Pantheon Review 2022 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew
The discussion about technology and the direction of human-computer interfacing has been headed in one direction for at least the last two decades: “Uploaded Intelligence.” What would happen if technology was available to upload the human mind? That’s the core premise of AMC’s original animated series Pantheon, based on short stories by author Ken Liu. This conceit, as interesting yet familiar as it might seem to fans of Netflix’s Black Mirror or even 2013’s Transcendence, is only fully captured in all its wonder in a handful of moments. Pantheon may fail to attract audiences or to keep them around until it reveals its full potential.
Created, written, and executive produced by Craig Silverstein, Pantheon follows Maddie, her parents, Ellen and David, and Caspian as they deal with the microchip company Logorhythm and the existence of Uploaded Intelligence (UI), which proves to be both a blessing and a curse for the world. In that massive story are little dips into other areas of developing technology, and that’s where the series seems to sometimes get lost.
The first episode begins with a string of intense moments that revolve around Maddie and her high school life as she endures cyberbullying and meets apparent strangers on the internet. It’s a lesson for every parent of a young teenager who might be going through the toughest parts of adolescence and everything that comes with this era of social media, easily accessed information, and ubiquitous technology. In fact, half the episode seems to focus on that aspect of life so heavily that viewers might momentarily forget the exciting premise of this story and what this show is supposed to be about.
The other half of the episode is busy throwing all kinds of emojis and technical terms at some characters and getting all the highly-intelligent characters to retort with an equally complicated collection of technical terms, seemingly expecting the viewer to be impressed. For audiences with programmer friends or family, Pantheon seems like it might be a great show to recommend. For the rest of the audience, however, this first episode will be hit or miss, if not a little alienating for older viewers. Those able to get past it will find that Pantheon does have some great moments in store. It just takes a while to get there.
It doesn’t help that many of those characters have seemingly been copied and pasted from almost every other hacker or business thriller title in recent memory. There’s the blonde popular girl bully, a genius hacker who answers difficult math questions without paying attention, and all kinds of stereotypical corporate figures, topped off with a bald, turtleneck-wearing tech entrepreneur. Over the course of the show, they’re all fleshed out, but viewers will have to soldier on through at least three episodes before any one of them becomes as interesting as they need to be.
Between long shots of characters staring at computer or phone screens, Pantheon occasionally entices viewers with touching emotional moments and dramatic confrontations, including discussions exploring Theseus’ Ship, the possible legal implications of UI, and, of course, security. That all begins toward the end of the second episode and beyond when the series finishes confronting viewers with programming jargon and gets to the heart of its story– one of loss, grief, preservation, and corporate control.
For some, it might seem like an expanded, animated episode of Netflix’s Black Mirror, with more than one huge plot twist up its sleeves. After more than an hour or so of nearly every character doing some mundane, everyday activity or — once again — staring at a computer screen and stating out loud what they’re typing, others might wonder why Pantheon was animated and not filmed in live-action.
Make no mistake, the images on the screen are pleasant enough to look at. Titmouse Inc’s work brings these characters and the computer-focused drama to life with small environmental details and sounds that will likely help audiences immerse themselves in this world. What becomes distracting is that it’s all so based in reality for so much of the series that the animation feels unjustified a lot of the time. There are just a few scenes that could only work in animation since a live-action performance would look goofy.
For viewers who make it through the first three episodes, it becomes evident that AMC’s Pantheon has a lot of potential but that it has a long way to go to realize all of it. The moments that are able to pull on heartstrings may be strong enough to keep audiences pushing through a little more to get to the next one, but that might be too much for some. The show can feel like a chore to move through, and it might be paced too slowly to make that struggle worth it. Ultimately, Pantheon, thus far, is an intense drama with very little payoff per episode.