Posts Tagged ‘Alan Tudyk’

Okay, so if you said you just knew the first season of the DC Universe original streaming series Doom Patrol was going to come down to a battle royale between giant mutated versions of the Curtis Armstrong-voiced Ezekiel the cockroach and Robotman’s rat nemesis Admiral Whiskers, you’d be lying — and yet here it is, the fifteenth and final episode of the first season, titled “Ezekiel Patrol,” delivers an ending no one could have predicted after an entire run of episodes loaded with “no one could have predicted.”

There’s more to it, of course : there’s the missing backstory that fleshes out the massive, and ugly, revelation laid on the team at the close of last week by Timothy Dalton’s “Chief” Niles Caulder; the uneasy detente achieved between Joivan Wade’s Vic Stone and his father, Silas (portrayed as ever by veteran hand Phil Morris); the failed attempt at a “normal” life undertaken — and subsequently given up on — by April Bowlby’s Rita Farr and Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor; the descent into addiction and self-negation (or should that be selves-negation?) by Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane while Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan’s Cliff Steele stands watch as her ultimately powerless protector; the possible end of the road for Tommy Snider’s Beard Hunter on Danny the Street; the emptiness of the hollow “victory” achieved by Alan Tudyk’s Mr. Nobody and his subsequent attempt to get the “one-up” on his mortal foe yet again; the return of Alimi Ballard’s Joshua Clay in a new context; the return of Jane “alters” Hammerhead and Penny Farthing in the same context — goddamn, but there’s a lot to unpack in this “committee-written” script by Tamara Becher-Wilkinson, Shoshona Sachi, and “showrunner” Jeremy Carver, is there not?

Mostly, though, it’s all about answering the question of how and even if the team moves forward now that they know they’ve all been betrayed by the man they trusted more than anyone. The man who brings them all back together for one final mission that involves a last-second nod to Grant Morrison and Richard Case’s “The Painting That Ate Paris” storyline — minus anything to do with Paris. Director Dermott Downs makes it all work, somehow, and even if the “method” of entering the painting is less than satisfying, everything else — including the method of getting back out — surely is.

But, really, who can ignore the low-rent Kaiju fireworks? I know I couldn’t, and roach vs. rodent was an absolute blast.

We’re all set up for season two, if DC wants to do it : a familiar name to readers of the comic, presented within the framework of an astonishingly different “secret origin,” is certainly a tantalizing note to close things on, and we still haven’t gotten to the bottom of Jane’s “Psycho Cyborg” painted premonition, nor witnessed the hopefully-inevitable tussle with the Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, nor seen the title of “General” placed in front of the word “Immortus” yet. I get the feeling there’s plenty to come — we’re all just waiting on word of an official renewal.

But hey, you know what? Enough with the speculation. What we know we got was the best season of super-hero television ever made — hell, arguably one of the best seasons of any kind of television, period. There’s no shame in wanting more — the ecstatic critical and fan reception to this first run practically guarantees it, anyway — but until that happy day arrives, I think a “binge” of season one would be a welcome way to eat up just about any weekend. Carver and his cohorts are free to take a bow anytime they wish; they’ve certainly earned it.

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This review, and all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon page, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Lately, in fact, it’s been a lot of politics. Your patronage there not only keeps things going, it also ensures a steady supply of free content both here and at my fourcolorapocalypse comics site. I recently lowered the minimum-tier pricing to a dollar a month, so come on — what have you got to lose? There’s a ton of stuff up on there already, and needless to say, I’d be very gratified to have your support,

Oh, and I suppose a link would come in handy. Here you go :https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

 

The end, as they say, is nigh.

It’s been quite the first season for the DC Universe original streaming series Doom Patrol, has it not? And in the next-to-last (and fourteenth) episode, appropriately titled “Penultimate Patrol,” we’re treated to the return of old friends (Danny The Street) and old foes (Tommy Snider’s cringe-worthy, and now apparently reformed, Beard Hunter), but by and large the focus here is on the team — and, yes, now it really is a team — and the culmination of their own personal journeys, quite literally.

Yes indeed, everything “showrunner” Jeremy Carver has been building toward reaches a customarily-bizarre crescendo here, with Alan Tudyk’s Mr. Nobody being treated/subject to some revelatory period-piece “backstory” of his own here (superbly realized by director Rebecca Rodriguez) before placing each of our “Doom Patrolers” at the precise moment before the accidents/incidents that changed their lives and offering them, in a very real sense, a “do-over.” In other words, that newly-realized sense of resolve they’ve all got? It’s sorely put to the test here.

