Birds of Prey (TV series)

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For the 1982 BBC serial, see Bird of Prey (TV serial).
Birds of Prey
Birds of Prey (TV series).jpg
Main Title Card
Created by Laeta Kalogridis
Starring Ashley Scott
Dina Meyer
Rachel Skarsten
Shemar Moore
Ian Abercrombie
Mia Sara
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 13 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Mike Tollin
Brian Robbins
Shawn Levy
Running time approx. 42 minutes
Production company(s) Warner Bros. Television
Tollin / Robbins Productions
Broadcast
Original channel The WB
Original run October 9, 2002 (2002-10-09)  – February 19, 2003 (2003-02-19)
External links
Website

Birds of Prey is a television drama series produced in 2002. The series was developed by Laeta Kalogridis for The WB and is loosely based on the Birds of Prey DC Comics series. Despite the series debut garnering ratings of 7.6 million viewers (at the time, the network's largest premiere in the 18–34 demographic),[1] the series was canceled after ratings fell sharply in subsequent weeks. Thirteen episodes were produced in total.

Plot outline[edit]

The series is set in New Gotham City, several years after it has been apparently abandoned by Batman. In his absence, Oracle (Barbara) and the Huntress (Helena) have taken over his war on crime. The two are joined by Dinah (after she assists them in defeating Larry Ketterly, a telepath with abilities similar to Scarecrow); Alfred Pennyworth, who serves Helena as she is heir to the Wayne estate; and Detective Jesse Reese, a police officer confronted with crimes and abilities he cannot explain.

A central feature of the series is the concept of metahumans: individuals born with powers that cannot be explained. No two metahumans have the same abilities (unless hereditary), and there exists a whole subculture of metahuman society that the outside world knows nothing about.

Detective Reese reluctantly teams up with Huntress and the other Birds of Prey to defeat metahuman criminals. At first, he disapproves of Helena's vigilantism, even trying to arrest her, but eventually he realizes there is a need for the Birds of Prey to take down criminals the police cannot handle.

During the course of the show, the Birds of Prey often confront schemes masterminded by Dr. Harleen Quinzel (Harley Quinn), though they are unaware of her involvement until the final episode of the series. Quinzel's attempts to discover what Helena is hiding, and the duplicitous nature of their therapy sessions together, form a large part of the series arc, beginning in the pilot episode and being resolved in the series finale.

Cast[edit]

Main characters[edit]

