Short Thoughts on “Birds of Prey”

I admit that I kinda liked the original “Birds of Prey” TV series.  I got to see it when it first ran, and it actually got my interested in the music of t.A.T.u., because “All the Things She Said” was originally featured in the final battle and fit really, really well in my opinion.  It was a great disappointment to me that on the DVDs they didn’t have the rights to the music anymore and had to replace it (the same thing happened in “What I Like About You” and it completely ruined the joke at the end of the first episode).  I also started a fanfic about the show that I never finished.  So after “Stargirl”, I decided to go on a little superhero kick and rewatched “Birds of Prey”, and then “The Flash” (the earlier and not the modern series), and then moved on to a recommendation from a friend in “Legends of Tomorrow”.

This is the post where I talk about “Birds of Prey”.

The show ran originally on the WB network in the U.S. and on a regular network in Canada (CTV, I think), in much the same way as “Discovery” did (although that one ended up more on a specialty channel).  And from what I recall at the time the WB network was trying very, very hard to appeal to the young male audience, and “Birds of Prey” ended up being cancelled after one season because while it appealed to young women it didn’t really appeal to young men, and so didn’t fit in with that demographic.  The reason I remember that is that I recall reading somewhere some feminist complaining that it shouldn’t have be cancelled just because it didn’t appeal to men because the combined ratings weren’t all that bad, but the counter to that is obviously that if it isn’t hitting the demographic that your other shows appeal to and that all your advertising is sold for it isn’t going to do much for your network.  A major network aiming at a varied audience could find a slot for it, but a specialty network wasn’t going to be able to.

Still, in rewatching it I noted this:  it was a superhero show with at least one very well-known heroine lead that also featured three attractive women as the leads.  If it couldn’t find a way to appeal to the male audience, then that really seems to be a problem with it (especially since “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” credited being able to appeal to that audience as well for its success).  So why didn’t it work?

My impression from my first two viewings of it was that it went a bit overboard on the “Girl Power” meme, which got kinda grating.  This time, I didn’t mind it so much.  Part of that is undoubtedly because modern shows go even more overboard on those ideas and so it seems tame by comparison, but the other reason is that most of the time when Huntress goes off with that sort of dialogue Barbara reels her in a bit and makes it clear that what she’s saying isn’t exactly correct or sensible.  That being said, Huntress is out on her own most of the time and is really annoying in general, which likely explains my initial impressions.

The problem with Huntress is that she seems to combine the worst traits of her parents — Batman and Catwoman — without any of the things that made them interesting characters.  She has Batman’s darkness without his stoicism and nobility, and she has Catwoman’s irreverence without her sense of fun.  This makes her really, really annoying to watch, especially when she decides that the only way to go is to try to beat something up, even when that makes no sense (like with the enemy that could copy her powers so she was unlikely to beat him).  There are some interesting elements to her that come out in therapy, but for the most part she’s just not an interesting character, which makes her annoying traits even more annoying.  For the most part, my interest in the show comes from following Dina Meyer’s Oracle, as she’s a much more interesting and much less annoying character (and I can probably say is the main, if not only, reason I like to watch it).

But the show also has an additional major flaw:  it sets up an overarching plot, but then loses it until the very end.  The last two-parter critically involves Barbara’s romantic interest Wade and Harley Quinn, with the latter killing the former and potentially driving Barbara to revenge (and against the “no-killing” rule).  Except that for pretty much the entire middle of the season the two of them don’t appear, and Quinn doesn’t appear in the first part of the two-parter.  The season starts by linking Quinn to a wide campaign of crime and being involved in some way in most of their cases, so we knew that she was going to be important in the overarching plot, but then she disappears for most of the episodes in the middle of the season, which is bad because the character is shown in the credits so we simply can’t forget that she should be involved somehow in this.  And for Wade, he disappears for a while and then gets reinserted when they re-open the “parents don’t like her because she’s in a wheelchair” line in the most awkward way possible (after she found this out a number of episodes before that they all go out to dinner again and while they’re friendly they mention it to Wade again when she moves away to answer a phone call), only to have him get brainwashed and killed to motivate Barbara (isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?).  Losing their most compelling villain and then trying to shove it all back together at the end really hurts the show.

Still, I don’t mind it.  I’d probably watch it again at some point, as evidenced by the fact that, well, I have rewatched it again.

4 Responses to “Short Thoughts on “Birds of Prey””

  1. Short Thoughts on “The Flash” (1990) | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] the other short series that I decided to watch after “Birds of Prey” was “The Flash”.  Again, this is a series that I had already watched and even […]

  2. Thoughts on “Legends of Tomorrow” | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] during my run of superhero shows — starting with “Stargirl” and running through “Birds of Prey” and “The Flash” — I mentioned what I was watching to a friend of mine and he […]

  3. Accomplishments Update | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] usual, DVDs have done really well.  I finished “Stargirl”, and then went on to rewatch “Birds of Prey” and the 1990 “Flash” TV series, before keeping up the superhero theme with […]

  4. Gah! | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] first time, I was playing with the character creator and noted that the default looked a lot like Dina Meyers’ “Birds of Prey” version), and was surprised to note that I had, in what had to be only a couple of  sessions, played it […]

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