The first season of the DC Universe/HBO Max series Doom Patrol found wheelchair-bound scientist Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton) welcoming various biologically-enhanced humans to his giant mansion, known as Doom Manor, in order to study them and try to help them control their powers. (Not unlike Professor Xavier and The X-Men, but these super-powered beings have a lot more personal and emotional baggage to deal with, are are a lot less heroic.) The team included 1950s Silver Screen starlet Rita Farr (April Bowlby) aka Elasti-Girl, who would uncontrollably transform from a beautiful Hollywood actress into a massive blob when her emotions ran high. Also, 1960s Air Force aviator test pilot Larry Trainor (Matt Bomer), whose body became possessed by sentient cosmic radiation (a Negative Spirit) and was massively burned during a plane crash—now he is constantly covered in bandages, resembling a mummy. In the 1970s, Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero) found her way to Doom Manor—she has 64 personas, each with their own superpower. In 1988, philandering race car driver Cliff Steele (Brendan Fraser) was severely injused in a horrible accident, and only his brain survived—Caulder built Steele a new robotic body, turning him into Robotman. And the latest addition to the team is high school football star Victor Stone (Joivan Wade) who was injured in an explosion at STAR labs and his body was rebuilt using nanites and other technology, turning him into the crime-fighting superhero known as Cyborg.
As Doom Patrol‘s first season came to a close, the metahumans learned that Niles Caulder had actually been involved in all of the “accidents” that caused them to obtain their powers. He had been using them as test subjects in his quest to unlock the secret to immortality. He hoped to prolong his own life in order stay around to protect his daughter, Dorothy. This obviously didn’t sit well with the group, but they had an important mission to carry out—stopping the evil Mr. Nobody and rescuing Caulder’s daughter, and in order to carry out this mission, they were shrunk down and put inside of a painting. They managed to escape just before a nuclear explosion collapsed the dimension inside the painting, trapping Mr. Nobody in the White Space dimension. However, the gang was left quite a bit smaller than before. Afterwards, Caulder formerly introduced the team to his daughter, the 9-year-old, ape-faced Dorothy Spinner.
The second season picks up shortly afterwards. Rita, Jane, Cliff, Victor and Dorothy are trying to adapt to their new miniature lifestyle, camping out on a model train layout, as Larry tries to figure out how to restore them to full size. However, with each day that passes, the group gets more and more antsy. They also fear that perhaps Mr. Nobody had also managed to escape the painting and that he could return. Cliff has decided to take his rage out by hunting down giant mice for sport, but also has Dorothy clinging onto him like a puppy. Meanwhile, Jane has turned her thoughts inward, where a mutiny among her personas is starting form. Her other personalities don’t like how Jane has been running things and are planning to let someone else take over as primary. Rita is also unhappy with her current life, and asks Victor to help her be more of a real superhero. In the full-size world, Caulder is bracing for the inevitable fallout from his lies and betrayal. Now that his daughter is back, Caulder is concerned that Dorothy is a ticking time bomb that could destroy reality as we know it. He is anxiously looking for a way to protect her and the rest of the world from her powers. Dorothy has these imaginary friends that live inside her head, and when her emotions flare up, these creatures want to manifest themselves to help her. When Dorothy becomes scared, the most dangerous of these imaginary friends, the Candlemaker, tries to come out.
The first season used flashbacks to explore the emotional backgrounds of the characters and what ultimately led them to Doom Manor. This same format is also used in the second season to look at more unresolved issues in the characters’ lives. The premiere explores Dorothy’s backstory as a sideshow freak, and what led Caulder to lock her away and keep her hidden for 90 years. While the first season had the big bad of Mr. Nobody, this season it’s the deadly Candlemaker, who is slowly revealed and makes his presence known over the course of the season. Each of the metahumans also has their own personal journeys this season. For both Cliff and Larry, it’s fixing unresolved issues with their children. Both of them weren’t the greatest fathers before their accidents, and now they want to reconcile and make things right. For Larry that may be a little tough due to the fact that his son has already lived his full life&dmash;but in a show like this, time can always be manipulated (though it will require some very unusual actions to make it happen). Meanwhile, Jane must deal with the possible coup inside her head, Rita is trying to overhaul her lonely life and lack of confidence in and control of her powers. Both Larry and Victor think they have met kindred spirits who understand exactly what they are going through in their new bodies, however, things are never quite as they appear. That just leaves Caulder and Dorothy. Dorothy is deperately trying to keep her imaginary friends at bay, but they are literally in her head, constantly working at away at trying to convince her to let them out. Caulder is desperate to help his daughter, and may need to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to do so, but some of the sins of his past will come back to haunt him.
