Doom Patrol – S1 Ep10 – Hair Patrol Review

Writer: Eric Dietel

Director: Salli Richardson-Whitfield
Starring: Diane Guerrero, April Bowlby, Alan Tudyk, Matt Bomer, Brendan Fraser, Joivan Wade, Timothy Dalton, Max Martini, Pisay Pao, Tommy Snider and Joan Van Ark. Featuring Riley Shanahan and Matthew Zuk.

Last week we entered Jane’s mind and learned more about her past than ever before. Thanks to Larry’s Negative Spirit Cliff walked into Jane’s Psyche, but when he returned the lab was in disarray and when he asked what had happened, all he got was “It’s a long story.” This week, we learn that story, and another one too.

Whatever Happened To Niles Caulder?

After weeks of wondering we finally get a look at the man himself, Niles Caulder. I’ve been looking forward to this story for the longest time, not just as a comics fan, but because I’ve been dying to really see Timothy Dalton cut loose. The wait was well worth it.

This week we take a look into the Chief’s past, and learn more about the man and his motivations. Along the way we also discover the back-story behind the Bureau Of Normalcy and what Vic and Rita got up to while Larry was unconscious and Cliff was in Jane’s brain.

Now, there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

If anyone read these reviews without watching Doom Patrol they could be forgiven for thinking that I’m out of my tiny little mind.

I mean, I am… but that’s nobody’s business but my own. (Not Mr. Nobody, but… Oh, you know what I mean!)

Hair Today… Gone Tomorrow

This week we meet Ernest Franklin, a man who can get in and out of the hairiest situations. Comics fans will recognise his name, and the character in the red costume pictured above. Folks who don’t read comics are in for a treat. This isn’t some moustache twirling supervillain, oh no! This guy has had more close shaves than just about anybody in the game. He’s the cat’s whiskers and not even the mighty Cyborg arm-cannon can blow him down, not by the hairs on his chinny, chin, chin.

Oh, boy. I’m getting over excited again. I’m going to have to go and have a lie down.

Conclusion

I’ve been talking to friends, fellow critics and reviewers about this crazy show, and every single person I speaks to agrees. Doom Patrol is brilliant. This week we barely saw Cliff, Jane or Larry, who’ve had most of the screen time this season. Yes, I missed Jane’s noise, Cliff’s outbursts and Larry’s angst, but Cyborg, Elasti-Woman and the Chief truly shone this week. Timothy Dalton was fantastic, Joivan Wade and April Bowlby had great on-screen chemistry and guest stars Tommy Snider, Max Martini and Pisay Pao all gave great performances as Ernest Franklin, Alastair Henderson and Slava. I can’t wait for next week’s episode.

Doom Patrol – S1 Ep9 – Jane Patrol Review

Writer: Marcus Dalzine

Director: Harry Jierjian

Starring: Diane Guerrero, April Bowlby, Matt Bomer, Brendan Fraser, Joivan Wade, Skye Roberts, Hannah Aline, Leela Owen, Dave MacDonald, Anna Lore, Stephanie Czajkowski, Chelsea Rivera, Tara Lee, Jackie Goldston, Shay Mack, Monica Louwerens, Helen Abell. Featuring Riley Shanahan and Matthew Zuk.

After Robotman foiled Jane’s Karen persona’s attempt to marry her beau, our multiple personalitied maid of mayhem retreated into her own mind. Now the team not only has a missing leader, but their most powerful member has been reduced to a catatonic state.

This week it falls to Cliff to try and lure Jane back to the land of the living.

Going Deeper Underground

It’s no secret that I’ve found Diane Guerrero’s performances in this show to be amazing. In this episode we see her come out of herself more than ever before, and even meet a veritable host of Jane’s other personalities. The surprise though, is that we also get to witness how they actually see themselves and learn more about what caused Kay Challis’ personalities to fragment in the first place.

As you’ve no doubt noticed from the huge cast list, this episode boasts more Janes than all the Tarzans throughout history could ever hope to swing through a jungle with. This week we actually get to physically meet Hammerhead, Miranda, Kit W’ The Canstick, Scarlet Harlot, Lucy Fugue, Silver Tongue, Jill In Irons, Mama Pentecost, The Nun, Pretty Polly, Flit, Babydoll, The Secretary, Driver 8, Penny Farthing, Driller Bill, The Sisters, Jack Straw and Black Annis.

Phew… that’s a whole lotta crazy!