Notably absent from the inter-dimensional brouhaha (arrived at by — uhhmmm — unique means courtesy of Devan Chandler Long’s Flex Mentallo, who accidentally gives our heroes, and everyone else “on” Danny, an orgasm first) is Joivan Wade’s Vic Stone, who’s in for a historical re-write himself, courtesy of his barely-conscious father, Silas (played, as ever, by consummate pro Phil Morris), who reveals that the memories swirling in his son’s mind aren’t necessarily what really happened.

Which, as things turn out, ends up being something of a running theme here, but to say any more about that would probably be to say too much. What I can safely reveal is that if you think Mr. Nobody is dispatched too easily when the time comes, you’re absolutely right, and the “happy return” of Timothy Dalton’s “Chief” Niles Caulder comes with quite a price, as he’s forced to re-live a tragedy of his own — and, frankly, everyone else’s — again and again.

And again.

And again.

Until —

Yeah, the ending. That ending. The one I said I’d keep mum on, and shall. The one that ties into the episode’s over-arching theme of memory — or at least perceived memory — not being what it’s cracked up to be. But “cracking” may be precisely what’s in store for April Bowlby’s Rita Farr, Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane, Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan’s Cliff Steele, and Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor. We shall see.

Granted, those familiar with the Grant Morrison/Richard Case run on the comic will be far less shocked by the revelation/twist in question than those coming in to the series “cold,” but my money is on you grizzled vets still being surprised by the tonal difference that comes part and parcel with its, for lack of a better term, “TV version,” and will be equally confounded/intrigued by the possibilities it presents for next week’s big finale.

And, yeah, it’s definitely going to be big. I don’t do the whole “breathless with suspense” thing too often when it comes to television, but the next seven days can hurry up and fly right by as far as I’m concerned.  This has been a heck of a ride, and it’s all set up for a heck of a finish.

The end may indeed be nigh — but all indications are that Carver and company are determined to go out with a very loud bang.

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This review, and all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon page, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Lately, in fact, it’s been a lot of politics. Your patronage there not only keeps things going, it also ensures a steady supply of free content both here and at my fourcolorapocalypse comics site. I recently lowered the minimum-tier pricing to a dollar a month, and given that there’s a lot of stuff up on there already, you’re sure to get excellent value for your money. Needless to say — but I’ll say it anyway — I’d be very gratified to have your support.

Oh, and I suppose a link would come in handy. Here you go :https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

 

And so the moment has come : the thirteenth episode of the DC Universe streaming series Doom Patrol, appropriately titled “Flex Patrol,” finally introduces us, in proper fashion, to Grant Morrison and Richard Case’s (and, some would argue, Frank Quitely’s) so-called “Man Of Muscle Mystery,” Flex Mentallo, after several hints, and an amnesia-riddled debut last week. Was the moment worth waiting for?

The quick answer to that is “yes,” not least because Devan Chandler Long really sinks his teeth into the role of the meta-human molded after Charles Atlas’ “Hero Of The Beach,” but also because script-writers Tom Farrell and Tamara Becher-Wilkinson imbue his backstory with a generous helping of legit pathos that sees him go from “Ant Farm” refugee to ebullient returned champion to unhinged vehicle of pure rage (and not without good reason) by the time all is said and done.

Except, ya know, nothing is said and done quite yet, with two episodes still remaining, and so “setting up for the big finale” is also the order of the day here.

On that score, results are a bit more mixed — we learn a little too quickly and too conveniently that Phil Morris’ Silas Stone is still alive, and while his hospital stay allows for some nice character development for his “on-screen son,” Joivan Wade’s Vic Stone, and Vic’s frequent de facto surrogate mother, April Bowlby’s Rita Farr (who’s probably undergone the most thorough-going transformation of anyone of anyone on the show — and no, I don’t mean that in the strictly physical sense, although the pun is there if you want it), the end result of it all, namely Vic re-synching with his “GRID” operating system, is basically a foregone conclusion.

Whoops, sorry, guess that counts as a bit of a “spoiler” — but, really, it shouldn’t.

Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor, Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan’s Cliff Steele, and Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane all get some minimal “arc” progression of their own as they play baby-sitter to Flex, but really, who are we fooling? This is is his story all the way, and it’s in the “period-piece” flashback sequences that director T.J. Scott’s precise attention to detail really shines. Some may argue that this episode is directed to within a an inch of its life, but “show-runner” Jeremy Carver has actually allowed his directors more leeway than one would expect, while still achieving a pretty uniform look and feel for the series as a whole. This episode continues that welcome tradition — even if there really is nothing terribly “traditional” about the show on the whole.

