Well, the title kind of gives away the point of this particular post, but still a valid point: Doom Patrol deserves a much larger audience.
Let us address the rather large, colorful elephant in the room: WB and DC has been pretty terrible when it comes to its live productions and adaptations of its catalogue of beloved characters and icons. For the most part, they have kind of sucked. Yes, they all still have their diminishing fanbases that decrease with each passing year along with the quality of the writing, special effects, pacing, storytelling, and basically all aspects of production. The CW’s Arrowverse is a limping horse that should be taken out of its misery as an act of mercy at this point. FOX’s Gotham is done now, and not a moment too soon considering how it bastardized its own narrative and canon to fit odd story and character choices to continue the show. HBO Max seems to have the two standouts with Titans and Doom Patrol though even the former has been plagued with behind the scenes production issues, but both have still managed to have a baseline level of continued quality as far as the show is concerned.
Now, anyone can like what they like. Hell, I happen to also be a fan of a few of the Arrowverse shows myself, but I admit that the programs themselves are not well written and that my interest in them is mostly due to the talent of the cast and potential of what they could be regardless of the sad state of the reality of what they actually are. And this isn’t some Marvel versus DC complaint as Marvel has released some duds as well, looking at you Inhumans, Iron Fist (S1), Haelstrom, etc. However, the house the mouse bought has been far more consistent in brining to life quality adaptations of its roster of characters even without the direct guiding hand of Marvel executives, as opposed to whatever the reason is for DCTV’s poorer performance (a topic I no doubt will discuss at a later time). Still, not the point of this post as I do not come to bury DCTV but instead to praise one of its children: Doom Patrol.
Every comic book show comes short in terms of production value when compared to their big screen counterparts regardless of which larger parent company is involved. And that is to be expected. After all, they don’t have anywhere near the budget of the films they share a universe, or multiverse, with, and they have to produce several more hours of content than the films ever will. Accordingly, the production value is found to be wanting, but Doom Patrol makes those limitations work for it.
You most definitely can see the limitations that special effects and such have concerning the show, but part of the charm of the titular Doom Patrol is that they are the rejects and outcasts of the DC universe, so the cheaper aesthetic and diminished resources makes sense for ragtag band of misfits. The show itself even explains and has fun with the lack of money in dialogue and scenes exchanged between the characters. And yes, these are obviously included as a means to write off or explain the look and actions of the show, but the fact that it even bothers to attempt a legitimate explanation and reason already puts Doom Patrol leaps and bounds above most of the rest of the DCTV live action offerings.
While there could be various discussions concerning the budgets and resources of the entirety of DCTV productions, and the effects on cast, crew, and production that arise from said budgets and resources, Doom Patrol manages to work and succeed within those limitation beyond the other programs by doing one thing: fully utilizing the cast it employs. Every DCTV live action production is unfairly blessed with a truly talented cast. I am not being facetious or sarcastic with that comment either. I genuinely mean it and am surprised by how good nearly every series regular is across all the shows. I would argue that some of them will eventually end up with a few high accolades in the next few years. So, it is even more unfortunate how underutilized their skill is.
Yes, these are comic book shows, so, by their nature, several of the plotlines and arcs and characters and so on will be a bit silly, for lack of a better word. However, comic books have also provided incredible character driven narratives that manage to discuss and give insight into politics, race, sexuality, and other social issues with legitimate depth and understanding. Thus, it is disheartening how often DCTV shows either outright ignore these elements or incorporate them in such a ham-fisted, heavy handed, “Saturday morning cartoon PSA” style that no one outside of the writer’s room or vested interests look at them with anything other than groans and embarrassment. For examples, look at pretty much every CW Arrowverse show and in particular the recent BLM related episodes each was required to do this past season. Yet, even so, the casts manages to perform these scenes with full heart and professionalism that elevates the dialogue and onscreen scenarios. None more so than Doom Patrol.
The show has never shied away from discussing topics like gender politics, sexuality, race, mental health and illness, the role and duty of the powerful, and so many other social and political issues and all at the forefront of the story through the voices of imperfect characters. Just this last season, we saw the development of the character of Cyborg through a difficult conversation with his father discussing racism and the impact it had on both father and son and their current circumstances. It wasn’t sanguine or simply pathos. Instead, it was a nuanced discussion between two Black men from different times who dealt with the ugly side of the world in vastly different ways to the good and ill of both. Neither was entirely wrong nor right, and the show allowed both men their perspective without diminishing. There were no special effects or catchphrases or odd gags for attention; instead, we simply saw two talented individuals given an opportunity to do what they excel at. And every season we are treated to such care and craft from every member of the cast, even the guest stars at times.
Honestly, every DCTV show has, or had, the potential to be a great long time production that elevated the perceptions of comic book properties and showcased the incredible talents of actors and stunt crews along well written and executed stories. Most managed a season or two of this then dropped off in quality immensely in the remainder. Doom Patrol is the one who has lived up to the hype and promise of what it could be simply by being what it is. I truly hope it rises in stature and following because it genuinely deserves it.