The main cast, featured in a promotional image for the series' run. From left to right, Dinah (Skarsten), Barbara (Meyer), and Helena (Scott). Not pictured are Jesse (Moore), Alfred (Abercrombie), and Harleen (Sara).
The daughter of Batman and Catwoman. She is half-metahuman, with cat-like abilities inherited from her mother (also a metahuman in the Birds of Prey continuity): enhanced agility, strength, healing and a sixth sense for danger, as well as the ability to shift her eyes to a feline form. This change is usually triggered by strong emotion, but can also be used to grant Helena enhanced night vision. She was raised by her mother, without ever knowing who her father was, until the night Catwoman was murdered by an unknown assassin hired by the Joker (eventually revealed to be Clayface) in cold blood on the street, right in front of her. After this she was taken in by Barbara Gordon, who raised and trained her.
Originally one of Batman's apprentices and a daughter of his trusted ally Police Commissioner James Gordon, Barbara was shot by the Joker as revenge for Batman's dismantling of his criminal operation, leaving her paralyzed and forced to give up her life as Batgirl. To compensate, she renamed herself Oracle and began using her expertise in computer hacking and weaponry to fight crime. Oracle calls upon Huntress to handle the field work she is no longer capable of doing, and maintains her superhero contacts. By day, Barbara is a teacher at New Gotham High, but, by night, she fights crime from a secret location in the New Gotham Clocktower.
Also a metahuman, Dinah is drawn to New Gotham and Helena and Barbara by visions of the tragedies that befell them on the night of the Joker's revenge. She proves herself to the two and is taken in as a member of their team, with the condition that she train in the use of her metahuman abilities. In addition to her precognitive dreams, Dinah is a touch-telepath, able to read the thoughts of anyone she comes in physical contact with and later manifests the power of telekinesis. During the course of the series, Dinah discovers that her mother is actually Carolyn Lance, the Black Canary, also a metahuman and legendary superhero, who gave Dinah up for her own safety when she was a child. The discovery of Dinah's relation to the Black Canary led Oracle to believe that she may also have inherited her mother's hypersonic ability, although it is never demonstrated.
An honest police detective who encounters Huntress while investigating a rash of bizarre suicides. He is simultaneously drawn to her and disapproving of her disrespect for the law. Nevertheless the two are thrown together by cases involving metahuman abilities. It is later revealed that Reese's birthname is Jesse Hawke, and his father is Al Hawke, head of a powerful crime family and sworn enemy of Carolyn Lance, Dinah's mother. When he turned 16, after nearly being arrested after a police officer found traces of blood found all over the trunk of his father's car when he was driving it, his relationship with him becomes estranged, forsakes the name "Hawke" and takes his mother's surname, and Reese dedicating his life to find justice for his father's victims. He pursues a career in law enforcement to atone for his family's sins.
Faithful butler to the Wayne family. In Batman's absence he transfers his services to Helena and Barbara, and is often present at the clock tower, taking care of their day-to-day needs. He shares a close bond with Barbara, often listening to her problems or giving her advice on personal situations, whether she wants to hear it or not. He secretly remains in contact with Batman, updating him on the status of the Birds, in particular Helena.
A psychiatrist Helena is ordered to see after being convicted of vandalism while chasing a thief. Unbeknownst to Helena, or the other Birds of Prey, Harley Quinn was the lover of the Joker, and has come to seek her revenge on New Gotham for what it did to her 'Mr J'. Though she presents herself as a respectable professional, one called upon by the authorities to work with violent and dangerous felons, Quinzel is herself insane, using her contacts with the criminal world to mastermind her revenge.

Recurring characters[edit]

The guidance counsellor at New Gotham High. He and Barbara meet in the pilot and subsequently begin a relationship. He is ultimately killed by Harley Quinn to punish Barbara for interfering with Quinn's plans.
A metahuman with perfect photographic memory. He can recall every taste, sight, sound and smell he has ever experienced (since before birth) and knows, to the second, the amount of time that has passed since he last saw someone. He is the proprietor of No Man's Land, a bar and safe house for metahumans. He first appears in the third episode, "Prey for the Hunter".
  • Detective McNally – (Brent Sexton)
A New Gotham detective and partner of Jesse Reese. He is skeptical of all things strange and unexplainable. He first appears in the pilot.
The Dark Knight and father of Helena Kyle. He appears only in flashbacks of the show. At the end of the final episode, Alfred calls him on the phone, telling him that his daughter is doing well.
The Catwoman and mother of Helena Kyle. She appears only in flashbacks of the show. Selina Kyle was once the "queen of the criminal underworld" in the city of New Gotham. She was a meta-human. In the first episode, she and Helena were walking, until a man came up and murdered Selina. In the twelfth episode, it is revealed that Clayface (hired by The Joker) was Selina's murderer.

In addition, Mark Hamill reprises his role from Batman: The Animated Series as the voice of the Joker for the brief appearances of the villain in the Birds of Prey pilot.[3] Actor/stuntman Roger Stoneburner appeared as the Joker on-camera;[4] Hamill's voice was dubbed over Stoneburner's performance.

