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Birds of Prey

A Television Review of “Birds of Prey”
Episode: “Pilot”

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

Batgirl, the Huntress and the Black Canary? Birds of Prey the comic book this is not.

This very loose comic book adaptation by the folks who brought us “Smallville” (there’s a line about meteor showers thrown in that’s hilarious) is visually stunning. The action sequences (if they could just get rid of that cat howling sound when the Huntress does her stuff they would be perfect) and CGI shots of New Gotham are amazing. You should see it just for that, but there’s more, some of it not so good.

Dina Meyer (Johnny Mnemonic and sooo sexy in Starship Troopers – the scene where she takes off her shirt is permanently engraved in my head) is Barbara Gordon alias Batgirl, crippled by the Joker and now called Oracle, master computer hacker chick. Ashley Scott (A.I., “Dark Angel”) tries really really hard to act as Helena Kyle (hold on, it’s complicated – well, not for comic readers – but most tv viewers are much thicker than comic readers), the Huntress, the daughter of Catwoman and the Batman, who has metahuman strength and reflexes. Rachel Skarsten, a relative unknown plays the role of teenage Dinah Lance (not called the Black Canary – although rumor has it Lori Loughlin, formerly of “Full House” will be appearing as her mother who as the Black Canary was a former ally of Batgirl) who has strange telepathic abilities – woefully unexplained in the pilot.

Rounding out the cast are Ian Abercrombie (Mr. Pitt of “Seinfeld” – which is why I can’t take him seriously) as Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s butler and heartthrob Shemar Moore (“The Brothers,” “Young and the Restless” and if you want to see the website of a man whose ego is completely out of control, check out http://www.shemar.com) as Detective Jake Reese, the David to the Huntress’ Maddie. Mia Sara (Legend, Time Cop) plays the series’ villainess psychiatrist Dr. Harleen Quinzel (known in the comics as the Joker’s main squeeze, Harley Quinn) who was originally played by Sherilyn Fenn. All of Fenn’s scenes were re-shot with Sara.

Oracle, the Huntress and Rachel join forces to stop a fear-inducing metahuman from killing innocents (as much as it sounds like the Scarecrow it ain’t). Discounting the complicated backstory this is real simple. The backstory, told in flashbacks (and way too few of them) that are the best part of the show, has the Joker killing Catwoman, crippling Batgirl and driving Batman out of Gotham City. The daughter of Bats and Catty, the Huntress, is taken under Barbara Gordon’s wing where she learns to be a crimefighter. The flashbacks, with the voice of the Joker by Mark Hamill who has perfected the part on the Batman animated series, and the actor from the On Star commercials playing Batman, are by far the best thing about the show. Especially Dina Meyer in the Batgirl costume. She outsexes Yvonne Craig and leaves Alicia Silverstone in the dust, no contest.

If they get rid of the howling, teach Ashley Scott to act, get her a real costume (instead of the Victoria’s Secret get up she wears in the pilot), clear up the convoluted backstory and maybe write some decent scripts this might not be that bad. Rule number one for watching “Birds of Prey” is the same as “Smallville,” forget the comics and it’s enjoyable.

Want to read more of my opinions about comics on television? Check out Comic Widows at: http://www.comicwidows.com.

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