Chances are you missed Doom Patrol when it debuted last year, due to the fact that it aired exclusively on the DC Universe streaming platform. (It’s based on the DC Comics superhero team of the same name.) That’s a shame, because it proved to be a delightfully bonkers show about a “found family” of superhero misfits. For its forthcoming second season, the show will air both on DC Universe and HBO Max, hopefully expanding its audience. Judging by the official trailer, we’re in for another crazy ride.
(Some S1 spoilers below.)
Timothy Dalton plays Niles Caulder, aka The Chief, a medical doctor who saved the lives of the various Doom Patrol members and lets them stay in his mansion. His Manor of Misfits includes Jane, aka Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), whose childhood trauma resulted in 64 distinct personalities, each with its own powers. Rita (April Bowlby), aka Elasti-Woman, is a former actress with stretchy, elastic properties she can’t really control, thanks to being exposed to a toxic gas that altered her cellular structure. Larry Trainor, aka Negative Man, is a US Air Force pilot who has a “negative energy entity” inside him, and must be swathed in bandages to keep radioactivity from seeping out of his body. (Matt Bomer plays Trainor without the bandages, while Matthew Zuk takes on the bandaged role.)
Cliff Steele, aka Robotman, is a former NASCAR driver whose brain was transplanted into a robot body after a horrific crash. (Brendan Fraser plays the human Cliff, and Riley Shanahan plays the robot version.) Finally, there is Vic, aka Cyborg (Joivan Wade), whose father gave him cybernetic enhancements to save his life after an accident. Together, they make up the titular Doom Patrol.
There’s also Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man (he’s a mismatched fusion of all three); a superpowered bounty hunter who tracks people down by eating their facial hair; and a metahuman superhero named Flex Mentallo who can alter reality by flexing his muscles—because why the hell not? This is a show with a talking cockroach, time travel, a talking horse/oracle named Baphomet, a cross-dressing cabaret singer, world-destroying interdimensional entities, a farting goat, and sentient Nazi puppets, after all. Doom Patrol goes all in on the crazy train, and somehow makes it work.
In S1, the team faced arch-villain Eric Morden, aka Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk), who can travel through dimensions and alter reality, frequently breaking the fourth wall—as the only character who’s aware he is on a TV show—to narrate the action, thereby manipulating events to his liking. Mr. Nobody kidnaps Caulder and holds him captive in a dimension called the “White Space,” and the Doom Patrol spends most of the first season trying to rescue him, wrestling with their personal demons along the way.
In the end, the Doom Patrol defeats Mr. Nobody, but they also discover that The Chief is the one responsible for all the tragedies that gave them each their powers. Let’s just say the team is dealing with some intense feelings of betrayal right now. Caulder had his reasons: he has a super-powered daughter, Dorothy Spinner, who is deeply troubled, and his actions were a means of trying to extend his own life as much as possible so he could continue to protect her. Oh, and the entire team, except for Larry, is now the size of a cockroach. For reasons.
Judging by the S2 trailer, Dorothy is going to be the season’s Big Bad, as Caulder admits he can’t control his daughter (her mother is an immortal cave woman), and begs the team to help. (“She will unleash hell on Earth.”) In the comics, the character has the power to bring her imaginary friends to life, and we see Dorothy appear to do just that here. A pint-sized Robotman gets the better of an attacking giant rat. We see Rita trying to control her elastic powers in hopes of becoming a true superhero. And we meet a few more of Jane’s personalities. “Those annoying feckless losers I live with are my family,” Jane says. “They may be spineless but I know deep down they all care about me.”
The first three episodes of Doom Patrol will drop on July 25, 2020, on both HBO Max and DC Universe. After that, there will be a new episode each week for the next six weeks.
Listing image by YouTube/HBO Max