Posts Tagged ‘Phil Morris’

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

 

When is a step out of the nest anything but?

How about — when a TV series does an “offbeat” episode (a very relative term here, I realize, as the entire show is “offbeat” in the extreme) where no one leaves the house?

Which isn’t, mind you, to say that “not a lot happens” — or your preferred alternative turn of phrase essentially describing the same thing — in “Therapy Patrol,” the seventh installment of the DC Universe original streaming series Doom Patrol. Quite a lot does — in terms of development, disintegration, and re-development of team dynamics, fleshing out key character “backstories” even more, etc. There’s no visible villain on offer, though (even if Mr. Nobody’s presence continues to loom large and, in a very real sense, informs everything that happens), Timothy Dalton’s “Chief” Niles Caulder remains conspicuous by his absence, and yeah  —  more or less everything takes place within the confines of “Doom Manor.” And mostly in just one room, at that.

The “action” in Neil Reynolds” script (who’s now written more episodes than “showrunner” Jeremy Carver) starts focused on April Bowlby’s Rita Farr, who’s having a (literal) morning meltdown, but mainly this is a Cliff Steele-centric episode, with Riley Shanhan’s movement and Brendan Fraser’s voice making it damn clear something’s wrong with Robotman — or should that be making it clear that something is even more wrong than usual? His endless cajoling finally gets everyone to agree to an impromptu “group therapy” session — if only to shut him up — and then it’s “deep dive” time, as the inner fears and tragedies motivating Cliff, Rita, Joivan Wade’s Vic Stone, Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane, and Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor to action (or, as is more frequently the case, inaction) play out in both flashback and discussion form, thus saving director Rob Hardy from having to set everything in the dilapidated mansion’s sitting room. If you’re “into” these characters — and, by now, you either are or you’re no longer watching — you’re gonna be glued to the screen, trust me, even if we re-visit a fair amount of familiar territory.

Seriously, though, I kept coming back to the fact that there’s something very wrong with Cliff here. His bizarre affect keeps on working away in your skull, a pestering but fascinating nuisance, and Jane in particular is reacting pretty poorly to his erratic behavior — not that she’s one to talk. There’s an explanation for all of this, of course, but given that this is one of those rare episodes that doesn’t specifically reference any particular storylines, or even issues, in the team’s comic book history, it’s entirely safe to say that you will absolutely not see said explanation coming.

And, of course, it’s awesome. Way out of left field. Fiendishly clever with an emphasis on the “fiendish.” And it’s pulled off with aplomb to spare. I was ready to give this one a “pretty good, not amazing” verdict, but the last five minutes or so propelled this thing into the creative stratosphere and ensured this show’s “every episode is better than the last” track record remained intact.

Of course, if you need guest stars to make your happy, you’re SOL here — apart from recurring semi-regulars like Phil Morris’ Silas Stone and Kyle Clements’ John Bowers it’s the principal cast only carrying things this time out — yet never once does this story feel claustrophobic of even limited. Yup, the possibilities within the “core group” itself are endless enough in and of themselves, not much more — not much else — is even necessary.

But then, the minute I say that, I see that next week we’re going to get Danny The Street, and yeah — we do need us some Danny, don’t we? Bona to vada, folks!

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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 support there not only keeps things going, it also ensures a steady stream of free content both here and at my fourcolorapocalypse comics site. There’s a ton of stuff up on there already, so trust me when I say that you’ll be getting your money’s worth right out of the gate.

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

 

 

 

How far the DC Universe original streaming series Doom Patrol has come — as well as how fast it’s come to be at this high-water creative mark — is best judged by episode six, curiously (but, as it turns out, accurately) entitled “Doom Patrol Patrol,” the installment that deviates furthest from the show’s comic book roots, taking only inspiration and some telling visual cues (specifically relating to Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane confronting the demons of her past) from its four-color progenitor, but no specific plot points or lines of dialogue, as has been the case every week up until now.

Not that there isn’t plenty on offer to appeal to even the funnybook’s longest-tenured fans : when a part of the team goes to investigate the apparently-retired superhero trio known as the Doom Patrol at the urging of the villainous Mr. Nobody, we get to meet Steve Dayton/Mento (played with suave and dangerous charm by Will Kemp), Arani Desai/Celsius (Jasmie Kaur), and Rhea Jones/Lodestone (Lesa Wilson), as well as their minder, Joshua Clay/Tempest (Alimi Ballard), an assemblage torn right from the newsprint pages — but never in this precise combination, to say nothing of in this precise fashion. They should, by rights, all be retired — they did their adventuring way back in the 1950s, after all — and yet they’re not. In fact, they don’t appear to have aged a day, and they’re busily training the next generation of metahumans.

Or are they?

