BIRDS OF PREY!! 30 ROCK!! SPORTS NIGHT!! SEINFELD!! SWAMP THING!! ANGEL!! BUFFY!! HercVault!!
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Birds of Prey: The Complete Series comes with all 13 episodes from the 2002-2003 WB series, plus the unaired pilot, plus all 30 mini-episodes of the “Gotham Girls” Web series.
“Prey” started strong with a pilot scripted by Laeta Kalogridis (“Alexander,” “Pathfinder”) but went off the rails following Kalogridis’ creative-difference-fueled very-early exit from the project.
Here’s the super-extra-nerdly thing I posted about the original unaired pilot the day the revised pilot aired on The WB:
Birds of Prey 1.1 FAQ
Is it any good?
Judging from the “old” pilot, the one Herc saw with Sherilyn Fenn and a different clocktower set, it is! There is much to recommend about this propulsive and well-considered new take on DC’s comic-book universe. Herc would even go so far as to suggest that the folks behind the “Birds of Prey” TV show did a better job of re-invention than the the powers at DC Comics did in the mid-1980s. It fits the WB’s successful youth-oriented formulas and takes the agreeable scissors-and-stapler approach to comic-book continuity that served the original “X-Men” cartoon series so well.
What’s TV’s “Birds of Prey” about?
In a nutshell: On the night Batman and Batgirl finally bust up the Joker’s crime ring, Batman spares the Joker’s life. Later that night, the Joker puts a bullet in Batgirl’s spine, and one of the Joker’s henchmen slaughters Catwoman. Months later, a despairing Batman disappears from Gotham City for good. Seven years later, the crippled Batgirl and the superpowered daughter of Batman and Catwoman team with a blonde psychic named Dinah to deal with the growing number of superpeople plaguing New Gotham.
Is this based on DC’s “Birds of Prey” comic book?
Very loosely. The main element borrowed from that title is the crippled former Batgirl, who continues to fight crime as “Oracle,” the wheelchair-bound brainiac headquartered in a Gotham City clocktower. But in the “Birds of Prey" comic, Catwoman still lives, Batman never retired, Oracle’s only regular partner is master martial artist Dinah “The Black Canary” Lance, and “The Huntress” is the daughter of neither Batman nor Catwoman (and she doesn’t have any superpowers). A lot of the elements in the TV series are borrowed from other comic-book tales, notably DC’s Earth-2 stories of the 1970s.
If it’s so different, why even call it “Birds of Prey”?
Maybe because it’s a far cooler title than “Gotham Girls” or “The Oracle and the Huntress.”
What was that about Earth-2?
Until the mid-1980s, DC Comics published stories set in an alternate universe dubbed “Earth-2.” All the “Golden Age” heroes DC introduced in the 1930s and ‘40s, like Jay “Flash” Garrick, Alan “The Green Lantern” Scott and Carter “Hawkman” Hall dwelled there. On Earth-2, Bruce “Batman” Wayne and Selina “Catwoman” Kyle eventually married and had a daughter named Helena Wayne. Helena grew up to become a successful lawyer. The night Selina was shot to death during a robbery, a shattered Earth-2 Bruce Wayne burned his Batman costume and retired from crimefighting. The equally shattered Helena subsequently transformed herself into the Batman-like Huntress and avenged her mother’s death.
Did the Joker cripple Batgirl in the comic books?
Yes, in one of the greatest Batman stories ever told - a one-shot written by supergenius storyteller Alan Moore titled “The Killing Joke.” In the comic, though, the Joker has no idea Barbara Gordon is Batgirl. (Barbara’s shooting was just one element in the Joker’s elaborate plan to drive her father, police commissioner James Gordon, insane.) In the “Birds of Prey” pilot, the Joker hisses, “Batgirl – past tense!” right after he fells the out-of-costume superheroine.
Okay, back to the “Birds of Prey” pilot. After Batman retires, does everyone learn Bruce Wayne was Batman?
No. In fact, most everyone thinks Batman never existed and is just an urban legend.
