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Listen: ‘Doom Patrol’ Showrunner on Standing Out in a Crowded Superhero Market

Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety’s television podcast. In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, talks with Jeremy Carver, showrunner of the new series “Doom Patrol,” which is currently streaming on the DC Universe platform.

Based on the weird 1960s comic series created by Arnold Drake, “Doom Patrol” stars Brendan Fraser, Matt Bomer, Diane Guerrero and April Bowlby as four outcasts who have each suffered a traumatic event which has also granted them super powers. They are all rescued and given a home by Dr. Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton); however, after their mentor is kidnapped by the evil Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk), they must band together with Cyborg (Joivan Wade) to rescue Dr. Caulder.

Carver admits that while he was somewhat of a super hero fan, he had never heard of “Doom Patrol” prior to being approached by the show’s producers, Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Geoff Johns.

“They spoke to me about the project and said, ‘Would you please give us your take,’” Carver recalls. “I just laid out what I wanted to do, which was a very mature, scruffy, in your face, epic-feeling, cinematic, not always politically correct thing, and they have universally been behind it, which is incredibly liberating.”

“Doom Patrol” is only the second live-action show to launch on the DC Universe platform, and with the TV space being not exactly short of super hero shows, Carver wanted to ensure he wasn’t making just another super hero series crammed with elaborate fight scenes and loud, bombastic set pieces.

“It’s a show that is very deliberate in its pacing for the first 25 to 30 minutes, and that’s to get people used to the fact that they’re not going to be seeing the typical show,” Carver says. “We’re going to be spending a lot of time with character, and character development is just as important as any super power or super fight.”

In terms of tone for the series, Carver wanted to lay down a marker with the pilot and establish a “high-low” mentality with some mature, emotional scenes living side by side with “burp or butt jokes.”

However, one of the challenges he faced in creating meatier characters was that two of the leads, namely Brendan Fraser’s Robotman and Matt Bomer’s Negative Man, aren’t exactly suited to shooting conventional, dramatic scenes.

“In pre-production that cold feeling sets in of realizing I’ve got a three-page scene with a guy in bandages and a guy in a robot suit and you can’t see their mouths and they’re just standing there,” Carver says. “It was a little terrifying because we were figuring out how we were going to do it as we were doing it.”

Add to this the fact the pilot had 127 scenes and Carver and co. had a “comparatively short” amount of time to prepare, and the showrunner paints a picture of the Herculean task the crew faced to pull off the show.

“This show goes to crazy places in this season that are hyper-real, very naturalistic with different eras, different times – we just shot a ‘Revenant’-like episode in 1913 in the Yukon – and the crew has been absolutely fastidious and perfectionist and wonderful,” Carver says. “That’s been the most pleasant surprise for me.”

Later in the show, critics Daniel D’Addario and Caroline Framke discuss HBO’s controversial Michael Jackson documentary “Leaving Neverland,” and Ricky Gervais’s new Netflix show “After Life.”

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