If you are a fan of the 2020 movie, then you may be surprised that there were a Birds of Prey TV series from 2002, eighteen years beforehand. If you’re wondering why you never heard of it, it could be that it bombed as far as ratings go, and thus never had a season 2. It was headed down the path of shows like Smallville where the action was minimal, the budget was nonexistent, and the holes were filled in using drama.
For those who are familiar with the comic book characters, this show will add some confusion. Helena is the daughter of Batman and Catwoman, but the Birds of prey TV series decided to make her a metahuman as well. This means she has superhuman powers, despite neither of her parents having such abilities. There is another metahuman character in the show named Dinah, a totally new and made-up character for the show. The confusing part though is that in the Birds of Prey comic books, the character named Dinah is Black Canary, who we find out in episode 5 of this show is her mother. However, Black Canary has been renamed to Carolyn Lance.
What is a little odd is that the character Alfred Pennyworth is in the series. In comics, he is known for being Batman’s butler and confidant. One can hardly contain their amusement at the thought of Batman’s esteemed manservant moonlighting with the Birds of Prey, no doubt adding “nanny to super-powered women” to his already impressive resume. The mere image of Gotham’s dark knight brooding in his Batcave, lamenting the loss of his tea and biscuits, is as comical as it is bewildering. Indeed, the show’s inclusion of Alfred – a symbol of order and tradition – in this chaotic narrative only heightens the delightful absurdity of it all.
One of the characters that comic fans are most interested to see is Harley Quinn. In the Birds of Prey TV series, she is a psychologist, as was her original profession in comic books and the animated television show where she originated. It is rather bizarre, however, that the blonde bimbo that was originally created for making comedic blunders is now the criminal mastermind in this show. Harley Quinn’s appearance in the Birds of Prey TV series is the cherry on top of the sundae, as if the show wasn’t already brimming with its own peculiarities.
It is no mystery why the ratings for this show were not good. The acting is bad, and the story is weak. The show aired on the WB network (Warner Bros) on Wednesday nights, which implies that the producers knew the show was nothing special. I watched this show on a free streaming service called Tubi, owned by Fox Corporation. This says a lot since nearly all WB (and DC Comics) shows at the time could be found on the paid streaming service HBO MAX. For them not to care about this show and allow another streaming service to use it demonstrates that the show may not have much value.
Variations in Music
The TV series Birds of Prey was unfortunately a victim of music copyright issues, something that had become a common problem with television series’ never intended to be redistributed on DVD or otherwise. This usually leads to timely hits being changed to generic songs nobody had ever heard of. The most notable difference is the opening music, which originally had a rock feel, and was changed to a song with a more soft emotional edge. This decision completely changes the tone of the show, making it seem as if the theme of the series is no longer about action and more about drama.
Another example is in the final episode. A grand fight-scene in the clock tower headquarters had energetic music that was popular from the time period it was released. It was changed to something less intense, but may have ironically improved the final battle scene by making it more clear and less overwhelming. You can find early clips of this show with the originally aired music on Youtube, but you have to dig deep. Only ancient videos that were posted before the website’s infamous copyright-flagging technology was developed remain.