Birds of Prey (2002–2003)
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There are so many different versions of Batman and Superman and different eras that trying to please each and every comic fan out there is a nightmare and an impossible task for a screenwriter. There are some people who want to see this version and some who want to see this era and if the writers mix them up then all hell breaks loose in Comix Fandom. To attempt to satisfy the whims of each individual fan is to ask for trouble.
While the critics are marking off their checklists and tabulating how well BoP adheres to its "source material", they're missing out on a fun show peopled with some quirky and interesting characters (The Huntress holds the singular honor of being TV's first superhero to see a therapist on a regular basis!).
"Birds of Prey" is best enjoyed when judged on its own merits. In my opinion, it's a fun show that deserves a chance to come out from under the shadow of its comic book origins.
For those of you whose only preception of Batgirl was the "Batman and Robin" version, featuring the blonde-haired, deliverer of bad comebacks "Barbara Wilson" (Alicia Silverstone), this new WB series "Birds of Prey" should be a welcome breath of fresh air. Based on the hit comicbook series, BoP presents us with an alternate Gotham City, a world in which Batman is mysteriously absent. His protege, Barbara Gordon, one-time Batgirl and computer genius, strives to follow in his vigilante footsteps. After suffering a crippling injury at the hands of the Joker, Barbara assumes a new identity: Oracle, an all-seeing, all-knowing force of justice. Utilizing her vast computer knowledge, she patrols Gotham virtually, battling the forces of evil.
Aiding her on this quest, is Helena Kyle, the daughter of Batman (Bruce Wayne) and Catwoman (Selina Kyle). Taken in by Barbara after her mother's brutal murder, Helena is Oracle's eyes and ears in New Gotham. Though she seems to enjoy a solid butt-kicking and the occassional pithy retort, the Huntress is considerably more laid-back than her mentor and frequently demands a reminder for why she and Oracle bother with crimefighting in the first place.
Dinah Lance, a naive teenager from a quiet Midwestern background, later journeys to Gotham, pursuing the two figures from her childhood nightmares. Believing her premonitions to be real despite her mother's skepticism, she arrives by bus and quickly finds herself at the mercy of the dangerous city. The Huntress appears just in time to rescue her and Dinah recognizes her as one of the women from her dreams. Her gift allows her to see and feel what others do when she comes in physical contact with them, and due to this, she is able to follow the Huntress back to Oracle's clocktower, thereby discovering their secret identities.
I was very impressed with the flashback sequences, the appearance of Batman and Batgirl, battling the Joker together. Dina Meyer is delightful in her portrayal as Barbara Gordon, believable in both her no-nonsense valor and quiet tenderness. It's a pleasure to finally see a correct interpretation of Batgirl/Oracle hit the screen. And though the BoP series features the Earth 1 version of the Huntress (quite unlike the more commonly known Helena Bertinelli), the stray from today's continuity is not altogether unpleasant. Helena Kyle broods admirably, yet is not as dark, violent, and angsty as her Earth 2 counterpart. Ashley Scott's chemistry with Shemar Moore (Detective Reese) will also be fun to follow.
My only complaint would be the casting for the lovable psychopath Harelyquinn. Though it's probably too early to nitpick, Mia Sara seems an unlikely choice in both appearance and personality for the young and bubbly Harley. I suppose we'll have to see her in action before passing a final judgement. But other than that, BoP grants us access to a whole new Gotham, fiercely protected by a new trio of superheroines. Hopefully, the producers will leave some room for the old; favorites like Nightwing, Robin, and Spoiler would make for delicious gueststars ;)
I am clearly in her debt. I loved the show.
I work in a video store and i am constantly reviewing movies and watching older ones. I am a huge fan of the comics and the movies as well.
The whole concept of Batman leaving and the daughter coming up the ranks. Bat Girl being the 'leader'. Its fantastic. The music, the graphics and the villains were great.
I don't understand why people come on to say that it was bad. I understand that the series didn't last very long but i believe the idea will be picked up again and enhanced even greater.
If there is a survey for people that enjoyed this movie and would pay to see it again...put me on it.
The cast was great, actors and characters, but all in all, any good story has a fantastic ending, and boy does this show deliver. It delivered as well as any show I have ever seen in fact. It had great pacing, and circular storytelling that is nowhere near trite, one easily can begin to believe in, and cheer for these characters. You begin to love and hurt along with them.