When Selina Kyle dies in the first scene of the pilot, does everyone know that she was also Catwoman?
A newscaster reporting on Selina Kyle’s death notes the “mysterious and beautful businesswoman” was once accused of leading a double-life as the jewel thief Catwoman.
Are Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle married when she dies?
Apparently not. Wayne doesn’t even know he has a daughter until Selina is murdered. (Helena’s last name in the series is Kyle.)
How do Barbara Gordon and Helena Kyle come to be partners?
Somewhere between Selina’s death and Batman’s retirement, Bruce Wayne gave Barbara full custody of Helena.
How does Dinah join the fray?
On the night Catwoman was killed and Batgirl was crippled, Dinah had a vision of them, and has literally dreamt of joining them ever since. Her psychic abilities eventually lead her to New Gotham, and to her future partners.
Since Batman and Catwoman don’t have superpowers, how come Helena does?
Actually, in this elseworld, Catwoman appears to have had superpowers. It should be established in a few episodes that Helena is “half-meta,” sharing both Catwoman’s superpowered genes and Batman’s non-superpowered ones.
Is there any question Helena is Batman’s daughter?
No. Both Barbara and butler Alfred Pennyworth confirm as much, and not much gets by these two.
What kind of superpowers does Helena have?
Like Jessica Alba’s character in “Dark Angel” (who also got a lot of assistance/guff from a wheelchair-bound character), Helena Kyle seems to have a lot of feline DNA rattling around inside. She can see in the dark and is pretty good with the leaping and climbing. On this latter front, she’s going to remind a lot of people of the girls in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”
"Dark Angel"? Ew. Does The Huntress indulge the hopelessly dated “whack dope chillin” hip-hop argot that plagued the transgenic Max?
She does not.
Is Batgirl Barbara Gordon (as established in the 1960s TV show and comic books) or is she Barbara Wilson, niece of butler Alfred Pennyworth (as established in that piece-of-shit Joel Schumacher movie “Batman & Robin”)?
Is Barbara Commissioner Gordon’s daughter?
Her relationship to the elder Gordon, if any, is undisclosed in the pilot. The fate of the good commissioner is also not revealed in the pilot.
Is Barbara a librarian by day?
Her day job in the pilot is undisclosed. Unfilmed script pages, however, indicate that Barb teaches a high school computer lab when she’s not thwarting evildoers.
Unfilmed script pages?? What else was cut?
The pilot originally explored more of Barbara Gordon’s personal life; it’s established that she recently and reluctantly broke up with a handsome feller she was seeing for six months. When he presses her about why she left him, she said, “It’s not you.” Also? Cut script pages establish that Oracle’s HQ is situated atop New Gotham’s tallest building. And that Dinah’s last name as “Lance.”
Ah! So the blonde teen psychic named “Dinah” is actually Dinah Lance, the Black Canary?
Dinah has almost nothing in common with the comics’ Black Canary. The TV Dinah has no martial arts abilities, no criminal-debilitating scream, and no boyfriend named Ollie Queen. Bear in mind also that the comics’ Dinah Lance is a natural brunette and possesses no pyschic powers.
Why even call her Dinah at all?
In the “Birds of Prey” comic book, Dinah Lance, the Black Canary, is the Oracle’s regular partner. Also, we will learn a few episodes hence that Dinah’s mother, 38-year-old Carolyn Lance, was – unbeknownst to Dinah – a super-scream-wielding crime fighter named Black Canary. (Note that in current DC Comics continuity, Dinah Lance inherited her Black Canary superhero persona from her mother.)
Is Helena Kyle a lawyer?
She’s a bartender. Which is slightly odd, because she’s heir to the same Wayne forture that finances Barbara’s operations. (We chalk this up to profound abandonment issues.)
Why is it “New” Gotham?
In the comics, Gotham City recently suffered a devastating earthquake. The “New” may reflect that the series is set post-quake. (It's ludicrous, admittedly, but the best theory I've got.)
Are the terms “Huntress,” “Oracle” or “Black Canary” ever uttered?
