Doom Patrol: Season 2 — a review

Nearly a year and a half ago, I posted a review of Season 1 of Doom Patrol. I liked the series a lot, assigning it a grade of a solid A.

I was aware of a group called Doom Patrol back when I was reading DC Comics. But, I never read any of their books. Maybe they made a guest-starring appearance in a book I read, but, if so, I can’t recall it. And, I have vivid memories of reading Metal Men stories.

The television series benefitted from my lack of knowledge of the Doom Patrol. Everything seemed new to me (except Cyborg) and I could watch the series without comparing it to anything else. Of course, I did compare it to other things, such as the X-Men. There are obvious parallels with their wheelchair-bound leaders. But, I digress—

It wasn’t just the novelty of a comic book property that kept my attention last season. It was also a storytelling tone that be described only as weird. This isn’t a typical superhero team story. It is set in a fictional universe where magic is a plausible tool. Plus, our “heroes” aren’t very heroic. At least not on a consistent basis. The stories that flowed from this willing suspension of disbelief were of an imaginative sort, and not your typical superhero team outings. This series delves more into the psychology of being a super-powered individual than anything else I’ve ever read or watched.

In this season, I found myself missing Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk). Not just because Tudyk is an amazingly fun actor who clearly relished his bad-guy turn in the first season. I missed the character’s fourth-wall breaking that framed the series so that it felt more like a story being told to the viewer. It was just one of the things that enhanced the already surreal nature of the show, and, once it was gone, I missed it.

Mr. Nobody’s absence somehow made the series seem more grounded in reality this season, in spite of the outlandish things that continued to happen to the characters. The more surreal and unreal elements of the show then took on a more sinister edge.

Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrerro) and the Chief’s daughter Dorothy (Abigail Shapiro) are two characters whose heads we get to spend a lot of time exploring this season. Even when these traits have little to do with the main plot of an episode, Jane’s multiple personalities and their Underground world, and Dorothy’s collection of imaginary friends who aren’t so imaginary, are interesting whenever they appear on screen. Initially, I found the interactions between the Chief (Timothy Dalton) and his daughter to be a bit cloying, but the relationship grew on me.

The rest of the team continues to entertain as well, even though they are all still reeling from the revelation that the Chief was behind the various “accidents” that recreated them as superheroes. Robotman Cliff (voice-acted by Brendan Frasier) is trying to reconnect with his grown daughter. Negative Man Larry (Matt Bomer) is in a similar boat, and his own children have grown old during his absence. Elasti-Girl Rita (April Bowlby) gets bitten by the acting bug again in local theater and decides that she wants to use her powers to become a genuine superhero, even as she continues to deal with her own mommy issues. Cyborg Victor (Joivan Wade) still feels slightly out of place in this B-Team, but he reveals that he is as psychologically mixed-up as anyone on the series.

The Chief trying to be a good father to Dorothy while keeping her from bringing about Armageddon neatly ties in with the “family” issues of the rest of the characters.

There are only nine episodes in Season 2. I’m not going to ruin everything for you by telling you what happens in each episode. I will tell you that Dorothy’s imaginary playmate known as The Candlemaker is genuinely scary, and his buildup as the season’s Big Bad, while maybe a bit heavy-handed, is effective. I expected this character to be highlighted in the finale, and I wasn’t disappointed. Plus, Mark Sheppard appears in four episodes as Willoughby Kipling. Whether he’s Badger, Crowley or Kipling, I like it when Sheppard is a guest-star.

The series remains wonderfully insane, even as it trades a bit of its former zany campiness for a pervading sense of horror. The show has been renewed for a third season. Since DC Universe is becoming just a digital comic book platform, I think we can safely assume that Season 3 will premiere on HBO Max.

I liked this season. I didn’t like it as much as the first season, I’ll admit, even though it definitely had more emotional depth. I don’t know if this is in the plans, but I’d like to see Alan Tudyk come back to the show. If not as Mr. Nobody, then another character. I missed the manic energy he brought to the show in the first season.

Firewater’s There’s-No-Superhuman-Strength-that-Can-Save-You-From-Heartache Report Card: A-

Maybe a slight sophomore slump, but not a huge one. Things just seemed slightly more real this time around, when reality seems to be the thing to avoid.

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