In the end, Birds of Prey was a great show, not just a good one, but a great one, and I would like that maybe someday, a network will bring it back with the same three lead actresses, at least as a made for TV movie series.
Dina Meyer gave a strong performance as Barbara Gordon. She was a believable leader of the crime fighting trio. The other characters still need to settle in their new roles a bit. Ashley Scott has a good start with her Huntress metahuman abilities. She had decent fight scenes. Dinah (Rachel Skarsten) will probably draw in younger viewers to the show.
Harley Quinn is a character that should be used like in the Batman cartoon, otherwise this is a waste of a character. Mia Sara's portrayal is too sinister so far. It left me asking when the Harley Quinn we know and love will pop up. Possibly, this might happen when she sees the Joker? (I wonder what Kevin Smith thinks....)
Kudos for using Mark Hamill as the voice of the Joker.
I like that Batman is hidden in the shadows, because it builds up mystery for the dark knight. This is not the "Batman" show. Its about characters that have a connection to Batman and Gotham City.
I'm hoping Birds of Prey gets a chance this season to build up its storyline. This WB show probably has the ability to knock UPN's Buffy out in the same timeslot. Its is fresh and probably has a following started already. (Its also filling the void leftover from the cancellation of Witchblade).
I will be tuning in next week....
For those who don't follow the comic books:
1. Barbara's reason for being in a wheelchair was shown almost like it was in the tradepaper back "The Killing Joke". The Joker was trying to drive her father, Commissioner Gordon, mad not Batman.
2. In the Birds of Prey comic, Huntress is Helena Bertinelli. Her family was gunned down by a rival mob organization. The Batman/Catwoman story was used to pull in viewers who were not familiar with the charaters. (Its possible that this was mentioned in an alternate comic book timeline). They've tamed down her outfit (like the Xmen movie) to make it less "comical" and more "real world".
3. Dinah Lance was the Black Canary, who is the third member. The Dinah Lance in the tv series is a bit young. This will probably be explained in a future episode.....
4. Don't expect to see much of Batman, he's not a main player in the comic book series. He's more of a guest star.
If you want to know the real deal, get "Black Canary/Oracle/Huntress: Birds of Prey" Book 1 if you still can.....
Enter `bird' #3: Dinah Lance (Rachel Skarsten), a young psychic who arrives to Gotham to explain the strange dreams she's been having. Of course, comic book buffs will know that Dinah Lance is the name of The Black Canary, thereby completing the "Birds of Prey" trio. However, for now, she's just a young novice, learning to be a super-heroine as the series progresses...
While comic-purists whine about comic-book inconsistencies, there is a lot to love about this "alternate" Bat-city. For one, their arch-nemesis is Harley Quinn (Mia Sara), who was once The Joker's main squeeze. The premiere also had the fun of Mark Hammil as the voice of the Joker, which he performs as brilliantly as he did in the cartoons. Best of all, though, is how The Huntress' eyes turn into feline slits before a fight; it may not be like The Huntress of comic lore, though who cares? It's a cool shot, plain and simple.
Regardless, some comic purists insist there is no way Catwoman and Batman had a child. What's the alternative, kiddies? That the rumors about Batman preferring the company of young boys are true.? Of course he and Selena Kyle were more than `just friends,' as we've seen in movies, TV, the comics, and even the cartoons. So yeah one thing led to another and Huntress was born. It could happen. Accept it.
Of course, you can never tell what series will be accepted by younger audiences. Back in the 1970's, "The Six Million Dollar Man" lasted four seasons, while "Bionic Woman" lasted only two; go figure. In today's pop culture, will a young Superman in "Smallville" be considered cooler than Batman's daughter in "Birds of Prey"? If so, that's a shame. There is a lot to like about this series. I look forward to seeing Birds of Prey as long as it lasts. I hope that's a long while.
The story is this: Batman and Catwoman have a child, Helena (Ashley Scott), who Batman is unaware of. Catwoman raises Helena until the day she is murdered by a henchman of the Joker while Helena watches helpless. At the same time, Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl, played by Dina Meyer) is shot by the Joker, paralyzing her from the waist down. Batman skips town in distress. Barbara takes Helena in, who we discover has "metahuman" abilities (replace that with "mutant" and you have the X-Men), and Helena becomes the Huntress, defender of New Gotham. The two take in Dinah (Rachel Skarsten), a teenage runaway who has an ever-expanding array of psychic powers including precognition and telekinesis. Of course, all of this is explained at the beginning of each episode by Batman's ever-present butler Alfred (Ian Abercrombie).