Perhaps the biggest surprise to be had here is in a bit of “stunt” casting, though, as Rita strikes up a friendly rapport with an elderly man at the hospital, who — hey, holy shit, that’s Ed Asner!

Except — and here we go with the “spoilers” again — it’s not, and the “cliffhanger” here features Alan Tudyk’s Mr. Nobody at his most “meta” yet, complete with plenty of DC product placement. No sign of Timothy Dalton’s “Chief” Niles Caulder, but one gets the sense he’ll be along again shortly, especially since the next episode carries the title “Penultimate Patrol.” This installment provided a nice lead-in for that, and given that was its primary function, Carver and co. can notch another creative “victory” in their collective belt.

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This review, and all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon page, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Your patronage there not only keeps things going, it also ensures a steady supply of free content both here and at my fourcolorapocalypse comics blog. I recently lowered the minimum “subscription” price to a dollar, and given that there’s a whole bunch of stuff up on there already, I dare say you’re going to get about the best value for money any creator offers on that site from yours truly. I’d be very gratified indeed to have your support.

Oh, and I suppose a link would come in handy. Here you go : https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

When last we saw him at the end of episode eleven of DC Universe’s original streaming series Doom Patrol, Joivan Wade’s Vic Stone was in a bad place — metaphorically and literally. His increasingly-mechanized body and mind betraying him, he made the drastic decision to part company with his operating system, known as GRID, but any monetary respite he hoped to gain from such an action was quickly dashed when he found himself captured by The Bureau of Normalcy and imprisoned at their top-secret research/torture facility nicknamed The Ant Farm.

Not that this latest installment, entitled (appropriately enough) “Cyborg Patrol,”gives any concrete reason as to how and why the place found itself saddled with such a moniker, unlike the Grant Morrison/Steve Yeowell comic the idea was lifted from, but the principle nature of the operation remains true to its printed-page antecedent — even if it’s located nowhere near the Pentagon, much less under it as it was the original story. Honestly, though, the name of the place is about all the television story borrows from the earlier newsprint one.

That’s because, as any veteran reader can tell you, the character of Cyborg was never actually in the Doom Patrol in the comics, and so there was never any call for the rest of the team to do what they do here, namely pull of a super-powered jailbreak. They all have a part to play in the plan hatched by Vic’s father, Silas (played, as ever, by the great Phil Morris) to spring his progeny, but that plan is complicated when the elder Stone turns traitor and hands the team over to agent Darren Jones (Jon Briddell) — or does he? Silas’ lack of loyalty, and the consequently shifting nature of his transactional allegiances, plays a major role in Robert Berens and Shoshana Sachi’s script for this episode, and the fundamental and well-earned lack of trust between Stones elder and younger proves to be fertile ground for psychological exploitation by Alan Tudyk’s Mr. Nobody, who makes a brief-but-devastating appearance (hey, he can’t spend all his time tormenting Timothy Dalton’s “Chief Niles Caulder, can he?) in the final few minutes here after Cyborg has fallen for a sick ruse that ends up having both drastic and unforgettable consequences.

Seriously, friends, the ending this week — it’s positively devastating.

Before that, though, we’ve got April Bowlby being smuggled into the facility in the weirdest manner possible by Brendan Fraser/ Riley Shanahan’s Cliff Steele, Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane going from taunting her psychotic captor, Agent Dirk Ellis (Mac Wells), before going all Karen on his ass and making him fall in love with her, Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor being separated from the “Negative Spirit” energy being that’s made itself at home in his body for the past few decades, and an army of sentient, hungry, toothy backsides running wild in The Bureau’s very own — and in many respects very peronal — house of horrors. It’s to director Carol Banker’s immense credit that she can have people running down the hallways screaming “the butts are loose!”one moment, and Vic’s horrifying realization that he’s done something he probably can’t undo less than ten minutes later, and compel viewers to fully invest in both. “Showrunner” Jeremy Carver certainly knows how to pick his directors, doesn’t he though?

And yeah — after a brief little blip on the radar screen, we’re back in “best episode to date” territory, which I predicted last time out would likely be the case — not to toot my horn too much. After all, it’s Carver, his cast, his writers , and his just-mentioned directorial hires that are doing all the real work here — fortunately for those of us in the audience, I hasten to add, as it’s all been uniformly pitch-perfect. Friends who may be turncoats who may be friends again after all, a young half-robotic man’s internal demons, a heaping dose of “high weirdness” for its own sake — really, how much more can you expect from television superhero yarn? Oh, and that guy in the cell next to Vic;, the one who’s portrayed by Devan Chandler Long? Something tells me he’s going to play a big part in events going forward — but for now I’m just content to give this episode a richly-deserved second viewing.

