Martin Carr reviews the second season of DC’s Doom Patrol…
At the root of this superhero hybrid is a dysfunctional family dynamic which really gives it heart and soul. Fragile patriarchs, truly broken characters and enough emotional baggage to fill the hold of a Boeing 747, means Doom Patrol 2.0 neither spares the rod nor spoils the child. In this convoluted sophomore effort VFX help construct a world in miniature which really grounds the reality. Giant rats, pint sized pancakes and some honestly inspiring FX work meld seamlessly with the all too human drama of episode one.
Through a combination of flashbacks give credence to ill feelings and bring substance to any confrontation, show runner Jeremy Carver consistently builds on his opening season. Magic, myth and street smart savvy clash with character arcs which constantly challenge audience expectations. Darkness looms large while a perpetual terror skulks in corners looking to lay waste to our intrepid team.
Psychological angst stands shoulder to shoulder with physical pain as Dalton’s Chief reluctantly puts these people in peril relentlessly. More than anything season two deals with the ramifications of his actions and their isolating effect on those around him. Veins of dark comedy bleaker than pitch counterbalance any overt acts of violence, by allowing these people solace through shared emotional trauma. There is no weak link amongst a cast of exceptionally understated performances, which subtly stays the right side of bombast without drifting into caricature.
Missed opportunities sit alongside lifetimes of regret as Dalton attempts to rectify the mistakes he has made. Brendan Fraser and Diane Guerrero remain at their foulmouthed best mixing violent outbursts with genuine pathos, as internal demons continue grinding them down. Elsewhere Matt Bomer’s Larry and April Bowlby’s Rita navigate their own past transgressions whilst facing new ones together.
This continual mix of time periods, abstract character encounters and perpetual threat as personified by the Chief’s daughter, makes season two a densely plotted pleasure. By combining contemporary issues with an old school DC ethos, this series never misses a step and consistently proves surprising. Grotesque, glorious, fanciful and darkly flamboyant Jeremy Carver has only added more kudos to a series, which not only entertains but seems intent on pushing the envelope of expectation.
In many ways it outshines the second season of its stablemate Titans, which might have had Deathstroke but ironically lost something in translation. This mismatched group of barely functioned quasi-heroic misfits feels more authentic, less polished and more human as a result. With a less than subtle nod to David Lynch’s Elephant Man and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Doom Patrol feels less comic book and more literary adaptation for the millennial generation. Combining an old fashioned Victorian story telling gravitas with cutting edge VFX, it possesses the substance somehow lacking in other more prominent properties. A fact which should see this series granted the elusive greenlight for another season before it concludes.
With a DC double whammy in the offing from Matt Reeves and that understated Todd Philips contribution, it seems Warners are finally finding their way out of darkness. A point which may yet be further underlined when Michael Keaton signs on the line which is dotted for his return as Bruce Wayne in Flashpoint.