“Huntress, it’s Oracle, do you copy?” says Barbara the first time we see her in the wheelchair. Nothing about canaries, however, black or otherwise, until the upcoming episode introducing Carolyn Lance.
Is Catwoman in costume when she dies?
No. And the extra they cast as her corpse looks a whole lot more like Michelle Pfeiffer than Julie Newmar.
Is the guy playing Alfred as good as we’ve heard?
He’s great, but one suspects people are just excited to see such a faithful rendering of the character. Alfred, after all, is the character in the “Prey” pilot most familiar to “Batman” fans.
Is it true the Scarecrow is the main villain of the pilot?
Sort of. “Birds of Prey” seems to be following “Smallville’s” lead when it comes to steering clear of colorful costumes, but the lead villian essentially uses the Scarcrow’s scare-potion power to get what he wants.
Is this fear-potion villain named Jonathan Crane?
No. The show seems to be changing the names of some of the classic Batman villains to keep fans of the comics from catching on too quickly.
Is “Birds of Prey” set in the same universe as “Smallville”?
Perhaps. There’s a reference to meteors perhaps being partly responsible for the growing plague of superhumans. But any crossovers may have to involve time travel; “Smallville,” we're guessing, is set years before “Birds of Prey.”
That police detective guy, Reese. Why does he look familiar?
Shemar Moore, who plays him, has been hosting “Soul Train” since 1999.
So many things. While the script takes the important parts of the “Batman” mythos pretty seriously, the Huntress character brings a lot of well-placed dark levity to the proceedings. The WB netlet catches a lot of flack for infusing its shows with alt-pop tunes, but Herc likes the technique; in this context, it lends special creedance to the idea that this is not the Gotham depicted in all those horrible “Batman” movies. The pilot is also good about keeping the Huntress, the only character who’s any good at fighting, from dominating the pilot too completely. (Not that the fighting isn’t great; wait till you see the supercool way the Huntress twists her torso into frame with the line, “I’m the Huntress. And you’re the prey.”
Is the pilot better, as some have said, than the “Batman” movies?
Yes. Herc, who loved “X-Men,” “Spider-Man,” the first two “Superman” movies, disliked to varying degrees all four of Warner’s “Batman” blockbusters, which he regards as disgraceful in terms of storytelling and character development. To say that “Birds of Prey” does a better and more respectful job with the Gotham mythos isn’t really saying much, but "Birds" certainly does.
Is the WB finally over aping “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”?
In no way. 1) Despite being confined to a wheelchair, Oracle’s stewardship over Gotham’s crime scene reminds one more of Rupert Giles than Charles Xavier or Niles Caulder. 2) The actress playing Dinah seems to be channeling some of Dawn Summers’ endearingly squirrelly enthusiasm. 3) The Huntress, between body-kicks, shares the slayer’s ambivilence about her role as thwartress of evil.
What’s not so good?
It’s hard to tell sometimes how seriously we should take the leads’ verbal sparring. Should we take Helena at her word when she talks about killing the bad guys? One sort of hopes so - after all, her life might be very different had the Batman just put the Joker out of his misery when he had the chance. In any case, a lot of the Huntress-Oracle dialogue Herc saw in the “old” pilot is said to have been revised and reshot. So perhaps this ambiguity has been addressed.
How does it end, spoiler boy?
In a way that cannot be revealed without inviso-text! In the pilot Herc saw it’s established in the final minutes that Quinn, the psychoanalyst appointed by a judge to help Helena with anger management, is psychotic. She carries on the Joker’s legacy just as the Huntress carries on Batman’s, and is responsible for all the villainy perpetrated in the pilot.
