Monday, January 23, 2012

Adult Swim Historama: Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law (2001)

Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law was one of three series spun off from Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast as part of the first wave of [adult swim] programming in 2001. (Aqua Teen Hunger Force & The Brak Show were the others) Much like Coast-to-Coast, it recast a previously established character in a completely different role, and proceeded to not only parody classic courtroom drama, but skewer a vast number of Hanna-Barbera favorites, and not always in good taste.

When Birdman first made a guest appearance on Coast-to-Coast, he was, like Space Ghost himself, represented as an out-of-work superhero looking for something to pass the time. After 4 appearances, he was granted his own series, having already been rechristened Harvey Birdman, and his original alter-ego of archeologist Ray Randall had been disrespectfully discarded. In the series, actor Gary Cole (ex-Midnight Caller) was cast as Harvey, a bumbling but otherwise successful lawyer, still answering to his former boss, Falcon 7, who had been rechristened "Phil Ken Sebben" (Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart & The Colbert Report), and was now the head of the firm. Birdgirl was recast as Phil's daughter, but with a severe crush on Birdman (well, duh!), but they also hinted that Phil had some designs on her, too, unaware of who she really was. Birdboy was renamed Peanut and was rebooted as the office boy, after a fashion.

That wasn't all. 60's funny animal hero Peter Potamus was brought back, but basically was down to one joke ("Did you get that thing I sent ya?") in a hurry. You don't even want to know what I think of how they've handled some characters, although to their credit, they did a better job with the Funky Phantom than the nimrods in charge of Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated did, having Jonathan Muddlemore do an impromptu rap to answer Peanut.

Unfortunately, full episodes of the series are not available right now, as the only episodes I can find were created for Wii & the Playstation family of video game systems. Here, though, is the show open:

The series ended with Harvey being killed off, which leaves the door open for some enterprising soul at WB to bring Ray Randall back as the one, true Birdman, but it's an uphill climb, since Harvey is still very much in the public consciousness, for better or worse, and this writer believes it's for the worse. Par for the course for [adult swim].

Rating: B--.


magicdog said...

Like SGC2C, I never got into this show.

They were pretty cruel to most of the HB stable - Shaggy & Scooby arrested for drugs, and the nastiness of the Earnie Devlin suit. Fred Flintstone a mob boss? Yikes!

It didn't help that Phil Ken Sebben was sexually attracted to his own daughter. Ewww!

hobbyfan said...

I have long since reached the conclusion that Williams St. is run by a bunch of subversive nimrods with little or no respect for the cartoons of the past. If they actually cared, the satires and parodies would've been done in better taste.