Thoughts on “Doom Patrol” (Season 3)

So, after finishing off “Pretty Little Liars:  Original Sin”, I decided to take a run at the third season of “Doom Patrol”, which I arrived at through a rewatch of the previous two seasons.  Sad to say, while I liked the first season and wasn’t as fond of the second season, after watching the third season I can confidently say that I’m through with “Doom Patrol”, even if there is a fourth season.

What I liked about the first season was how it married the goofy main plot and villain to the darker and more emotional traumas of the main characters.  In rewatching it this time, I noted that while towards the end I found that they dropped the goofy main plot too much for my tastes the structure worked really well to provide that sort of experience, as the main plot was unapologetically goofy and the character plots were equally unapologetically dramatic, which meant that we always knew which of the two that we were in for which help avoid mood whiplash, but more importantly allowed us to accept the things in those plots as they were.  Thus, we weren’t likely to react badly to seeing the puppet show at the power monger’s compound or the guy who gets information by eating hair because those were clearly in the main plot and the main plot was constantly and deliberately ridiculous, so we have to expect such things.  Yes, sometimes the goofiness and seriousness bled between the two halves, but they were pretty good at keeping the two parts separate enough that the main plot’s insanity didn’t impact the seriousness of the character plots.

In the later seasons, there wasn’t really an incredibly goofy main plot that they could do that to.  The main villains were far more serious and so didn’t lend themselves to those sorts of ridiculous ideas.  And yet the show still wanted to do the goofy and insane things, which to be fair are what made the show good so I don’t blame them for doing that.  However, now the goofy elements were showing up more and more in arcs that were supposed to be serious, and so started to look out of place.  There were a number of times where I rolled my eyes and said “This is just stupid!” in the third season, and not through laughter.  I rarely did that in the first season, again because the stupid things fit where they appeared while in the third season they didn’t seem to fit where they landed.  In short, I noticed how stupid they were instead of just accepting them as being the normal sort of thing I’d see in that plot or from those characters.

The third season actually makes this worse because they do, to some extent, seem to be trying to make the villains more goofy than the main villain, at least, was in the second season.  The problem is that they do this with the Brotherhood of Evil — the Brain and Mallah, along with Madame Rouge — who in all other adaptations are much more serious threats and villains.  Coming from them, it didn’t work, and even here I felt that it made them too goofy to be taken seriously as a threat or to have a real plan that the team needed to foil.  This makes them pretty much an aside, although Madame Rouge kinda gets a redemption plot.  But I didn’t care for her character.  She never did enough to earn any kind of redemption — especially since she killed the man Rita loved which made Rita, who ended up stepping into the leader role, absolutely hate her and we’re going to side with Rita over her — and was too goofy a villain to work as a serious character, but wasn’t goofy enough to just be comic relief.  She’s played by the same actress who played Missy on Doctor Who, and there were a lot of references to that which would have made fans of that character happy, but I didn’t care for Capaldi’s run on Doctor Who and didn’t care for her character, so it did nothing for me.

As I had noted before, I didn’t care for Cliff or Jane as characters, and they’re even more annoying in Season 3.  I found that I didn’t mind Jane as much during the arc where she’s facing off with the supposed Miranda and in the aftermath where she is facing doubts about her ability to protect and foster Kay (which is the job of those personas), because showing her not as a completely in control jerk who cared about Kay made her far more sympathetic and worked to soften her abrasive personality.  And then she settles it and is joining in with Cliff in mocking a discussion of one group of people (maybe villains?) when they are talking about having to save the world.  By now, both Cliff and Jane should have faced enough threats to take the world-ending threats more seriously.  As for Cliff, he is given good reasons to be angry but as usual he, and the show, take it way too far for way too long, which means that I really wanted him to just shut up and go away.  Giving him Parkinson’s as a drama element for his character didn’t really thrill me either.

Two characters that could have made things work better for me personally leave in this season, as Timothy Dalton’s Niles and his daughter start the season and there are some hints of plots that might have happened — Niles’ magic using “friend” digs up his body to claim his head for some purpose — but that gets dropped and they pretty much exit, leaving us with only the main cast to work with.  Again, they did try to put Rita and Madame Rouge into his spot — and the Madame Rouge character is definitely meant to be that kind of replacement — but neither of them worked.  I think it’s fine for them to evolve the show away from him, but the show really does lose out from losing those potentially interesting characters.

I always liked Larry and Rita, but their arcs are hampered by the shorter length of the seasons from the first one (the first season had 15 episodes and the third one has 10),  as it takes the time to explore their relationship with each other, as they were together the longest and were very close.  Larry’s Negative Spirit wants him to go explore something, but given that things are not good for Rita at the moment Larry wants to stay and help her, but she tells him to go and so he does.  The problem is that this is all handled in the space of one episode.  Rita is having some issues, Larry tells the spirit that he wants to stay to help her, which she overhears and then tells him that he should go, which he does.  It would have been so much better if they had been able to stretch this out across a couple of episodes, so that she comes to realize that she was relying on him too much and decided that she needed to stand on her own more without his support, and certainly without his needing to support her getting in the way of what he needed to do.  Even worse, Larry is away for about one episode which makes it almost not worth the trouble.  All of these things were too monumental to be dealt with so quickly and could easily have been entire character arcs for the season, but were pushed aside in favour of arcs of Rita going back to the past and to the organization about the supernatural that Niles was a part of — which spawned her doomed love interest — and Larry getting a baby Negative Spirit and dealing with that.  None of these really fit with the main plot or with their other character arcs whereas the two of them working out their relationship did.

Ultimately, though, at the end of the day I don’t find “Doom Patrol” fun anymore, which was what I liked about it originally.  Given that, I don’t want to watch any potential fourth season and don’t want to rewatch any of it anymore, even the season I liked.  So, yeah, I’m done with “Doom Patrol”.

I won’t be watching new shows until the New Year, so something else is going to have to fill this slot.  Fortunately, I have some things in mind already …

2 Responses to “Thoughts on “Doom Patrol” (Season 3)”

  1. Accomplishments Update | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] well, as usual.  I managed to get through “Pretty Little Liars:  Original Sin” and “Doom Patrol” and finish off the “X-Men Animated Series”.  As part of going through “Original […]

  2. The Strange Failure of the DCCU | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] only got into the former because of a friend who said that it was good.  The same thing applies to “Doom Patrol”, although I’ve bailed on it as of Season 4.  “Supergirl”, “The […]

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