FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE NOT SEEN YET PANTHEON, THIS IS A NON-SPOILER NOTICE.
CMA Pantheon is the channel’s first foray into animation, as well as the first prime-time drama series ever created in this medium. It’s a wonderful sign of entertainment direction, that a major cable network known for hits like Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and Mad Men taking such a huge risk on a project like this. Not only is it a mature animated show, it’s designed strictly for adults who like their sci-fi to be intellectually challenging and complex. The biggest question is therefore: will the general public really listen to such a series? Only time can reveal it. But, what I can say… is that I really hope they do. Because Pantheon is an exhilarating show that gets better with each passing episode.
WHAT PANTHEON EVERYTHING ON?
Pantheon has multiple storylines coinciding at once, centering on three main characters. One concerns Maddie, a young girl who has just lost her father and begins to receive messages on her laptop that she begins to suspect are from him. The second is a hacker named Caspian, whose parents are not who they claim to be. And finally, there is Chanda, an Indian technological genius who is kidnapped and exploited for his knowledge. Saying more would be a disservice to you, because Pantheon many twists are best served as a surprise.
HOW IS THE ANIMATION?
The animation here is done by Titmouse Studios which is responsible for a plethora of shows like Amazon’s The Legend of Vox Machina and The boys: diabolical up to Netflix Big mouth and The Midnight Gospel. Unfortunately, (and I say this being a big fan of the studio) the animation is the least impressive thing about Pantheon…although it’s at least fixable. And it actually seems to get better and more detailed as the four episodes go on. But, what the show lacks in this department, it makes up for in its hugely ambitious storytelling and top-notch voice acting.
DOES THIS SERIES NEED PATIENCE TO REALLY GET INTO IT?
I must admit that I was not completely sold by the first two episodes, which worries me about the success of the series. The showrunners have so many characters and concepts they need to put together, I wasn’t sure exactly where Pantheon was going…or even why it was animated in the first place. It seemed like the story could easily have been told live and no one would have seen the difference. But, once I got into episode three and even more into episode four, everything started to fall into place. And I realized that medium was the only way Pantheon saga could have come to life.
This show definitely requires patience from the viewer, especially in the beginning. With extensive exposition, lots of computer jargon, and its slow reveal of major plot points. So even if you give up after episode one or two…I recommend giving it another shot once a few more episodes are out. By the end of hour four (which is the last episode provided by AMC for review), you’ll have a much deeper understanding of what this show is all about. We begin to dig deeper into questions of morality and what that means to us. The ethics of artificial intelligence and when it went too far. And the power of ungovernable tech companies and their growing grip on society. Once these themes started to kick in, I was hooked. And I have a good feeling you will be too.
HOW DOES THE VOICE WORK?
I also couldn’t have been more impressed with the voice acting. Pantheon is stacked anew with a diverse cast of A-listers… Including the late performance of the late, great William Hurt. These actors give such depth to all these fascinating characters, with Paul Dano, Katie Chang, and Rosemarie DeWitt being the real stand-outs for me. I don’t know how AMC was able to pull together such an incredible cast… But I can definitely see all of these talents just wanting to be part of such a groundbreaking project, like this.
ONE OF THE MOST EXCITING NEW SHOWS OF THE YEAR…?
So far this year, few new original shows have excited me so much, just because of sheer potential. The only other that comes to mind is Apple TV+ Breakup. Although Pantheon still finds its place and admittedly everything could fall apart in its last half…there is so much here that I am itching for more. It’s a series that pushes the boundaries of what television is capable of. And how such cerebral and empowering stories can be told.
Pantheon will air its first 2 episodes on AMC+ on September 1, 2022.
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