Even Robots Have Feelings
Armed with a sharp wit and well written characters, Doom Patrol embraces its craziness, helping it stand out among the glut of superhero content out there. While the first episode serves as little more than an origin story for our quartet of heroes, the manner in which this is executed is partly the reason Doom Patrol works as well as it does.
Hot off the success of Titans where Doom Manor and those inside were briefly featured, Doom Patrol begins with a look at the background for most of our characters we’ll be spending the season ahead with. We open in Paraguary 1948 with a man offering money in exchange for an experimental procedure. This happens to be our narrator who guides us through the rest of the episode, complete with amusing tidbits and fourth-wall breaking jibes.
Most of the episode’s content from here gravitates around Cliff Steele where we learn how he became Robotman. His tragic backstory is shown in full detail where we witness the downfall of his marriage and the subsequent accident that occurred, leading to him becoming encased in metal. Through some well-worked point-of-view shots we witness his early moments where he tries to come to terms with what’s happened.
After being introduced to the Chief, the genius scientist responsible for giving Cliff a new lease on life, we learn the history around the other inhabitants of the house. We get a closer look at genius pilot Larry and how he came to be encased in bandages while Rita’s fall from superstardom to a blob-like creature is also explored. However, it’s the arrival of wildcard Jane that really ignites the episode and helps move things along at a quicker pace.
Graced with 64 different personalities, each with their own abilities, an early altercation with Robotman sets the tone for what’s to come. She acts as the catalyst for the drama here, explaining to Cliff that what he’s learned from the Chief may not be completely accurate.
The final fifteen minutes or so of the episode tease a glimpse at what’s to come. The Chief leaves town for urgent business while the group decide to head to town. Unfortunately, chaos ensues as Rita reverts to her blob-like form and Larry loses control. After some ingenuity, Robotman saves the day and the group head back home only to learn their actions have some serious consequences. Consequences that lead to a big cliffhanger at the end of the episode with the reveal of our main antagonist for the season ahead.
Aesthetically, Doom Patrol looks great. It has a quirky vibe to it reflected in the experimental shots and choice of narration. It really helps this show stand out too and there’s enough here to make DC’s latest superhero offering one of the more unusual and unpredictable offerings.
Between Titans and The Umbrella Academy, superhero shows seem to be on a revitalised high right now. Whether Doom Patrol can keep up its witty writing and slick cinematography going forward is still up for debate but if it can replicate what it’s done during this pilot episode, we’re in for a very enjoyable ride. It’s still far too early to call this one but I’m remaining cautiously optimistic that this could just be the dark horse show of 2019.