Despite a Notable Absence, ‘Doom Patrol’ is still the most whacked-out superhero show on television

The first three episodes of the new season of Doom Patrol hit both HBO Max and DC Universe today and I devoured all three like the little fat piggy I am.

Last season, this series established itself as a self-aware insane asylum of some of the most mentally deranged plots I have ever seen in a television series… everything from a gender-queer city named Danny to a cockroach with delusions of world domination. There was absolutely nothing that Doom Patrol wasn’t afraid to try and it resulted in one of the most memorable seasons of television I’ve seen in a long time… taking a mostly obscure comic book property and going crazy-insane with it.

This season appears to be no different. It’s going to be nutty, kooky, and crazy. The first episode finds the team shrunk down to the size of matchbox cars and living in a miniature table-top model city. The season episode has Cliff, Rita, and Jane travel in time to a time traveler’s disco, and the third episode has the chief pay a visit to an interdimensional alien guy who might be Jack the Ripper and who turns his victims into butterflies.

You know… the stuff only Doom Patrol can do.

So, while the plots are all wild as all get out, I do feel like the show is desperately missing the crucial element of Alan Tudyk’s Mr. Nobody and his constant sarcastic and self aware narration. It was such a staple of last season that its absence in incredibly noticeable… as if the show has lost a significant chunk of its soul. Yes, I know that Mr. Nobody was dealt with and his absence from the show is logical, but I still miss it and really don’t understand why he couldn’t still be around. I mean, for goodness’ sake, he’s trapped in a painting. Think about how angry he’d be over that.

The first three episodes of Doom Patrol may have messed up plots, but its really the characters that elevate it. All of the individual members of the team are dealing with their personal pains and regrets. Cliff tries to reconnect with his daughter with disastrous results, Jane is dealing with a coup from her other personalities, Larry is feeling the pain of missing out on his children’s entire lives when he finds out one of his kids has died at the age of 60, Rita wants to become a superhero, Victor is dealing with PTSD and looking for personal connection, and the chief is dealing with the fallout of losing his team’s faith.

Then there is Dorothy, the newest member of the team, an ape-faced little girl with the power to bring her imaginary friends to life. I’m really enjoying what I’ve been seeing from this character so far. She’s a disturbing mixture of creepiness and innocence and, seeing her strange collection of unnatural friends, is such an interesting visual. I am really looking forward to seeing where this goes.

Honestly, without Alan Tudyk, it does feel like the show has lost a lot of its glorious sarcasm and self-awareness, but it is still incredibly whacked out and unique for the genre. The arch of the season has yet to play out and I’m confident that it will not disappoint.

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