Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Pilot Review: Doom Patrol

Doom Patrol (DC Universe)
Premiered February 15

I wasn’t expecting to like this show at all after a lackluster experience with the pilot of “Titans,” DC Universe’s first show that apparently spun this one off. Without having seen the episode of that show which launched this one, I didn’t feel lost at all, actually finding the exposition here to be terrific. I understand that the narration is meant to mock other superhero series that are all too familiar to viewers, but it managed to work wonders here, drawing me in and helping me to care about each of the four major protagonists whose lives went very, very awry to get them to the place they are now. I’m impressed with the cast, immediately recognizing Alan Tudyk from the likes of “Firefly” and the underrated “Powerless,” smirking as usual before appearing later in a far freakier form. Brendan Fraser had what turned out to be an underwhelming arc on “The Affair” a few years ago, and it’s good to see him as the tormented former racer now encased in a metal body that gives him strength and allows him to hide the demons inside him. Matt Bomer taking a part that keeps his face behind a mask demonstrates his commitment to the project, and it’s good to see the likeable former star of “White Collar” try something new like this. I couldn’t figure out where I knew Crazy Jane from, and I’m so happy to see that Diane Guerrero, a standout supporting player who was mysteriously absent from season six of “Orange is the New Black,” has found a role that allows her to display many antics and emotions. Though I’m convinced I’ve seen April Bowlby, who plays Elasti-Girl, somewhere before, it doesn’t appear that I have, and she’s winning me over as the former movie star whose uncontrollable transformation into the large blob was one of the best moments of this opening hour. And then of course there’s Timothy Dalton, many years removed from his James Bond career and fresher off “Penny Dreadful,” as the man seemingly pulling the strings who’s actually not in control of much. This pilot was one of the most engaging superhero starts I’ve seen in a long time, and I’m definitely in to see if episode two lives up to it.

How will it work as a series? They’ve decided to stay and defend the town because they don’t think that anything could be worse than what they’ve become, and they got some pretty quick confirmation that’s not the case at all. The powers here are truly interesting and dark, and I’m so curious to see how they use them to defeat more nefarious threats.
How long will it last? The original series “Titans” has already been renewed for a second season, and this one has better reviews across the board. Ratings data isn’t something that the relatively new streaming service is likely to release, but given that Netflix is rapidly pulling out of the Marvel superhero game, I think that DC is going to want to invest big-time here and give this show a ringing endorsement.

Pilot grade: B+

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