Following the team’s live action debut in episode 4 of Titans the Doom Patrol comes back full force in the first episode of their self titled show. In the aptly named origins episode we are treated to the back story of each member in this dysfunctional family by the sneering narration of villain Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk). This colorful commentary helps make the show feel unique with his snarky meta comments and retelling of the origins of Doom Patrol giving it the feel of a bygone era of heavy narration and fourth-wall breaking comics. This does wonders for Doom Patrol adding a uniqueness and comic book feel that hasn’t been seen often in live action.
The narration isn’t in every scene of the show, it shows up when Mr. Nobody considers it needed and leaves when the show needs room to breathe. We are first treated to Robotman’s origin when he was still a race car driving human named Cliff Steele (Brendan Fraser). His introduction is the second best in the episode as we are treated to Cliff’s Bare ass (played by Brendan Fraser’s ass) while he is having sex with his babysitter, showcasing just how much he doesn’t cares about his marriage. A high-speed NASCAR crash later and seemingly died we see through his new eyes the passing of years in a cool sequence reminiscent of the Robocop ‘87 awaking scene. With Larry Trainor’s (Matt Bomer) plane crash, and Rita Farr’s (April Bowlby) film set accident coming later, we are told in small doses their respective origins but in each one there is always the nagging feeling that not everything is as it seems. This idea is expanded on later with new elements taking form in Cliff’s story.
In the present (2018) Robotman and the audience are is introduced to Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero) who wins the best introduction in the episode. Jane has 64 different personalities each possessing a unique power and attitude that changes randomly throughout, whenever she does change there is a visual cue of what could be called a quick “aura” flying off of her. With Chief leaving on yet another trip to keep an eye on the mysterious -as the team in unison put it- Jane gets the idea to go on a day trip to the neighboring town. This causes multiple problems and brings us to the main plot of the series, Mr. Nobody making his appearance now that he has caught up with the Chief.
As the story goes it follows close to each characters origins in their comics and seems to draw heavy influence from Grant Morrison’s famous Doom Patrol run. The casting for each character feels perfect, with Rita sounding and acting like a past generation actress, all while trying to remain beautiful and not lose control thus turning her into something that resembles the 1958 blob creature. Larry seems nice and trustworthy on the layer but seems to be hiding something “negative” within himself while feeling like a monster on the outside. Playing the somewhat straight man for the audience Robotman becomes ultimately confused and bewildered at some scenes, while playing up the depressing expect of becoming a robot with no human sense. For the small amount of screen time the Chief has he speaks like he wants the best, but at the same time it seems he is lying and is willing to do whatever is necessary for him to get what he wants. Every character was amazing in their own way, but the acting for Jane was one of the best performances. Even without the visual cue of the personality change you could tell that she was someone else when it happened, by the change in how she moved and the speech patterns/tone.
The costume design may not seem like much because they aren’t in matching suits like most hero teams are but the comic this takes inspiration from never had them in matching uniforms, just in their normal day clothing and that works out perfect here. With the original announcement of the villain being Mr. Nobody many fans were surprised and in suspense on how they would change his design from the comic, due to it being so obscure. The way they changed it up for live action worked out amazingly and makes me long for him to be on screen more.
Final Thoughts: The only problem I had with Doom Patrol: Episode 1 was at times I just couldn’t hear what they were saying. With that minor inconvenience aside the episode did a good job making me want to invest time in this world and reeled me in making me want all episodes to drop at once. With a good amount of laughs, drama, and some action if they keep this momentum going Doom Patrol may end up being one of the top superhero shows out there. One of my favorite parts was just how much they felt like a family, not just a team. If you enjoy this episode I suggest reading Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol, it is fantastic and this made me want to re-read it!
Director: Glen Winter
Actors: Diane Guerrero (Crazy Jane), Brendan Fraser (Cliff Steele / Robotman (voice)), Riley Shanahan (Robotman (physical)), Matt Bomer(Larry Trainor / Negative Man (voice)), Matthew Zuk(Negative Man (physical)), April Bowlby (Rita Farr / Elasti-Girl), Timothy Dalton (Niles Caulder / Chief), and Alan Tudyk (Eric Morden / Mr. Nobody).