April Bowlby’s Rita Farr has been inching her way toward the foreground in recent stories, and this week she’s the “showcase” character in writer Tamra Becher-Wilkinson’s script, her past coming into sharper relief by means of flashback scenes while she’s concurrently called upon to literally save the day in the present, to well and truly play the “hero” for the first time. She’s been prepping for the job and proves to be up to it, but how she arrives at this point is rooted firmly in, is even a reaction to, earlier-life traumas, not all of which are spelled out plain as day. There’s still plenty of mystery, in other words, undercutting this character, and that mystery only deepens here — which is also the case with Jane, Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor, and perhaps most especially Timothy Dalton’s “Chief” Niles Caulder, who again makes an extended “appearance” in non-corporeal form. It all sounds more confusing than it actually is, trust me.

Truth be told, “showrunner” Jeremy Carver and this episode’s director, Chris Manley, play things pretty straight with this one, and it works : there’s a strong argument to be made for this being the show’s most workmanlike outing to date, but that should in no way be construed as a “mark” against it, as the horror movie atmospherics of “Doom Patrol Manor” work in stark contrast to the more “upbeat” subplot involving a bargain struck between Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanhan’s Cliff Steele and Joivan Wade’s Vic Stone that sees Cybog and his father, Silas (Phil Morris) start to bury the hatchet and Robotman take some tentative steps toward re-connecting with his estranged daughter — by means of cyber-stalking her? It should be creepy, I suppose, but it’s anything but.

So, yeah, plenty to unpack here — and plenty to admire, even if you’re new to this franchise and the numerous “Easter Eggs” on hand fly right past you. By turns unsettling and heartwarming, cringe-worthy and gut-bustingly funny, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is (say it with me now) probably the best episode yet.

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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 allows me to keep things going, it also ensures a steady supply of free content both here and at my fourcolorapocalypse comics site. I’m grateful for every penny I can wring out of you, needless to say, and do my level best to make sure you get plenty of value for your money, so please take a moment to check it out and consider joining up.

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Three episodes in, the DC Universe streaming television series Doom Patrol is proving to be a genuine amalgamation : yeah, the Grant Morrison/Richard Case era of the comic is still the primary “source material,” but more and more the Arnold Drake/Bruno Premiani influence is being felt, and there’s plenty here that’s altogether new, as well, making this show that rarest of rare things : one where you literally never know what’s going to happen.

The most recent installment, “Puppet Patrol,” is probably the farthest “step out of the nest” yet — for both the characters in Tamara Becher and Tom Farrell’s razor-sharp script, and for the program in a more general, thematic sense. With Timothy Dalton’s Chief missing and a localized search proving fruitless (there’s a surreal and hilarious scene centered around Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane kicking off the episode that drives this point home with some bloody laughs), a rummage through his lab unearths clues that lead to Paraguay, where we — but, it should be noted, not the characters themselves — know that the de facto team’s equally de facto leader first encountered the now-villainous Mr. Nobody. The real baddie, though, is “ex”-Nazi commandant/mad scientist Strumbanfuhrer Van Fuchs (played by the great Julian Richings), who created Nobody and has been running a super-powers-for-sale tourist trap loosely modeled on Chile’s notorious Colonia Dignidad ever since. So, yeah, our erstwhile heroes have to head south — but how to get there?

With Cyborg (Joivan Wade) stepping into the role of lead strategist largely because nobody else wants the gig, attempts to land the services of a S.T.A.R. Labs private jet courtesy of his farther Silas Stone (Phil Morris) prove fruitless, and so it’s down to their literal “short bus” to do the job — which, needless to say, it’s not up to. The team ends up stranded somewhere well shy of Paraguay, at a roadside motel (where they watch George Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead), but when Jane reveals a previously unseen persona known as Flit, with the also- previously unseen power to teleport, she, Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk’s Larry Trainor, and Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan’s Cliff Steele end up pretty much exactly where they wanted to be after all — I say pretty much, because first they have to catch a bus to Nazi-land with an overly-enthusiastic tourist named Steve (Alec Mapa), who’s going there for “The Full Nobody.” What does that mean? Probably more or less exactly what you’re guessing it does.

This leaves Cyborg and Rita Farr (April Bowlby) back at the ranch for some well-executed “character bonding” scenes, and by day’s end, lo and behold, Silas comes through with that jet after all, but by the time the “remainers” meet up with their teammates, a lot has happened. Roll call :

A puppet show tells the whole story about Von Fuchs and his life-long quest to create ubermenschen (in addition to dropping some juicy hints about Niles Caluder’s own past); Larry (who’s the featured character in the “flashback scenes” this time out) unsuccessfully tries to separate himself from the “Negative Spirit” by means of one of the compound’s crazy-ass mechanical devices; Cliff takes a good, hard look inside himself — and takes it out on Von Fuchs’ hive-mind (in the strictest sense of that term) Bavarian teen hit squad when he goes absolutely, and frighteningly, apeshit; a confrontation with Von Fuchs himself, kept alive in a steampunk technological monstrosity, reveals that Jane may not be who we think she is but, even more crucially, not who she thinks she is; and Steve — well, we haven’t seen the last of good ol’ Steve. Not by a long shot. And he’s absolutely ecstatic about that.

