TV - Birds of Prey

Birds of Prey

There is no scientific formula to prove what is a cult show and what isn't, so we just hope you enjoy our look back at those TV shows we personally think of as cult TV. This week Steve Taylor-Bryant takes a look at Birds of Prey and some problems with Super-Hero Television...

Anyone who follows my random rants and reviews appreciates my love of comics, especially DC. But you'll also know that I'm not as protective over canon, changes, or using artistic licence as some others. This, I find, is incredibly important when it comes to on-screen reincarnations of beloved characters. As far as I'm concerned, when it comes to TV and film, having comic-based characters is essential for the next generation of fans to be introduced to what us older folk discovered years ago.

It's no coincidence that there are more comics being written and drawn nowadays, with more small companies and creator-owned characters being produced to cash in on the current craze for all things geek. We have Marvel (and their parent company Disney) investing millions in their Avengers movies and Fox following suit with the characters they've licensed from Marvel too. DC is working towards a JLA project on the back of The Dark Knight Trilogy, brought to life by Chris Nolan. Man of Steel continues to make great strides in the box office ranks and DVD/BluRay sales have picked up where the cinema take left off, while my personal favourite, Arrow, is back and the second season is even stronger than the first. And this is where I'm going with this article - TV.

Arrow is a fantastic show which is well written, extremely well cast and makes the most of its production budget. But where was all this love from the networks a few years ago?

I've recently gone back and rewatched Birds of Prey. For those who aren't aware of the show, it takes place in New Gotham seven years after the huge Batman vs. Joker war. Batman left crime fighting behind him, after the love of his life Selina Kyle/Catwoman was killed and his protégé Batgirl was paralysed by The Joker's bullet (in a scene reminiscent of the one in Alan Moore's The Killing Joke).

Batgirl, now known as The Oracle, takes in Selina Kyle's orphaned daughter Helena, who has Metahuman powers that transform her into The Huntress. Together they strive to clean up New Gotham from a new crime lord Dr. Harleen Quinzel, played by Ferris Bueller's girlfriend Mia Sara. As Kyle's therapist, Quinzel gets deep into the psyche of the girl who carries the Batman burden but, unknown to Oracle or Huntress, Quinzel is also Harley Quinn, the ex-lover of The Joker. She's the overlord of all that happens in New Gotham, as well as being custodian of Arkham Asylum.

Helena and The Oracle take in 16 year old runaway Dinah with the view to educating and training the young Metahuman. As it turns out, later in the series, Dinah is also the daughter of a crime-fighting legend, Black Canary. Along with a distrusting-but-honest police detective Jesse Reese and the ever faithful Wayne family butler Alfred Pennyworth, the team go about rescuing Gotham once again.

You see? That's a great concept for a show and it's brilliant! It is very well scripted, the acting, especially from Dina Meyer as The Oracle, is steady and the storylines flow remarkably well. It's what you would expect if a younger Joss Whedon had made a DC series. It's very reminiscent of Angel in both look and style. The fights are well choreographed and the sets are every bit as good as the ones in Arrow.

Granted, it's not without its faults. Huntress's rooftop scenes look like a Commodore Amiga game and the theme tune is shockingly bad. Why they didn't use the end credit music, by X-Files composer Mark Snow, is beyond me but, that's it!

Maybe it was timing. Perhaps, if this show was pitched now, it would get past one half-season. Maybe we are just not ready for strong female comic characters? Either way, it's a great, entertaining show that should still be on air.

Image - IMDb.