Birds of Prey review – “Pilot”

The pilot episode of Birds of Prey aired tonight. Keep in mind that my thoughts below are not influenced by the comic, as I haven’t read it.

Cast

Dina Meyer as
Oracle/Barbara Gordon.
Ashley Scott
as Huntress/Helena Kyle.
Rachel
Skarsten
as Dinah Lance
Shemar Moore as
Detective Reese
Ian
Abercrombie
as Alfred Pennyworth
Mia Sara as Harley
Quinn

Written by Laeta
Kalogridis
, who also developed the concept for television.
Directed by Brian
Robbins
, who also executive produces.

Original Airdate


Pilot

originally aired on Wednesday,
October 9, 2002.

Synopsis

Batman and Catwoman had a meta-human daughter. (Think “mutant.”) Now
she and a crippled Batwoman fight crime as Huntress and Oracle
respectively. A psychic comes to town in time to help them deal with
a villain who reminds me of the traditional Scarecrow, although he
never uses that name.

High Point

The “meteor shower” crack was amusing, given that this is produced by
the same executive producers that brought us Smallville.

Low Point

Many of the character interactions and the back stories revealed were
predictable. Still, it’s a pilot episode, so that’s really
unavoidable.

The Review

How original can a comic adaptation get? Well, I’ve never
read this comic, but it felt a lot like the X-Men. There’s a crippled
team leader communicating over large distances, some more-than-human
heroes, and a villain who is much like Jason Wynegarde/Mastermind. I
give it 3 out of 6.

The effects were decent. The lip-syncing on the Joker was
excellent. The city skyline looked too clean and perfect to be real,
though. The battle sequences and meta-human effects were well done,
although I’m still not sure what’s going on with Huntress’ eye. (I
guess she needs to turn her powers on or something.) I give it 4 out
of 6.

The story wasn’t too complicated, but they really couldn’t do
much more in a pilot episode without sacrificing character work. They
did do a nice job of introducing the first probable long-term villain,
though. I give it 4 out of 6.

The acting was actually very good. Dina Meyer, Ian
Abercrombie, and Mia Sara all had their parts nailed. Rachel Skarsten
and Ashley Scott were very good, especially considering this is a
pilot, so the characters aren’t particularly well developed yet.
Shemar Moore was neither spectacular nor terrible. He needs more
screen time before I come to a final decision on him. I give the
acting 5 out of 6.

The emotional response this generated was moderate. I
laughed, but I wasn’t really drawn in to the characters well enough to
really worry about them. They need time to grow on me, first. I give
it 3 out of 6.

The production was very good for a TV series that has to
create an almost entirely new environment. They really had a great
feel to New Gotham that came across very clearly. The direction was
competant, but not earth-shattering. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, this is a solid start to a new series. I’ll gladly
keep coming back each week. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Pilot receives 28 out of 42.

20 replies on “Birds of Prey review – “Pilot””

  1. SmokeSerpent says:

    Mixed feelings
    First off, pilot episode. Cheese and stilted character introductions were expected… and delivered.

    I agree about the eye being very iffy, but more importantly, they need to lose that wildcat growl thing. Not only was it a bit cheesy, but it was inconsistently applied, and the timing of it was often a bit off.

  2. Daemonik says:

    Some thoughts
    First, I liked the show, there’s possabilities. I had a bit of a gripe though with Huntress meeting Detective Reese though. I mean, Selena/Huntress has a criminal record or at least has had some dealings with the law since she’s seeing a court ordered psychologist, and she’s climbing all over a suicide/murder victim’s home with NO GLOVES ON!! Couldn’t Reese have considered having the place fingerprinted and thus tracked her down? Not to mention it’s pretty easy to have a sketch artist draw up a picture of someone you had a conversation with who doesn’t wear a mask. Geez.

    As for Huntress’ eyes doing the cat thing, I’d say it’s mainly to look cool and to let you know she’s got super powers without having to turn her green or anything.

    The costumes looked good, it was cool knowing that Mark Hamill was providing the voice for Joker. Harley Quin was an interesting choice as the first arch villain.

    Then there’s Dina Meyer…….. Dina Meyer wearing glasses. Yummmmmm. Many kittens will die in her honor.

    • Daemonik says:

      Re: Some thoughts
      Oops, I meant Helena/Huntress not Selena/Huntress.

