BIRDS OF PREY: THE COMPLETE SERIES
Starring Dina Meyer, Ashley Scott, Rachel Skarsten
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Review by Louis Fowler
OK. So I am dying to see THE DARK KNIGHT. Like, really dying. Cancer dying. And yes, normally I’d be there the first day, first in line. That’s how much I not only love comic book movies, but just movies in general. I am a total loser like that.
But I just couldn’t do it with THE DARK KNIGHT. As much as it kills me, I just couldn’t deal with all the idiots in Joker make-up who, without a doubt, are gonna be screaming and hollering throughout the whole damn thing, unable to keep their irritating fanboy B.S. in check. It’s the same reason why I avoid Tarantino movies the first week. So, instead of trying to watch the movie and dealing with the wannabe Clown Princes of Douchebaggery, I’m going Monday evening. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be okay. (NOTE: I did go last night. It was fucking awesome.)
So, in order to satiate my immediate need for Bat-product, I picked up BIRDS OF PREY. Released just in time to coincide with the latest Batman adventure (funny how that works!), BIRDS was a short-lived, hour-long show on the WB that was meant to be the next SMALLVILLE, but was canceled after only 14 episodes. It was very loosely based on the DC Comic of the same name, which, to be fair, I have only read a couple of issues of, concluding that it’s really nothing special. Kinda like this TV series.
Taking place in what I think is the near future, after Gotham was destroyed by an earthquake and subsequently rebuilt, Batman apparently grew a Bat-gina and left the city he vowed to protect in tears when his FWB Catwoman was murdered. The streets are now patrolled by Batman and Catwoman’s daughter, the snazzy and snappy Huntress, the typical BUST magazine “tuff girl” who kicks ass and doesn’t smear her lipstick doing it. And, of course, she has daddy issues. She’s Tori Amos as a superhero. Great. At least she’s not a cutter.
Watching it all from her tech-laden lair is former Batgirl Barbara Gordon, who has been paralyzed by a bullet from the Joker, recalling the one-shot THE KILLING JOKE. She does little but look at computer screens, scold the Huntress via ear-comm and roll around in her super-futuristic wheelchair that might as well be called the Rascal 3000. On the plus side, she’s played by Dina Meyer.
To complete this super-heroine trinity is the continuity skewering Dinah Redmond, AKA Dinah Lance. She’s a teenage “metahuman” runaway who, it turns out, is the Black Canary’s daughter, but instead of a “canary cry”, she just plain cries. And she has telekinesis, but that’s beside the point.
Like the first season of SMALLVILLE—a show which I actually enjoy quite a bit—BIRDS OF PREY strays far from the comics; instead of introducing villains that might actually have garnered ratings, they do the whole “freak of the week” thing instead, with faceless nobody baddies wreaking low-budget havoc, mostly with bad CGI powers. In later episodes—the best ones, actually—b-listers like Lady Shiva and Clayface show up, but it’s too little, too late. In addition, throughout the series, Joker-lover Harley Quinn, um, I mean “Dr. Harleen Quinzel”, played by a very non-descript Mia Sara (replacing former TWIN PEAKS hottie Sherilyn Fenn, who was the good doctor in the unaired pilot, included as a special feature) is given a few minutes an episode. For what, I don’t know.
To be honest, I really don’t have a problem with any of this. I can understand what the WB was trying to do with the series and, for the most part, it is extremely admirable. Like I said earlier, the first season of SMALLVILLE was quite bad, but it was given another and eventually found its footing. Sure, you still had to deal with Kristen Kreuk’s extremely irritating lip-quivering histrionics, but it got into a flow and became pretty much what you want out of a Superman origin series.
BIRDS OF PREY never got that chance, and while we can speculate on what could have been, it’s too bad that all we have are these fourteen episodes, with writing that ranges from piss-poor to moderately entertaining. When the action gets going, the series is really at its best, but for most of many an episode, we’re forced to deal with the “feelings” of these super-chicks. They tear-up on command, they “will they, won’t they” crush on guys, and, when the going gets tough, they scowl. Grrrrr!
I bought this because I am a completeist and really, those are the only people who should. It’s worth a rental merely as an object of curiosity, but as a piece of DC Comics live-actionalia, it ranks right up there with CATWOMAN, which, to show how much of a geek I am, I saw the first day, first in line. And you know, if they make a BIRDS OF PREY movie, I’ll probably do the same.