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This review, and all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon page, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Lately, in fact, it’s been a lot of politics. Your patronage there not only enables me to keep things going, it also ensures a steady supply of free content both here and at my fourcolorapocalypse comics site. You can join up for as little as a dollar per month, there’s tons of content posted on there already, and needless to say, I’d be very gratified to have your support.

Oh, and I suppose a link would come in handy. Here you go :https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

Say one thing for the DC Universe original streaming series Doom Patrol : its own internal tug-of-war, no doubt the design of “showrunner” Jeremy Carver, is working. Last week, we were pulled back into the ongoing psychodrama between Timothy Dalton’s “Chief” Niles Caulder and Alan Tudyk’s wonderfully depraved Mr. Nobody, and in the newest episode, “Frances Patrol,” we’re drawn back out in a major way, our focus shifted squarely back onto the makeshift “team” of super-misfits, who find themselves either “flying solo” or in hitherto-unseen pairings.

On the going it alone front, Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor (is he ever really “alone,” though, given the “Negative Spirit” he shares a body with?) has made the gutsy decision to meet, like it or not, with former flame John Bowers (played in the present day by Tom Fitzpatrick, in flashback by, as always, Kyle Clements), while the makeshift duos in April Fitzimmons’ script (the third to date not directly based on a comic from the Grant Morrison/Richard Case era) consist of Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan’s Cliff Steele searching for his estranged daughter, Clara (Bethany Anne Lind) alongside April Bowlby’s Rita Farr, and Joivan Wade’s Vic Stone trying to get a handle on the irregularities of his cybernetic body with the nominal “assistance” of Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane. Re-connection, then, is the theme tying all these disparate plotlines together — in Cliff’s case with his offspring, in Larry’s with the love of his life, in Vic’s with himself.

These are handled with varying degrees of success by the episode’s creative brain trust — both Cliff and, especially, Larry’s stories are imbued with genuine pathos, while Vic’s struggles seem almost an afterthought until the very end, when they make up for lost time in a hurry and put him in a situation even more precarious than the one he already found himself in. The next steps in his journey, combined with a few more tantalizing hints about the inevitable arrival of a certain Man of Muscle Mystery, ensure that the remaining installments in this debut season of the show look bright, but in fairness this one proved to be something of a mixed bag. It was great for human — check that, superhuman — drama, but pretty light on genuine dramatic tension.

Which doesn’t mean it was a waste of time by any stretch of the imagination, or even a lost opportunity — within the larger framework of the series its placement makes perfect sense, as do its narrative aims. It just doesn’t necessarily succeed in everything it sets out to do, though most certainly not for lack of trying. Performances are as solid as we’ve come to expect, and the direction, production values, and camera work are suitably cinematic in scope and feel. It’s really only the story itself that’s something of a hit-and-miss affair.

Fortunately, it offers more of the former than the latter, so don’t even necessarily expect to find yourself disappointed here — just less thoroughly impressed than you’ve been with parts one through ten. Is that fair?

Yeah, I think so. It almost runs counter to my nature to give to offer up a middling review of a Doom Patrol episode at this point, so impressive have all the others been, but judged purely on its own terms, that’s what this one has earned. I remain entirely confident that things will “bounce back” in seven days’ time — it’s not like it needs to leap back to form, just to make a few baby steps — so do join me here then, when we’ll see how right, or wrong, this assumption proves to be.

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This review, and all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Lately, in fact, it’s been a lot of politics. Your patronage there not only enables me to keep things going, it also ensures a steady supply of free content both here and at my fourcolorapocalypse comics site. There’s a lot of stuff up on there already, so you’re sure to get good value for your money, and needless to say, I’d be very grateful indeed to have your support.

Oh, and I suppose a link would come in handy. Here you go :https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

With “Hair Patrol.” the tenth episode of the DC Universe original streaming series Doom Patrol, “showrunner” Jeremy Carver and co. have decided to go back and fill in some of the blanks — not only in terms of what everyone else got up to while Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan’s Cliff Steele and Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane were struggling to find their way out of the tormented and fragmented subconscious of one Kay Challis, but in a larger sense. As in — what, exactly, is the deal with Timothy Dalton’s “Chief” Niles Caulder?

