Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-Ray I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.
Doom Patrol is easily the most out there DC property attempted for a TV series. With attacking butts, a farting donkey, a genderqueer traveling street and a hero with 64 personalities, it would be a complete non-starter for a regular network, which made the property a perfect fit for the DC Universe streaming service. As an adaptation of Grant Morrison’s genre-rattling run on the comic book series, Doom Patrol is one of DC’s strongest live-action success stories.
The series frequently steers weird and embraces pushing the boundaries of logic, good taste (a character eats beard hair!) and hand-held narratives.
This isn’t for everyone. By its nature, Doom Patrol is going to be a divisive show and borderline unwatchable for folks who just want a superhero team series more sophisticated than the formulaic Arrowverse. Titans Season 2 has got you covered on that front, but for those willing to take a ride on the odd side, Doom Patrol is a fantastically bizarre journey that makes for a memorable and not easily forgettable viewing experience.
Doom Patrol debuted in the first season of Titans. That was a low key test pilot episode and showcased the characters well even though the characters are changed dramatically from their cameo appearance. Race car Cliff (Riley Shanahan and voiced by Brendan Fraser, who also plays the on-screen role in flashbacks) is now just a brain in a robot body.
Actress Rita Farr (April Bowlby) has to maintain peak concentration to avoid turning into a blob. Test pilot Larry Trainor (Matthew Zuk and voiced by Matt Bomer, who plays the role in flashback sequences) shares his body with an electrical being and Jane (Diane Guerrero) fights for control with her 64 personalities.
Keeping the team together is Dr. Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton, The Living Daylights), but when The Chief goes missing it’s up to Cyborg (Joivan Wade) to keep the team together. Along the way, the team encounters a giant crocodile, a Nazi puppet theater, a flexing muscle man and the dark recesses of Jane’s mind, The Underground. And has therapy. A lot of group therapy.
They’ll need it to deal with Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk), who thrives on anarchy and chaos. Mr. Nobody also serves as the constantly breaking the fourth wall narrator who gets some of the best lines.
Doom Patrol lives in the weird space and the writing team leans heavy on the absurdity to keep things unpredictable. But the strength of the series is the character development. Cyborg has some serious trust issues with his controlling father Silas (Phil Morris).
Cliff struggles with being a metal man and losing his family. Rita is haunted by memories of her shallow and callous attitude when she was a starlet. Bowlby is consistently amazing as she gives Rita a polished starlet attitude, but when the facade drops it makes for some of the best character moments in the series.
Maybe the strongest storyline is Larry’s arc as a closeted gay man struggling with his secret affair with John Bowers (Kyle Clements), the man he loves and his sense of obligation to his frustrated wife. It doesn’t do the performances justice to say it’s a really strong gay love story as the Larry/John relationship is better than 95 percent of comic book TV pairings. Basically it doesn’t approach Larry and John like a novelty, but as a complicated and tragic glimpse of what could have been.
At times Jane’s abrasive personalities can be a bit much since she’s angry 85% of the time. That does make for welcome moments when her nicer personalities emerge. Guerrero does a fantastic job of distinguishing these personalities even when she doesn’t have the benefit of a blonde wig and eyebrows like her demented 90s rom-com persona Karen.
The visual effects team does outstanding work on every episode. I don’t often want the peek behind the curtain on movie/TV show magic, but it would have been fascinating to have them talk about the challenges of bringing the comic’s over the top visuals to the small screen.
Doom Patrol is unlike anything DC has ever attempted on the live action front and the payoff is one of its best adaptations with humor, heart and a lot of oddball antics.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
With a full 1080p full HD video and DTS-HD master audio for English 5.1, the video quality is impressive even if it’s not reference quality.
Following the mysterious disappearance of their leader, Dr. Niles Caulder AKA The Chief, these reluctant heroes will find themselves in a place they never expected to be, called to action by none other than Cyborg, who comes to them with a mission hard to refuse. Part support group, part Super Hero team, the Doom Patrol is a band of superpowered freaks who fight for a world that wants nothing to do with them.
Doom Patrol stars Diane Guerrero (“Orange is the New Black”), April Bowlby (“Two and a Half Men”), Joivan Wade (“Doctor Who”) and Alan Tudyk (Serenity) with Matt Bomer (Magic Mike) and Brendan Fraser (The Mummy), and a special appearance by Timothy Dalton (License to Kill). Doom Patrol is the second original live-action series from the DC UNIVERSE digital subscription service.
BLU-RAY & DVD FEATURES
- Gag Reel
- Deleted Scenes
These are the standard extras, but hopefully for Season 2 the features team could sit Morrison down for an extended interview just to have him go on in depth about his creative process on redefining the characters for a new generation. Barring that, a round table of DC talking heads experts reflecting on Doom Patrol’s impact would be nice as well.
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15 ONE-HOUR EPISODES
- Donkey Patrol
- Puppet Patrol
- Cult Patrol
- Paw Patrol
- Doom Patrol Patrol
- Therapy Patrol
- Danny Patrol
- Jane Patrol
- Hair Patrol
- Frances Patrol
- Cyborg Patrol
- Flex Patrol
- Penultimate Patrol
- Ezekiel Patrol