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Doom Patrol: Immortimas Patrol

Dorothy: "Good morning, sex ghosts!"
Sex Ghosts: "Good morning, Dorothy!"

It seems like Immortimas Day comes earlier every year. I don't even have my Immortimas decorations up yet.

Because I don't pay much attention to behind-the-scenes news, generally speaking, I honestly did not know that Doom Patrol was doing a musical episode.

I mean, I suppose I should have assumed that they would. At this point everybody is required to do one. But still, when Dorothy and the Sex Ghosts launched into the opening 'Immortimas Day' number, I was pleasantly surprised. For about the first 24 bars of the song, at which point I remembered what the problem with these things usually is.

By way of a roundabout explanation, back in the day there was a British music programme called The Old Grey Whistle Test. It ran from 1971 to 1988 on BBC2 and can still occasionally be seen in the US on public television, usually during pledge drives.

The name of the show comes from a tradition among songwriters in London. Having written a song, they would go out and find a doorman at some posh building, to whom they would then proceed to sing it. Then, after the doorman had heard the entire song, they would ask the doorman to whistle the tune back to them. If the doorman in question could whistle the tune back to them after hearing it, they knew that they had a catchy tune and therefore, theoretically, a hit song. If not, they didn't, and it was back to the drawing board.

This was the titular Old Grey Whistle Test. Yes, the doorman were usually old men. Hence the 'Old' and 'Grey.' Yes, I agree, it isn't very polite.

Every song in this episode bar one fails the Old Grey Whistle test.

To be fair, this is almost always the case in musical episodes of episodic television. We saw the exact same only recently over on Strange New Worlds in 'Subspace Rhapsody.' The songs are all fun and pretty enough to listen to, but they're gone from your head the exact moment they're over. Turns out it's hard to write a cohesive musical on a weekly series' schedule. To date, only Buffy's 'Once More, with Feeling' has really managed it, and even then, I recall reading that Joss Whedon had taken quite an extensive vacation solely to focus on writing it. And now, sadly, being able to remember the songs from 'Once More, With Feeling' just invokes all sorts of problematic baggage, so let's stop talking about it because it makes me sad.

So, when I think of all of the songs in this episode, bar one, I'm just left with a vague impression of how they made me feel at the time. Casey and Jane are cute together as the zygote of a couple. Larry and Rama put on a great showstopper about just going with things. Vic keeps getting his power ballad amusingly interrupted. Rita and Madame Rouge get to – briefly – be uncomplicated best friends again. And Brenden Fraser sings a rock ballad about how much he wants to masturbate. You know, standard Broadway stuff.

A couple of observations before I finally get around to the one song that's an exception to this problem which I keep relentless teasing.

-Abi Monterey, playing Dorothy, has a surprisingly lovely voice. I don't know why that was surprising to me. I suspect some sort of lingering LeMarckism in my subconscious made me think that because she looks the way she does means that she can't possibly have a beautiful voice. Yes, I know that it's a makeup and the actress doesn't look that way. Subconscious assumptions are what they are. It's traditional to give the young ingenue the opening 'world establish/here is our village' song, see: 'Good Morning, Belle,' and she carries off being the spine of that opening number quite well.

-Whoever decided to use the long established Sex Ghosts as the chorus members, thus allowing for big numbers with back up dancers, is a freaking genius. Such a good decision. It really pays off again and again throughout the episode.

-The structure of the episode doesn't really mirror that of a musical to any degree. Which is a good thing, because it isn't supposed to. The Doom Patrol, both TV show and just in general, has always been to some degree about the team struggling against narrative conventions in a terribly post-modern way. That's why Mr. Nobody was such a good antagonist. In putting the Doom Patrol into a universe that obeys the laws of a Broadway musical, of course you're not going to get them presenting a good example of a Broadway musical. You're going to get the story of how they fight against the Broadway musical structure that's being imposed on them. Which is much more nuanced and interesting.

Which is how you end up with Madame Rouge breaking away from her lovely duet with Rita to set up her own counter-melody consisting largely of panicked swearing as she realizes what's happening to them and tries to break free of it. Which is not something you're going to see in Dear Evan Hanson.

-One of the hurdles of doing a musical episode of an established TV show is that you've already got your roles cast for you. And usually not a lot of effort has been put into making sure that they can sing. Which is something you have to find ways to accommodate. This is another reason that the Sex Ghosts are such a good idea, as you can cast talented singers and dancers in those parts without any problem.

-Of the cast members we have here, they clearly have a spectrum of singing talent. Abi Monterey, as mentioned, has a lovely, pure voice. Diane Guerrero also has quite a good voice, although it did feel a bit like she's more naturally suited to rock than Broadway. Madeline Zima as Casey seems to have been born for this kind of thing. We already knew that Matt Bomer had amazing chops, but I was unprepared for how well Sendhil Ramamurthy matched him. Joivan Wade held his own, but I'd describe his voice as being at the upper end of 'pretty good.' April Bowlby unsurprisingly has an amazing voice as she's apparently just good at everything.

And Brendan Fraser and Michelle Gomez... OK, look. When you're as funny and amazing as Michelle Gomez, nothing else matters. And Brendan Fraser... I hear he was really good in The Whale.

Which leaves us with Charity Cervantes' Isabel Feathers and the final number.

