Posts Tagged ‘Shoshana Sachi’

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,

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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

 

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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