Quick Thought: Doom Patrol 2.04: “Sex Patrol”

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

While watching, I frequently ponder whether I’m the ideal audience for this show —or whether I’m the worst. I know most of the source material they are drawing on, mixing and remixing characters and ideas from almost 60 years of comics. So I have some context for the cavalcade of weirdness: this a character from Grant Morrison, that’s a idea from Rachel Pollack, that’s a plot twist from Gerald Way, and so on.

I like the way the blender that is Jeremy Carver’s show reinterprets and rebuilds the comics. The SeX Men and the Shadow Mr. Evans are from the later issues of the Grant Morrison & Richard Case run. While they had their unique quirks, you could get the feeling that Morrison/Case were staring to recycle ideas. The SeX Men were another flavor of Normalcy Agents, while the Shadow Mr. Evans was next in a line of bizarre Demiurges. Remaking the SeX Men as orgone-tracking Ghostbusters was clever, and the comic never had any reason whatsoever for the Shadowy Mr. Evans to have an umbilical attached fetus floating around him.

Still, after the initial excitement of his appearance, I missed the attitude and dark insanity of the Shadow Mr. Evans as an active character, rather than a voiceless specter. The emergence of Scarlet Harlot was a big, very disturbing event in the comic and while she got a cameo here, it ended up another example of the show’s hesitancy to really go all out with what the comic gives them to work with.

It can be amazing to see what this show is doing with Doom Patrol lore. I don’t want them to just recreate comic stories. Their original concepts and plots, such as the party to revive Danny or their fresh interpretations of characters such as Rita or Dorothy, are the show’s best elements, worthy contributions to the many, varied visions creators have had for Doom Patrol. But too often by the end of an episode I’m disappointed that they aren’t doing more, that they back away rather than just going all out.

Presentation of comic lore and High Weirdness are one thing, another is fundamental problems with the characters. Most everybody seems adrift and without motivation. They are consumed with being depressed and tortured. Not that they don’t have good reasons to be. It is just that Cliff, Rita, Larry, and Jane have already spent decades mopping about the mansion feeling that way. I was anticipating the show being about their finally breaking out of their prison/refuge and becoming something more. Any growth from last season seems gone. They don’t really have anything to do. They are not even much connected to the surreal events swirling around them. I would love to see Rita trying to be a superhero, or have Cliff develop individual, functioning relationships with Jane’s personas. Or Larry go down a transhuman themed path into becoming Rebis, the unified alchemical entity from Morrison/Case’s stories.

If all we are going to get is grief, self-pity, and more “new” secret traumas from their pasts, I’m going to loose interest.

Quick Thought: Doom Patrol 2.02: “Tyme Patrol”

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

As much as I like tracing down ideas and noticing Easter Eggs from the Doom Patrol comics, I feel this show’s potential is in developing into its own vision of its own Doom Patrol. That’s mostly what we get in this episode. Results were mixed.

The Chief’s goals and motivations are laid out in some detail now — and I hope they will remain in place, as we don’t need more revelations and “shocking” secrets. I wonder where the show will ultimately go with the Candlemaker since, after setting up the initial idea, they could do anything they wanted with their interpretation.

Dr. Tyme

Dr. Tyme is an old silly villain from the original run of Doom Patrol comics. He also seems a way to play with one of the signatures of Richard Case’s villain designs: people with weird things for heads. Clocks, cathedrals, planets, etc. His main thing here is just not being what everybody expected of a time-traveling supervillain. He’s quite relatable, really. If you could manipulate time to your pleasure, might you also just find your favorite era and make an eternity of it? Otherwise his use in the episode was kind of thin and just setup the cliche of giving characters mysterious glimpses into the past and future.

Vic’s plot is okay, for an offbeat take on a superhero. The thing that concerns me is that he doesn’t really have a connection with the rest of the show. Cyborg had always been shoehorned into Doom Patrol, and while in Season One he provides some contrast with the other characters, now that he’s left the team it will take some work to justify bringing him back. His scenes just seem part of a different show.

Liza Radley

I don’t know where they are going with Jane. I keep thinking the “change” might be the arising of the Liza Radley persona, who shook things up in Morrison/Case comics.

Larry’s segment hasn’t really added much that’s new to his character. It appears mostly setup for the next story. The butterflies might or might not have been enough of a clue, if previews hadn’t already given things away. The Red Jack story in Morrison/Case centered on Rhea Jones, who in the TV series is one of the elder “Doom Patrol” members. It seems like Larry is being set up to take her place. But who know where the show will take it? Hopefully somewhere new and unexpected.