Off The Rails

Fans who’ve been watching the show since it started will already know about some of these ladies, having seen Diane play them. Meeting the characters’ physical manifestations shows us just how much these personalities actually exist as individuals.

We also finally get to see their domain, the Underground, for the very first time. In the words of Huey Lewis, “Don’t take money, don’t take fame, don’t need no credit card to ride this train.” This is a vast world which houses Kay Challis’ past, her memories, her experiences, and all her other selves. It also contains the source of all their woes.

As everyone knows by now, I’m a spoiler-phobe. I completely hate giving and receiving them. I am also a great one for cryptic clues and puzzles though, so will say that, even though things may not have started off happily for Jane, all’s well that ends Well.

Man Of Steele

While this is largely a Jane-centric episode, we do see the whole team, and Robotman plays a major role in the story. As we know from “Danny Patrol”, Cliff feels responsible for his team-mate’s current predicament. In one of this episode’s key moments we learn that some of Jane’s other selves see him as being behind a whole load more than that!

As we see many of the other Janes through her eyes, rather than with just her face, we also get to see more of Brendan Fraser this week. I love how the writers and actors embrace duality and all the complexities that being a human being brings. Cliff Steele has grown a hell of a lot over the last 9 episodes, from a selfish womaniser to, arguably, the beating heart of the Doom Patrol. Not bad for a guy who no longer even possesses said organ.

It’s a real eye opener finding out how differently people see themselves, when compared how others see them. Deeper still, do any of us see ourselves the same way that others see us?

Conclusion

It’s funny how one of the craziest shows on T.V. can also be one of the most inspirational, eye opening and enlightening. Yes, Doom Patrol is crazier than a bus load of ferrets on vodka, but it’s also a show that embraces the most human truths. Everybody’s different, yet, where it counts, we’re all exactly the same.

In the immortal words of the Great Bard, “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”

Smart man, that Shakespeare.

Doom Patrol – S1 Ep8 – Danny Patrol Review

Writer: Tom Farrell

Director: Dermott Downs

Starring: Diane Guerrero, April Bowlby, Alan Tudyk, Matt Bomer, Brendan Fraser, Joivan Wade, Alan Mingo Jr. Brent Bailey, Ethan McDowell, Darren Jones and Jay Amir. Featuring Riley Shanahan and Matthew Zuk.

Singing, dancing, shady government agencies, love and marriage; this episode has all of this and more. Is this the real life, or is this just a sea of Fanta? Who even knows any more? I just have to say that I’m loving every second.

Love & Marriage

We meet so many new friends and enemies this week that I’m almost jealous of non-comics readers. To newbies this show must be a complete hoot. I know so many people have started seeking out the comics after watching this series, which means that it has already succeeded.

The concept of Crazy Jane, a character with 64 personalities, each with its own unique super power is a draw in itself. In this episode we meet Karen, who I’m sure everybody will absolutely love. No, I mean it… you WILL absolutely love her.

Diane Guerrero needs to win 64 Emmies for her performance/s in this series.

We also meet Danny Street, Mora Lee and the Bureau Of Normalcy. I’m not giving away spoilers, because I just don’t work that way. Let’s just say that we get some great Larry time, meet some of the figures from his past and some of the greatest and most fabulous friends a group of out-there heroes could ever wish for.

Flour Power

Danny is one of the most original, lovable awesome characters in all of comics. I had no idea how the pure essence of Danny could ever make it to screen, but the show’s writers have seriously delivered. Danny is difficult to track down, but in the end the creative team behind this wonderful show made it a piece of cake for Larry and Victor.

Danny is indescribable, but in terms of sheer awesomeness, grandeur and heroism all I can say is that this character is simply streets ahead of all the rest.

What A Feeling

I’ve already mentioned how terrific Diane Guerrero is as Karen this week, but Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan as Cliff/Robotman and Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk as Larry/Negative Man also have some standout moments.

The only thing this show’s been “Missing” up to this point is a musical song and dance number, but this episode has that covered… and then some! Both Larry and Cliff get down with their bad selves this week, and it’s a sight to behold. Cliff cut loose emotionally last week, and his verbal outbursts are slowly becoming the stuff of legend. This time out we see Larry experience terror, fear, and shame, before rage sets in and he truly breaks free with righteous indignation, and even pure unbridled joy.

I seriously hope that we see Danny, Mora Lee and the gang at the Perpetual Cabaret again, real soon.

