Birds Of Prey: The Complete Series – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

With the success of comic book characters in films different television series began to think they could reap the benefits as well. The most successful of these shows that wasn’t an animated series would have to be the telling of a young Superman in Smallville. It tells of what life would be like growing up as a teenaged and young adult version of Clark Kent. He would deal with Lex Luthor and all the other things that plague Superman as an adult saving the world from harm. The next appropriate big named DC comic book hero to get his own television show should very well be Batman right? Well, how about his daughter instead?

Gotham has long been protected by the caped crime fighter that crouches on rooftops and rests in the shadows. Batman has been the reason that some of the world’s most deadly villains didn’t succeed in running rampant. He made sure that others would never have to suffer the same fates and hardships he endured in his life. Only now he has disappeared and the people of Gotham have been left to fend for themselves. Who will help them now when criminals corner them in dark alleys and try to take their personal belongings or possibly more?

Those expectations now lay in the hands of someone who may prove to be just as good as the Caped Crusader; his daughter Helena. The daughter of Batman and Catwoman, Helena calls herself the Huntress and has taken to perching high in the sky and looking out for the good people of Gotham. Along for the ride is a gifted and clairvoyant young woman named Dinah. She is very inexperienced but has talents that shouldn’t be put to waste so she is learning from the best. And the best would be the third member of the team, Oracle. Taking a leadership role, she is the woman formerly known as Batgirl. She was left handicapped in a wheelchair by the Joker and is the technical master. They each hold a specialty that Batman had inside of him and together they are, the Birds of Prey. New Gotham, as it is now called, is in need of their help as the evil and maniacal Harley Quinn takes control of the city.

Birds Of Prey had all the potential in the world to be really good, but it never got the chance to do so. Things didn’t begin all that well in the series as it was really slow and took some getting used to. All of the ideas were good because I mean, it’s a continuing storyline of a missing Batman. His daughter takes over in his absence along with Barbara Gordon (Batgirl, Oracle) and brings in a rookie that needs some sharpening. Everything is in place for a pretty awesome series on the good guy front; now all we need are some cool story lines and wicked villains. That’s where things take a turn for the worse as they just weren’t done right. Instead of the playful and funny Harley Quinn, we get Dr. Harleen Quinzell who has taken every serious aspect of her mentor, the Joker, and gotten rid of all the fun. It just doesn’t seem right seeing her in such a sinister and dead serious role.

Next on the list are the fights and story lines that never quite get going. The fight sequences leave a lot to be desired because they’re not any fun. And from looking around online, I had learned a very unsettling bit of news and it proved my assumptions to be true. Most of the music from the series was replaced and very badly making a lot of the fight scenes even more awkward. It doesn’t keep things flowing and some bad plots thrown in eventually makes the viewer want to give up on it. But it’s a true shame this series wasn’t given just a little bit more time. The writers and actors obviously saw what was wrong in the first handful of episodes and worked to correct those problems later on. Too bad that by that time, they’d already been cancelled.

Episodes

Disc One:

Pilot: Birds take wing. Oracle, Huntress, and Dinah work as one against Quinn’s New Gotham power grab.

Slick: Go with the flow. The Birds face a baddie who turns from solid to liquid. Meanwhile, the Helena-Reese attraction grows.

Prey For The Hunter: Takes one to kill one? A slayer usurps metahuman talents – in order to murder metahumans. Dinah ditches school.

Three Birds And A Baby: Big trouble in a tiny bundle. Helena rescues an infant, unaware that the good deed will lead to danger.



Disc Two:

Sins Of The Mother: Dinah learns of her family link to Batman. Family ties – a crime family – also impact Reese.

Primal Scream: Caged bird. When Helena works undercover for Reese, her identity becomes compromised. Does Oracle fear intimacy?

Split: Helena is attracted to Darkstrike, a simpatico crime fighter who isn’t as perfect as he seems to be.



Disc Three:

Lady Shiva: Still a lot of fight in her. Oracle dons the Batgirl outfit to confront a criminal reminiscent of an old foe.

Nature Of The Beast: Divided loyalties. Reese asks Helena to protect the crimelord who killed Dinah’s mother, Black Canary.

Gladiatrix: A fight club operator forces metahuman women to battle each other. On tonight’s card: Helena Vs. Dinah.

Reunion: The girl most likely. Helena thinks attending her school reunion is lame until someone starts murdering ex-classmates.



Disc Four:

Feat Of Clay: A villain’s touch turns people to clay. Helena discovers a shocking truth. Wade learns Oracle’s secret.

Devil’s Eyes: Trouble rules the roost. Quinn has a hypnotic grip on the city and controls the Birds’ command tower, too.

The episodes are shown in 1.33:1 Full Screen format and they look pretty good. For a series that has much of the action take place in darkness and in shadows; everything can be seen clearly.

The episodes are heard in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Sound and it’s just not that good. Sometimes the dialogue is hard to hear without constantly adjusting the volume, and the awful music makes matters even worse.

Animated Web Series: Gotham Girls Seasons 1-3 – This is a great collection to have as a special feature on this DVD because it kind of makes the entire set worth buying. Gotham Girls is a flash animation series that aired strictly online and gave fans a good look at all the women of Gotham. All thirty episodes are here and a lot of fun to watch.

Bonus Unaired Pilot – Not much here. Comparing it to the actual pilot you’ll notice a few considerable changes.


Batman fans young and old will get a kick out of reliving this short-lived series so there’s no real reason not to pick it up for your collections. The series starts off extremely crappy but then gets progressively better before coming to a halt thanks to low ratings back in its original time on the air. But just getting to see Batman and Catwoman’s daughter take her dad’s place along with some friends makes for the beginnings of something bound to be cool. The special features could have included more, but Gotham Girls is worth its weight in gold and actually a tad more enjoyable then Birds Of Prey even. For a fun trip into a spin-off of Batman, then pick this set up. If you’re looking to actually learn about this group of girls and know nothing about them previously, then I suggest you move on. I’m not surprised this is coming out now with the release of The Dark Knight and all, but it makes me wonder if it was just thought about and then rushed to coincide with all the new Batman hoopla. If so we are left with a watered down version when more special features could have been added. I think I’ll call up Two-Face and raise some hell.

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Warner Home Video presents Birds Of Prey: The Complete Series. Created by: Laeta Kalogridis. Starring: Ashley Scott, Dina Meyer, Rachel Skarsten, Shemar Moore, Ian Abercrombie, Mia Sara. Running time: 541 minutes on 4 discs. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: July 15, 2008. Available at Amazon.com