Based on the DC comic series, DOOM PATROL (HBO) follows a team of misfit superheroes shunned and heavily traumatized for the “gift” of powers they received and that carry a great personal cost. The show strikes an almost perfect balance between strong characterization, great acting across the board, excellent dialogue, and just enough weirdness to make things unpredictable. I just finished Season 1 and loved it as something cerebral and refreshing in the superhero genre.
The characters we’re introduced early on include Cliff Steele (the always lovable Brendan Fraser), a racing driver turned into Robotman after a tragic accident; Larry Trainor (Matt Bomer), a test pilot who lives with an energy being inside him; Rita Farr (April Bowlby), a vintage movie actress who under stress turns into a gelatinous blob; and Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), who has split personality disorder, with each personality having its own superpower. They live in a house under the protection of Niles (Timothy Dalton). When Niles is captured by the nefarious Mr. Nobody (excellently played by Alan Tudyk), a villain who reminds me a bit of Q from STAR TREK, the team must confront their problems and become the heroes they were destined to be, aided by the superhero Cyborg (Joivan Wade).
This is a weird show, combining serious drama with comedy with wacky oddities and a strong dash of meta self awareness. All these elements come together in a nice balance to make it likeable, surprising, and filled with interesting ideas. If any of its elements were overplayed, DOOM PATROL wouldn’t have worked nearly as well for me, but the show balances them almost perfectly with a high degree of integrity. But be warned: This is not even close to being a conventional superhero show. The story doesn’t so much roll out linearly as spin like a washing machine, a lot of the problems our heroes face are self-created by their powers, and there are numerous digressions and back stories.
Overall, I loved it and will be heading into Season 2 soon. I was happy to hear the series was just renewed by HBO for a Season 4.