      Interesting side note, Dina Meyer is in Star Trek: Nemesis as a Romulan if I’m not mistaken. Everyone knows the Romulan ships are…. Birds of Prey. :)

  3. pythor says:

    So/So…
    I liked the idea of Harley Quinn being the villian. Suits me fine…Batman’s sidekick going up against Joker’s sidekick and all. But some of the story was missing the feel. I liked Gotham on the ground, about the right atmosphere. But from the air, it looked to new and pretty. Now, they are calling it New Gotham, so maybe that’s a plot point somewhere, but it didn’t really seem to match the ground shots. The fingerprint thing kinda bugged me, too. I guess I’ll have to hold out a little longer to decide if this is worth skipping West Wing for.

  4. Cymor says:

    New Gotham?
    What happened to Old Gotham?

    • rickyjames says:

      Re: New Gotham?

      What happened to Old Gotham?

      …It was nuked by Iraq in the Three Hour War of 2003…

      • cheech says:

        Re: New Gotham?
        Did this happen in the comics and, if so, when? I’ve been trying to catch up after drifting away from the comic book scene a few years back?

  5. GusherJizmac says:

    Good, bad, and ugly
    The Bad:
    1. Batman is cool because he’s not a mutant or an alien. Having Batgirl with arbitrarily powerful computers, and then two mutants seems like a cop-out and isn’t quite as cool.
    2. As mentioned, that cat growling is cheesy as hell.
    3. “Huntress” is a really cheesy name.
    4. What’s with the bar-scene questioning-of-purpose bit? That whole thing destroys any assumed motivation for Huntress to be a superhero.
    5. How can that clock tower be a secret hideout? Doesn’t the maintenance guy come by and fix stuff periodically?
    6. Why give us the Joker vs. Batman makes Huntress and Oracle story twice?
    7. Why doesn’t Huntress wear a mask? As someone already noted, it’s not hard for the detective to figure out who she is.
    8. We really didn’t need the painfully obvious “I am Harly Quinn and I’m EVIL!” speech at the end. Her motivation now seems lame and unbelievable.
    9. Many of the effects were not very “special”.
    10. The actress playing “The Huntress” needs some work.
    11. I’m sorry, but Mr. Pitt is not a good Alfred, and shouldn’t Alfred be dead by now?

    The Good:

    1. Given the first season of ST:TNG, I can’t be too harsh, and the show does have potential. I mean, Batman and said universe is pretty cool, and with some better writing this could be a good show.
    2. Dina Meyer did a pretty good job acting, as did the pyschic girl.

    The Ugly:

    1. None, they are all really hot, which I guess is supposed to make up for the bad writing. As the Sci-Fi channel should know by now, it doesn’t.

    • dcheesi says:

      Re: Good, bad, and ugly
      I agree with almost all of this, except:

      4. What’s with the bar-scene questioning-of-purpose bit? That whole thing destroys any assumed motivation for Huntress to be a superhero.

      I think the point is that she’s just had her first major run-in with the law, and she having second thoughts now that her secret life has interfered with her normal life. Granted, it’s a weird choice to start off the show at this point, but maybe it is tied in with the whole Harley Quinn plotline (evil shrink messes with poor catgirl’s mind, convinces her to leave the life, etc.)?

      5. How can that clock tower be a secret hideout? Doesn’t the maintenance guy come by and fix stuff periodically?

      Presumably it’s a Wayne Enterprises building. As shown in the pilot, Alfred handles most of the upkeep, and Bruce/batman must have some trusted maintanence guys & technicians as well.

  6. Trekkie says:

    It was at least entertaining
    Considering what most options for watching TV are these days, I found this to be rather entertaining and not a complete waste of time like the season 3 opener of Andromeda.

    Granted, you can’t expect miracles from the first season, but to me this didn’t seem near as cheesy as the Mutant X with the every 5 minutes lets all walk in a spear formation thing.

    All in all, it has some promise. But it could go bad too if they tweak it too much (a la Dark Angel). You’d think though that a female superhero wouldn’t wear a bustier to go jumping across building tops. She’d wear something more like the wheel chair bound oracle

    The first thing I thought of when I saw the Barbra Gordon character in the wheel chair is that they should have used the iBot from the Segway company. To me you’d think if she had an unlimited financial backing (breifly mentioned) that she’d be able to buy that $20K Wheelchair that the makers of Segway are working on.

