If you watched the first season of Titans, you probably think you know the Doom Patrol. But even though the fourth episode of the DC Universe's first original series introduced viewers to the weird array of "special" individuals living under one roof, it turns out that the continuity between the Doom Patrol series and that Doom Patrol episode are a little more complicated than you might think.
While most of the same actors are playing the same characters on Doom Patrol that were introduced in that Titans episode, executive producers Sarah Schechter and Jeremy Carver reveal that they actually think of the two series as separate instead of inhabiting the same creative universe.
"It’s so hard," Schechter says of making any crossovers happen, because while Doom Patrol films in Atlanta, "Titans shoots in Toronto."
"We can do the crossovers on The CW because they’re all in Vancouver and that makes it easier, but it’s still nearly impossible," she adds. "This would be really difficult."
Schechter looks at the Titans vs. Doom Patrol issue as being connected, but not the same. "Laverne was on Happy Days, but then she became a different Laverne on Laverne and Shirley," she says. "And I'm sure there's like 1,000 more recent references that would resonate more with your audience than that, but that's the one that popped into my head."
She then explains that Geoff Johns "in particular has such an affinity for the Doom Patrol," and she thought what Titans did was "a really fun episode."
"But we were like, what would it be like if they had their own show?" Schechter continues. "When you start building out that whole world, you have to start from scratch. And also, it's a different show. Jeremy had to make it his own thing. You can tell that this show is so out of the particular alchemy of his brain. If he was constrained by the Doom Patrol as a side trip on Titans, it would limit him and we have to take those handcuffs off of him to feel free to create."
Carver laughs at how his "universe has been Doom Patrol the last 10 months," so creatively he hasn't really been thinking about "the idea of crossovers with the Titans or anything."
"They're in the same world," he confirms, but then clarifies. "We're asking fans to come to this version of the show knowing that it is the same world, but it's a different continuity. While there are elements of Titans and the show’s introduction of our team, not all characterizations are the same and it's best just to come into it with a fresh look."
He laughs again, then adds, "I know people get very particular about it and I think that’s fair. The best thing I can say to the fans is don't look for the same continuity from the Titans introduction of the Doom Patrol to Doom Patrol’s Doom Patrol. That will bring the most enjoyment instead of looking around corners for something that you may have thought was there from Titans."
When asked if perhaps the Titans Doom Patrol episode was the present day version, whereas the Doom Patrol series is the origin story of how they all got there, Carver smiles.
"Being super honest, maybe more honest than I'm supposed to be, there's a way you can squint and see where that version fits into this version," he says. "But from my opinion, it’s best to say that it’s a new and different version."
Schechter then adds that the Titans episode "is just kind of an introduction."
"It was fun to play with those characters, and we wanted to," she says. "There was always a sense that they could work on their own. We love the characters so much, but it was like taking a bite of the cookie dough before you bake the cookies."
What Schechter really is excited about is getting to bring Cyborg to life on the small screen. But while fans expected to see him on Titans because of his comic book connection to the Teen Titans, the decision to introduce him on Doom Patrol instead was a decision made through "a lot of conversations."
"It’s something Geoff Johns could probably answer better than me, but Cyborg is such a special character," Schechter says. "There's probably a show that's just him. But being able to tap into the ways in which he feels like an outcast instead of just the traditional hero was really a fun challenge and allowed us to show a different side of him."
For his part, Carver was not all that into superhero comic books growing up, but has really enjoyed digging into the Doom Patrol comics while researching the more out-there elements of the series.
"It's been rather mind-blowing to bring certain characters to life, like Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man," Carver says, "or the Beard Hunter, which is one of the stranger superhero villains or heroes, whichever way you see him. Danny the Street, who is a sentient genderqueer street, who is one of my favorite characters of all time from the Doom Patrol comics and has been thrilling to try and pull off."
He reveals that he's taking "from the Grant Morrison run and the Silver Age" along with adding "some new elements ourselves, as seen in the flatulent donkey who makes a strong guest appearance in the first few episodes."
"We have a character who is a doomsday-prepping cockroach who believes he's a prophet of the Lord, Ezekiel," Carver adds. "As well as a small band of other animals getting involved in our universe and potentially coming together in ways that bespeak even a greater role for them in our universe. We're having a lot of fun balancing the absurd versus the very grounded."
While Carver is "new to the superhero world," Schechter and the rest of the producers are no stranger to bringing comic book TV shows to life after seven years of creating The CW's Arrowverse. But making a show for a streaming service directly tailored to comic book fans has been a new experience.
"There aren’t the same restrictions," Schechter says. "We have more money, which is really nice. You can do really heavy visual effects shows. It's also fun to be part of building something new and figuring out what it is together and what the limits are and what you can get away with. We're making this for an audience that really is a comic book fan audience—we never make anything exclusively for them. It's exciting to know that you're making a show for fans."
But creating a show specifically for fans has also been daunting for Carver. "You feel a bit more of a burden because there are certain things that comic book fans care more about, like the DC Universe and the continuity," he says. "In some ways, it’s freeing because I don't know all the pitfalls."
He then adds, "But speaking to the streaming service itself, DC and Warner Bros. and my partners that I'm working with, they've been very adamant about doing something in the comic book space that felt unique and adult and cinematic. It's a small blessing in that you're taking on a team that in particular isn't the most known, but I feel even more of an obligation to get things right because the people who have been hardcore fans of Doom Patrol are a really incredible lot. You want to do them right."
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