Episodes[edit]

# Title Directed by Written by Original air date Production
code
1 "Pilot" Brian Robbins Laeta Kalogridis October 9, 2002 (2002-10-09) 475179
The Batman legend takes an unexpected turn when the Caped Crusader vanishes from the crime-ridden Gotham City and his legacy is taken over by a trio of relentless heroines – the Birds of Prey. Barbara Gordon started out as Batman's protégé, Batgirl, but an attack by The Joker left her a paraplegic after being shot in the spine. Reinventing herself as Oracle, she takes under her wing Helena Kyle, the secret daughter of Batman and Catwoman, who quickly grows into the fierce "Huntress". Into this group comes Dinah, a teenage runaway who is drawn to the city by meta-human visions. With the help of the only honest cop in the city now called New Gotham, Detective Jesse Reese, the Birds of Prey fight their first battle against a mysterious madman who is bent on destruction.
2 "Slick" Michael Katleman Story: Laela Kalogridis & Melissa Rosenberg
Teleplay: Laela Kalogridis
October 16, 2002 (2002-10-16) 175451
Slick (Silas Weir Mitchell), an evil meta-human who can turn from solid to liquid, is hired by Dr. Quinzel to kill the honest cops who stand in her way. When Reese is the next intended victim, Helena comes to his aid and their mutual attraction continues to grow. Meanwhile, Barbara believes Dinah’s story that she’s just a runaway, but Helena remains suspicious.
3 "Prey for the Hunter" Chris Long Story: Adam Armus & Kay Foster
Teleplay: Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz
October 23, 2002 (2002-10-23) 175452
Helena and Detective Reese clash again when they both try to track down a serial killer who destroys metahumans by taking on their powers. Meanwhile, Dinah ditches school when she learns from Helena there is a metahuman-only bar, and Barbara meets Wade’s parents who think she is not normal enough for their son.
4 "Three Birds and a Baby" Craig Zisk David H. Goodman & Julie Hess October 30, 2002 (2002-10-30) 175453
When Helena rescues an abandoned baby boy and brings him back to the Clocktower, Barbara and Dinah try to help, but to everyone’s surprise, the baby, "Guy", is only happy when Helena is holding him. Even more surprising is the fact that Guy wakes up from his nap as a walking, talking 5-year-old and is soon a teenager. Now in a race against time, the Birds of Prey discover that Guy is programmed to live his entire life in three days, and to kill the first person he attaches to, putting Helena in grave danger while Dr. Quinzel also races the clock to find Guy for her own nefarious plans.
5 "Sins of the Mother" Jeff Woolnough Story: Melissa Rosenberg & Hans Tobeason
Teleplay: Melissa Rosenberg
November 6, 2002 (2002-11-06) 175454
Dinah's mother, Carolyn (Lori Loughlin), comes to town to find her daughter, but the past comes back to haunt both women when the head of a crime family that Carolyn took down in her years as the Black Canary comes after them. Dinah must fight to save the mother she's never really known before she loses the chance completely. Helena wonders about her own mother's past, and about the secrets that the Canary could reveal to her, while Barbara tries to bring all the women together to cooperate before the past destroys them all.
6 "Primal Scream" Jim Charleston Story: Adam Armus & Kay Foster
Teleplay: Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz
November 13, 2002 (2002-11-13) 175455
At the request of Reese, Helena goes undercover to help bring down a gang of thieves terrorizing New Gotham and quickly discovers that the gang is part of a larger infrastructure. Helena goes after the big boss until her cover is blown, putting her in grave danger. Meanwhile, Barbara has to deal with her fear of intimacy when her relationship with Wade takes a serious turn.
7 "Split" James Marshall Story: Adam Armus & Kay Foster
Teleplay: Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz
November 20, 2002 (2002-11-20) 175456
Already frustrated with men thanks to her relationship with Det. Reese, Helena is none too pleased when a metahuman calling himself Darkstrike (Kristoffer Polaha) visits New Gotham to team up with her and Barbara. However, Helena warms to the enigmatic stranger when he explains his history with the Crawler (Brian Thompson) – a nefarious criminal with the nasty habit of murdering his abductees. When the fiend kidnaps an innocent teen, the crime fighters must race against the clock to ensure that the latest victim does not meet the fate of her predecessors.
8 "Lady Shiva" John Kretchmer Story: Adam Armus & Kay Foster