"Birds of Prey" is shot beautifully, each episode featuring theatrical-quality cinematography...in wide-screen no less! The special effects are above average for network television, easily the equal of established shows like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel." Dina Meyer is fantastic, easily conveying the complexities of a superheroine now confined to behind-the-scenes work, humbled by her own arrogant youth. Ashley Scott has the right attitude for her role, and she seems to get better with each episode. Rachel Skarsten is only mediocre, however, as the budding superhero, and she seems to have studied her Buffy tapes way too much. Mia Sara is also surprisingly effective in the role of Harley Quinn, Joker's vengeful girlfriend intent on destroying New Gotham...and masquerading as Dr. Harleen Quinzell, Helena's court-appointed anger management therapist (and, no, this isn't a spoiler since it's discovered in the first episode). The plots and scripts for "Birds of Prey" are standard superhero fare, however, but care has been taken to keep episodes consistent, and there is an average level of quality the episodes always reach.
As superhero movies/TV shows go, this one is far above average...it's certainly better than the odious "Mutant X" and the horribly sanitary "Smallville". The producers seem to have taken a cue from Bryan Singer, whose adaptation of the X-Men stands as one of the best comic adaptations of all time: be faithful, but be accessible. Without pandering to the rabid Internet fanboys or to the legions of teenage girls who just want to see Tom Welling with his shirt off, "Birds of Prey" is a fine piece of entertainment...fun without being silly, dramatic without being ponderous. And people who've never read a comic in their life can watch it without editor's notes.
As I write this, of course, the WB has canceled this show. It's a shame, really, because with a full season and even a second one, the show could have developed into something great...remember, even "Buffy" (my favorite show) wasn't that great until 2nd season. But there's always the movies...8 out of 10.
As a show, this is where things get interesting. It has a strong plot, good acting and writing, just about everyone agrees that Barbara Gordon is played very faithfully by Dina Meyer and so is Ian Abercrombie's Alfred Pennyworth. The show boasts a solid soundtrack, very solid in fact, the opening song "Revolution" and the final one'd "All the Things She Said" and "A Sorta Fairytale" are more than perfect fits. Visually it very dark leather clad everything in black cg Gotham which isn't bad, it has more of a cinematic touch for its 40 minute episodes.
The cast is great, actors and characters, but all in all, any good story has a fantastic ending, and boy does this show deliver, it delivers more than any show I have ever seen in fact, great pacing, and circular storytelling that is nowhere near trite, you easily you begin to believe in, cheer on for these character. You begin to love and hurt along with them.
I would actually be remiss not to point out the performance of both Harley Quinns, Mia Sara is fantastic, very visual and has a look, and Sherilynn Flynn who most likely would've been subtle, which may have worked equally as effective.
In the end, Birds of Prey was a great show, not just a good one, but a great one, maybe someday, we'll get to see what happens next to Batman's little girl all grown up.
The mix of characters was obviously formulaic, but that's not a bad thing. The post-Batgirl Oracle, for example, made an interesting den-mother for the other ladies. Dina Meyer was barely up to the task, but she definitely looked the part, and in comics appearances are 90% of the job. Ashley Scott, as The Huntress, was the real star, and turned in a commendable performance in her more-complex role. Best of all was the older Mia Sara as Dr. Harleen Quinzel. The idea of a mad-as-a-hatter psychologist was clever, and Sara played it to the hilt.
The dark look of the series was perfect, and the writing was surprisingly strong. You never forget this is a comic book, but there are lots of neat plot twists and emotional surprises. Once you get used to it, the idea of focusing on the second-tier superheroes - like the Black Canary - is really intriguing. None of them is cosmically over-powered, making for much stronger dramatic possibilities.
The main thing working against the show was the whole Earth II setup. I'll admit, I hadn't followed the Huntress storyline in the comics, so I was as baffled as anyone, at first. If this is Gotham, where the heck is Batman? I did catch on eventually, but the average TV viewer might feel a bit challenged by the parallel-universe thing. Not to mention disappointed at the absence of familiar big-name superheroes. None of this is ever well-explained; it's a daring approach, but one with definite risks attached.
