For a kinda-quick crash course on who the Doom Patrol are and why they have a tv series, click here for our DOOM PATROL 101 article.
RECAP: In season one’s final episode, the Doom Patrol had their final showdown with season-long Big Bad, Mr. Nobody (brilliantly, scene-chewingly played by Alan Tudyk of Firefly fame), a giant Rat, and a giant Cockroach. Oh, did I mention the final battle took place inside a painting of Mr. Nobody’s creation?
Welcome to what I think has GOT to be the most bizarre and trippy superhero tv show. Ever. (Yes, even trippier than Legion). Just when you think you’ve seen it all and things couldn’t get any weirder, they do, with one “what the hell were the writers smoking when they came up with this” moment after another, episode after episode. It's all Grant Morrison, folks. The storylines and characters are being pulled from the wildly imaginative writer's critically-acclaimed Doom Patrol run under the Vertigo imprint.
The final episode also told the stories of how Niles "The Chief " Calder (Timothy Dalton, James Bond), brought the team together one by one over most of the past century, and the crushing revelation that The Chief was responsible for the premeditated creation of each team member’s superhuman condition and longevity. They’ve all been lab rats to help Calder unlock the secrets to long life, so he could be around long enough to find and save his young daughter, who was “a danger to us all.” It’s not explained what he means by that, nor do we get a look at her face. No doubt we will find out more in season two.
Not only is The Chief obsessed with longevity, but he is already unusually long-lived, having had a relationship with a protohuman woman with mystical abilities, and had a daughter (Dorothy) with her in the Yukon in the early part of the 20th century. Apparently she was kidnapped by Mr. Nobody and Calder has been looking for her ever since. With the team's help, she is rescued from the painting.
CUE: Season Two, Episode One: After the Battle Inside The Painting, the Doom Patrol is returned to the real world, but in “Fun Size” miniature form, having been magically reduced in size to enter the painting.
Episode one opens with a flashback to the 1920s, with our first good look at Dorothy. She is much less hairy than her mother, but has her mother's protohuman features. Infamously, in past centuries, people with such physical “deformities” often ended up as sideshow attractions, as Dorothy unfortunately does. This flashback also shows a major reason why The Chief considers Dorothy such a danger, and keeps her locked in a cage living as a carnival freak.
This is one of many introspective flashbacks and current-day personal journeys for each of the characters; it’s curious that the writers created such an action-less episode to be the season two starter, when so many new people will be trying out the show for the first time. It certainly wasn’t the typical exciting episode. Perhaps they thought this would be a good way to introduce the characters to new viewers.
After spending weeks in a miniature camp that full-sized Larry/Negative Man constructed for the mini-Doom Patrol, and after one failed science experiment after another to embiggen them, Rita/Elasti-Girl convinces a reluctant Chief to ask their on-again/off-again ally Willoughby Kipling (last seen in season one, helping the DP to save the world) for some magical help, since something similar is what got them into this mess. What The Chief has to do to summon Kipling is a hilarious example of the wonderful comic relief that abounds in this show. However, The Chief considers Kipling’s price much too high, and rejects it.
Will The Chief change his mind and pay Kipling’s high price to save his “family”?
The set designers for this episode knocked it out of the park, creating life-size scenery for the actors that looked like enlarged pieces of the slot car set diorama that Larry created for the team to inhabit.
The SFX on this show have been impressive for tv budgets. While Elasti-Girl doesn’t (yet) have the size-changing abilities she had in the comics, she is training under Cyborg to develop them, starting with stretching her arm, with better effects than seen in the Fantastic Four movies. Larry’s Negative Spirit is especially impressive, with pulsing electricity in a well-defined human form.
Doom Patrol may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like to be constantly surprised by a very adult (LOTS of f-bombs, violence, sexual situations) superhero tv show, then give it a look.
Doom Patrol, season two airs on HBO Max. The pay channel is offering the first episode of season two for free at this link
Season one of Doom Patrol is available on Amazon Prime Video.
The Doom Patrol Archives Vol. 1 (2002), collecting My Greatest Adventure #80-85, Doom Patrol #85-89
Doom Patrol Book One and Two (2016), Collecting Grant Morrison’s Vertigo run
Doom Patrol by John Byrne: The Complete Series (2020)
MOST RECENT APPEARANCE:
Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds #1-7 (2019)