Sunday, July 11, 2010

Birds of Prey: Thoughts and Review

Over the Fourth of July weekend of 2010, I spent my time off watching the entire 2002 series, Birds of Prey.
Birds of Prey was a television series based on the popular comic book series with various creative teams, but found its voice under the guidance of Gail Simone. The comic book mainly focuses on Barbara Gordon (Oracle), Dinah Lance (Black Canary), and Helena Bertinelli (The Huntress), and the show pretty much focuses on the same characters, but with some very weird differences. For instance, the character Dinah Lance, played by Rachel Skarsten, is in actuality the daughter of Black Canary, but still remains a meta human with various abilities with the core being a form of telepathy, while the Huntress, played by Ashley Scott, is for some reason a meta human based on the Huntress of Earth-2, Helena Kyle, the daughter of Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Selina Kyle (Catwoman). Oracle on the other hand is pretty much the same character that we are all familiar with, and Dina Meyer plays a fantastic Barbara Gordon. With all the differences that seemingly make no sense, it can be challenging to get over as a comic book fan.

The show focuses on a time period after an earthquake that shook Gotham City to its core, which ultimately led to a New Gotham and a knock-down-drag-out war between The Joker and The Batman. And like all wars, there were casualties including Helena's mother, Catwoman. Barbara Gordon, who was working as Batgirl, was also gunned down by The Joker, left for dead, and ultimately left paralyzed from the waist down. These events led to Barbara Gordon to take in young Helena Kyle, and mentor her into a life of acceptance and crime fighting, and like the comic book series, Birds of Prey is mainly about the relationships between the characters with a strong focal point of each character's personal life.

At the beginning of the series, the show looks at the arrival of Dinah Lance into New Gotham and focuses most of its energy on developing a new hero, but the show's strengths lie within the episodes that are Oracle and Huntress centric, which just so happen to be the last episodes when the show's cancellation was inevitable. At the beginning, the show tried to pull from the success of Smallville when that's not what it should have been. Unfortunately, Birds of Prey found its own voice after it was far too late.

Birds of Prey definitely had its share of pros and cons, with a large emphasis on those cons. The acting from the main focal point, Rachel Skarsten, is almost cringe worthy for the majority of the series, and the pacing is way off until about halfway through the show. Another problem with this program is that it keeps driving home the fact that Huntress is a Meta Human and mourning the loss of Selina Kyle, even though her death was far into the past, and Helena doesn't seem too focused on her. The one episode, where it really does become integral to the plot, it is used magnificently, but with the constant exposition, it's almost meaningless. The show also suffered from being too corny in a lot of the episodes, but it ultimately managed to take its own reigns, and bring it around to acceptable levels of cheese at the end of the series. And, as we stated before, the DVD release also got mauled by lack of the original licensed songs for the series.

But the show does have its ups, as well. The scenes based on Helena's anger management therapy sessions with Dr. Harleen Quinzell, are always interesting, and given that she is being treated by Harley Quinn, the show continues to set up an ultimate enemy for the season, and it's done in a terrific way, even though everyone should recognize and remember all of the things in Harley's past. But the ultimate payoff with Harley (is done fantastically with a perfect performance from Mia Sara

Other high points are the inclusion of other DC Comics character appearances such as Batman and The Joker (Unaired Pilot), Alfred Pennyworth (entire series), and Clayface ("Feat of Clay"). Again, the relationships and personal lives of Huntress and Oracle should have been more of a focus, instead of the "journey of a hero" storyline that was originally being pushed, because, although it was drug out for far too long, the relationship between Huntress and Detective Reese contained a lot of potential, and could have provided an intriguing catalyst much like the relationship between Wade and Barbara.

Overall, I really came to love the series, and Birds of Prey was worth the time and money invested based on the last set of episodes, and I am truly going to miss it.

1 comment:

  1. Hero's Journey