Birds Of Prey - The Complete Series
Birds of Prey is an action drama series, which is loosely based on the DC Comics series of the same name, and follows three metahumans (people with super-powers) as they work together to protect the city of New Gotham from crime and villainous plots.
The trio is lead by Barbara Gordon a.k.a. Oracle (played by Dina Meyer, who will always be Lucinda Nicholson of 90210 to me). Oracle's story is that she was once Batgirl but the Joker shot her, paralyzing her from the waste down. Now she moves around in a motorized wheelchair that she can control with her mind and uses her computer-hacking abilities to lead their mission of crime-fighting from the group's "headquarters."
Next in line is Helena Kyle a.k.a. Huntress (Ashley Scott). Huntress is the daughter of Batman and Catwoman, which makes her half metahuman. Her mother is dead and her father no longer lives in the city. While Batman might be out of the picture, Bruce Wayne's trusted butler is not. Alfred Pennyworth (Ian Abercrombie) appears in a number of episodes to offer the occasional nugget of sound advice to the women.
The third member of the trio is Dinah Redmond (Rachel Skarsken). Dinah is a teenage metahuman who, in addition to being able to read people's minds just by touching them, also has a tendency to see visions of actual events in her dreams. It is her visions that cause her to leave her hometown and head to New Gotham. In the pilot episode she meets Huntress and Oracle and they reluctantly take her in. Dinah is still figuring out her powers but she has a strong desire to help fight the forces of darkness in New Gotham.
When the series begins, in addition to introducing Dinah, we also learn that Helena/Huntress is seeing a court-ordered psychologist after she got busted for vandalism. As it turns out, the psychologist, Dr. Harleen Quinzel also happens to be Harley Quinn (Mia Sara), the series' villain. She's come to New Gotham to take revenge on everyone connected to what was done to her former lover, The Joker. That's her night job. By day, she poses as a psychologist, which gives her an opportunity to get to know New Gotham's criminals a bit better. Quinn turns out to be behind almost every villainous act that takes place in the city over the course of the series, though Barbara, Helena and Dinah don't realize it. They do suspect that someone is pulling the strings of all of the bad-guys they're taking down but none of them have any clue that the woman Helena has been pouring her heart out to in weekly sessions is in fact, the big bad.
There are a couple of things about this series that work. For one thing, chicks with super powers! There's nothing like three women with superpowers tearing up the metropolitan crime circuit. I'd also be lying if I said I didn't love the theme song and the music in Birds of Prey. A lot of the music used has that sort of girl-fight edge to it that really lends an extra level of fun to the fight scenes. As for the theme song, which is Aimee Allen's "Revolution" - well, it's just catchy. Finally, there's the cop that develops a friendship with Huntress. Detective Jesse Reese (Shemar Moore) finds himself running into Huntress at various crime scenes. They quickly embark on a mostly-platonic relationship that's just oozing with sexual tension. But Helena can't trust Jesse to see her as a person (rather than a metahuman-freak) so she keeps him at a distance for most of the season. Finally, there are some great fight scenes in this series. Nothing as amazing as what you might see on the big screen but the quality of the fighting is along the same lines as Buffy or any other similar TV series.
Those are the things that I like about Birds of Prey. The problem I have with the series is that I got completely bored with the story by the fourth or fifth episode and the stand-alone elements in each episode aren't interesting enough to keep me interested in the show. The only thing that intrigued me about the plot was the story behind the community of metahumans in New Gotham. In the third episode, titled "Prey for the Hunter," Helena and Detective Reese are both working to track down a serial killer who is targeting metahumans. It is in this episode that we get to meet some of the other metahumans and get a better sense of what life is like for them. Another episode that focuses on metahumans outside of the core characters is "Gladiatrix," in which Helena investigates a secret club that's holding metahumans captive, dosing them with some kind of rage drug and forcing them to fight each other to the death. This would be a great episode if I hadn't already seen it in the first season of Angel - "The Ring" involved the lead character being forced to fight other demons in an almost identical scenario to the one we see in "Gladiatrix." I understand that when you're dealing with comic-book-style stories and supernatural tales, there's going to be some crossover and I'm by no means surprised that any series of this type would be inspired by a great show like Angel but the lack of originality here is extremely disappointing.
Birds of Prey seems like the kind of series that's going to appeal to people who are either extremely into shows involving female super heroes or are otherwise so caught up in the sexual tension between Helena and Reese that they don't even notice that there really isn't much else going on here. Granted, the show only lasted for thirteen episodes but considering I found myself bored with the show by the end of the first disc, I'd say it's a blessing that it was canceled when it was. Is it the worst show I've ever seen? Definitely not but I doubt I'll ever find myself wanting to re-watch it.
The packaging for the set is nice and compact. All four discs fit neatly into a standard-sized DVD case, which comes encased in a cardboard sleeve. I don't get the point in those sleeve things when they come wrapped around a DVD cases that snap closed. In my household they always end up getting left lying around and eventually crushed. The cover of the Birds of Prey DVD case features Huntress perched atop a gargoyle, looking out over New Gotham. It's actually a nicely done cover that you might say oversells the show a bit. Inside the DVD case is Birds of Prey-themed artwork.
The thirteen episodes that make up the entire series are spaced out over four discs. Granted, they're hour-long episodes but I'm kind of surprised that they weren't able to get the entire series and minimal bonus materials onto three discs. The menu page on each disc is easy to navigate and plays a looped portion of the show's theme song. Among the special features included on the discs is the unaired pilot, which appears to be an extended cut of the pilot that did actually air. There is also a fairly extensive collection of Gotham Girls animated shorts. I'm not sure that these will appeal to everyone though, even if you are a fan of Birds of Prey. I didn't find them entertaining but with the exception of a select few cartoons, I've never been a fan of superhero animated series.
Overall, the DVD set is what it is. It doesn't look like Warner went out of their way to put out an amazing DVD set here but if you were a fan enough of the show to want to watch the whole thing over and over again, it'll do.
Reviewed By: Kelly West