This Friday, on February 15, the paid DC Universe subscription service launches its second live-action series, third feature series overall, with the quirky, dysfunctional, wanna-be super-group known as Doom Patrol. This Doom Patrol live-action series follows a month or so after completion of the fantastic Titans season one series. Titans was the first of DC Universe’s “feature series”, the other being the return of the animated series, Young Justice which was released sandwiched between the two live action series. This is our “minimally spoiler-free” review of DC Universe’s Doom Patrol, episode one, the pilot episode.
The Doom Patrol originally appeared in comics way back in 1963. Doom Patrol consists of a group of successful individuals each ridden by a terrible, tragic accident that left them with different eclectic abilities, or in some cases, forms. Somehow they find themselves under the tutelage and care of a Doctor Niles Caulder, himself stricken to being bound to a wheelchair. You can scour the internet for more background information on this team but be warned there is a very key plot twist out there mentioned in Issue #57 that may or may not be revealed in this live-action series eventually.
If you watched Titans then you’re already somewhat familiar with the team as subscribers were given a sneak peek at the Doom Patrol in a few episodes of season one of Titans. It’s worth mentioning that the cast had a “minor change”(?) from the cast seen in the Titans episodes. A “big name” change was the role of Dr Niles Caulder, played by Bruno Bichir in the Titans‘ episodes, is now played, brilliantly, by Timothy Dalton most renowned for his role as James Bond in several of those films.
This pilot episode opens with narration, filled with a comical, funny undertone, by our villain Mr Nobody, played brilliantly by Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Serenity). Tudyk provides narration throughout the episode which focuses mainly on the origins of three of the original four members. The majority of the story is revealed with flashbacks crossing decades and years anywhere from 1938, 1955, 1961 to 1988 and then eventually settle down in 2019.
The episode revolves heavily around Brendan Fraser’s (The Mummy, Encino Man, George Of The Jungle) Robotman (Cliff Steele) character who struggles with what he has become and how his past actions have affected his family. Narration and story continue on how Larry Trainor became Negative Man played by Matt Bomer (White Collar, American Horror Story) and then eventually on how Rita Farr, played by April Bowlby (Two And A Half Men, Drop Dead Diva) became Elasti-Woman.
In present day we’re introduced to some, not so original members, an individual who didn’t even appear in the Titans‘ cameos, i.e. the wild, unpredictable Crazy Jane, played by Diane Guerrero, who is abruptly introduced without much backstory, yet.
The episode evolves into an unchaperoned trip into town and constitutes perhaps, most of the group’s first brush with humanity in their new selves. We get to see how the team handles the communities reactions to past (seven decades ago) movie stars (Rita), bandaged men (Larry) and talking robots (Cliff). Eventually, as one would expect, the field trip goes awry.
The writers have done a wonderful job in creating a story, dialogue and presentation in episode one that causes us to end up truly caring about what happens to these characters. The characters are torn between just existing and eventually using their “gifts” to help people. The episode does little to explain who Dr Caulder is and how he’s involved with everyone or who Crazy Jane is, for that matter, so we have that to hopefully look forward to in future episodes. There’s also the introduction of another big member in the forthcoming episode two, a certain “Vic”, which isn’t totally secret.
The episode’s overall tone is slightly humorous, with Fraser being the biggest comedian, delivering the funniest lines. Filming overall is slightly dark. There is some swearing, a few F* bombs, as well as some nudity so be warned this is not appropriate for children. The producer’s list includes Greg Berlanti, who seems to have a hand in every superhero TV show lately, and once DC Comics’ writer, Geoff Johns, who has now invested his time into super-hero related films, TV shows, etc.
This series is scheduled to debut thirteen episodes in the first season, which will be released, one a week, starting on February 15, 2019, on the DC Universe subscription channel. This episode runs approximately 58 minutes long and we are on the edge of our seats waiting for episode two to debut next week!
If you’ve been teetering on whether or not to subscribe, hopefully, your wait is over because Doom Patrol, dare I say it might look to be even better than the excellent Titans series!