‘Doom Patrol’ Season 1 TV Review – An Off The Wall Show That Defies Description
The DC Universe streaming service’s original TV series Doom Patrol is a completely insane and bonkers show. And that’s one of the best things I can say about it.
Based on another DC Comics property, Doom Patrol is about a ragtag group of anti-heroes who need to band together to save the universe. The threat? Oh, just an almost-omniscient being with a twisted sense of humor and an inferiority complex.
After the hugely successful Titans, (My Review here) Doom Patrol builds on the existing DC universe depicted in that show. The characters actually appeared in an episode of Titans, as the foster family for Beast Boy (Ryan Potter). Some of the origins changed for the series from that episode. But the characters remained. And boy! What a group of weird eclectic characters they are.
The story is about a scientist, Niles, (Timothy Dalton) affectionately nicknamed the Chief. He has made it a habit to care for people with amazing powers, ailments or ones who are just messed up. The unconventional home, dubbed Doom Manor, acts as a retirement home for these outcasts that have nowhere to go.
Cliff is Robotman, (Brendan Fraser) a former self-destructive race car driver from the 80s’ whose brain is now in an obsolete robot body. Rita Farr (April Bowlby) is Elasti-Girl, a 50’s actress who loses control of her body’s atoms, turning into a blob after an accident. Larry (Matt Bomer) is Negative Man, a 40’s experimental airplane pilot with an energy spirit trapped within him after an accident in space. Jane (Diane Guerrero) is a schizophrenic with 64 personalities, each with their own radical an amazing superpower. Aspiring Justice League superhero Cyborg, (Jiovan Wade) ends up joining the weird bunch at one point as well. Don’t bother trying to figure out how old these characters are… it’s a losing battle.
The story takes off as the supervillain Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk) kidnaps Niles for unknown reasons. Having to put aside all their baggage, these pathetic losers need to come together to save the chief.
There really is nothing derogatory I could say about Doom Patrol. Considering that any criticism or insult towards them would probably be a point of pride for the group. The show has a premise and story arcs that are unlike anything I’ve seen before. It’s outrageously unpredictable, totally off the wall and insane. But it works. The stories are so self-referential and unique, that it’s surprising.
There is absolutely no chance at cynicism at this anti-superhero story given that the writers impress and stun you at every turn. Not only is the main cast of characters likable, relatable and incredibly charming in their own flawed ways, but the sheer audacity by the writers is stunning. To have the guts to tell a story as outside the box as this is really amazing. And it doesn’t end there.
It takes a special show to bring Brendan Fraser out of retirement in a role where at least 75% is just voice work. But despite that, Robotman is the most fleshed out (no pun intended) character in the entire season. And that’s saying a lot given the rest of the cast. Doom Patrol took the objectively attractive Matt Bomer, and disfigured him and stuck in unrecognizable bandages from head to toe for the majority of the season. And despite that, Bomer strikes such a chord!
Bowlby is impressive and performs with such maturity. Her character is probably the most flawed of them all, and it’s a great arc to see her redeem herself. Guerrero probably has the heaviest lifting of them all, having to play multiple personalities, each tortured in their own way. Wade is impressive as Cyborg, especially considering we already got a Cyborg just a few years ago in Justice League. (My Review here.)
The fantastic characters are perfectly paired with Tudyk’s villain. And while Tudyk isn’t what everyone thinks of when you think about a villain, he is pretty damn special. Tudyk is awe-inspiring as the show’s villain, but also the one who is completely self-aware that he’s in a TV show. Saying anything more than that would be a spoiler.
Doom Patrol is nuts. It’s a show that’s beyond description or synopsis. How I managed to write this review is a wonder. The best attempt at a description would be to say that the show is an art experiment in storytelling set against the traditional superhero genre.