Teleplay: Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz
November 27, 2002 (2002-11-27) 175457
Helena is thrilled when her best friend from high school, Sandra (Sung-Hi Lee), returns to New Gotham, but the Birds are troubled by a series of murders with the unmistakable mark of Batgirl’s nemesis, Lady Shiva. Determined to fight Lady Shiva as an equal, Barbara dusts off her Batgirl costume and experiments with technology that allows her to leave the wheelchair. Meanwhile, Dinah tries to use her mind-reading powers to get a boy at her school to notice her to ask her out for the school's spring dance.
9 "Nature of the Beast" Shawn Levy Melissa Rosenberg December 18, 2002 (2002-12-18) 175458
When a hit is put on the life of legendary mob boss, Al Hawk (Mitch Pileggi), the only person he trusts to protect him is his son, Det. Reese. Reese turns to Helena for help, but when she learns that Reese's father is the same man who killed Dinah's mother, Black Canary, her loyalties are tested.
10 "Gladiatrix" David Carson David H. Goodman January 8, 2003 (2003-01-08) 175459
When young metahuman women are abducted in New Gotham, Helena’s investigation leads her to uncover a secret club where the captive women are drugged and forced to fight each other in an arena. When Helena is also abducted, it is up to Dinah to rescue her with Reese's help.
11 "Reunion" Chris Long Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz January 8, 2003 (2003-01-08) 175460
When Helena's former classmates descend upon New Gotham for their five-year high school reunion, two of the alums are brutally murdered. While Helena tries to find the killer, she fears that Reese's investigation will lead him to learn too much about her true identity.
12 "Feat of Clay" Joe Napolitano Adam Armus & Kay Foster February 19, 2003 (2003-02-19) 175461
After a robber, Chris Cassius (Ian Reed Kesler), breaks into a chemical factory and drinks a mixture that gives him the power to turn people to stone, Barbara cancels her vacation with her boyfriend, Wade. Unwilling to allow Barbara to continue neglecting her personal life, Alfred the Butler brings Wade to the clock tower and exposes her secret. Meanwhile, Helena goes to Arkham Asylum and interrogates her father's old enemy Clayface, who possesses the same abilities as Chris, and learns a shocking fact about her past. She must race to prevent Chris from killing New Gotham's most powerful people at a charity fashion show.
13 "Devil's Eyes" Robert J. Wilson Adam Armus & Melissa Rosenberg February 19, 2003 (2003-02-19) 175462
Having discovered that Helena is Huntress, Harley Quinn uses a machine that gives her metahuman hypnotic powers. She then hypnotizes Helena and persuades her to knock Barbara unconscious and steal an access disk. Barbara recovers and uses her subneural device to enable her to stand and fight Helena, eventually neutralizing the trance. But Harley uses the disk to gain complete control of the clock tower and, after killing Wade, she broadcasts the hypnotic signal to every television set in New Gotham. Working together with Alfred, Dinah, and Reese, Helena must infiltrate the clock tower and battle Harley and her cohorts before they gain control of the entire city. It is hinted that Bruce Wayne/Batman is probably still alive, due to the fact that just before the end credits, Alfred is seen talking on the phone at Wayne Manor, and says "Master Bruce" and states about his daughter Helena and that he would be proud of her.

Media releases[edit]

Birds of Prey was released on Region 1 DVD on July 15, 2008. The four-disc collection includes the thirteen episodes that were broadcast plus the unaired pilot,[5] which features Sherilyn Fenn as Harley Quinn, and all three seasons of the Flash-animated series Gotham Girls. The episodes are presented in letterboxed widescreen format.[5] Some music differs from original televised version including the theme song, which in the original airing was "Revolution" by Aimee Allen, as well as the fight music "All the Things She Said" by t.A.T.u. in the final episode which was replaced with "Beautiful Freak" by Dirty Children.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=1630
  2. ^ Sherilyn Fenn portrayed Harley Quinn in the original Unaired Pilot.
  3. ^ "Mark Hamill – IMDb". Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  4. ^ "Roger Stoneburner – IMDb". Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Birds of Prey – Studio Updates Us About the DVD Set's Aspect Ratio & Unaired Pilot". TVShowsOnDVD.com. April 23, 2008. Retrieved May 5, 2010. 

External links[edit]