Conclusion

I think I must be starting to sound like a scratched record, but I’m a say what I mean and a mean what I say person. There’s no flim-flam, or beating around the bush with me. I always say exactly what’s on my mind (such as it is) and know my gardening implements. When I say that I love this show, guess what… ?

I LOVE THIS SHOW!

Doom Patrol – S1 Ep7 – Therapy Patrol Review

Writer: Neil Reynolds

Director: Rob Hardy

Starring: Diane Guerrero, April Bowlby, Alan Tudyk, Matt Bomer, Brendan Fraser, Joivan Wade, Timothy Dalton, Kyle Clements, Charmin Lee, Bethany Anne Lind, Alan Heckner. Featuring Riley Shanahan and Matthew Zuk.

The Chief is still missing, and recent tensions within the group, including the mental anguish and blackmail inflicted by Mr. Nobody, threaten to tear them apart. This week we get detailed glimpses into the pasts of Rita, Larry, Victor and Jane. We also get Cliff cut loose, like never before.

When I say that this episode is therapeutic, I really mean it.

How Do You Feel?

In a series that has consisted entirely of excellent episodes, this one could actually be the best one yet.

One of the few (small) gripes I had about Titans, is the fact that the episodes where the team was all on-screen together were too few. There was a little too much focus placed on individual characters.

The Doom Patrol, even when they’re verbally b!+(# slapping and abusing each other, have been together (at least physically) more often than not. They actually feel like a team… at least to me. This week we see raw emotion, plumb great depths, and get into the minds, and under the skins of every character.

The thin is though, isn’t that exactly what Mr. Nobody has been trying to do? Has the sudden need for the gang to start communicating with each other come from a real need to bond and heal? Or is this all a ruse?

I’d love for it to be the former, but I smell a rat.

Tell Me About Your Mother

Last week’s revelation that his ex-wife’s lover had been raising Cliff’s daughter since his “Death” really left him in a dark place. Robotman’s actions this week are totally justified, but when a nigh on indestructible, super strong machine-man has a temper tantrum, it’s not just a few plates and items of crockery that end up getting smashed.

Larry spending so much time hiding his sexuality, Rita always dreaming of being a star, while feeling like a fraud, Vic’s survivor’s guilt after losing his mother and Kay/Crazy Jane’s fractured psyches; these could all prove to be the team’s greatest strengths, not just tools for Nobody to torture and manipulate them with.

In a world populated by reality warping donkeys, talking cockroaches and jigsaw puzzle people, what’s even normal anyway?

Rats! Now I’m coming across as a bargain basement shrink.

What Are You Actually Trying To Tell Me?

The quality of the writing, acting and direction in this show is first rate. Every frame is lovely to look at, every scene is lit and short beautifully, all to help tell the story. This isn’t all camera flares, and arty farty angles, though. No… this is great, honest to goodness, old-fashioned storytelling.

I have to really pat Riley Shanahan and Brendan Fraser on their tin-plated backs this week. Fraser is our voice in this strange world, as his incredulous reactions and commentary frequently mirror our own. The times his, “What the F@(#$?!?” have been uttered at the exact same time that I was literally thinking “What the f@(#?!?” is uncanny. Shanahan does all the physical Robotman acting, while Fraser provides the voice. You’d never know it when watching the show. I know that Brendan gets top-billing every week, but Riley should be commended.

The same must also be said of the relationship and performances of Matt Bomer, when not under bandages, and his mummy/buddy Matthew Zuk.

We never see Matthew or Riley’s faces, but I sure as heck appreciate everything that they do on this crazy show. No, I’m not just being a slimy rat, I honestly believe that these gents do incredible work.

So… What’s Your Conclusion?

Gang, I think we’ve made real progress today. I must thank you all for sharing, as I know that a lot of that must’ve been quite difficult.

Rita, thanks for pulling yourself together. Jane, the art therapy is really working, though, Hammerhead… using Jane’s work against the gang isn’t very nice. Larry, sharing is caring. Vic, forgiveness comes from within.

Cliff, you’re right, this whole thing is one huge mindf@(#, but don’t let that dirty rat Mr. Nobody get under your skin. If he wins he’ll just twirl his whiskers and laugh his evil villain laugh at all of you! I’m not really in the mood for any “M’Wah, Hah, Hahs” right now, thank you.

Good job, team! I’ll see you all back on the couch next week.