The final number, which I'm calling 'You're All Doomed,' is flat out perfection. Charity Cervantes invests exactly the right amount of sneering hate and condescension and she has more than the voice needed to carry the number. But that's not why it's amazing. OK, it's part of why it's amazing, but not the whole reason.

I should mention at this point that I watch the opening credits for Doom Patrol maybe 50% of the time when watching the show. The 'skip intro' button is right there, I'm eager to get to the show, you know how it is. But for whatever reason, when watching this one for the first time I decided to just let the opening credits play. I think I might have been trying to close an app on my phone or something, I don't recall. Whatever the reason, I was delightfully surprised that they'd done a special one-off version of the theme tune in 'Carol of the Bells' style with an a cappella choir singing the words 'Doom Patrol' as the repeated lyric.

This was pretty neat in the moment, but it served a larger purpose. For two reasons. First, it allows me to mention how fantastic the theme song from this show is. I've always really loved it and I don't think I ever mentioned it before, so thanks for that. And second, it draws the viewers attention to the theme music so that when they get to the final number you have the gradual realization of  'Hey... that's the theme music! With a counter-melody laid across the top of it and woven through it. With so many of the amazing chords done vocally!' Which, indeed, it is.

It's an amazing piece of music transformed as an audio 'found object' into a musical theater masterpiece that I literally cannot stop whistling.

The Doom Patrol has majestically triumphed over musical theater and has returned to the real world. Bring on the final three episodes.

Bits and Pieces:

-- It's hard to ignore that this is the second episode in a row in which nothing has really progressed on a practical level. Isabel got upset that the team was getting all the attention last episode, so in this one she's sent them into a musical theater reality in which they all have everything they want as long as they unquestionably worship her. They ultimately decide not to do so, so she returns them to reality, exactly where they were.

-- That said, character development is still development, so the plot can maybe just hold on for a bit while we get through all of this awesome stuff.

-- It's nice that everyone came down in different places as far as whether they wanted to stay in a world that they knew wasn't real for the sake of having everything they wanted. Larry and Rama alone have perfectly justifiable reasons to stay. I mean, 'I'm not going to explode and kill everyone in this reality' is a little more defensible than 'I can masturbate here.' No shade to that. I'm just saying.

-- Rita's speech to Isabel about how small she was and how grateful Rita is not to be like her anymore is just wonderful. I could watch it a hundred times.

-- It's brilliant and cruel how much of this episode revolves around Madame Rouge coming to terms with having to destroy Rita's happiness again.

-- So, are we just forgetting Shelley Byron and her burgeoning romance with Jane? I think Casey and Jane are kind of sweet together, but still. I hope we're not just moving on from Shelley so unceremoniously.

-- How much of the viewership can reasonably be expected to remember what vertical hold slipping looked like on a VCR? Is that still a generally understood thing in common parlance? Still a clever way to peel back the illusion for the team though.

-- The exception in 'Subspace Rhapsody' was the Klingon K-Pop banger, which totally slaps. I hope I used all of those terms correctly.

-- Thanks to this episode, there is an actor out there whose resume includes 'Dancing Sex Ghost #6'. That actor's name is Erick Nathan. I want to celebrate that.

-- Bonus points for the ugly Immortimas Day sweaters.


Everyone (singing): "Nothing is weird! Everything’s fine! We’re all okay!"

Rita: "You’re like meat!"
Madame Rouge: "You’re like cheese!"
Both: "Put them together, Charcuterie!!"

Madame Rouge: "Oh.. well.. I’ll clean up then. No problem. (pause) Oh what the actual fuck."

Cliff: "Immortus is coming, and so am I!"

Madame Rouge: "Too busy singing about your dick, huh?"

Jane: "It’s an illusion, bro. Larry saying he has a boyfriend in this world is like you saying your cam girl really cared for you."
Cliff: "Ginger was there for me."

Madame Rouge: "So. Are we ready to ruin Rita’s happiness?"

Madame Rouge: "Vic?"
Vic: "Um.. .yeah?"
Madame Rouge: "Are you... um... singing?"
Vic: "Yeah."
Madame Rouge: "Right. Okay. Well, when you’re done with… it’s lovely, but when you’re done with… with all of that… you want to meet me at the bone tree?"

Rama: "So, what’s this? Some sort of holiday role play? Kinky. I’m in."

Madame Rouge: "Rita, you were never a monster to me."
Rita: "That’s because in this friendship you’re the monster."

It doesn't seem real to me that we only have three episodes left of this amazing show. I'm not even remotely ready to let them go.

Nine out of ten servings of ham.

Mikey Heinrich is, among other things, a freelance writer, retired firefighter, and roughly 78% water. You can find more of his work at the 42nd Vizsla. If you'd like to see his raw notes for this and other reviews, you can find them at What Was Mikey Thinking.


  1. Overall, I'd agree that the music wasn't too memorable but I got such a big grin on my face during "You're All Doomed." I always watch the credits, but for Doom Patrol especially I love what a good piece of mood setting it is. The murky visuals and moody music just work so well together!

    Vic's number felt very high school musical inspired for better and for worse.

  2. You forgot about The Bitter Suite!! Amazing musical episode in Xena-warrior princess season 3, 1998. It´s one of the first, if not THE first (?) in this trend. It´s a truely excellent musical packed with catchy and memorable songs.


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