TV Guide said:
… Dark, deluxe and brimming with sensual danger, this lavish action-fantasy is a little stiff dramatically at the outset but has the potential for cult status. Purists may bristle at the changes from the comic-book mythology, but we lesser mortals can only thrill as these birds take flight. …
… After the success of the Frog's other superhero series, "Smallville," writer Laeta Kalogridis ("Lara Croft: Tomb Raider") further invigorates the concept with a femme-empowerment spin … With "Birds of Prey," Kalogridis has crafted a tidy concept, crossing an idol with a villain to make a new breed -- slightly naughty, definitely conflicted but with some serious kick-ass power. … Meyer brings a good deal of balance as the seasoned veteran, but as a trio, the actors and characters are clunky. The power of three has been done before, and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" has the lock on using the supernatural experience as an analogy for real life. Perhaps the producers can learn from the demise of shows such as "Dark Angel" and realize that good looks and highly stylized action aren't enough. …
The Hollywood Reporter said:
… there's a new team of superheroes -- a trio that's tough, sexy and quite capable of rounding up any stray teen and young adult viewers in the time period. …a fine, fun and artfully executed fantasy action series. … Although each "Bird" is appealing in her own right, and they share solid chemistry, Scott's Huntress steals practically every scene in which she appears. Defiant one moment and vulnerable the next, Scott is the perfect choice for this action hero with attitude. … an episode that is both traditional and futuristic, combining the old-fashioned values of comic book heroes and the sensibility of contemporary youth culture. …
The Los Angeles Times said:
… Why would it succeed? Try self-mocking humor and gorgeous dominatrixes in leather. … Even though the caped Big Guy himself is somehow absent from New Gotham, "Birds of Prey" follows in the great tradition of superhero noir. It's grim, dark, smoky and, most important, ripping good fun as these butt-kicking Dynamic Dolls have themselves some nights on the town. …
Herc’s rating for the unaired pilot for “Birds of Prey”?
The “Gotham Girl” shorts included in the new set run between two and five minutes each. The first two crudely animated seasons were comprised of stand-alone not-funny “comedies” featuring DC icons Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, Batgirl and, less frequently, Zatanna. The much better and more dramatic final season forms one big 35-minute story about what happens after all the men in Gotham City mysteriously disappear; it traded Zatanna for a newer DC comic icon, Gotham City police detective Renee Montoya.
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July 15, 2008, 2:30 a.m. CST
July 15, 2008, 3:14 a.m. CST
July 15, 2008, 3:17 a.m. CST
July 15, 2008, 3:20 a.m. CST
two insomniacs. and now back to bed for two and a half hours untill another lovely day at work. stupid bug under my computer desk that i can never seem to kill. (i smell screenplay.)
July 15, 2008, 3:21 a.m. CST
drake. john drake.
July 15, 2008, 5:13 a.m. CST
July 15, 2008, 5:44 a.m. CST
Finally...family ties vol 4..the best year ever for family ties..along with 5 and 6.. ALSO..IF YOU ARE A BIG FAN OF BUFFY.YOU WILL LOVE "AND THE ROCK..MEANS LOVE IT" CAUSE ITS BRILLIANT AND SO WELL DONE..AND DRACULA AND ZANDER ARE HILLARIOUS.. AND (SPOILER HERE) "BEWARE OF MECHA-DAWN" Yes its what you think..lol..RIGHT HERC?...its one of the best storys done so far and great fun..Peace all...
July 15, 2008, 6:18 a.m. CST
It's failure is also why the WB passed on picking up Mercy Reef (Aquaman)
July 15, 2008, 6:56 a.m. CST
It's 60 bucks even at 40% off. Damn, even The Sopranos are cheaper now.
July 15, 2008, 7:10 a.m. CST
I think if it had hit a couple of years later it would have made it, much better than I initially thought it was going to be. But given what WB/CW has done to Smallville since then, it may have been better to let it die rather than turn it into a teenage angst fest \ product placement vehicle.
July 15, 2008, 7:36 a.m. CST
by Kid Z
...never looked better! (Kidding) Ah yes, Birds of Prey... the show that killed any chance of a Starman (Jack Knight version) series. Also... wonder what ever happened to that "WB" network. Someone told me it was now called "CW", but I don't believe them. Who the hell's ever even heard of a "CW" network...
July 15, 2008, 8:02 a.m. CST
by Sailor Rip
I'll admit I never watched it when it was briefly on but it sounds like an awesome concept if done right and with all the Bat hype now it seems like a sure thing. <p> Somronr should really think about reviving this thing. There's endless story possibilities.
