In just a few short days, Doom Patrol will be returning triumphantly to HBO Max for Season 4. A lot has happened between the end of the third season and its premiere on December 8th in the real world. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav put many of the streaming service’s shows on the chopping block, including the high-profile cancellation of Batgirl. James Gunn became one of the co-heads of DC Studios and has already teased some of his plans for the future of the DCEU. And all the while, Doom Patrol keeps chugging on, preparing to delight and baffle audiences. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In preparation for the show’s return, I had the pleasure to sit down with the cast of Doom Patrol while at New York Comic Con. The experience was an absolute pleasure and I was able to directly ask the cast about what to expect from the fourth season, their experiences with the show so far, the fan reception, and what the cast does in their downtime between shoots.
Almost immediately after sitting down with the cast, they began to talk about what to expect from the fourth season of Doom Patrol. Jovian White, who plays Cyborg, says that the Doom Patrol actually comes together as a superhero team this season. They begin to try and save the day and become proactive instead of reactive, but the transition to being a functional superhero team won’t be an easy one. He said that this is going to be the season where they’re really going to be asking themselves “what do we really want?”
One of the more interesting developments with the fourth season is that now that the team is actually acting like a superhero team, they need a leader. Or at least, a leader who isn’t as horrible as Timothy Dalton’s Chief was. With that in mind, Rita Farr steps into the role of team leader and tries her best to show that she can be a better leader than Chief. Or, as Rita’s actress April Bowlby puts it, “it’s a real f**k you to Chief.”
That isn’t going to be an easy transition though. Without going into spoilers, April says that her character attempts to be perfect and will inevitably push everyone too far. Plus Rita is going to be openly hostile to the newest team member, Madame Rouge, played by Michelle Gomez, who made the Doom Patrol’s life a living hell in Season 3. It’ll be interesting to see how long this dynamic will last, but April did hint that by the end of the season, things would end in tragedy for the team. Whether that’s due to her leadership or not is something that we’ll just have to wait and see.
There’s also going to be a lot of butts this season. “So many butts,” claimed Michelle Gomez before everyone laughed.
But no matter which cast member I talked to, there was one thing that the entire cast could not stop talking about; there will be a musical episode. Much in the vein of legendary TV show musical episodes like Buffy the Vampire Slayers’ “Once More, With Feeling” or Scrubs’ “My Musical,” Doom Patrol is going to attempt to deliver a complete musical experience. There will be singing and dancing, with several of the cast members being surprised at everyone’s musical abilities (or lack thereof). There was even a little slip that a returning character will be appearing in the musical episode and they’re supposedly amazing, but for the sake of keeping that surprise hidden, you’ll have to wait and watch that episode for yourself. Michelle Gomez said that it would be the ninth episode, so we’ll sadly have to wait for the second batch of six episodes to release in 2023 to witness this musical.
We then began to talk about the series as a whole and what it’s like to work on a show as abnormal as Doom Patrol. When asked how they even make some of the series’ most ludicrous moments work, like the zombie episode in season 3 or Ezekiel the Cockroach, the cast said they really have no idea how it all comes together. April put it best when directly asked what it’s like whenever she receives the scripts: “It’s like deer in the headlight every episode. It’s like ‘how are they going to do this?’… Then we start filming and then you take one piece at a time and then when you watch them cut it together it’s like, ‘oh my God, it’s brilliant!” but while we’re shooting it, it’s very hard to understand and constantly asking questions… but then they somehow make it come together and it’s really beautiful.”
That being said, Jovian White said that he feels there’s a lot more space for the actors to really inhabit the characters now that they’re four seasons in. The writers, who they call the Doom Room, give the cast plenty of opportunities to voice how they think their characters should behave and act in certain situations, thus allowing them to have some improvisation with the roles. Sometimes it’s in the form of line delivery while other times it’s how the characters appear and view themselves.
Jovian directly compares his version of Cyborg to every other interpretation of the character, whether it be in film, television, or video games. He feels that in those interpretations, with the specific exception of the 2003 animated series, Cyborg is always being shown as a machine first and human second. Jovian made a concentrated effort to put Cyborg’s humanity from and center, whether it be Vic having a cocky ego and swagger, giving him an extensive wardrobe and sneaker collection, to even pursuing a romance with another character. That direction for the character reached its climax at the end of season 3 with Cyborg getting synthetic skin and removing his cybernetic enhancements, so it’ll be interesting to see where Cyborg goes as a character now that he outwardly looks human.
Given that the show is currently on its fourth season and that this season hopefully won’t be the last, the topic of conversation eventually steered to how a show like Doom Patrol found an audience. The superhero genre is a fairly conventional one and doesn’t attempt to rock the boat all that often, yet here’s Doom Patrol taking risk after risk every single season. But April Bowlby thinks that risk-taking is one of the series’ strengths not because of the weird sense of humor, although that certainly is a factor, but rather because the show approaches difficult topics with a sense of maturity and honesty.
“[Doom Patrol] deals with so many with mental health issues and feeling like you don’t belong and finding your wacky pack. It’s not a joyful thing. There’s a lot of work that you do on yourself in our show and constant growth and evolution and I think people can really relate to that… it’s not candy and roses or polished. Our show is the nitty-gritty of it and we’re f**k ups but we love each other and I think that’s pretty relatable.”
Indeed, one of the core appeals of the series is how the cast all interact with each other as a surrogate family and help each other deal with their own mental health issues. One of the best episodes of the first season was just watching the cast sit down and have a therapy session, and it was captivating. With the character bearing their souls to each other, of course, audiences are going to attach themselves to them and find something to love and relate to.
As the interview was winding down, we were talking about if shooting a show like Doom Patrol was stressful, which the cast acknowledged. Sometimes there would be light and happy shoots, like with the aforementioned musical episode, but then there would also be very tense shoots that involved a lot of stunts and pyrotechnics that needed to go off without a hitch. But whenever the cast had some downtime, they would get together and play charades to pass the time.
Once they mentioned this, it became my mission to figure out who was the best at charades. While each of the cast members said that they were the best, sometimes jokingly and other times with deadly seriousness, April Bowlby seemed to be the only honest one and said that it had to be either Diane Guerrero, who plays Crazy Jane, or Matthew Zuk, who is the body actor for the Negative Man. She says the two of them just have this insane insight that allows them to guess what each other is doing by something as simple as a hand movement.
And with that laugh out of the way, I left the cast to their own devices to prepare for their panel. Being able to interview the cast of Doom Patrol was an honor and I was so glad to have been able to talk to them in advance of the fourth season’s premiere on Thursday. One can only hope that the show will continue on and not be under the HBO Max axe. The signs are good, but you can never be too certain. Even if this is to be the last season, at least I’ll still be able to have one more season of my favorite television show that’s currently airing.
Doom Patrol Season 4 will premiere Thursday, December 8th, exclusively on HBO Max. Two episodes will release on that day, with an episode premiering every week afterward. The season will be divided into two parts with both parts consisting of six episodes. The second part of Doom Patrol Season 4 will premiere sometime in 2023.