Not that Eric Dietel’s script gives away all the answers, of course — not even close — but in the wilds of the Yukon Territory way back in 1913, Caulder had a life-changing experience. One that ties him in with an earlier version of the Bureau Of Normalcy, sees him match wits with a colleague-turned-enemy named Alistair (played by one of television’s most ubiquitous and competent guest stars, Max Martini), revolves around a literal “Bearded Lady” who calls herself Oyewah (Pisay Pao, who turns in a killer performance), and may just go some way toward explaining why, with the exception of Joivan Wade’s Vic Stone, everybody on this show is so damn old — most notably, of course, Caulder himself. To say any more would be to say too much, but the roughly half of this episode that takes place in the past is positively gripping, and gives us our most extended look at Dalton/Caulder yet — it may even be too close a look, given we see him drop his trousers behind a tree to take a shit just before the metaphorical shit hits the fan.

As for the other half of director Salli Richardson-Whitfield’s superbly-paced-and-shot installment, the portion set in the present day, it’s a fairly loose adaptation of Grant Morrison and one-off artist Vince Giarrano’s popular story “The Beard Hunter,” and to opine that Tommy Snider sinks his teeth into the role of  that yarn’s titular villain is this reviewer being frighteningly literal. If you think you’ve been physically repulsed by some stuff on this show, rest assured, it’s all minor-league compared to the follically-challenged mercenary’s — uhhmmm — unique method of tracking his prey. He’s a fuck-up, sure, but he’s a fuck-up who manages to get the upper hand on the duo of Vic and April Bowlby’s Rita Farr (they’re really turning into quite the semi-regular pairing) while Cliff, Jane, and Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor are all indisposed or otherwise down for the count. It’s funny stuff, no doubt about it — but with some seriously disturbing twists.

After last week’s unbelievably harrowing episode, some light-hearted comic relief was definitely in order, but there’s a lot more to “Hair Patrol” than that, given that “The Bureau” is getting more aggressive, Cyborg is getting more scary, the comic book brought back from Danny The Street contains a major hint about a certain fan-favorite character being just around the corner (you shouldn’t have to “flex” too hard to guess who that may be), and at the end of it all, we’re brought squarely back into the test-of-wills between The Chief and Alan Tudyk’s Mr. Nobody. So, yeah — everything but the kitchen sink this time out, and even that’s probably in there somewhere, as well.

As the end of this first season approaches, Carver is pretty (and, as it turns out, accurately) confident about the fact viewers are hooked — stories like this one are where the “reeling you in” part of the equation begins. If you can wait to see what happens next, trust me when I say you’re in the distinct minority of the audience.

Oh, and I sure as hell shaved as soon as I was finished watching this one. Made sure that I didn’t leave so much as a hair.

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This review, and all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Lately, in fact, it’s been a lot of politics. Your patronage there not only keeps things going, it also ensures a steady supply of free content both here and at my fourcolorapocalypse comics site. There’s a solid amount of material on there already, so you’re sure to get good value for your money, and needless to say, I’d be very gratified to have your support.

Oh, and I suppose a link would come in handy. Here yo go :https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

I can’t decide if episode nine of DC Universe’s original streaming series Doom Patrol is so good it hurts — or if it just fucking hurts.

Playing it pretty close and tight with its Grant Morrison/Richard Case-created “source material,” this is “Crazy” Jane’s story all the way — they don’t call it “Jane Patrol” for nothing — and Diane Guerrero puts on an acting clinic manifesting personalities seen and hitherto-unseen (hello Driver 8!) when Brendan Fraser’s Cliff Steele (with an assist from the “Negative Spirit” inside Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor) enters “the underground” of her subconscious to retrieve the Jane we know and love, who just last week collapsed within herself right at the moment her Karen persona was about to tie the knot. You thought this show was weird before? You really ain’t seen nothing yet.

Now, we’re used to Timothy Dalton’s “Chief” Niles Caluder and Alan Tudyk’s Mr. Nobody being sidelined, but this time out April Bowlby’s Rita Farr, Joivan Wade’s Cyborg, the aforementioned Mr. Trainor, and even the Riley Shanahan “half” of Robotman join them in mothballs as Fraser spends most of the installment as “himself” — while Jane is all her selves.

Or many of them, at any rate. And they aren’t all “her,” so to speak — or, at least, they’re not all played by Guerrero. Standing out in a big way are Anna Lore, who gives physical life to the demure Penny Farthing, and Stephanie Czajkowski, whose portrayal of the bad-ass Hammerhead is everything you’d always envisioned plus a whole lot more. Holy shit this underground is a confusing place! A jumble of memories and coping mechanisms that’s tough to get a firm handle on — until it’s not. Until it all makes perfect sense. Until the darkest part of Jane’s past — or should we call her Kay Challis? — comes to light. Or, more accurately, to dark. Because this is damn dark stuff.