One of the hallmarks of the first season of Doom Patrol was just how wacky and bonkers this series gets. The show knows it’s crazy and embraces it, and just has fun, even when exploring some really dark, dramatic moments. The second season ups that ante at times, with the group coming up against some really wild and crazy adversaries and situations. This season finds the group dealing with space and time travel, Jack the Ripper, aliens, a paranormal unit of the Pentagon known as The SeX-Men on the hunt for a sex demon, monsters, creatures that infect the mind and make them do bad things, and so much more. While I probably enjoyed the first season more than the second, I still found these episodes to be quite entertaining—just don’t ask me to try to fully explain what exactly happened! This is certainly not a show that someone can jump into in the middle—I highly recommend checking out the first season before delving into the second.
Warner Bros’ Blu-ray release looks and sounds great. The picture is pristine and detailed, with bright, bold, beautiful colors. This is a very effects-driven series, and these elements blend in perfectly with the rest of the scenes, looking both seamless and believable. The audio track provides clear dialogue and a great musical soundtrack and score. It also makes excellent use of the stereo and surround channels to provide a more-immersive and exciting viewing experience. Unfortunately, the show’s second season is a lot shorter than the first, with just 9 episodes instead of 15. These episodes are spread across 2 discs, placed on either side of a standard HD keepcase, which is enclosed in a cardboard slipcase, along with an insert detailing the episodes. Also disappointing is that, unlike the first season, no digital copy code has been provided, and the bonus material just includes a single 9-minute behind-the-scenes featurette about the season’s makeup effects, plus a 2-minute PSA for the Georgia film industry.
- All 9 episodes of the second season:
Disc 1: “Fun Size Patrol”, “Tyme Patrol”, “Pain Patrol”, “Sex Patrol”
Disc 2: “Finger Patrol”, “Space Patrol”, “Dumb Patrol”, “Dad Patrol”, “Wax Patrol”
- 1080p / Widescreen 2.20:1
- Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
No digital copy is included with this release, despite the original press release stating that there would be.
All bonus material is found on the second disc.
- Doom Patrol: The Magic of Makeup (9:09)
The makeup team talks about the challenges in keeping faithful to the comic book when creating the look for the characters, the evolution of the look for characters like Dorothy & Larry, the process of creating and applying the prosthetics, and some of the other various characters they designed this season. We also see actress Abigail Shapiro in the makeup chair being transformed into Dorothy. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with makeup FX designer Bill Johnson, special FX makeup artists Derek & Eric Garcia, and actress Abigail Shapiro (“Dorothy”).
- Doom Patrol Season 2: Come Visit Georgia PSA (2:18)
Production designer Carey Meyer talks about working with the local film crew, his design process, and the benefits of the filming in Georgia. A similar promotional featurette for the Georgia film industry was included on the first season release, but at least that one included some behind-the-scenes footage—this one is pretty forgettable.
In its second season, Doom Patrol remains a solidly entertaining show. While is may not always make sense, it’s always wacky and enjoyable with interesting characters at its core that you find yourself really caring about. The second season looks and sounds great on this Blu-ray release, however the second season is 2/3 the length of the first and doesn’t include a digital copy of the episodes. The Bonus material is also very minimal. That said, fans of the first season should still really enjoy this second batch of episodes. I would recommend those who haven’t seen the series yet to check out the show’s excellent first season first.