So here we go. Let’s talk about the World’s Strangest Heroes.
I first encountered the Doom Patrol when I was a young teenager, I don’t remember the precise age. I was at a Borders with my family and I found the comic book section, like normal, when a single volume caught my eye: Doom Patrol vol 1: Crawling from the Wreckage by Grant Morrison and Richard Case. It was quite unlike anything I had seen before and when I started reading it, I was immediately hooked. These weren’t your regular superheroes — hell, even for an X-Men fan like myself, they were strange. I was familiar with Colossus and Nightcrawler, characters with deformities that were still lovable — but here was Cliff Steele, whose entire body was metal except for his brain and he hated it and here was Larry Trainer, eternally haunted by the Negative Spirit inside of him, forced to merge and become something else, and here was Crazy Jane, whose factured mind was host to a sixty-four personalities and sixty-four superpowers. These weren’t just strange, they were the strangest of the strange.
When I heard that they were going to make a “Doom Patrol” episode of Titans - and, subsequently, an entire Doom Patrol show — I was wary. How could they ever capture the insanity of the comic? How could they possibly make things as weird as that certified, Grade-A Grant Morrison weirdness? Where a talking revolutionary ape in a beret is in love with a German brain in a jar? Where the thin veneer of reality is often torn away to show the web of weirdness that underlies everything?
“The Doom Patrol” isn’t a good episode of Titans. For one thing, Dick and Kory are barely in it. The story is mainly about Rachel and Gar. But then again, it’s really not supposed to be an episode of Titans. It’s about Rachel being dragged into a completely different show, an episode of the ongoing saga called Doom Patrol. A show that, by all accounts, maintains and builds on the bizarreness of the comic. As an episode of Titans, I give it a B-. As a backdoor pilot for Doom Patrol, I give up an A fucking plus.
When I say that I loved every moment of Cliff and Larry and Rita, I fucking mean that I loved every moment of them. From Cliff wanting to just watch Rachel eat (and his love of her descriptions of food) to Larry’s entire love of cooking (even though he only drinks tea) to Rita’s entire tragic backstory (which comes more from the New 52 than the original DP comics, but I completely understand why they did it), they all come across as, if not fully fleshed out characters, characters that have enough depth and personality to them that I want to see more.
And boy am I glad that they dubbed in Brendan Fraser and Matt Bomer as Cliff and Larry. Their voices really did add to their appeal. Even with the robotic echo, Fraser’s voice still gives Robotman a brotherly feel to him. And Larry sounds, well, sardonic. Like Bomer is still playing Neal Caffrey, but a Neal Caffrey who also suffered a tragic accident. Even Rita is great, although we don’t see as much of her as the others.
And then we come to the Chief. Personally, I think Bruno Bichir did a good job, but he played the role with a bit too much menace. The Chief can be menacing, yes, but he also knows when to be kind and nurturing — he is, after all, very manipulative. I did love his last scene with Gar, although the quick ending with him in a wheelchair looking out the window was, well, a bit too quick. Bichir was good, but I have a feeling that Timothy Dalton will be great.
In any case, the plot of the episode played out pretty much exactly like I anticipated, so no surprises there. For an episode of Titans, it made me so much more excited for Doom Patrol.