Everyone enjoys the crazy time travails of DC's Legends of Tomorrow (Hail Beebo), and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to astound me in terms of how good it can get (Give me Fitzsimmons or give me death). But as amazing as both of those shows are, does either one feature a small army of butt creatures? Does either show manage to contain a small arsenal of butt-related material and still keep the stakes high? The answer is no. Only one show does that.
Welcome to Doom Patrol. And now, butt stuff.
It is possible for an entire season of television to quality as one giant WTF moment? If it is, then there's no doubt in my mind that Season 1 of Doom Patrol on DC Universe would qualify. Every episode of this show has WTF moments, to the point where it should be re-titled WTF Moments: The Series.
Seriously, there is no getting around the glorious insanity. Where most genre television shows tend to ramp down the weirdness of their source material (The Umbrella Academy), this show takes the weirdness of the comic that it's based on (especially Grant Morrison's wacky run) and shoots it up through the roof, sailing it to heaven by way of a butt-shaped balloon.
No other series that I know of goes as big or as strange as this one does...and actually gets away with it. Sure, shows go big and strange all the time, but this one goes there and back again, still managing to tell a powerful and cohesive story in the process. It tells the superhero tale of a "band of bargain bin action figures" which is loaded with heavy doses of undistilled pathos, and as I have already mentioned, it also has a huge preoccupation with butt stuff. Lots and lots of butt stuff. Butt stuff.
In a show that features a nefarious, revenge-seeking rat named "Admiral Whiskers" and a guy who can track people by eating pieces of their beards, it takes something truly "extra" to even stand out. The butt stuff stands out, sticks out, and demands to be seen. Both before and after the butt stuff goes down, you still take the show seriously. WTF?
The pilot ended with a donkey farting words into the sky (out of it's butt),and a few episodes later the show's antagonist, Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk) flew around in a hot-air balloon shaped like a giant butt. The show wasn't done with the butt stuff, though. It saved one of it's largest ass-ets for the episode "Cyborg Patrol." This is where our real WTF moment takes place.
The awful Bureau of Normalcy (a group of s***heads who would hate this show) have abducted Victor Stone, aka Cyborg (Joivan Wade). It's up to our merry band of freaks to help him, so off we go with Robotman (Brendan Fraser), Rita Farr (April Bowlby), Negative Man (Matt Bomer), and all of Crazy Jane's 64 personalities (Diane Guerrero). It should be noted that all of these actors give outrageously brilliant performances throughout the season. Anyway, butt stuff.
It turns out that the Bureau is holding all kinds of metahumans prisoner, so what is our team going to do, free only Cyborg? Of course not. They let everyone and everything out, which causes one very concerned soldier to utter the classic line, "the butts are loose."
He means what he says, because a large group of butt-shaped creatures soon comes storming out. They literally look like human butts with limbs, and they have teeth in their buttcracks. They swarm the soldiers and eat them alive, making this one moment where the villains don't eat ass — the asses eat them. Take that, Bembridge Scholars! The Doom Patrol members just kind of watch in wonder, as does the audience, as a small army of bitey-butts eat a contingent of soldiers who operate in the name of normalcy. When they phone their commander to tell him that the butts are loose, he wishes them well before shooting himself in the head.
Just when you thought that this show couldn't get any weirder, they sent in the butts. Around the survivors, a perimeter create! Butt stuff.
One of the surprising things here (the many surprising things, it's a squadron of butts), is that the butts did not originate with Mr. Nobody. He's usually the one with the butt-based material, using the imagery to relentlessly mock our heroes. He usually does so with a break of the fourth wall, but he's not present in the scene.
I used to think that it was Mr. Nobody who had a pre-occupation with butt stuff, but after this episode? It's really the entire series. This is yet another moment in the travails of our misfit team where they are literally being shown the metaphorical ass of the world, and it fits because that's what they all think they deserve.;
The most striking thing about Doom Patrol, even more striking than the rampant butt stuff, is the ongoing character beats that show us, time and time again, how much each character truly hates themselves. Nobody hates these characters as much they hate themselves — as far as they're concerned they are all worthless freaks who have nothing to offer, and the world would be better off without them. It is only logical that the world, and the show itself, keeps showing them the ass.
This is what probably makes them the most relatable group of characters that I've ever encountered in a superhero show. How the showrunner Jeremy Carver and his brilliant team of writers and directors managed to maintain the balance of fragile psyches and emotions mixed with a heaping plethora of butt stuff is beyond me, but manage it they do.
All of that serious stuff aside, it is highly satisfying just to watch a group of people hell-bent on exterminating the world's weirdness get eaten by weirdness itself. The assholes literally get devoured by assholes, and while we are certainly thinking WTF, we are also shouting, "hell yeah toothy butts, eat those hypocritical pieces of s**t!"
Again, in a show that also features a sentient bit of street (Danny the Street) as well as Timothy Dalton making love to a cavewoman for several years, it takes a lot to stand out. I've said this already, but it's still true and it's still a marvel to me. When it came time to really make us take pause and repeat the phrase, "the person who is breathing is me" over and over again, the show did the only logical thing it could do.
It sent in the butts.