July 15, 2008, 8:54 a.m. CST
by George Newman
i only watched a few episodes. it definitely had appeal. but it had the same problem as season one Smallville--kryptonite-empowered bad guy of the week. not literally, but it was uninterestingly-empowered bad guy who may or may not shamefully resemble some old batman villain each week.
July 15, 2008, 10:10 a.m. CST
by Charlie Murphy
but i've seen every episode of the show... it had some good stuff, but mostly just weird lame stuff... i always wondered why kalogridis left the show and wondered what might've happened if she'd stuck around. if the wb hadn't forced the show to go the smallville route and do the freak-of-the-week thing, it could've been cooler... harley quinn was the best part except when she turned herself into a metahuman in the finale... as i recall, the series ends with an episode featuring clayface, and the final scene of the series is a somewhat touching alfred/bruce wayne moment. you know, i would've liked to see that show done right, and i would've liked at least a full season... there was potential there, me thinks.
July 15, 2008, 10:37 a.m. CST
The other being Twin Peaks. I don't know how many times I've re-watched the entirety of both series. Please check out Sports Night if you haven't already.
July 15, 2008, 11:04 a.m. CST
Will this one have any features other than a "play all" option and an "interactive menu"? Will we get commentaries? The option to turn off the laugh-track (that would be the greatest feature ever)? Behind the scenes? Script to screen? Bloopers?
July 15, 2008, 11:06 a.m. CST
It's a schlockfest.
July 15, 2008, 12:10 p.m. CST
Thank you for the positive comments on Birds of Prey. It's nice to know there are people out there who saw the potential in this show. PS - Commissioner Gordon is briefly mentioned in one episode, "Shiva," the ninth in the series. It acknowledges that he is Barbara's father and was Police Commissioner at one point in the past, but does not say if he still is or what has happened to him otherwise.
July 15, 2008, 12:32 p.m. CST
I'm way with you on the importance of a "turn off the fucking fake laugh track" feature on "Sports Night." It that's not on the 10th anniversary edition, I ain't buying it. And the DVD issuers are some stupid motherfuckers for not giving us that option.
July 15, 2008, 12:38 p.m. CST
by Bouncy X
i guess maybe he had said this because it was superman's youth but the smallville pilot clearly shows it was whatever year the show started. when i first heard about smallville, i figured it would take place in the 50s or 60s but i followed the first 2 seasons and its clearly a modern day show. clark arrived on earth in the late 80s.
July 15, 2008, 12:53 p.m. CST
by Charlie Murphy
i'm a little choked. that was one of the best things about the show!
July 15, 2008, 1:22 p.m. CST
that Prey/Smallville crossover episodes were contemplated -- which would have established that Superman is younger than Batman's daughter! <p> While it's strange to contemplace a universe in which Bruce and Clark are not the same age, those circumstances do fire the imagination. As in the "Watchman" universe, we would see an era in which a new superpowered crimefighter eclipses all the old non-superpowered ones. <p> I don't remember the old BoP title theme. Was it a pop tune, like Smallville's?
July 15, 2008, 1:24 p.m. CST
by Richard Cranium
I've heard rumors of Laserblast which would pretty much cause me to wet myself with glee, but I can't find confirmation anywhere.
July 15, 2008, 1:25 p.m. CST
by Charlie Murphy
"Revolution" by Aimee Allen, it was kind of a rock/pop song, kinda cool, but the song on the dvd if this fluffy, floaty lame-o song
July 15, 2008, 1:43 p.m. CST
It's too bad they couldn't have gotten their act together direction-wise and kept going. It was far more compelling than the tepid and ridiculous Smallville.
July 15, 2008, 2:38 p.m. CST
According to what I've seen, 8 episodes have cast/crew commentaries. New interviews with all 6 main cast members and Sorkin. A comparison feature thingie between SN and SportsCenter. But about the laugh track I saw this: "Shout! Factory was unable to remaster the audio to remove the laugh track." I'm sure they would have to re-mix the audio for the entire episode to remove the laugh track. Plus re-edit it as there are some moments where the cast breaks for the laugh track. (Like Jeremy's "Many, many people" line). I'm still double-dipping for it, though.
