Doom Patrol season 1, episode 5 review: Paw Patrol


DC Universe Original Doom Patrol patrols more than doom, and its Chief resumes his post, albeit temporarily, for the unusual ride.

When we last left our heroes, they were being looked down upon, quite literally, by an Eye in the Sky spelling the end — or certain doom in their case. Thus, a vexed and power-dwarfed Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk) must relent and get involved, letting Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton) free to help his team. Altogether, they must alter time to bring about the coming of a Re-Creator to counter the doomsday De-Creator of Nurnheim. The key to all of that connects into Jane’s (Diane Gurrero) deeper-than-we-thought, fractured past, and manifests in something relevant to the title.

The show gets more oddball and intriguing — a killer combo made possible by a little magic and a horse head or two — with each passing episode, plus progressively better. One cast member, above all, the showrunner, and the source material’s long history deserve a lot of credit for that.

Crazy Jane

In lieu of a more intellectual and sophisticated way of saying it, Diane Gurrero is simply AWE-SOME as Jane and her multitudinous personalities. Her ability to turn them on and off at will, reminiscent of James McAvoy in Split and Glass, is a hallmark of acting brilliance some might say is beyond her years.

To bring out a range of emotions, vocal patterns, moods, and mental states every few minutes is a tall order for any artist. But Jane is more than a cacophonous case of dissociative identity; each person dwelling inside her is distinct mentally, physiologically, and in the powers they possess. She is the most powerful member of the team, designed that way by creator Grant Morrison, leaving endless possibilities for her story-wise.

Taken for Grant(ed) More(ison)

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Scot comic scribe Morrison resurrected Doom Patrol in the late ’80s for DC, and his run is the best-remembered incarnation of these legacy characters. Much of the magic, alternate dimensions, and bizarre flare the show presents originates from his mind. Morrison is responsible for the creation of Jane and guest star Willoughby Kipling (Mark Sheppard). The bad-arse magician’s spot was to be filled by John Constantine when he first appeared in 1990, but DC adamantly kept Vertigo and main-continuity properties separate.

And it seems producer Greg Berlanti is doing the same for DCTV. While it’s a bummer Matt Ryan didn’t show up to reprise his role as the chainsmoking Cockney necromancer Constantine, Mark Sheppard works just fine. It’s understandable too: Berlanti and crew deserve a chance to do something apart from the Arrowverse that has its own vision and palate not weighed down by anything else. (Which brings me to…)

Berlanti’s non-Arrowverse

Showrunner, executive producer, and caretaker of all things DC when it comes to TV and The CW, Greg Berlanti distinguishes the content of Doom Patrol and Titans by pushing the hard-R aspect of DC Universe and subscriber-based broadcasting to its limits. Unrestrained, he is free to sprinkle greater blood and violence, F-bombs, and gratuitous sex in these originals. (We can expect the same from Swamp Thing, which is due a few short months from now.)

He also keeps the wit sharp and self-aware, going places Agents of SHIELD or The Flash or Legends of Tomorrow can’t, and those behind Umbrella Academy didn’t dream of. Mr. Nobody narrates, sees all, and even controls the flow of the narrative, something you’re not used to seeing — and that is something you don’t quite get from the others in the same way.

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Doom Patrol is the kind of thing that, like Legends, develops a ready following, basking in its weirdness. It is a drama that continues to impress and find a balance with all the heady material and its unorthodox structure. The desirable end amid the chaos is to be the best script-flipping, quasi-satire formula breaker it’s capable of being.

New episodes drop one at a time Fridays on DC Universe. If you aren’t caught up or haven’t tuned in yet, you should definitely do so.