Doom Patrol – S1 Ep6 – Doom Patrol Patrol Review

Writer: Tamara Becher-Wilkinson

Director: Christopher Manley

Starring: Diane Guerrero, April Bowlby, Alan Tudyk, Matt Bomer, Brendan Fraser, Joivan Wade, Timothy Dalton, Alimi Ballard, Will Kemp, Jasmine Kaur, Lesa Wilson, Phil Morris and Dennis Cockrum

The quest to find Niles Caulder continues. Last week Mr. Nobody formed a temporary truce with our gang of gaga guardians in order to save the world. When it was all over, bar the screaming, the fourth wall breaking bad guy left the words, “Doom Patrol” in Jane’s head, leading her – and us – to this chapter, and it’s strange, strange title.

Let the games begin!

Have You Tried Switching It Off… Then On Again?

This episode focuses around two stories, the first set around Cyborg and Robotman. After defeating the Decreator Victor’s arm-cannon overheated and exploded, leading Cliff and the team to call in Silas, Cyborg’s dad, for help. It was great seeing Phil Morris back as Stone Sr. and his interactions with both Joivan Wade, and with Robotman were brilliantly written and acted.

The feelings evoked by Cliff missing his daughter, nicely paralleled and mirrored the strained relationship between Cyborg and his father. The themes of parenthood and broken families are incredibly strong ones in this series, but so are those of healing and redemption. Yes, this show can be gruesome, violent, and downright bonkers, but that’s just gravy. The real meat and bones stories and messages are about as positive and wholesome as you can get.

This series may not have characters that qualify as brain boxes (except maybe Cliff, but that’s a physical thing, as opposed to a measure of intelligence) but every single one of them has heart, (except maybe Cliff, who has some kind of mechanical pump that feeds oxygen to his brain, but… you get the picture).

Vic’s blowout also caused Cliff some damage, which leads to one of the funniest lines ever. I’m not one to point the finger, but there are some things one just shouldn’t say in polite company.

Blasts From The Past

While Cliff and Vic get their repairs, Larry, Rita and Jane go in search of the “Doom Patrol.” Yeah, you read that right.

Both this show, and its predecessor on DC Universe, Teen Titans, really do deliver some glorious gifts for fans who, like myself have, ahem… been around for a while. New viewers, or those not very familiar with the Doom Patrol outside of this show, may not know that the core group of Robotman, Elasti-Woman and Negative Man are NOT the only individuals who have been part of the team.

Yes, folks, it’s ancient comics history revisited time.

This show has, obviously, brought the most well known members of the team to the forefront, but the writers have dug into the comics archives and pulled four more vintage Doom Patrol members out of mothballs to test our wits, and our Google Search abilities.

As everyone knows, I am NOT one for spoilers. Instead, I will just drop the names Mento, Celsius, Lodestone and Tempest on your laps, and leave you with pictures of their comic-book counterparts. When you hear the names Steve Dayton, Arani (Desai), Rhea (Jones) and Josh Clay, you can try and work the rest out for yourselves.

Damaged Goods

While we are always learning more about Niles Caulder, the Doom Patrol(s?) and their pasts, this show is so cunningly layered, and well written, that we often get two new questions asked for every answer we’re given.

What’s the story behind Niles Caulder and his never ending quest to “Help” psychologically damaged meta-humans? We can work out that Rita’s messed up DNA slows or has halted her aging process, Larry is being kept alive by Rebis, Cliff’s mind is being shielded within a nigh-on indestructible Metal shell and Jane is 64 different people who only age when their individual personalities are dominant.

Why, then, does Niles Caulder look the same now as he did in the 1950s? He’s remained virtually unchanged since he took in Rita, Larry, Cliff and Jane, decades ago. The fact that he was up and about on two legs last week, and didn’t need his wheelchair also raises questions. The revelation of this other Doom Patrol raises them so high that the air’s getting quite thin up there.

Yep, I want answers. I bet you do too!

Conclusion

This episode saw relationships rekindled, old secrets revealed, and ancient fears revisited. As one of those old comics super-nerds I loved revisiting some sixties silliness, seventies science, eighties effervescence and nineties naughtiness. There’s a truckload of geekgasm worthy Easter Eggs in the old Doom Patrol’s trophy room… see how many you can spot!

I’m in love with this show, so cannot wait for the next episode. Where’s Rip Hunter’s Time Bubble when you need it? Hang on… Eobard Thawne had it last, in this week’s episode of the Flash.

Oy, Cisco! Can I ask a favour?