July 15, 2008, 3:13 p.m. CST
they announce them at san diego comic con next week. the laserblast info is not real according to shout factory website they claim it was mistakenly reported in some early press info and they do have the rights for it but it's not in the new set. could be disinformation but check out shout factory website for info.
July 15, 2008, 3:56 p.m. CST
There are waaaaay too many bootlegs of the original broadcast out there to spend $30 for a hacked-up DVD set.
July 15, 2008, 4:20 p.m. CST
As was the dead clowns in the car.<p>Love Reno 911.
July 15, 2008, 4:39 p.m. CST
ive never hated music changes so much as i did with this set. its really upsetting. i dont see why most of the defining musical pieces were the ones that changed.
July 15, 2008, 8:07 p.m. CST
or is this a DTV sequel?
July 15, 2008, 10:08 p.m. CST
The Tick, Duckman, and Freakazoid. I waited impatiently for a decade, finally the Tick vs. sets came out, now Freakazoid and Duckman. My VHS tapes of random eps long ago took magnetic dirt naps. Finally I can show my wife why Ed Asner is the greatest comedic straight man ever AND the only bob guccione cameo I've ever seen.
July 15, 2008, 11:18 p.m. CST
"So don't adjust that dial; and while we're gone, if any talking animals ask you to buy some tacos or beer, for God's sake, do what they tell you." A classic of the medium. Having it on DVD at all was a blessing, but the chance to finally get the sort of extras package that it deserved (and that Buena Vista was too cheap to splash out on for the first release) means I'm buying it.
July 16, 2008, 4:27 a.m. CST
aka Birds of Prey. Shitty story. Shitty acting. Shit.
July 16, 2008, 9:51 a.m. CST
how hard is it to remove the laugh track? Don't they need to remaster the audio anyway for today's super-duper Raise the Roof Surround Sound systems that people have? They remove original music and replace it with something more easily licenced, so why can't they do the same to some canned laughter? From what I understand, they did it for the MASH set. If Hawkeye & Trapper John can have a laugh-free audio, why not Dan & Casey?
July 16, 2008, 4:39 p.m. CST
by My Pretty Pony
I can't believe they changed the theme song! I looked forward to that damn theme song every time the show came on! Why the hell isn't "Supernatural" in bold?! It's a much better show than 90% of the crap coming out on DVD.
July 16, 2008, 7:40 p.m. CST
each one having basically the same story over and over again! 116.99 is still too high. And couldn't the douches sell em for 11 each? Anyone aware that the economy is tanking and people are struggling just to eat and transport? This ain't Buffy or Angel folks! Nothing unique here. Move along....
July 16, 2008, 10:27 p.m. CST
Umm.. WHAT? Guess I'm glad I never had to suffer through this dreck.
July 16, 2008, 11:04 p.m. CST
by Voice O. Reason
But not enough so to buy it a second time, though. I will probably rent it. Also, I feel Sorkin-era West Wing was a better show. There needs to be a 4th Sorkin show so Sport Night doesn't get ranked next to Studio 60 on my hierarchy. Good lord, that show was too smug.
July 16, 2008, 11:12 p.m. CST
by Voice O. Reason
I was probably actually reading the BofP comic at the time, so the show couldn't keep me past the pilot. The only thing I liked was Barbara in her Batgirl costume during the whatever-it-was sequence. Ah, the whole fucking show should have just been Batgirl, starring the same actress. At least something resembling the real Black Canary made it into Smallville. BY THE WAY, NICE "DARK ANGEL" DIG IN THE REVIEW! Hit the nail on the head with what the worst part of that show was. Well, that and Alba was actually a worse actress back then, and everyone was always driving around in Pontiac Azteks...like that car was going to make it 20 years into the future or something. Pffft. Oh, yeah...Original Cindy may have been a finalist for my all time least favorite TV character.
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