To call this “not for the faint of heart” is to put things mildly, but if you didn’t love Jane before (you bastard!) you surely will now. She’s been through more than most have to endure, and even if she’s in 64 pieces, it’s a wonder she’s not in 164. This is harrowing, yes, but the bravery she shows confronting her ultimate foe? It’s astonishing. It’s staggering. It’s stand-up-and cheer stuff, and that remains true even if, like myself, you’re well familiar with the particular issue of the comic that writer Marcus Dalzine is adapting here. Reading it’s one thing, after all — seeing it quite another.

Director Harry Jierjian comes in for special recognition this time out, getting perhaps the best performances from “showrunner” Jeremy Carver’s cast to date, to say nothing of the terrific guest stars. This is “internal drama” of the highest order, quite unlike anything else seen before in super-hero television — and probably quite unlike anything we’ll see again for quite some time. It’s difficult viewing, to be sure, but it’s also absolutely essential. The hardest episode to watch so far, but also the most impossible to turn away from.

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This review, and all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the world of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Lately, in fact, it’s been a lot of politics. Your support there not only allows me to keep things going, it also ensures a steady supply of free content both here and at my fourcolorapocalypse comics site. Joining up is cheap and there’s a bunch of stuff up on there already, so you’re sure to get good value for your money. I’d be very gratified if you’d take a moment to check it out, and if you feel compelled to offer your support, rest assured that it’s truly appreciated.

Oh, and I suppose a link would come in handy. Here you go :https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

Wow. Some TV episodes work, and then some — really work. And “Danny Patrol,” the eighth installment of the DC Universe streaming series Doom Patrol, most definitely does the latter.

Hewing reasonably close to its Grant Morrison/Richard Case comic book “source material,” there are key distinctions made to the story’s printed-page progenitor that, if anything, make it an even stronger piece of work, and for that, all credit to returning writer and director Tom Farrell and Dermott Downs, respectively, as well as to “showrunner” Jeremy Carver, who is doing a great job of setting a tone best described as “faithful but innovative” for this entire shebang. But enough with the praise, let’s talk specifics.

A sentient, non-binary street named Danny, home to outcasts of every stripe, is being hunted by a top-secret government agency known as the Bureau Of Normalcy, overseen by the ruthlessly square Darren Jones (played with relish by Jon Briddell), who first sends in his deputy, Morris Wilson (Alan Mingo Jr.), to scout things out, only to have him disappear “into” Danny and re-emerge as her — the “her” in question being drag diva par excellence Maura Lee Korrupt, quite possibly the greatest name for a television character, like, ever.

Mingo delivers the standout performance of the episode, but credit where it’s due to the regulars, as well : Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor, who has a history with the Bureau, is our focal point among the core cast this time out, both in past and present, and as his sidekick, Joivan Wade’s Vic Stone makes a terrific foil/fish out of water. They find Danny when they go looking for a cake shop that  left a delivery for Timothy Dalton’s still-missing “Chief” Niles Caulder (Dalton still carries a title credit in his absence, as does Alan Tudyk, although Mr. Nobody is nowhere to be found, either), but with the living street’s friend (how they know each other is shrouded, as ever, in mystery) MIA, our not-quite-ready-to-be-dynamic duo will have to do in a pinch, it seems.

Why only the two of them? I’m glad you asked —

April Bowlby’s Rita Farr and Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan’s Cliff Steele are looking to fish Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane out of her “Karen” persona, who is “enjoying” a falsified — hell, make that forced — state of domestic bliss with a poor sap named Doug (Brent Bailey), an on-again/off-again flame who can’t resist her charms mainly because she offers him no choice. Enter plenty of 1990s “rom-com” references and a laugh-out-loud scene ripped right from The Notebook — as in, the sappy movie. But the page-tearing metaphor works taken in, or out of, any context, I suppose. Downs and his actors absolutely nail it, trust me, but that goes for every aspect of this sub-plot, which ends up having tragic consequences and setting the stage for next week’s story.

Fans of Cliff might be a bit dismayed by his limited “screen time” in this one, it’s true, but he gets arguably the best scene of all doing a dance-off against a neighborhood kid — although, who knows? Larry and Mora doing a karaoke duet to Kelly Clarkson might have it beat. And the same could possibly be said for the big Mora/Darrin throw-down. It’s so hard to choose.

