Review: Doom Patrol
By Philip Schweier
March 9, 2021 - 09:57
Having recently subscribed to HBO, my wife and I binge watched a couple of DC-based shows, starting with Doom Patrol, as it was the franchise we were less familiar with. It is the story of a handful of misfits, brought together by Dr. Niles Cauler, a paraplegic scientist. They all live together in his mansion, where he helps them adapt to the world around them. Though it may sound derivative of the more successful X-Men franchise, it actually pre-dates Marvel’s merry band of mutants.
Doom Patrol is populated by handful of familiar faces: the always stellar Timothy Dalton plays Caulder, and Alan Tudyk offers a charmingly hammy performance as the first season villain, Mr. Nobody. Phil Morris has a recurring role as Dr. Silas Stone, the often-manipulative father of Cyborg.
Also joining the cast is Brendan Fraser as Cliff Steele, and Matt Bomer as Larry Trainor. Cliff “died” in a car accident, but Caulder saved him by placing his brain in a robot body. Similarly, Larry is a former test pilot who was horribly scarred and irradiated in a flight test gone wrong. Since his accident, he is forced to keep his body under wraps – literally.
Fraser and Bomer are featured in flashbacks set prior to the accidents, and provide the voices for their characters present day, but other actors – Riley Shanahan and Matthew Zuk – perform behind the robotic suit and bandages.
Rounding out the team are Rita Farr (April Bowly), a former movie star whose body has become a malleable mass; Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), a schizophrenic with 56 different personalities, each with their own super-power; and Victor Stone aka Cyborg, played by Jovian Wade.
Other than Cyborg, none of the characters regard themselves as super-heroes. They are simply flawed, tortured souls trying to play the hand they were dealt. But who dealt that hand? I’m not saying. But Cyborg becomes a stabilizing influence for them as their own “non-comformities” are superseded by a variety of surrealistic episodes.
The first season is rather entertaining, a blend of heroic action and self-exploration. It’s peppered with glimpses into their individual pasts that help us understand and relate to the struggles they face now – those thrown at them by Mr. Nobody, and those from their own psychological confusion. Watching the characters struggle with the own sense of identity – and each other’s – is sometimes, tragic, sometimes funny, and sometimes equal measures of both.
Eventually, the misfits begin to coalesce into an actual team, and more importantly, a family. They bicker, they hug, they disagree, they accept.
Their development continues in season 2, as we explore other levels of their individual characters. Cyborg finds romance, Rita cultivates self-control, while Cliff and Larry reunite with their respective children. Especially noteworthy is Crazy Jane’s struggle with her various personas, and the tragic circumstances that created them.
None of these developments come easy for anyone involved, but like the family they are, they make it work.
We are also introduced to a new addition to the cast, Caulder’s 11-year-old daughter Dorothy (Abi Monterey). Like the others, she possesses powers that she unable to control, due to her age. But she quickly becomes a rather tiresome foil, as she is unable to harness her abilities, gets upset, and then loses control altogether.
Due to the global pandemic, Season 2 was cut short, and Dorothy’s arc, and the overall storyline – are never resolved. Instead, it ended on a cliff-hanger. According to ScreenRant.com, production on season 3 began in January 2021.
Last Updated: June 23, 2021 - 00:45
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