This review is based off the series premiere.
When it was first announced that Doom Patrol would be the second live action show to debut on the DC Universe streaming service, I was admittedly quite skeptical. After all, the eponymous band of misfits aren’t exactly the most well known of comic book properties.
In a wise move made by the Powers That Be, a backdoor pilot was inserted into Titans‘ first season. As a result, I – and hopefully many other viewers – gained confidence in this endeavor. But if you’re still on the fence, you’d better believe the platform may have very well found its crown jewel. I’m aware that I’m speaking somewhat prematurely because we still have Swamp Thing and Stargirl to anticipate in 2019, but Doom Patrol has genuinely left me that impressed.
Recent memory has seen the media try to liken this show to already existing superhero franchises because, again, the Average Joe doesn’t know Doom Patrol from Paw Patrol. I’ve seen comparisons made to both Guardians of the Galaxy and Suicide Squad, though both are wholly inaccurate, as we haven’t seen anything quite like this.
If I were to draw a parallel to any existing super group, it’d be the X-Men, but these folks aren’t born with mutant genes. Rather, they’re each victims of tragic origins that allow them to find their way into the company of Niles Caulder AKA the Chief, who’s played to perfection by Timothy Dalton. Actually, one could describe him as the Charles Xavier of the piece because he’s the one who has a comparable analog. I’ve long thought Dalton to be an underrated James Bond, so I’m delighted to see him here.
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Rounding out the main cast are April Bowlby as Rita Farr/Elasti-Woman, Brendan Fraser as Clifford Steele/Robotman and Matt Bomer as Larry Trainor/Negative Man. Rest assured that you’ll see their respective beginnings in the premiere, although you won’t meet Joivan Wade’s Cyborg just yet. But I guess that provides added incentive to stick around.
You may have noticed that I left out Crazy Jane because I wanted to take an extra moment to discuss her. For some reason, she’s been likened to Harley Quinn. I can understand why because she’s a wildcard and, well, crazy, but this girl is so different from the Clown Princess of Crime as her noggin is home to 64 different personas – and each have their own superpowers. It’s a treat to see Diane Guerrero flex her acting muscles by running the gamut, so let’s hope we see as many as possible in the coming weeks.
Like I said earlier, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill superhero production. In fact, the opening narration tells us to expect “super zeroes,” a description that kind of fits. Come to think of it, the underlying moral is for us to find what makes each of us unique and embrace it, so there’s that sense of commonality with the rest of the genre.
It didn’t take me long to notice how epic this series is, yet it’s not pretentious. It’s self-aware and humorous, yet it’s packed to the brim with emotion and has much heart. Just be aware that it’s not for kids because there are a generous helping of F-bombs, not to mention a sex scene five minutes in (don’t worry, your complimentary trip to Pound Town will make sense once you see it in context).
By now, I imagine you’re wondering who the big bad is, and I’d have to say it’s Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk). At least, that’s the impression I’m given because he’s at the heart of the first great calamity and serves as our fourth wall breaking narrator. His look is an impressive feat of visual effects done for television and his twisted sense of humor will make you hate yourself for laughing at times you shouldn’t.
One other thing I bet you’re dying to ask is if Doom Patrol is better than Titans. At this point in time, I’m not sure if I can fully answer that because, while I dug Titans from the get-go and thought it improved as it went along, Doom Patrol boasts the better premiere. Taking that into consideration, it could very well eclipse its predecessor given time, of course.
Still, I could see this drawing mixed reactions because some critics and viewers may want something a little “safer.” But in a world flooded with comic book-based movies and TV shows, don’t you want there to be productions unafraid to remove the kid gloves and show us something different? The narration even goes as far to say that critics will hate Doom Patrol, but I, for one, love it.
In a most welcome and unexpected surprise, DC Universe's Doom Patrol scores touchdowns right from the get-go. This is the superhero series to watch in 2019.