as “The Truth Squad.” 

This morning on Twitter, former Democratic member of Congress and 2020 presidential candidate, Tulsi Gabbard, pointed her finger at the instigator on the Dems’ obsession with “disinformation,” Joe Biden’s former ticket-mate.

“Biden is just a front man,” Gabbard Tweeted. “Obama, April 21: social media censors ‘don’t go far enough,’ so the government needs to step in to do the job. Six days later, Homeland Security rolls out the ‘Ministry of Truth’ (aka Disinformation Governance Board).”

Obama’s “Truth Squad” made its first appearance in during the 2008 Democratic primaries. It was ramped up for the general election. A KMOV-TV St. Louis anchor reported that fall, “Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is asking Missouri law enforcement to target anyone who lies or runs a misleading TV ad during the presidential campaign.”

“Prosecutors and sheriffs from across Missouri are joining ‘The Barack Obama Truth Squad,'” reporter John Mills added, he then named Jennifer Joyce, St. Louis circuit attorney, and Bob McCulloch, the prosecutor for St. Louis County, as members.

Mills continued, “They will be reminding voters that Barack Obama is a Christian who wants to cut taxes for anyone making less than $250,000 a year.” 

What about those prosecutors?

“If they’re not going to tell the truth,” McCulloch told KMOV, “somebody’s got to step up and say, ‘That’s not true. This is the truth.'”

Jim Geraghty of National Review summed up the Missouri threat concisely at the time, “While the report never quite comes out and says that anyone running an ad saying those things would be subject to prosecution, that certainly is the message implied.” 

Truth, like knowledge, is nearly never a settled construct, especially in the political arena. 

Leftists, like Barack Obama, undoubtedly disagree with me. Rather, under the cloak of “truth,” they now label criticism of their policies, as well as reports that harm their side, such as the revelations from the Hunter Biden laptop, as “misinformation” and “disinformation.” The Obama quote referenced earlier comes from a Stanford University conference about “misinformation” held in April. Earlier that month, longtime top Obama campaign aide, David Axelrod, was a co-host of the “Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy” conference at the University of Chicago.

Obama, ironically, was the recipient of PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year” award in 2013. That’s the truth.

Informers are an integral part of any un-free society. In 2009, an Obama administration media flack, Macon Phillips, under the guise of–wait for it–fighting “disinformation,” asked Americans to rat out any who disparaged ObamaCare. “If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy,” he said, “send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.”

In 2012, the Obama-Biden campaign launched “the Truth Team.”

Never forget, the Democrats war on what they call “disinformation” began with Obama.

John Ruberry, and this is certainly the truth, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Blogger in Marathon, Texas.

By John Ruberry

“There’s no law west of Dodge and no God west of the Pecos.”
James Pepper (Ben Johnson) in Chisum.

“The devil in hell, we’re told was chained
A thousand years he there remained
He neither complain nor did he groan
But was determined to start a hell of his own

Where he could torment the souls of men
Without being chained in a prison pen
So he asked the Lord if he had on hand
Anything left when he made this land

The Lord said yes, there’s a plenty on hand
But I left it down by the Rio Grande
The fact is ol’ boy, the stuff is so poor I don’t think you could use it as the hell anymore

But the devil went down to look at the truck
For after lookin’ that over carefully and well
He said this place is too dry for hell
But in order to get it off his hands

The Lord promised the devil to water the land
So trade was closed and deed was given
And the Lord went back to his home in heaven.”
Johnny Cash, Mean As Hell.

Earlier this month Mrs. Marathon Pundit and I spent ten days in Texas, mostly West Texas. And yes, there is law there and there is a God west of the Pecos too.

I covered my economic and political observations of our Texas trip, including what I noticed in the boom towns on the Permian Basin, Midland and Odessa, in a post at Da Tech Guy that is available here. 

Our first stop on note was on the oil producing basin, Monahans Sandhills State Park, where we found the type of dunes you’ll encounter on the Sahara. 

Our first West Texas overnight stop was west of the Pecos, in Fort Stockton, home of what was once the World’s Largest Roadrunner, Paisano Pete.

Then of course we had to visit Marathon, after all, I am the Marathon Pundit. Parts of a sadly overlooked movie, Paris, Texas, were filmed there.

Then it was on to Terlingua, a former mercury mining settlement, turned ghost town, which is now the closest thing to a tourist gateway town to our main destination, Big Bend National Park, where you will discover desert, mountains, and lots of thorns, Cash discusses “thorns” later in his spoken word Mean As Hell piece that I excerpted above.

Big Bend was our main destination for this trip, a gorgeous but little-visited national park because of its isolation. Perched on the border with Mexico on the Rio Grande, it is a seven-hour drive from Dallas and a five-hour drive from San Antonio.

To the west of the national park is Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas’ largest state park, where we kayaked and spent our last day in the Big Bend region. It’s a beautiful park too and well worth at least a day of your time.

The biggest dud of the trip was our attempt to witness the Marfa Lights. Well, we were in Marfa, where much of the George Stevens’ classic Giant was filmed, and the lights, which some people compare to the will o’ the wisp, were not to be found, as is usually the situation every night, despite a viewing stand. Marfa is a leftist outpost where we encountered a human thorn. When picking up a pizza, Mrs. Marathon Pundit was scolded by a cashier in because she was not wearing a mask. In Texas! But my wife held her sandy ground. 

On Easter Sunday it was on to pentagon-shaped Jeff Davis County; yes, it’s named for Jefferson Davis, the president of the confederacy, where we toured historic Fort Davis, a frontier fort that seems to be a time capsule from a John Ford western movie. And we drove on the Davis Mountains Scenic Loop, among the sites of worth there is the McDonald Observatory.

On our way back to Dallas-Fort Worth, we met a Facebook friend in Sweetwater. 

The next day we were back in the Chicago area, the home of grifters, high taxes, and high crime. 

And many human thorns.

Related post:

Texas is success and Illinois is failure.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.