Gini gives us her opinion and analysis of the series from the perspective of a binge of the DVD.
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A friend who, admittedly, sees things in a different way from the norm quite a lot of the time, insisted that Doom Patrol was a really good, well-done show worth a look. We aren’t willing to pay for the WB streaming service, so we waited and got the first season on DVD for Christmas.
Doom Patrol is about a group of non-heroic heroes – people who have been damaged physically, emotionally, and/or mentally either by getting superpowers or because of their superpowers. They consist of Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero) who has a plethora of personalities (too damn many to list here) all of whom have different powers; Rita Farr/Elasti-Girl (April Bowlby), a faded 1950’s superstar who turns into a giant blob of goo if she loses focus or gets stressed; Larry Trainor/Negative Man (Matt Bomer), a closeted test pilot whose encounter with a being of energy causes his plane to crash, so he’s got burns all over his body and spends most days wrapped up in bandages; Cliff Steele/Robotman (Brendan Fraser), a race car driver who’s had a horrifying accident that left only his brain intact and, somehow, functioning; and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Jovian Wade), the only superhero most will have heard of prior to this show, a teenaged football star whose horrible accident forced his father to make him more machine than man in order to survive.
Niles Caulder/The Chief (Timothy Dalton) is the benevolent mad scientist who watches over these folks, and Eric Morden/Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk) is their superpowered almost omniscient nemesis.
All of these characters are not good people before they get their powers. They’re not all evil, other than Morden, but they’re not all that great as human beings, either. They’re messy, ugly on the inside, and in need of whatever kind of Come to Jesus moments they can get. They get theirs, in life-altering and life-ruining ways, and have to build back up from there, or hide away from the world forever, depending.
All that explanation took a lot of time and space, didn’t it? Trust me, it was faster this way than by watching the show. The first several episodes focus so much on backstory and they move so slowly that you could easily lose interest and stop after the first two. The hubs still wishes he had.
Out of fifteen episodes in Season One, there are only a few that were worth the time. “Danny Patrol” is a fantastic episode, definitely the best of the entire show, and if the rest of the show had been up to that level, I’d be saying it was great.
But this show is not great. It’s slow, overly wrought, convoluted, and – the worst sin of all – boring. There’s are moments in each episode, even the pilot and second episode, “Donkey Patrol”, that show what this could, and should, have been. But then the ponderousness, slowness, and freaking constant backstory as therapy sessions reassert their dominance and the show goes back to one long, dull, muted therapy session with people you don’t like and don’t want to spend any more time with.
Midway through, the hubs said that the entire show was like a therapy session for the characters, as in, that was the entire point of the show. That gets referenced in the later episodes, too, so it’s clearly an active choice on the part of the showrunners. Think about most therapy sessions you’ve either been a part of or have heard about – they might be life-changing or not, but cinematic they most likely aren’t.
Mr. Nobody breaks the 4th wall constantly, and Alan Tudyk is, frankly, the best thing about this show. But even he isn’t worth the price of admission.
The actors do their best. They all inhabit their characters well, and you believe they are the characters. But while they’re all sympathetic, no one is all that likeable. And the moment you start to like a character, guaranteed that character will do something in a few minutes where you’re back to not caring what happens to them again.
Despite Larry and Cliff both being unseen due to their costuming, we get so many flashbacks that you will definitely see Bomer and Fraser in the flesh. They’re good both covered and uncovered, but then again, I expected nothing less from both actors.
There are some bizarre episodes, some gross ones, “Beard Patrol” in particular, but too few good ones, and only “Danny Patrol” is worth the full episode’s runtime. As said before, the actors aren’t the issue. The scripts, the direction, the pace, the tone, and the general convoluted plotting that goes, essentially, nowhere are the issues.
I wanted so much to love this show about a bunch of scarred misfits who somehow overcome and managed to save the day. But all I can say is this: Doom Patrol should be renamed as Boredom Patrol. Go on this Patrol at your own risk.
2 stars out of 5