The Doom Patrol are back and this time they’re branching out from DC Universe to simultaneously release on HBO Max. A couple of weeks ago we were lucky enough to be able to watch the first three episodes of the new season (synopses here) in order to bring you our first impressions.
HBO Max will be releasing all three episodes on Thursday (June 25) so get ready to be spoiled with a whole smorgasbord of new crazy adventures from Rita, Jane, Larry, Cliff and The Chief.
The season opener, “Fun Size Patrol,” picks up shortly after the finale of season one. With the team shrunk to miniature size and now living in the town built around the model race car track in Cliff’s room at Doom Manor.
The episode, written by Jeremy Carver & Shoshana Sachi, is able to satisfy fans of the previous season but also feels like it opens up the show, making it more accessible to the wider audience that it is now available to. The level of craziness initially feels dialled back whilst we acclimate ourselves to the characters in their new surroundings.
But this is still Doom Patrol, so whilst “Fun Size Patrol” is nowhere near the level of crazy of the other two episodes that we have seen, it still has a lot going on.
The episode has to serve a number of different goals as the opening gambit to season 2:
- Resolve lingering plot thread from season 1 finale.
- Introduce new character Dorothy Spinner (Abigail Shapiro).
- Setup a new on going plot thread for The Chief (Timothy Dalton).
- Satisfy fans of season one who have high expectations for the show.
- Introduce new fans to an incredibly complex cast of characters.
I’m happy to report that it certainly seems to tick all those boxes in the most satisfyingly Doom Patrol way. It’s also abundantly clear that Warner Bros. has picked up on the popularity of these characters and this show as the production seems even more lush than in season one.
The series’ set designers have crafted a miniature town using a mix of oversized props and everyday furniture to make a world which is both practical and farcical at the same time. Text book Doom Patrol.
But underneath the layers of Grant Morrison inspired action the beating heart of Doom Patrol remains its characters. What struck me most in this episode was how everyone was continuing to move on from where we left them in season one.
This episode, in particular, feels like another huge step forward for April Bowlby’s Rita as she works with Cyborg (Joivan Wade) to master her powers. The two characters have almost switched roles as he becomes the more sceptical in response to her heroic ambitions.
Doom Patrol functions at its best when it pits the characters against their own inner demons. Giving them a challenge-of-the-week to overcome whilst having it reflect something within themselves that they need to conquer. This episode is indicative of that in all the best ways.
“Fun Size Patrol” features an interesting flashback giving insight in to the life of Dorothy Spinner. Comic book fans will certainly get a kick out of seeing The Candlemaker brought to life for the first time on screen. Not only are the visual effects incredibly impressive, but the character design remains true to the source material.
Carver and Sachi utilise introducing Spinner and how her arrival impacts The Chief as a great launch pad for the rest of the season.
Second episode, “Tyme Patrol,” is much more typical Doom Patrol, wasting little time on setup before setting off in to action. Once again the series dives deep in to Grant Morrison’s run on the comic book to source its wacky roller disco sequence featuring Doctor Tyme.
It’s nothing short of bat-shit crazy and is beautiful to watch. The episode is written by April Fitzsimmons & Neil Reynolds, both have a perfect grasp on how the series gives no f**ks when it comes to structure and storytelling. It’s difficult to even find the worse to describe how it plays out.
Outside of the plot line surrounding Dorothy and The Chief, Doom Patrol is also building towards some huge turning points for Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero) and Larry (Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk). This episode is particularly poignant for Larry as he explores what happened to his family after his accident.
For Jane, there’s a much longer game to play in season 2. It’s not yet apparent from these three episodes exactly what is going on but it seems there’s a struggle for power going on inside The Underground. The other personalities are turning on Jane for her actions and it’s going to be an interesting journey through the rest of the season to find out why that is.
Episode three, “Pain Patrol,” brings Cyborg more central to the plot as his relationship with Roni Evers (Karen Obilom) continues to grow. The series is looking for a way to move him on from the trauma of his accident and the way the writers have tackled that so far in these new episodes feels very human and organic to the character.
My only criticism is that Cyborg feels very separate from the rest of the team at the moment. Though there are reasons for that within the plot, this could have been the opportunity to either galvanise him as part of the team or transition him over to Titans where his character possibly sits better.
Episode three introduces the legendary Red Jack from the comics in that is arguably the heaviest episode of the three. This one really challenges The Chief, Larry and Rita in some visually interesting ways.
Written by Tom Farrell & Tamara Becher-Wilkinson, “Pain Patrol” is another typical episode of Doom Patrol. But what struck me was that even though each episode brings its own level of crazy, it never feels repetitive or formulaic.
Eighteen episodes in to the overall series it still feels fresh and unique with each and every turn and that really speaks to the level of creativity amongst the production team.
The biggest takeaway from these three episodes? Doom Patrol is still a wonderfully dark tale of broken characters looking for a way to heal and we wouldn’t have it any other way!
Doom Patrol stars Brendan Fraser as Cliff Steele, Matt Bomer as Larry Trainor, Diane Guerrero as Crazy Jane, Alan Tudyk as Mr. Nobody, April Bowlby as Rita Farr, Joivan Wade as Vic Stone and Timothy Dalton as Niles Caulder.