Birds of Prey (Pilot)

Seriously. The Batman Universe has some of the greatest female characters ever. Batgirl. Harley Quinn. Poison Ivy. You get my picture. Not that the men are sub-par, but the women outshine them in every instance they possibly can.

For me, the definitive Batman is the animated series. That IS Batman. The style, the tone, the writing, the characters: perfect. Mask of the Phantasm is the best Batman movie. Not that I’m ragging on the live action films. The 2 films (and yes, there were only two films. “Batman” and “Batman Returns,” understandr) They were decent, but they were always lacking in some areas.

When I heard about “Birds of Prey,” I got totally psyched. Totally. A show about female characters from the Bat-verse. I thought it was a wonderful idea.

In case you haven’t been up on the latest news, let me run down the basics for you. “Birds of Prey” is about 3 chicks fighting crime in Gotham City. Oracle (as some of you will know her better as Barbara Gordon, and the original Batgirl), who is stuck in a wheelchair up in a clocktower, where she masterminds all the crimefighting going on. Huntress (originally not one of the BoP, but added to TV-up the comic), or Helena Kyle, who happens to be the daughter of Catwoman and Batman. Trippy stuff. And finally Black Canary, or Dinah Lance, who is this weird 16 year old who has weird psychic powers. Together they fight crime, and do other stuff.

I got ahold of the pilot script. Read it hungrily in an instant. I thought it was a wonderful script. There were a lot of unanswered questions and liberties taken with the source material, but other than that, it was solid.

And then I saw the cast.




I have never been so disappointed in my life. Completely.

They have Dina Meyer as Oracle. While she might have been “great” in “Starship Troopers” she is completely wrong for the part, save the red hair. Then, they have this skanky looking chick named Ashley Scott for the part of Huntress, whose only other roles were a 2 episode stint on “Dark Angel” (gag me, please) and “Gigolo Jane” in “AI.” And last, and certainly least, is Rachel Skarsten as Black Canary, whose only other roles were bit parts in movies you’ve never heard before.

My main argument is not that they don’t have enough acting experience to play these roles. It’s that they look completely wrong! What can I expect though, this is a WB show, after all. They need skanky/somewhat attractive girls to put in their promo shots. God forbid they ever cast normal looking people. That would be beyond their scope of reason.

Then you have the role of Dr. Harleen Quinzel. Yes, that sounds familiar, you know her as Harley Quinn. The IMDB claims that Sherilyn Fenn will play her, but my sources tell me they’re still looking for someone to fill this role. Apparently Ms. Fenn didn’t cut it.

And the humdinger of them all, is the Joker. Played by Roger Stoneburner, a stunt man. Voiced by Mark Hamill. Okay, they got half of the Joker right. But look at this picture, and tell me that isn’t the most gag-worthy thing you have ever seen. Carrot Top would have been a better choice, yeck.

So I’ve done a lot of bitching and moaning, well here’s the good stuff.

What I would do, if I were making this show.

I’d have it be animated.

Damn right.

But since they would never put an animated show in a prime time slot, I have to settle for live action. Here’s my vision:

Gotham City of the near future maintains the dark, seedy look of its previous incarnations. The sky is bloated and blood red, the shadows dark and covering nearly everything. The buildings are impossibly tall, and seem to touch the sky.

The characters are as they have been described. Barbara is trapped in two worlds. Part of her is still the well-oiled ass kicking machine she used to be, and the other part is the new Barbara, the genius computer hacker, perched up in the clocktower overseeing everything. She is not overly gorgeous, and she is not ass ugly. She is fairly attractive, but there is a tiredness about her that comes with the line of work.

What little I know of Huntress is this: she’s a smart ass hardcore bitch. Think Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer crossed with Spider-Man. She roams the city wearing party clothes, shunning the costumes her parents hid behind. She is mischievous, and also troubled, from watching her mother murdered in front of her. She should not be a hardass wearing leather and carrying a whip around. There is a middle ground, and she needs to find it.

Black Canary, or I guess she’s just going by Dinah now, is also all wrong. This Rachel girl they cast looks albino and stoned perpetually. This girl was written as somewhat naive, but also a risk taker, someone who moves from her safe small town to a big unknown city just because of a vision she had seen 7 years before. Get someone more innocent looking, and someone who looks relatively sober.

Ways this can go even worse

– Cheesy CG. I really hate CG, for the most part. Not to mention those goddamn digital cameras. All of them. Give me an SLR any day.

– Too campy. Remember the 60’s Batman showr We don’t need another.

– Not recasting the Joker. This guy is just bad looking. He looks like some Bozo who has had a little too much to drink, not the Clown Prince of Crime, and Batman’s most arch of his arch-enemies.

– Detective Reese. Total Mulder clone. As if we needed another dumbass “believer.”

– They need to lose all the “sly” comic references. I counted several, including Dark Horse, Supergirl, and Spider-Man.

– Bad fight scenes. This could make or break the show. Continuity

Anyone who has seen the “Batman Beyond” show, and the movie, “Return of the Joker” will know that they have thrown out this entire aspect of the Bat-verse. Completely.

Also, Harley Quinn has been drastically changed. In the animated series (where she was created) her transformation from Dr. Quinzel into the right hand gal of the Joker is shown during the breathtakingly incredible episode Mad Love. Bits of it are also shown in a few of the Harley Quinn comics. My main point: she stopped being Dr. Harleen Quinzel when she became Harley Quinn. And she became Harley Quinn lonnngggg before this show starts. So how is it that Barbara Gordon doesn’t know that the shrink she is sending Helena Kyle to see is Harley Quinnr Hmmmr Perhaps I’m missing something.

As I mentioned before, this show is based on the comic series, Birds of Prey. In the comics, the characters are much different from their portrayals in this show. This is all fairly understandable, things have to be changed for TV.

One very welcome (I hope) addition to the show is the character of Alfred Pennyworth. Alfred has always been one of my favorites, and it was a pleasant surprise to see he shows up.

Also I have found that Bruce Thomas will be playing Batman. You may recognize him as Batman from the Onstar commercials, as well as the UPS guy from Legally Blonde. Very good choice for this one, although Kevin Conroy will always be Batman.

I actually think I’m finished with this “article.” I guess it’s more of a late night rant then anything else, but who gives a fuck, rightr For now, I must content myself with my 1 DVD of Batman Animated episodes, and hope and pray that they release the others soon.


Rating: B-