Nonetheless, it's worth sticking with this series. After a few episodes, you get caught up in these characters, and the backstory becomes a non-issue. I'd have loved to see a lot more Birds of Prey, but what we have is a really worthwhile piece of work - a reasonably true reflection of the higher-caliber mainstream superhero comics of the 1990s and 2000s.
P.S. Keep in mind...this show was already in the works before "Spider-Man" grossed even $7, let alone $400 million...
As for Batman and Catwoman having a daughter -- it began in The Flash #123 (1961), with the Golden-Age Bat-Man and Catwoman getting married in Brave and the Bold #197 (1983), and Helena Wayne becoming the Huntress in All-Star Comics #69 (1977). A more revised Catwoman history states that Selina gave up a life of crime to become a professional adventurer, and thus began dating Bruce Wayne.
The most important thing here to remember is the comics have their version and the film productions have theirs (back to the parallel universe). No one version is right or wrong. It just is. With the film production team's primary job being to draw in and hook that audience that wouldn't be caught dead reading a comic book.
I'll admit, I watched Birds of Prey, since I like to give a comic book show a chance before writing it off. I did the same thing last year with the Smallville pilot, which didn't really impress me.
But this was fantastic! The guys that did this show, did an excellent job. It was like watching a spin-off of the Batman films. You know, the good ones. The passing glimpses of Batman were well done, Ian Abercrombie was a great Alfred, and the brief shots of Catwoman and Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill, how cool is that!?!) were all really well done. They used the movie Catwoman costume! Amazing!
I loved Dina Meyer as Batgirl/Oracle. She did a great job bringing Barbara to life, and I hope we get to see more of her in that kickass Batgril costume.
Huntress was great. I'll admit, when I saw Huntress in previews I was expecting to hate her, but she was really, really likeable. And her fight scenes were incredible.
Dinah LANCE (yes Lance, contrary to reports) was nice. She brought a good outsiders feel, and I can't wait to meet her mother, the Black Canary!
The shots through the city were great as well. The closing one with Oracle and Huntress on the rooftop, and the bat flying by the moon was so cool.
Bringing in Harleen Quinzel was a great idea and I can't wait to see where they go with this.
The rest of the cast was great, even that pretty boy, Shemar Moore.
I cannot heap enough praise on the pilot episode of Birds of Prey. They've done a great job. This is definitely on par with the animated series. It's not perfect, but it's a heck of a lot fun.
Thanks and have a good day then.
Yes, it did screw with the Batman mytho's but if you push that aside, I found it to be a really fun show with a great cast and good stories. The action was cool and the acting better than I expected. Dina Meyor played Orcale/Barbara Gordon incredibly well, she was so realistic in the role and gave "Babs" so much depth it stunned me.
I also liked Huntress a lot, she too have depth and her relationship with the detective was good to watch.
Black Canary was okay but did they have to many her a kid? Ah well at least they made up for that by having the "real" Black Canary, Dinah's mother, show up in one episode.
My only faults with the series was Harley Quinn. She was so far removed from the "true" Harley (the animated series version will always be what I consider to be the ultimate portrayl of Miss Quinn) that they might has well have given her another name, since she was pretty much a whole different character anyway. Also what was the obsession with Meta Human's? There was far too many and it seemed every villain was one. That too was pretty stupid in my opinion.
Over all though Birds of Prey was a fun show. I'm sorry it got cancelled so soon, it's much better than most of the tripe on TV these days. It's too bad that more people weren't open minded enough. Birds of Prey deserved another chance. Shame it never got one.
The only issue I can bring up that points out something negative is the actress who played Dinah. For whatever reason I truly disliked her performance, but that was only a small detail. Maybe if the show had more time I would have grown to like her better.
I thought it was a very entertaining show and I would like to see it come back. Now would be a perfect time because audiences are becoming in love with comics again. If they started planning for it now, by the time it would air the "Batman 2" hype would be in full bloom.
If they do bring the show back, I would strongly recommend that they keep the actresses Ashley Scott and Dina Meyer on as well as the actor Ian Abercrombie. I thought they were excellent casting.