Titans / Doom Patrol (DCUniverse streaming rambles as well)

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Titans / Doom Patrol (DCUniverse streaming rambles as well)

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Mar 06, 2019 4:36 pm UTC

Full disclosure - my wife managed to score a year subscription to DCUniverse for free, so I'm using the holy hell out of it while I have access to it.

Unless you're super in to reading a cycling collection of DC Comics made between 2003-2017 with not as much older stuff as there should be and understandably not that much new stuff as they want you to buy the current books OR are just a really, really huge Birds of Prey and Lois and Clark fan or something, it's not worth the $8 a month $75 annual they want for it right now. That may change? It may not change. Right now, the newest Live Action show they have is Constantine, the current stuff (Arrow, Supergirl, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Gotham) understandably being absent due to streaming rights being owned elsewhere, same deal with their movies with the newest one being Batman and Robin as the Nolan films and DCEU stuff probably have their rights elsewhere.... but they do have a lot of their animation on there.. but I'm not as familiar with that, so I don't know what is and isn't there.

Near as I can tell, the only unique things to it are Young Justice Outsiders [aka Young Justice Season 3, an animated show based on the Cartoon Network series that was cancelled because it wasn't moving enough toys and, in reading some descriptions and using a little creative interpretation, because girls liked it], Titans and Doom Patrol.

Point being - unless you're super in to DC Comics, this service is probably not one you'd want to stick around for, and as they release stuff weekly, Young Justice being animated means it's being released in two separate blocks (with episodes 1-13 up now, 14-24? due in the summer), and Doom Patrol having only three episodes out, right now the only "complete" work is Season 1 of Titans.

Oh, and apparently if you're outside the US, Titans is on Netflix. If you're in the US, you have to go through DCUniverse. How the hell DCUniverse isn't working outside the US is beyond me, but that's apparently how it works. I believe Doom Patrol will be released when it's completed?

....

So anyway, Titans and Doom Patrol have a lot in common. Which is a fucking problem for Titans.

Both shows fucking lean heavily - too fucking heavily if you ask me - on the fucking fact that they're fucking on their own fucking service and as a fucking result, can fucking say fuck as fucking much as fucking fuck fuckity fucksticks. For Doom Patrol, this is most evident with Cliff/Robotman saying "What the fuck?" every time something weird happens, which, being the Doom Patrol and taking a heavy amount of influence from Grant Morrison's run, means about 30 times in a 45 minute episode. Though at times it does come across as a bit like the Jay bit from Dogma, where he meets God.

If you need a reminder...

Spoiler:
Jay : Get offa me. I wanna see what's up. What the fuck is this shit? Who the fuck are you, lady? Why the fuck did you hug my head?

Metatron : Quite a little mouth on him, isn't there?

Jay : What the fuck is this, The Piano? Why ain't this broad talking?

Metatron : I believe the answers that you seek lie within my companion's eyes.

Jay : What the fuck does that mean? Has everyone gone fuckin' nuts? What the fuck happened to that guy's head? I want some...

[God kisses him on the cheek. Jay faints]


Doom Patrol also features a topless woman and Brendan Fraser's bare ass in the opening episode in a way of presenting Cliff as being a kind of terrible person as Cliff is cheating on his wife at the time. With his kid's nanny. I don't recall any blatant nudity in Titans, doesn't mean it wasn't there, just means I don't recall it. Probably because Hawk was yelling Fuck again, though it there was any, it was during one of the several "Dove fucks Hawk or Robin" bits.

That's right! Hawk and Dove are there! Aka "Who?" to most people as I don't believe they were in either Teen Titans cartoon series and they've never been core members of the Titans team. And yet Hawk and Dove are in... like, all the episodes. I think they get as much if not more screen time than Starfire. I know they do combined. Which is a problem because neither Hawk nor Dove are on promotional posters.

Both shows feature a cast of vaguely confused miscreants who feel the world has treated them unfairly and as such are a broody and morose bunch. Which, again, works just fine for the Doom Patrol as that's the point in the source material - Superheros with horrifying physical and mental issues that prevent them from interacting with the regular world in a regular way. It does not work for Titans where in the source material even the Orange Alien is still able to fit in pretty well.

Both also swap characters with each other, to an extent. Gar aka Changeling aka Beast Boy is in the Titans show though he was first part of Doom Patrol. Cyborg shows up on Doom Patrol despite not actually ever being in Doom Patrol in the comics. Cyborg works as a "Even though I'm obviously at a glance a complete weirdo, I can still interact normally so y'all don't have to be so depressive all the time goddamn" counterpoint to the Doom Patrol's inherit self-loathing, but if they were trying to do the same with Gar in Titans it failed completely... probably because he looks like a teenager with green hair and not a green imp.