So, yeah, in case you couldn’t already tell, we’re going to close with yet another “best episode to date” verdict here, which is probably sounding like a broken record at this point, but damn — the truth is the truth, and who am I to bullshit you just for the sake of finally saying something different?

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This review, and all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon page, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly offerings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Lately, in fact, it’s been a lot of politics. Your patronage there not only keeps things going, it also ensures a steady supply of free content both here and at my fourcolorapocalypse comics site. It’s steadily filling up with a lot of writing, so you’re going to get good value for your dollar from day one, and needless to say, I’d be immensely grateful to have your support.

Oh, and I suppose a link would come in handy, so here you go :https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

The fifth episode of the DC Universe original streaming series Doom Patrol is many things — the conclusion of the “Cult Of The Unwritten Book” two-parter, the return of Alan Tudyk’s Mr. Nobody and Timothy Dalton’s “Chief” Niles Caulder (well, sort of, and only temporarily — but he comes in for more screen time than in any installment to date), a wild and inventive departure from its Grant Morrison/Richard Case “source material” — but first, foremost, and always, it is Jane‘s story.

Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane is the heart and soul of this one, as we get the most detailed look yet into her troubled and mysterious past and tantalizing hints that, as bad as what we see is, what we don’t yet know is surely even worse. The puzzle of what the “Paw Patrol” title is all about is eventually solved here, but the puzzle that is Jane — well, that’s going to take considerably more “unpacking” to resolve. That ism assuming it’s even possible to do so.

From her 1970s punk rock days to her stay in a particularly sadistic psychiatric facility to the origins of her powers to her first meeting with The Chief, this is a journey  through Jane’s past — but it’s a past in flux, one that’s changing on the fly. Mr. Nobody and Caulder have forged an alliance to stop The Decreator, you see, and it involves some serious chronological fuckery — in fact, this is the most “timey-wimey” story to appear on TV screens since the most self-indulgent period of Steven Moffat’s tenure on Doctor Who, but fortunately it’s far less annoying.

That’s probably because Doom Patrol head honcho Jeremy Carver hasn’t been entrenched in his position long enough to develop any excesses yet, and is still committed to story and character development over and above putting his “signature” on his work, methinks. Certainly he’s giving his writers a fair amount of freedom — Shoshana Sachi, who scripted this episode, takes things in a remarkably different direction than long-time fans of the comic will be expecting here, incorporating a persona and plotline for Jane loosely based on the most recent iteration of the comic by Gerard Way and Nick Derington into the proceedings, but in service of an entirely new and novel resolution to a story almost three decades old. I’ll refrain from specifics and “spoilers,” let’s just say that to stop a cult, sometimes you need to start a cult.

For fans of the other characters, rest assured — they’ve all got plenty to do here, too. April Bowlby’s Rita Farr shows a hitherto-unseen maternal streak, Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor gains some new perspective on how to resolve his shared-body standoff with the so-called “Negative Spirit,” Joivan Wade’s Cyborg learns the limits of his leadership abilities and his own techno-physical form, and Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan’s Cliff Steele exhibits some real vulnerability when he believes his — hell, all of our — days are numbered. Director Larry Teng gets some grade-A performances from his guest cast, as well, with Mark Sheppard turning it supremely pitch-perfect work as rogue occultist Willoughby Kipling and Ted Sutherland wringing a hell of a lot of emotion out of limited screen time as literal “Word Made Flesh” Elliot Patterson. This is a show with amazingly strong scripting and cinematic direction, but it’s the acting that really has been selling things so far, bringing all the goods home.

My one criticism, and it’s a slight one, is that the cliffhanger is maybe a bit too multi-faceted and may even be a case of the show biting off more than it can chew, but the series hasn’t missed a beat yet and has, in fact, more than exceeded expectations every step of the way — so I wouldn’t bet against Carver, his cast, his writers, and his directors pulling off everything that’s foreshadowed in the final few minutes here. Plus, Curtis Armstrong’s Ezekiel the Cockroach gets to make another appearance. What’s not to love?

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We close things up with the customary quick reminder that this review, as well as all others around these parts, is “brought to you” by my Patreon page, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Lately, it’s been a lot of politics. Your support there not only keeps things going, it also ensures a steady stream of free content both here and at my fourcolorapocalypse comics page. So what are you waiting for? Join up already! Please?

