Doom Patrol is one of my favorite current TV shows despite being spun off from something that shouldn’t exist. Some of the newer DC shows have stunned me with their incompetence and interesting takes on popular characters. Meanwhile, I was shocked by how funny, heartfelt, and creative Doom Patrol is. The show being renewed depends on season 4’s performance, so I hope the numbers are there. Either way, it should be a wild ride! Two episodes came out today, but I haven’t seen the second one yet and will be discussing “Doom Patrol” with that in mind.
“Doom Patrol” picks up with the guys acting as superheroes. Dr. Harrison now controls Jane’s body and studies the team. Vic and his father restore Cliff’s sense of touch to one finger, and he heads to Florida to hold his grandson. Rouge suggests she leaves the Patrol since Rita won’t forgive her. Rather than current-day Florida, the team accidentally travels to 2042 Cloverton. There, they encounter their future selves, all dead except for Vic. After seeing what happens in the future, they flee home, and Kay kills Dr. Harrison.
What a season kickoff! A lot happens in “Doom Patrol,” and I find it funny that they waited this long to title an episode that. It works because the group is just now (somewhat) willing to cooperate and work as a team. Even still, they disrespect Rita and pay her much less heed than they did the Chief. Speaking of whom, God, I miss him! Timothy Dalton is one of my favorite actors, so I may be biased, but Niles was one of my favorite characters on the show. Regardless, a lot of information is conveyed in “Doom Patrol,” and in a very humorous fashion. This is a quintessential episode, a dissection of the very things that make Doom Patrol work so well. My favorite scene is when Kay dusts Dr. Harrison. However, there are a lot of character moments that work very well in “Doom Patrol.”
This show has a perfectly selected cast, especially since most of these actors are not household names. Brendan Fraser has gotten a lot of press in the last couple of years, and rightly so. But how often do you hear people talking about Jovian Wade or April Bowlby? I don’t know them from anything else, but they’re fantastic here. I especially like Bowlby’s transatlantic accent and calculated mannerisms as Rita. Matt Bomer and Brendan Fraser are essentially voice acting, as we rarely see their faces. Both channel emotion into their voices extremely well. The effect is unique to each actor, too. Even in sad situations, Fraser’s delivery for Cliff is humorous, while Bomer’s Larry is always steeped in restraint and depression.
Major developments are relayed to us through Dr. Harrison’s journal narration. Rita has found a unique way around the memory loss caused by time travel. Meanwhile, Vic struggles with his new identity as the Patrol’s IT guy after giving up his cybernetics. Jane hides inside Kay’s subconscious as Dr. Harrison does a questionable job as primary. Although I don’t like Dr. Harrison (and we’re not meant to), I found this mechanism for exposition funny enough to justify the info dump. She also makes some interesting observations, as she should, being a therapist. Although one could question how capable a therapist is who only exists as one of many dormant personalities within Kay, and Jane does later in “Doom Patrol.” The comedy is definitely there in “Doom Patrol,” from a phallus-slinging bad guy to dead Cliff’s explanation of his death. This wacky comedy is a huge part of Doom Patrol and what makes it unique. I particularly liked it when the same villain asked if Madame Rouge was body-shaming him for mimicking him with a smaller… gun. Dr. Harrison’s therapy being his downfall is just the cherry on top.
But “Doom Patrol” brings the heart, too. Dr. Harrison says that Vic and Silas have mended their relationship, but I wasn’t surprised to see some lingering tension. Vic immediately jumps to his own defense, reiterating that his choice to go natural wasn’t a jab at his father. This is pretty relatable; he hears a questioning tone in his father’s voice and instantly takes offense rather than hearing him out. It’s fitting that they work these issues out while working on Cliff’s arm, doing the work they do best. The writers actually made me feel bad for Madame Rouge in “Doom Patrol.” I can’t say she doesn’t get what she deserves; she helped kill most of the Sisterhood of Dada, including Rita’s boyfriend. I’m not sure what one could do that would be worse, and Rita’s dirty looks are hardly just comeuppance. But it’s still uncomfortable watching Rouge desperately try to make amends and fail. She is essentially a different person than when she did that and wants so badly to be accepted into the group. I don’t see how this thread can be satisfyingly concluded because, even though I feel for her, she’s still complicit in what amounts to genocide. It’s not cool, to put it mildly.
It’s interesting how the future Patrol is treated like totally different people from the ones we know. I think many people would agree that your experiences make you who you are, so 20 years in the future, you would be very different. What intrigues me is that the show treats this as granted rather than digging into it. The way Dr. Harrison laughs off the possibility of the past Patrol saving the world from the zombie butts is too relatable; I think most of us know we were dumb six months ago, let alone 20 years. Rita is a far cry from the coward she was in season 1, even though she still grapples with self-loathing and anxiety. She’s also now making Madame Rouge feel the same way, but that whole dynamic is a mess. I can’t wait to see how it plays out.
“Doom Patrol” is a lot of fun. It’s not perfect; I would have liked some time to be spent on the differences between our Patrol and their older, more cynical selves. But I think it’s a decent season premiere.