I feel sorry for the people at DC. Whether they came up with an idea first, way back in the sixties, or second, it doesn’t really matter as currently Marvel are beating them to every punch, kapow and splat.
Doom Patrol is a group of misfit superheroes, who don’t want to be superheroes, who live with the man who ‘created’ some of them, or helps others, who roams around his gigantic mansion in a wheel-chair. You can work that one out.
The man in the chair is ‘Chief’, played by Timothy Dalton (“Hot Fuzz”, “The Living Daylights”), who we know little about from the first two episodes we’ve seen, just that he is a genius in the DC Universe.
Cliffe Steele, voiced by Brendan Fraser (“The Mummy”, “Crash”) and acted by Riley Shanahan (“The Gender Card Flip”), is a former Nascar racer who is involved in an accident where only his brain survives, so the Chief puts said brain in a metal body and Robotman is born…created.
Steele is introduced to the current residents who are Rita Farr, aka Elasti-girl, April Bowlby (“Two And A Half Men (TV)”, “How I Met Your Mother (TV)”), a former film star of the fifties who can, unwittingly, turn into a giant, disgusting blob.
Then there’s Larry Trainor, Matt Bomer (“The Magnificent Seven“, “Magic Mike XXL”), a hot-shot fighter pilot who ends up absorbing some weird space-light thing whilst on a flight and becomes Negative Man, who is actually played by Matthew Zuk (“The 5th Wave“, “Avengers: Infinity War“).
Finally there is Crazy Jane, Diane Guerrero (“Jane The Virgin (TV)”, “Festival”), a woman who comes and goes as she pleases and has many, many, many personalities, each with their own special ability, many blunt and not particularly nice.
Of course, a bunch of good-guys, whether they want to be or not, need a bad-guy. In this instance that is Eric Morden, aka Mr. Nobody, Alan Tudyk (“Deapool 2“, “Ralph Breaks The Internet“), who delightfully guides us through this strange world as the narrator. Taking much glee as the one seemingly in control of the whole story.
The first episode sees us introduced to our gang of four, learning their back stories, a told by Morden who also takes many detours and delights in poking fun at what you are seeing, or have seen, or will see. We see each of our anti-heroes and their powers and what harm they do if they end up using them.
The second episode is where Cyborg, Joivan Wade (“Eastenders (TV)”, “Doctor Who (TV)”), enters the fray as the Chief is sucked into a donkey, I mean a giant swirly thing, but really, a donkey. Cyborg arrives to try to be the hero, faced with the apathy from some of the other gang.
It’s still early days for Doom Patrol but it’s a strong start. It has a jokey feel to it, similar in vein to Deadpool I guess, though not as brash, and the narration from Tudyk is simply brilliant, as is the voice performance from Fraser who brings a lot of warmth and heart to proceedings.
Where this will all go, and can DC keep our interest, only time will tell. It’s a fun, strange and familiar feeling series that, when Disney+ arrives, Netflix will have to do all they can to make work.