The Doom Patrol features costuming that would get 3rd Place on "Group Costume" at a cosplay convention. Titans has costuming that ranges from "Good Effort" to "And you're dressed as.....?" though I will say that in Starfire's defense - and I have no idea what wizardry is doing this - her costuming looks terrible in still images, but absolutely works when watching the show. You pretty much have to see her walking around before you go "Yeah, okay, that works."

Also in it's defense, the "Fuck Batman" line Robin utters does make more sense in context as in it's original presentation in the first trailer it came across as a "Look how XTREME this show is! Makes you wanna double-hand slam some Mnt Dew and do a kickflip while telling YOUR MOM to fuck off!" and in context it's more of just frustration at not being taken seriously by criminals.

Now, both shows supposedly feature Teams. Only the Doom Patrol actually does. Titans shows us Det. Grayson working with homeless orphan Rachel (whose mother is killed early in the series and father is an absent unknown, but we the viewer probably are already aware of Trigon) who is running away from her mother's killers, Starfire an amnesiac who is investigating what the hell she was doing and figures out she's some kinda private eye something? and a teenage kid with green hair who makes a friendship with Rachel. They don't really "team up" until something like Episode 8 of the 12 episode series and even then never really form anything that could be called a "Team", remaining more of a loose association of people with technically similar goals. Which is a problem.

Meanwhile, Doom Patrol goes out of it's way to show us that Rita, Larry, and Cliff are making connections and friendships with other another, that Rita and Larry have a history and friendship with Jane (or at least some of her personalities), shows Cliff working with Jane's personalities to build relationships with some of them, has pretty much all of them hating the Chief but not knowing what to do without him around.... pretty much they're a team in all but actually going out of the house and doing team stuff by the end of Episode 1.

The basic point I'm getting at here is that Doom Patrol and Titans are very similar shows in the same way that the Man of Steel/BvS/Superfriends films had Batman and Superman as very similar characters. And it only works for one of them and utterly fails the other for similar reasons.

And both Doom Patrol and Titans lean far too heavily on the freedom to say Fuck whenever they please. It comes across as distracting and reminds me of the Ren and Stimpy guy - essentially how Ren and Stimpy on Nickelodeon, where there were massive restrictions of what could and could not be done, created a cartoon that despite not lasting that long had a heavy influence on a generation and when put on one of those "Man" networks (Spike? FX?) with far fewer restrictions was... just a bad pile of gross stuff for the sake of gross stuff.
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Re: Titans / Doom Patrol (DCUniverse streaming rambles as well)

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat May 25, 2019 12:55 am UTC

Doom Patrol. I wanna talk about Doom Patrol.

I've been watching it off and on whenever I can get the chance (I don't have DC Streaming, so I've been watching it through "shenanigans"). It's absolute bonkers comic book nonsense that embraces the absurdity of its source material while injecting a tremendous amount of emotion, charm, and wit into its protagonists. It takes each protagonist's "origin" and uses it to dig deep down into their character. Instead of powers just being things you hit the bad guy with, their powers are an intrinsic part of who they are.

Character summaries featured below. I've kept them pretty not-spoilery, but I'm putting it in spoilers just in case you'd rather go into the show cold (which I think you can do; you don't need to know the comics to understand what's going on).
Spoiler:
Rita Farr (aka 'Elasti-Girl') is a 1950s movie starlet who's obsession with appearance (her own, others, and the appearance of social norms and propriety). While on set, she's infected with some weird gaseous bullshit that lets her change herself into any shape, but only when she's concentrating. When she's not, she melts. This ties into her sense of self and her body image; the less "good" she feels about herself, the more outwardly grotesque she becomes (which makes her feel worse, which makes her melt more, which leads to her melting into a giant, disgusting blob).

Cliff Steele (aka 'Robotman') is our initial protagonist/viewer stand-in (and the owner of the naked butt you see mentioned by SecondTalon). He was a racecar driver in the 80s, but after a tragic accident, lost his body (and ended up as a brain-in-a-jar). He's been transplanted into a rusty ol' robot that looks like it was dragged off the abandoned set for a 1960s horror flick. The loss of his body (and the inability to experience pain, pleasure, or taste) causes wild forms of dysphoria, which he reconciles with his recognition of just how awful and shitty he was throughout his life -- pursuing hedonism and pleasure at the cost of his family's welfare. His trademark catch-phrase is "What the fuck?!".

Larry Trainor (aka 'Negative Man') is a 1950s Air Force test-pilot (think kind of a Chuck Yeagor type) who's career comes to a tragic end when he encounters an energy-based alien in the atmosphere who 'infects' him (and causes his plane to crash). Covered in burns, he nevertheless finds he possesses near-invulnerability -- plus the alien can emerge (rendering him unconscious when it does) and blow shit up. We find out that, despite being married with kids, he's gay -- and the show explores him struggling with his self-loathing through the proxy of his relationship with the alien inside of him. He's also featured in one of the most touching "old gay ex-lovers comforting each other" scenes I've ever seen.