    • Daemonik says:

      Re: It was at least entertaining
      If I’m not mistaken from what I saw of next weeks preview Huntress has a different costume on, although she still didn’t have a mask.

      As for Mutant-X… so much potential so completely wasted.

      I can forgive the wheelchair, I imagine the effects budget is going into more goodies than her chair. Although maybe in the future she’ll have utility chairs that shoot bat-a-rangs and can fly. :)

      • GusherJizmac says:

        Re: It was at least entertaining
        Seems like she was lucky to have a handicap access ramp at the evil-doers evil secret lair.

        Homer: There’s always a canal!

    • angst says:

      Re: It was at least entertaining

      To me you’d think if she had an unlimited financial backing (breifly mentioned) that she’d be able to buy that $20K Wheelchair that the makers of Segway are working on.

      Unlimited financial backing? She down-talked that when psychic girl wanted cool, high-tech jewelry.

  7. CdtDelta says:

    Birds of Prey/Dark Angel
    Okay, is it me, or did anyone see a LOT of similarities to Dark Angel. We have the “meta-human” superhero, the watchful eye in the wheelchair, and the psychic I haven’t placed yet. Anyway, I enjoyed the show, and I’ll probably keep watching it, but it really did seem to be a rehash of Dark Angel (without the Top Secret laboratory that creates super soldiers). They even have the similarity at the end with the Clock Tower and the Seattle Needle.

    • Daemonik says:

      Re: Birds of Prey/Dark Angel

      Okay, is it me, or did anyone see a LOT of similarities to Dark Angel. We have the “meta-human” superhero, the watchful eye in the wheelchair, and the psychic I haven’t placed yet. Anyway, I enjoyed the show, and I’ll probably keep watching it, but it really did seem to be a rehash of Dark Angel (without the Top Secret laboratory that creates super soldiers). They even have the similarity at the end with the Clock Tower and the Seattle Needle.

      Life is a wheel and everything comes around again in it’s time.

      Your Zen moment of the day.

    • UncleJam says:

      Re: Birds of Prey/Dark Angel

      Okay, is it me, or did anyone see a LOT of similarities to Dark Angel

      Well, except for the fact that the BoP comic preceded Dark Angel by several years and just about all of the things you mention are straight from the comic (i.e. the “meta-human” superhero, the watchful eye in the wheelchair”, the Clock Tower). Just the psychic kid is new and that doesn’t appear to be a “rehash” of anything from Dark Angel (although I can’t say for sure since I never watched it).

      My opinion? Not as bad as I was expecting, but not very good either. But then again, Smallville started out really bad and has greatly improved with just one year under its belt. So, I’m giving it time.

  8. quecojones says:

    My high point
    In the bar scene, Helena asks bat-girl if her “spidey-sense” was tingling… LOL!

  9. bluestrain says:

    Another target audience weighs in
    I watched the pilot with my 12 year old daughter, who will occaisonally get into an action movie with a female lead (she liked Tomb Raider) but isn’t into reading SF yet. She’d seen the promos and apparently they had generated some buzz among the 7th grade.

    The pilot kept her attention for the entire 70 minutes. She locked in on Dinah Lance’s character right away. Huntress’s eye effects were “cool”. When she saw Huntress’s costume an involuntary “I want clothes like that” came out followed by my involuntary “over my dead body”

    When the episode was over, she said she wanted to see Batman to get the background for the story. I think she’s
    hooked.

    • rickyjames says:

      Re: Another target audience weighs in

      When the episode was over, she said she wanted to see Batman to get the background for the story. I think she’s
      hooked.

      Sounds like you need to tune in to that new John Ritter ABC comedy “8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter.” Good luck; you’re gonna need it.

      • Mista J says:

        Re: Another target audience weighs in
        I think the whole “eye” thing is just some little thing she does ’cause shes the daughter of Catwoman. The whole meta-human thing doesn’t bother me. I mean there has to be SOME sort of reason these super villians and heroes can do what they do. The show has it’s problems but hell it takes place in the Batman universe so I’m in. Although I’m not sure if this is bad or not but after one episode, I already miss the Bat. I’ll keep watching in hopes of a Harley Quinn and Mista J rampage.

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