Doom Patrol Has a Weird Thing for Cop Shows, Too

The title card for Steele & Cliff
The title card for Steele & Cliff
Image: DC Universe

It’s rare that you see any of Doom Patrol’s mixed bag of metahuman heroes fighting regular, street-level criminals, because their respective power sets tend to be more useful dealing with metaphysical, extradimensional-type threats like massive roaches and mice. Mostly, the Doom Patrol’s left the basic crooks to the Titans and, one imagines, the police, but when you think about it, you never really see the cops in this world, either.

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Obviously, the universe that Doom Patrol’s set in has some sort of justice system independent of the Justice League itself that Cyborg dreams of one day joining, but it isn’t all that clear what the cops’ relationships with superheroes are like exactly. “Finger Patrol,” delves into this a bit via Robotman of all people who, like Cyborg, is naturally inclined to go out and do what he can to protect the innocent.

But because Robotman’s closer to the civilian side of things compared to Cyborg, his flights of fancy about heroism in “Finger Patrol” end up illustrating something interesting about how people in this world think about cops.

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Illustration for article titled iDoom Patrol /iHas a Weird Thing for Cop Shows, Too
Illustration: Jim Cooke

After Robotman and Cyborg unsuccessfully try to convince Cyborg’s father Silas Stone to upgrade Robotman’s frame in order to restore some of his sensory perception, the two metal men initially resign themselves to return to the Doom Patrol manor before Cyborg decides to make a “quick” stop by his good friend Roni’s apartment where make amends for standing her up on their last planned date. In this case “making amends” means getting hot and heavy with Roni while Cliff, who has no idea what’s going on, sits in the car waiting for hours like the world’s most unnecessary third wheel.

As Cliff drifts off to sleep, though, his thoughts about being able to play hero like Cyborg and his curiosity about Niles Caulder’s experimental ideas about upgrading his Robotman body lead to him having a novel sort of fever dream in which he and Vic are smooth-talking, badass detectives starring in their own 70s crime drama Steele & Stone.

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Scenes from Steele & Stone.
Image: DC Universe/HBO Max

Cheesy as Cliff’s dream is, it speaks to the reality that he, like everyone else in his world, presumably grew up with crime procedurals featuring stories valorizing cops for going undercover in ridiculous costumes in order to solve even more ridiculous crimes. Silly Steele & Stone is, it’s also reflective of where Cliff’s been at, mentally, as he’s considered just what all it is that he wants to do with his life.

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As Cliff wakes up from his dream, “Finger Patrol” lives up to its name when he witnesses two random guys attempting to steal a car, and he accidentally cuts one of the men’s’ fingers off (which he pockets!) while apprehending them. Much as Cliff might not want to admit it, part of him does legitimately want to play heroic good guy like Cyborg, and while Doom Patrol plays Steele & Stone as a joke, it’s likely that this sentiment of Cliff’s is going to resurface before the season is over.

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io9 Culture Critic and Staff Writer. Cyclops was right.

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DISCUSSION

remyporter
Remy Porter

The moment Baby Doll and Dorothy started playing, it was so sweet and you also could instantly tell that it was going to end so, so badly. I want to talk more about this show with my friends, but I’m the only one watching it, and you just. can’t. explain it. Each episode is cracking with so much stuff and it’s all so insane. I love it.

Over on AV Club, they ran an article about Newsradio, and talked about how a big part of the genius of what made the show work is that all the characters were designed so that you could take any pairing and get a funny scene out of it, and each pairing would feel unique. I feel like Doom Patrol has a lot of that to it- a big part of what makes the show so great is that you can mix and match any pairing of the cast, throw them out to do some weird adventure, and it’ll be gold and we’ll get a great insight into what makes them tick and how they relate.