Brainiac On Banjo #038: Different? HA!

Are you tired of all of those superhero shows on television? After a while, do most of them kind of drift together as though they were Avengers Endgame on the installment plan? Well, if so, I’ve got the television show for you!

As noted previously, The Doom Patrol, on the DC Universe service with all episodes now streaming (and Swamp Thing beginning next week), started out with the Big Bad, Mr. Nobody, masterfully portrayed by Alan Tudyk with a nod to Frank Gorshin, telling the viewers that this is not going to be in any way shape or form your father’s superhero television show. Now that the first season has ended, it turns out he was absolutely on-the-money. The television series has been uncontrollably batshit — completely unpredictable, true to the spirit of the Vertigo version of the team, often brilliantly performed (Diane Guerrero deserves a separate paycheck for each version of Crazy Jane she portrays), and with special effects that are unique from anything else I’ve seen on broadcast or streaming. Oh, and it’s got really first-rate and highly dangerous writing.

Yeah, I liked it. To quote Dennis Miller, which isn’t done much these days, your mileage may vary.

It might be too strange for some folks. That’s not a sign of age or intelligence or any other demographic; it’s really damn strange. When I wrote “batshit” in the previous paragraph, what I really meant to say was “bugfuck” — and I mean that in the Harlan Ellison sense of the term. This is very well-timed: while other new superhero shows strive for individuality (Cloak and Dagger comes to mind; it achieves that goal quite nicely), The Doom Patrol sets itself apart from the pack by being so non-linear geometry teachers should be warned against viewing.

If you saw the original ITC show The Prisoner (1967), which just happens to be my all-time favorite dramatic television series, you might remember the concluding two-part episode that featured Leo McKern and Alex Kanner as… well, not really the Big Bads to Patrick McGoohan’s hero. That particular wind-up has been debated for more than a half-century and was so intense that McKern suffered a heart attack while filming it. The Doom Patrol has that same sort of vibe; hence, my proclamation that it might be too strange for some. But I’ll tell you one thing: if you let your kids watch it and they like it and they “get” it, you might want to invest in some therapy.

That’s not because they are paying Brendan Fraser for each time he drops the F-bomb (“fuck,” in case you’ve been following Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind). Well, maybe a little; Brendan isn’t exactly channelling Dudley Do-Right here. It’s because the show is built from the imposed angst of its characters, is unrelenting in its worldview, and embodies concepts from the Vertigo run that will either confound you or replace any hallucinogenic need you might assume in the future.

Look, you have been bitching for something different. Most certainly, I have been. Well, The Doom Patrol is something different. I don’t like binge watching — two or three in a row is quite fine by me — but I just might find myself binge re-watching The Doom Patrol in a few months. And, yes, my TiVo is screaming from overstuffed storage despite my four terabyte auxiliary hard disk.

There’s a cherry on top of this show. The legendary Ed Asner, of Lou Grant and Granny Goodness fame, appears in the next-to-last episode. If you think that’s weird… well… that’s The Doom Patrol.

The Doom Patrol has been picked up for a second season. This happened months before the first season aired. Either the DC Universe gatekeepers are quite adventurous and true risk-takers, or they’ve been smoking some really strong shit.

Most likely… both.

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