Veteran director Rachel Talalay definitely brings a cinematic look and feel to the proceedings here, but “showrunner” Jeremy Carver has established a tone that carries through in everything so far, one that is revealing itself to be among the most singular and unique in television in a good long while. It’s perfectly fair and entirely accurate to say that each episode of this show has been better than the one before it — and considering how strong it started right out of the gate, that’s very high praise indeed.  Bring on part four’s “Cult Patrol,” then — I’m absolutely hooked.

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Just enough time to remind you, dear reader, that as of about a month ago I now have a Patreon page, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics. Your support there not only keeps is going, but also ensures a steady stream of continued free stuff here and at my fourcolorapocalype comics site. Joining up is cheap, you get plenty of content for your money, and your support is, of course, greatly appreciated.

Oh, and I suppose a link would help :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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Some stories — whether we’re about talking movies, comics, novels, novellas, short stories, TV shows, you name it — are so dependent on one single,solitary plot twist and/or revelation for more or less all of their dramatic impact that, if you’ve had said twist/revelation “spoiled” for you going in, there’s really not much point in watching or reading the actual work itself. I believe it’s called “putting all your eggs in one basket” or, if you’re feeling a bit more vulgar, “shooting your whole load at once.”

2012’s DC Universe direct-to-video animated feature Justice League : Doom is a prime example of what I’m talking about, and since I’d heard about the movie’s supposed “surprise” going in, I was pretty well underwhelmed by the longer-than-these-things-usually-run-for 75 minutes  of the film as a whole, which is probably going to result in me giving it a somewhat more tepid review than perhaps it deserves — unless, of course, it does deserve it precisely because it offers so little apart from the “gotcha!” moment we’re talking about here.

Or not talking about, as the case may be. Unlike the IMDB (whatever you do,  avoid reading their entry on this flick there before seeing it!), I’m not going to blab the nature or details of the surprise just in case you, dear reader, have neither seen it yet nor read the fairly-well-regarded Mark Waid-scripted comics (adapted for the small screen quite adequately by the, sad to say, late Dwayne McDuffie) upon which it’s based (if not, don’t sweat it, you’re going to enjoy this all the more — but again, only if you studiously avoid any and all “spoilers” floating around the internet). That’s just the kinda guy I am, always looking out for my “peeps.”

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So here’s what I can give you as far as plot rundowns go while still preserving the big secret : second-tier villain Vandal Savage (who’s always struck me as being a kind of low-rent Ra’s Al Ghul, only with a name that would make him a better adversary for Conan The Barbarian — voiced here by a guy name Phil Morris who is, I’m assuming, not that Philip Morris) has assembled the ol’ gang of fellow also-ran baddies like Mirror Master (Alexis Denisof), Cheetah (Farscape‘s Claudia Black), Bane (Carlos Alazraqui), Metallo (Paul Blackthorne), and Star Sapphire (Olivia d’Abo) to take on their adversaries in the Justice League (here featuring the vocal talents of Kevin Conroy as Batman, Tim Daly as Superman, Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman, Michael Rosenbaum as Flash, Bumper Robinson as Cyborg, Carl Lumbly as Martian Manhunter, and Firefly/Castle fan favorite Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern) one last time — and I say “last” because our guy Vandal has finally learned each member’s individual weaknesses and has devised a (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) cunning  master plan to bring ’em all down.

Sound interesting?  That’s the problem — in and of itself, it’s really not. But where and from whom he got all this top-secret info , not to mention why  they even had it in the first place — now, that’s interesting. And that’s  the point at which I dutifully STFU.

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As you can probably tell from the run-down I just gave, voice director Andrea Romano has assembled an intriguing collection of newcomers and returning veterans in these roles (my bad, I forgot to mention frequent DCU voice actor GreyDeLisle turns up here as Lois Lane in my earlier cast run-down, but since she’s neither a hero nor a villain but is, instead, one of the few genuine side characters in this flick, where was I supposed to put her?), and they all do a nice job, as does the film’s director proper, Lauren Montgomery, who keeps things moving along at a brisk little pace, but it’s really not enough to save a milquetoast plot that absolutely hinges on a lone, albeit quite cool, contrivance.

Justice League : Doom is definitely worth a look if you don’t know anything about it going in, and maybe worth at least a disinterested look even if you do, and should you decide to go ahead and do so it’s available on both DVD and Blu-Ray from Warner Premier. I got the DVD from Netflix and found it to be, as is par for the course with these DCU titles, free of extras apart from promo stuff for other movies in the range, but I’m sure the Blu-Ray has a few goodies not found elsewhere. The widescreen picture and 5.1 sound mix are, as always, top-notch.

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So that’s the book on this one, then. Perhaps not the most informative review you’re likely to find about it, but trust me — the less you know, the more you’re apt to like it.