Let’s start here. I know just about nothing of the comic version of The Doom Patrol. I own the Grant Morrison omnibus which has been on my read list for years, I read the first (incomprehensible to me) issue of the recent Gerard Way reboot and know the name from being a comic reader. I tell you this so there will be no confusion in the fact that my review of the show will be totally without the inevitable comparisons that all adapted materials are subject to their source material. That said, I can honestly say that in the first 5 episodes that I have seen, DP, oh wait I won’t call it that, that can bring about some mental imagery non comics related. Ok, Doom Patrol is easily my favorite show based on a DC property that has come out since the beginning of the Arrowverse in 2012. Yes, DP…ahhhh. Yes, Doom Patrol is not part of that same universe, I know, but I am lumping them all in together, as they (Arrow, The Flash, Legends, Supergirl, Black Lightning and Titans) are all currently on the tube. What makes this my favorite? Easy, characters I like across the board and good writing. Oh did I mention this is one of the weirdest shows going right now? More on that later.
Let’s start with the character part. Not only are they well written with strong backstories, but the actors playing the roles are also quite good. Here’s the lineup.
Cliff Steele- Voiced by Brendan Fraser and played by Riley Shanahan, Cliff is the former pussy hound, party animal race car driver who went through a serious tragedy that resulted in his wife and daughter’s deaths and only his brain surviving. Waking up in a robotic body, he is forced to face the pain he suffers from losing his family in a form that cannot feel pain. Shanahan lumbers around perfectly as a Frankenstein like robot (Yeah, I know Frankenstein’s monster, blah, blah) and the much missed Fraser delivers some of the best deadpanned profanity laced lines I have heard in a long while. Wait, how did he wake up in a robot body?
Niles Caulder- Known as The Chief, Caulder is the character that ties our strange protagonists together, yet through 5 episodes we see the least of him and know the least about him. A chocoholic, Caulder lives in a mansion where he seemingly saves and cares for the bizarrely downtrodden. His motives have not been revealed fully yet, and this is one of the key elements to the overall story arc the show is presenting. Why is he helping these misfits? Dalton, who was a fantastic James Bond that was never really given a chance is great here, and shows real charm and comedic timing as well.
Rita Farr- Played by April Bowlby, Rita is a former film starlet from the early days of Hollywood that took a shitter into some nasty Amazon river water during filming. Whatever was in the water changed the beautiful and vain actress into a runnier version of Silly Putty. When stressed she literally begins to turn into a blob of sorts. Rita is the most reluctant to leave the comfort of her tenure at The Chief’s mansion, but has had some of the most heroic moments of the show when push comes to shove. Bowlby is fantastic and Rita has shown maybe the most growth of any of the characters to this point.
Larry Trainor- Larry, a former test pilot and All-American hero was involved in a terrible accident during a flight. Colliding with a being of pure energy, Larry’s jet crashed covering him in extreme burns. Oh, and remember that energy being? It is living inside his body, like those goddamned mice in my basement (note, call that exterminator again after writing this article) and causing him to give off some severe levels of radiation. The Negative Man as it comes to be known also kind of hates being bonded to Larry, because Larry is living a lie, the kind of lie that isn’t a big deal now, but was not so cool with many folks back in his day of the 1960’s. This lie, and the effect it had on his family and others causes a lot of emotional grief, which effects The Negative Man well uh, negatively. Matt Bomer voices and Matthew Zuk is the physical actor behind the character.
Crazy Jane- Diane Guerrero plays Jane, along with the 64 distinct personalities that inhabit her body. Jane may not even be the main persona, despite being the one that appears most, as we have recently seen Kay, who was insinuated to be the actual primary. Oh, did I mention that each of Jane’s personalities has it’s own superpower? From superstrength, to teleportation, to being able to turn her vocalized words into projectiles, this is the swiss army knife of characters. Jane and Cliff have an interesting relationship, as he connects with her to fill the void of losing his daughter and some of her persoanlities tolerate him while others loathe him. The only main character created years after the original volume of comics had ended in 1968.
Vic Stone- Cyborg is the only actual hero at the start of the show. Operating out of Detroit and hoping to join the JLA, Vic ends up crossing paths with the squad of misfits as he searches for the missing Niles Caulder, an old associate of his fathers. Speaking of dad, Dr. Silas Stone upgraded his son’s mangled body after a lab accident left him all kinds of messed up and his wife even more dead. Joivan Wade is really solid in this, and despite being one of the many characters that exists in multiple DC live action properties, makes Cyborg his own. I really did not dislike Ray Fisher in the much maligned Justice League film, but I prefer the confident leadership that Wade brings to the role. Oh, and at no time in comics history has he ever been a member of The Doom Patrol. My estimate is he is here to get the team working like a…team, and then he will end up on the Titans show.
This first season has seemingly been culled heavily from the Grant Morrison run on the book, and I know this as a non reader for two reasons. Sir Jon, Doom Patrol megafan has so much as told me, and it is batshit crazy weird. You want examples of weird, oh I got you covered.
The portal to another dimension is located inside a donkey. The heroes have to be swallowed by a donkey to phase to the other side. Let’s see Arrow do that.
Some of the villain’s henchmen are made of postage letters that were never mailed and animated by magic.
The series main antagonist, Mr. Nobody (The always awesome Alan Tudyk) is not only the narrator of most episodes, but he repeatedly breaks the fourth wall. Also, the other characters can often hear his narrration.
Four words: Animal Vegetable Mineral Man. Two heads (one human, one dinosaur) a leg made of quartz and what the actual fuck?
There is much more oddity going on too. Despite all the strange, the show is well written and has really exceled in developing these characters. It has quickly become one of my favorite shows this year and I look forward to each new installment. If you have not checked it out yet, drop the $75 on the DC service like I did, you certainly get your money’s worth. Between shows, downloadable comic books and movies, there is tons to entertain you. I even found a Doom Patrol cartoon short series from the early 2010’s that I plan on checking out. The true win here is that between Jon raving about this book and me liking the show so much, I have started reading the original Silver Age stories, and plan to go through to at least the Morrison stuff from the 90’s. So keep on keeping on and I’ll see you back here soon!