blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Doom Patrol (2019) s01e01

Alan Tudyk is “Doom Patrol”’s red herring. So far, anyway. He’s in the prologue, which has him getting powers from a Nazi scientist in the forties, and then he narrates. There’s always narration. Some of it’s good, some of it’s bad. When it’s good, when Tudyk’s not being to snide, it nears Jean Shepherd. When it’s bad, it’s like bad “Rocky & Bullwinkle.” Jeremy Carver’s script has a handful of easy jokes in the action, but most of them are on Tudyk in the narration. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.

Tudyk’s also got the job of introducing the cast. First, there’s Brendan Fraser, who’s not going to be long in the show—at least in front of cameras—he gets into a major race car wreck (he’s a race car driver) and dies. Weird millionaire very much in the sixties sense when rich people could have boring mansions Timothy Dalton resurrects Fraser from his brain. It’s a whole Robocop homage sequence, which also introduces some of the other cast in background, principally April Bowlby. Bowlby’s probably going to be the make or break on “Doom Patrol.” If she’s good, she’s going to be able to hold up a lot of it.

She was a racist, elitist fifties movie star who somehow got zapped with magic and loses control of her body. Like it melts, but while expanding. Blobs out, really. Presumably by the present day—oh, other thing, none of the “Doom Patrol” members age apparently, hopefully I remember that bit later. Anyway, presumably by the present day she’s not such a hideous human being on the inside. Lots of dry wit from Bowlby.

Then there’s Matt Bomer, who spends the present wrapped up in Invisible Man garb, and apparently is possessed with an energy monster from space. Not clear what the energy monster does but cause trouble. Bomer’s all burnt up because his plane crashed back in the sixties, though it’s unclear exactly what happened after the crash. There’s also a hidden gay life subplot, which… plays weird. So far. Like, the character development’s all fake because Carver’s being so manipulative with the reveals but… whatever. It’s fine. Bomer’s good—is he actually under all those bandages, because Fraser peaces out to let Riley Shanahan do the Robotman stuff, and they have to loop Bomer’s dialogue anyway.

The last member of the team is the newest one, Diane Guerrero. She was at the mansion before Fraser got there, meaning she’s like seventy or so. At least sixty.

Guerrero’s like thirty-two. A young looking thirty-two because she’s playing a punk.

I mean, she and Fraser—once he’s the Robotman—are cute enough but the show’s internal logic is less a “trust us” and more a “who’ll notice,” which isn’t reassuring.

Excellent special effects—like, surprisingly good—and okay direction from Glen Winter help. It’s all setup this episode so who knows what the actual show will bring…

Definitely some Alan Tudyk.

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