Quick Thought: Doom Patrol 2.01: ”Fun-Size Patrol”

Some initial thoughts for the new Season of the Doom Patrol TV Series. Assume spoilers.

Doom Patrol Season 2 Cast

The character of Dorothy Spinner was introduced into the Doom Patrol comic before the beginning of the Grant Morrison and Richard Case run, though they brought her into the “team” as a regular. While they had some ideas, I don’t know if they, or any of the later writers, ever knew quite what to do with her. She would have important roles in the plots of stories, often struggling with the emotional and biological issues of being an adolescent, but as a character she never progressed the way the others did. Sometime she seemed to regress, becoming ever more a winey and tearful child.

In adding her to the Doom Patrol TV series, Jeremy Carver and company have made the wise decision to take the core idea of Dorothy and then rebuild her from the ground up, much as they did with as Larry and Rita (Cliff and Jane are more adaptions of the Morrison/Case versions of the characters than rebuilds). It’s a promising start, though there is still the issue of how much complexity they can give a child this young (as they have now made her) in such extreme circumstances. Starting her off with the growing threat of the Candlemaker — which was part of the culminating arc of the Morrison/Case run — also seems like a good call.

What I didn’t think worked, or was necessary, was her flashback. It was too contrived and excessive. I didn’t care for any of the flashbacks in this episode. Do these people really need even more painful revelations about their lives? I’d rather see them move forward, rather that be tortured by more and more past traumas. That’s why I find Rita the most interesting character. She’s still got a lot of problems, but she at least has something she wants to work towards. It’s just the wisdom of her goal of becoming a superhero in this show’s version of the DC Universe that remains to be seen.

Ultraman, Episodes 09, 10, 11, & 12

Some quick thoughts as I watch through this classic Japanese Special Effects TV series.

Lightning Operation

Land Shark

Storms, landslides, and other natural disasters are as characteristic of Eiji Tsuburaya’s special effects as are giant monsters. Here, as in the 1954 Godzilla, a typhoon is herald to a monster’s coming. This time, another subterranean burrower, Gavora. It’s one of those monsters that people instantly recognize by name and thus must be a reoccurring pest with a long history. According to the UltraWiki, this script originally was going to feature the return of Pagos from an Ultra Q episode — another burrowing uranium eating kaiju. That would explain why it was recognized. Gavora’s armor plated head makes sense for its lifestyle. It actually looks like the classic Dungeons & Dragons monster, the Bullete or ”land shark.” Given that the Bullete was based on a plastic monster toy from China, they all may be one big family.

Controls

This must have been an expensive episode, since it includes a whole troop of Boy Scouts and an actual helicopter. One thing that’s kind of obvious whenever there’s a real vehicle in the show, is how much more throughly labeled all its controls are, compared to the SSSP’s craft. I don’t see any of the Jet VTOL’s numerous buttons or switches having labels. Hayata gets to fly this helicopter — and of course it crashes in the usual flaming explosion, but only the Scouts question how he survived.

Ultraman’ s fight with Gavora is another harsh one, with a Ultraman ripping gorey chunks off the thing until it thrashes and dies in pain, no Specium Beam needed. The Color Timer starts flashing during the melee, but nobody calls attention to it.


The Mysterious Dinosaur Base

Mad Scientist

This episode features our first real, cackling man scientist, obsessed with dinosaurs, creating monsters in his secret laboratory. The monster in this case is Jirahs, famed in Ultra lore for being a barely disguised Godzilla. A Godzilla costume was reworked for Gomess back at the beginning of Ultra Q, but Jirahs is Godzilla with a paint job and an awkward looking frill. And the frill even gets torn off eventually, leaving just… Godzilla. I’m using the spelling of “Jirahs” from the Blu-ray subtitles — which, in retrospect, might not be the best reference. I’ve noticed a couple spelling mistakes, and the Jet VTOL at one points is subtitled as the “Beetle.”

Jirahs

We see a bit more of Hayata’s transformation into Ultraman, as spirals of light swirl from the Beta Capsule to engulf him. He doesn’t get the elaborate animated sequence of, say, a transforming Sailor Moon, or even that kata-like special gestures and poses of a Power Ranger. Ultraman is more taunting and even cruel in this fight that we’ve seen him before. He actually laughs at his opponent, and even uses Jirahs’s ripped off frill like a matador’s cape to play with and enrage him. And is it Hayata or Ultraman who is copping this new attitude? The show still has not explored where one stops and the other begins…


The Rascal From Outer Space

The usual gang of unsupervised scamps and ragamuffins are cavorting in their usual empty lot and junkyard. The game they are playing is what I know as “Buck Buck” from its description in Bill Cosby’s Fat Albert routine — which came out a couple years after this show. No idea what the game is called in Japan; maybe it, like rock-paper-sissors, has a complicated international provenance.

A meteorite that can turn into anything you imagine is found. I kind of wish that this has been an Ultra Q episode and we could have stayed with the kids as they wrecked havoc with this extraterrestrial toy. But no, it ends up in the hands of the SSSP who turn it over to scientists.

Gango

That is until some goofball (a clever one, but still a goof) steals it and creates a monster to play pranks on a hotel’s staff. When he looses control his creation, named Gango, the show goes into kaiju and building smashing mode. There are some nice composited shots and rare human-level views of the monster. Eventually Hayata shows up, of course crashing the VTOL, and then it’s Ultraman’s time. The battle is a quite intensional clown show with pratfalls, taunts, tricks, and tickling — a contrast to other recent dismemberment-filled fights. It’s also another conflict where the Color Timer starts flashing, but doesn’t get much mention, though we are supposed to be worried about it.


Cry of the Mummy

Updated opening credits, with new monster silhouettes, a mixture of creatures from this show and from Ultra Q. It’s becoming clear who the stars of this show are, if it wasn’t already. The episode opens with a 7000 thousand year-old mummy being discovered. It hardly looks human, though everyone seems to assume it is. As future episodes will hint, the Earth of this show has a much deeper, and weirder history than ours.

Mummy attacks

The thing about mummies of course is that they find a way to come back to life, as this one does, and they start killing people, as this one does, with both the traditional method of strangulation, and with eye beams. A violent confrontation breaks out, but Arashi gets the chance to show off what he does best, managing to defeat the mummy with his Spider Shot.

Kirin

Unfortunately, before it fell, the mummy was able to awaken its partner/protector Dodongo, a giant kaiju, whose appearance should be familiar to anyone who knows Asian mythology, plays Dungeons & Dragons, or drinks Japanese beer: it’s a Kirin. Arashi wants to go after it as well, supported by Ide’s newest invention, a potable force field. IDE is firmly established now as the genius inventor of the team. He and the others manage to gruesomely blind Dodongo, but that’s not enough to stop it. Cap conveniently orders Hayata to separate from the rest of the team, so Ultraman is soon on the job to finish things up.

After the battle is over, we get a very odd “reverse transformation” where Ultraman sends out an energy bolt that then forms into the human Hayata. We don’t see what happens to the physical form of Ultraman. It leaves me wondering if Hayata actually ever “becomes” Ultraman, or if the giant alien form just appears when summoned and Hayata transmutes into energy and enters into it.