Oh, here’s a link : https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

Those who know far more about the craft (we’ll stick with that term given that it seldom rises to the level of “art’) of television writing tell me that second episodes are the trickiest wicket of all — at the starting gate you simply lay enough of your cards on the table to grab peoples’ attention, but not so many that they’ll walk away figuring they’ve got the whole show sussed out; with episodes three on out you’re essentially preaching to the choir; but episode two is the one that has to turn the casual viewers into die-hards, has to keep the butts in the seats. The “insta-fans” are already on board, but the “take it or leave it” crowd — the really fickle folks — well, they’re looking for a reason to take it. This is your one and only chance.

“Showrunner” Jeremy Carver turns the writing chores for this crucial installment of the DC Universe original series Doom Patrol over to the tandem of Neil Reynolds and Shoshana Sachi, and their script for “Donkey Patrol” (“Puppet Patrol” is next, so you can already see a pattern developing here) more than does its job — following, as most shows do these days, directly from the previous episode, the vortex created by Alan Tudyk’s narrator/villain Mr. Nobody has swallowed whole the town of Cloverton, Ohio, and with it Niles “The Chief” Caulder (the role that Timothy Dalton, I’m already convinced, was born to play) , but that farting donkey we “met” last time? He’s more than a gasbag, he’s a portal into whatever realm the Doom Patrol’s de facto “leader” has been whisked away to by this guy who hates his guts for reasons we’re still not privy to.

Diane Guerrero’ s”Crazy” Jane leaps in for an attempted rescue, but her visit proves to be a short one, the donkey hee-hawing her back out when her insanity proves to be too unpalatable even for a creature that’ll probably eat anything. This commotion’s not the only show in town, though, as alternating scenes in the early going introduce us to the team’s final member, Vic Stone/Cyborg (played by Joivan Wade), a Detroit-based hero aiming to work his way up to Justice League membership by busting small crimes such as ATM robberies. His roll-out proves to be a complete (I say that with zero hesitation) “win” for Carver, his writers, and director Dermott Downs, who alleviate all concerns about what the fuck a character best known for his turns with the aforementioned League and the Teen Titans is even doing in this show within a matter of minutes — hell, they even manage to tick every box on the “pedantic fan” checklist by directly addressing the continuity issues that arise from Vic appearing in this series this year, but in the Justice League movie last year.

Making perhaps an even more distinctive debut, though, is veteran actor Phil Ford in the role of his father, robotics genius/overbearing prick Silas Stone, a “second voice” in his son’s mind who simply won’t shut the fuck up and always has a “better” idea about what the kiddo should be doing with his extraordinary powers. There’s a tragedy at the heart of Cyborg’s origin story that no doubt has resulted in much unspoken tension between progenitor and progeny, but positioning Caulder as a secondary “father figure” in Vic’s life going back quite a few years not only helps ameliorate some of that, it also provides a perfectly logical explanation for why the half-robotic teen decides to hook up with the Doom Patrol in the first place.

In short, then, shoe-horning this character into this show probably shouldn’t have worked — but damn, it sure does.

“Shippers” — as well as regular people — will probably be gratified to see the bonds between Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan’s Cliff Steele and Jane deepen in this episode, fans of the freakish will get a kick out of April Bowlby’s Rita Farr being “squeezed” down into the donkey, and it’s a safe bet that everyone will find the “confronting their past demons” scenarios that she, Vic, and Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor are faced with on the “other side” of the most deliberately absurd dimensional doorway ever envisioned compelling in the extreme. Unlikely heroes emerge from this already-unlikely crew as they make their escape, but rest assured no one is left unscathed from their experiences in the (let’s just call it what it is) Twilight Zone.

Oh, and The Chief? Spoiler alert — by the time the end credits roll, he’s still stuck there.

Another good episode, then? Nope. Another great one, anchored by strong performances from one and all, well-paced scripting, smart and reasonably stylish direction, and a generous smattering of “Easter Eggs” (including, as you’d expect, any number from the Grant Morrison/Richard Case era of the comic — and one you probably would never expect featuring Curtis “Booger” Armstrong himself) for the observant and/or obsessive. It’s still too early to call this the best super-hero TV show of all time (even if most of the competition for that title is pretty weak), but it’s in no way too early to say that it’s well on track to be.

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Okay, so three times a week I’m posting exclusive rants on the worlds of films, comics, television, literature, and politics over on my Patreon page, so I guess that makes it the de facto “sponsor” of not only this review, but all others around these parts. Your support there helps me keep it as a going concern, sure, but it also enables me to continue providing free content both here and over at my fourcolorapocalypse comics site. Joining up is cheap, and I make sure you get plenty of value for your money, so if you’d give it a look and give it some though, it’d be much appreciated.

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