Doom Patrol’s premiere of each new season has become a holiday of some kind for me. Starting back in 2019, when I got excited about the colorful and fun promos that were being released yet hoping for simply a fine show and instead got my favorite season of television of all time. Since then, I have been anxiously waiting each year for the release of new episodes, tuning in every week and connecting with these very special characters that I’ve come to love as if they were a family of my own. This marks the second time I will be reviewing new outings as well, with the upcoming release of the fourth season of Doom Patrol. And this year, it’s more complicated than usual.
Being mostly inspired by Grant Morrison’s work (though always bringing its own take on various characters and stories of the team,) Doom Patrol is a combination of a deeply weird world that you won’t find anywhere else even if you tried, combined with broken characters that are simply trying to find a less painful path to go through life. Seeing this group of misfits have group therapy after one of them had a nervous breakdown, cry through all of it, and laugh as you see a giant religious cockroach making out with a giant rat called Admiral Whiskers is the identity of the show.
Sadly, I can’t say that’s what I found in these new six episodes. Not consistently, at least. By the very first scene, something felt different for me; I attributed it to awkward directing, which I would probably still stand by, but I feel there’s more to it. The show retains its weirdness and wackiness during these new tales, but they appear somewhat hollow. The intimacy we had with these characters feels hard to reach now. So many times, the series attempts to start building up to emotional arcs that are cut away from too quickly, interrupted, or unsatisfyingly executed, making it hard to truly care about what is happening.
As I stated, this show holds a special place in my heart. I’ve shed tears, laughed, and felt seen thanks to it. Cliff relearning to walk through the halls of Doom Manor, Jane standing up to her greatest fear for the first time, Larry getting a bit of closure after 50 years; these are moments that pop into my mind from time to time with the same impact as the first time. I truly hope the rest of the people who watch the show feel differently and manage to connect to these characters once again in a way I couldn’t this time.
However, despite most of my experience not being the best, there is still a lot of good here. One particular scene dazzled me and brought me all the feelings I was looking for in one of the best sequences of the entire show, followed by one of the funniest jokes, too. There are shining lights that I hope will pay off in future episodes. The whole cast is as wonderful as ever too. And despite my previous points, the show’s weirdness continues to be enjoyable. As it goes on, the balance I’ve been talking about feels much more familiar, and the ideas come across as better executed.
Do I recommend you watch this new season? Of course, right away. I probably don’t even have to say it. Doom Patrol is special, and its audience knows it. I still trust the writers and the whole crew that helps create this series. They have demonstrated again and again the love they have for it and that they are the right people to make it. Not only that, but the base idea for what the characters will go through this time feels like the perfect path to take, so it’s clear they still know what to do. The increase in quality from episode to episode is a good sign, and I hope the rest of the season will be as good as we know it can be.