DC Universe’s Doom Patrol is a giant step-up from Titans in the humour department, in that all the major characters are absolute weirdos — in the best way possible — and grim moments are scarce. And all that weirdness does not affect the integrity of the storytelling.
TV shows based on DC Comics have taken a turn to the crazy of late, while most Marvel shows that were jointly produced with Netflix were saturated with a gritty tone that we usually associate with DC movies. The recent DC shows have figured out that to make the perfect comic-book adaptations, one has to adapt the inherent weirdness as well.
All this started with, if I remember correctly, Fox’s Gotham, which was quite self-serious and solemn in its initial seasons before venturing into the territory of downright nuts (I haven’t seen Legends of Tomorrow, which, I’m told, is the craziest of the lot). How else can a Batman TV show without Batman would work, you wonder? Well, by being entertainingly unhinged, of course.
Doom Patrol, the company’s streaming service DC Universe’s second offering after Titans, continues this trend. No, it does not just continue it, it crosses every Rubicon in being self-referential.
Doom Patrol is narrated by the delightful Alan Tudyk who introduces the major characters and at the same time plays a villain – Mr Nobody — too. If you thought Deadpool had meta-humour, Mr Nobody breaks the fourth wall in every single way conceivable and yet somehow does not overdo it.
“Critics, what do they know?,” he grumbles at one point, “They’re gonna hate this show.” No, I think not.
This series has a beating heart at the centre of it, as well, with characters that, while funny and unsettling, are also often heartbreaking.Doom Patrol, whose screen adaptation has been a long time coming, is basically DC’s X-Men, though it predates Marvel’s team of mutants when it comes to comics. The similarities between the two franchises are striking. Niles Caulder, the leader of the Doom Patrol, is confined to a wheelchair like Professor X and is similarly brainy. The members of Doom Patrol are also shunned, broken people, altered in one or other horrible way, and have special powers.
Brandon Fraser (The Mummy series’ leading man) is Robotman, who lost every part of his body in an accident except his brain, which Caulder fitted inside a metal body. Now, he cannot feel anything, whether it be an emotion or anything corporeal.
There is Rita Farr (April Bowlby), a 1950s’ Hollywood star who, thanks to a mysterious liquid, became one stressful moment away from becoming a hideous, giant blob, and lost her fame and career.