Victor Stone (aka 'Cyborg') is a football player who, after a tragic lab accident, is turned into... well, a fuckin' cyborg. By his father. Who never showed much interest in Victor until he become what's effectively his science project. He's one of the only 'genuine' superheroes of the team, and his arc involves exploring his relationship with his father (who's kind of shitty, but genuinely loves him), his fear of his prosthesis coming to define him, and his identity as a superhero and leader.

And finally, my favorite:

Kay Challis (aka 'Crazy Jane'). A host for 64 discrete personalities, each one has a distinct power. Hammerhead punches things (and is always angry). Silver Tongue's words become literal objects she can use as bladed weapons. Dr. Harrison can see your past experiences (particularly the traumatic ones) and manipulate your thoughts by talking to you. Karen can make anyone she look at fall in love with her. Etc. I feel like they played up the more bombastic personalities in the beginning (Hammerhead is introduced by literally grabbing Robotman's non-existent junk), but after a few episodes in, I feel like they found their stride with her. Her arc involves a lot of different things, but notably (for me, anyway) is her fear of institutionalization.


There's also the hero of the beach, Flex Mentallo (who can warp reality via flexing his muscles); the sapient genderqueer street, Danny the Street (who can teleport and acts as a safe haven for those who fall through society's cracks, protecting them from a government agency called "The Bureau of Normalcy"); the supervillain wannabe, the Beard Hunter (a chubby nerd who can learn everything about a person by consuming their beard); and, of course, the series' primary antagonist: Mr. Nobody.

Mr. Nobody is also the show's narrator. Which is also his power -- like, literally, his power is that he's narrating the show. So he can effectively just make all sorts of wild things happen. Like forcing the characters into flashbacks.

(Oh, I almost forgot: They even threw Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man in there. They used Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man. Quite possibly the dumbest fucking comic book character ever conceived. The single greatest line in this show is spoken by a newscaster after someone open fires on him: "Fortunately, he was only shot in the minerals.")

God, I fucking love this show.

One of the problems with Grant Morrison's run -- and a lot of Grant Morrison stuff in general -- is that he'd use things like queer-identity to establish an atmosphere of 'weirdness'. IE, take Danny the Street -- a teleporting sapient street is weird enough... but let's make them -- transexual! The way this was handled, you'd often get the sense he picked 'transexual' out of a hat of "Things That Make This Idea Even Weirder", because he wouldn't address these things beyond a very superficial level. He does the same thing with mental illness a lot (I fucking love the art in Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, but, as per usual, Morrison uses mental illness as a proxy for magic and/or spirituality).

I feel like the show addresses this problem. Like, a lot. The characters feel much more grounded and real to me than they ever did in the comics. Crazy Jane's mental illness isn't part of her super-power; the mental illness is separate from the fact that she has 64 people occupying her head (each of whom has their own distinct abilities). The personalities are how she mitigates her problems -- not the problem itself. Negative Man (who, okay, I'm pretty sure wasn't gay in the comics but still) actually spends a tremendous amount of time dealing with his identity as a homosexual and his self-loathing over how long he lied to himself about it (going so far as to get married and have kids despite wanting to have a relationship with another man). But it doesn't dwell on his homosexuality as his only defining trait, and -- later -- he has a really touching and tender scene with an aging ex-lover that's incredibly gay, but never goes out of its way to remind you that it's incredibly gay.

Or, take Danny the Street -- who's identity as genderqueer seems like it's addressed in a much more concrete way. There's a scene where Cyborg just offhandedly corrects someone who misgenders Danny and very casually explains genderqueer identity in one sentence before moving on. It's treated as no big deal. I can't recall ever having seen any pop-fiction treat something like gender identity like it isn't a big deal; if it comes up, it always seems to need to dominate the conversation. Also, there's another scene where, when Danny is comforting someone after the death of a loved one, you can see a gender non-binary flag in the distance lowering itself to half-mast.

Finally, I feel like I just want to gush about how great Mr. Nobody works as a villain. The character's origin (a dada supervillain who drains sanity and treats criminal acts as works of bizarre, experimental 'art') has been twerked a little, but still maintains its dada-ist roots -- with an added glaze of sinister-ness. He manages to make a butt-shaped air-balloon terrifying. He's also obsessed with flatulence and scatology (I'm convinced the carnivorous butts in the Bureau of Normalcy were made by him, somehow).

All in all, this show is fucking wild, and I highly recommend it if you get a chance.

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Re: Titans / Doom Patrol (DCUniverse streaming rambles as well)

Postby SecondTalon » Sat May 25, 2019 5:44 am UTC

I *think* making Larry gay was the closest they could get to Rebis. Having drag queens and a genderfluid street is one thing. A hermaphroditic gestalt entity as a starring member of the cast is another thing entirely.

(That’s also something that irks me - Matt and Brendan aren’t in the suits - not that I blame them. But the guys in the suits don’t get opening credit billing despite being on camera all the time.)
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.


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