BIRDS OF PREY:
I enjoy genre TV shows, and was disappointed when The WB shot down BIRDS OF PREY after only thirteen episodes. The premise of BIRDS OF PREY is lifted from the DC comic book of the same name, but takes liberties with the characters, infusing some with elements from alternate universe versions. An offshoot of the Batman mythos, BIRDS OF PREY certainly had potential- not to mention, a lot of sex in the form of its lovely leading ladies.
The television series version of BIRDS OF PREY is the story of three female crime fighters charged with the protection of New Gotham City after the departure of Batman. Helena Kyle aka Huntress (Ashley Scott) is the half-metahuman daughter of Batman and Catwoman; while she rejects the Wayne family name and fortune; she has accepted her father’s position as Gotham’s dark knight. As Oracle, former Batgirl Barbara Gordon (Dina Meyer) directs the Birds Of Prey from cyberspace, since a final encounter with The Joker left her confined to a wheelchair. Finally, there Dinah Redmond (Rachel Skarsten)- the daughter of Black Canary, a young metahuman, with strong telepathic and telekinetic abilities, whom Barbara has taken under her wing to provide this fledgling hero with the training she will need. The cast of BIRDS OF PREY also features Shemar Moore as police Detective Jesse Reese, Ian Abercrombie as Bruce Wayne’s faithful servant Alfred Pennyworth and Mia Sara as Dr. Harleen Quinzel aka Harley Quinn- The Joker’s former flame, who intends to pick up where Mr. J left off.
BIRDS OF PREY: THE COMPLETE SERIES ($40) comes to DVD in a four-disc set that features the following thirteen episodes that were aired the show’s all too brief run: Pilot, Slick, Prey For The Hunter, Three Birds And A Baby, Sins Of The Mother, Primal Scream, Split, Lady Shiva, Nature Of The Beast, Gladiatrix, Reunion, Feat Of Clay and Devil's Eyes.
Warner Home Video has made all thirteen episodes that comprise BIRDS OF PREY: THE COMPLETE SERIES available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation, which sadly lacks the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Obviously, fans should consider themselves lucky that the series was released at all on DVD, but personally, the lack of the 16:9 enhancement remains a disappointment, especially if one has to watch the episodes on a big widescreen display with black bars on all four sides, or digitally manipulate the image to fit the proportions of a widescreen display. Of course, this set looks best on a 4:3 display. On a widescreen display, the episodes are watchable, but don’t look anywhere as good as they could. Colors are generally strong and provide appealing flesh tones. Blacks are deep and whites stable. Contrast is fine for a television production. Digital compression artifacts are not a problem.
All the episodes that comprise BIRDS OF PREY: THE COMPLETE SERIES come with Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtracks, which decode to standard surround. Let me just say that these episodes would have sounded better in 5.1, but otherwise, the sound is just fine for a television production. The television origins are clearly evident, with the forward channels dominating. Music reproduction is rather good. Dialogue is cleanly rendered and always completely understandable. No other language tracks have been included on the DVD, but English subtitles are provided.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene/episode selection and set up features, as well as a couple of extra features. First we have Gotham Girls: The Complete Series, which offers up all the episodes from the web based animated series. The more interesting supplement is Unaired Pilot Episode, which featured Sherilyn Fenn in the role of Harley Quinn and is presented in 16:9 enhanced widescreen- if that doesn’t add insult to injury.
I really liked BIRDS OF PREY and was sorry when the series was unceremoniously yanked after only thirteen episodes. Warner presentation of the show on DVD is adequate, but there is room for improvement. That said; fans should consider themselves lucky that the series was even released at all on DVD.
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