After a severe accident, Cliff Steele wakes up, a changed man, in the house of Dr. Niles Caulder and his Doom Patrol.
So we’re back for the second ever live-action series from DC Universe. Going in to this episode there’s a lot going on in my mind. Will Doom Patrol live up to the hype? How will it compare with Titans? Will the more offbeat style of the comics – in my limited experience – translate to the small screen?
In short the answers to those questions, in this order, are: yes, well and yes.
As someone relatively uninitiated to the comics I definitely needed some hand holding going in to this episode. Though we met most of the characters in Titans it’s not like we got a true flavour of what the Doom Patrol show really is.
Thankfully this episode actually does a great job of introducing us to the world and its characters. It’s also able to do so in a way which feels homogeneous with the tone of the show. Think Suicide Squad with less bells and whistles but more character and heart.
Brendan Fraser (providing voice and flashback appearances) is our way in to the series via the story of Cliff Steele. It’s very cleverly written and hats off to Jeremy Carver for being able to hide a twist in the tale of Cliff. There were some aspects I hadn’t seen coming given the way his character was presented.
I expected there to be some high stakes emotions in the series based on how Titans was written but actually there are moments in Doom Patrol which come as a real gut punch.
Equally Matt Bomer as Larry Trainor/Negative Man had some twists I did not expect.
From the glimpses in this episode there’s some tragedy to both their character which resonatesbeyond the accidents which made them in to the (anti)heroes they are today. It will be interesting to explore both in the future as it definitely feels there is a lot of story to mine.
Then there’s Rita Farr/Elasti-Woman. Her character is much more fully formed than her appearance on Titans. It was interesting to get more of the back story and learn that actually she isn’t the nicest person on the planet. Her flashback scenes were well done and certainly set the character up to be someone that will have issues adapting to modern society. Again plenty of story to mine here.
Diane Guerrero has perhaps the most challenging role given her 64 personalities. We don’t get to explore her backstory here, Carver cleverly leaves that for a later day. It also means the story doesn’t become overstuffed with origins. There’s plenty of time for Robotman, Negative Man and Elasti-Woman to take the spotlight.
It’s also worth noting that Cyborg doesn’t appear in this episode. We’ll be meeting him down the line.
Timothy Dalton and Alan Tudyk are also great additions to the cast. They’re not the focus here but scenes with both are as electric as any other. Opening the series with a monologue by Tudyk as the villainous Mr Nobody was also a clever idea.
CGI is excellent. It seems to have developed on from Titans. Perhaps a sign that Doom Patrol has a higher budget. Elasti-Woman looks great, whether it’s her face melting or her full puddle-some self they both look great and interact well with environments.
Mr Nobody also looks impressive. We only see him sparing but when he does he resembles his comic book counterpart well. There are a couple of shakier moments in the beginning when we first see Robotman before he puts on clothes. Once the clothes are on the episode moves to a practical suit.
What stands out the most is the writing on this show. We’re only one episode in and I already care a great deal for these characters. In the space of 50mins+ Jeremy Carver has treated a group of lovable rogues. I hasted to compare it to Suicide Squad again but there is something to be said for writing a group of characters with less than honerable intentions.
It’s done so well here. There’s a dark sense of humour which will appeal to many fans. It’s a completely different show than Titans. There’s little-to-no comparison which can be made other than both coming from the same streaming service.
The pilot episode of Doom Patrol is an excellent first glimpse in to a different corner of the DC Universe. Compelling characters and an enticing story make this one of the most exciting comic book pilots in years.
Coming up next week…
Doom Patrol stars Brendan Fraser as Cliff Steele, Matt Bomer as Larry Trainor, Diana Guerrero as Crazy Jane, Alan Tudyk as Mr. Nobody, April Bowlby as Rita Farr, Jovian Wade as Vic Stone and Timothy Dalton as Niles Caulder.
The series comes from Berlanti Productions, in association with Warner Bros. Television. The one-hour drama is written Jeremy Carver (Supernatural, Being Human) and will by executive produced by Carver alongside by Greg Berlanti, Geoff Johns and Sarah Schechter.