Synopsis: Hey! Here’s a DVD of that show that guy mentioned to you at the thing that one time but you couldn’t remember the name! Yeah, like it was that show about the guy who was a superhero and then he got some different job or something?! On “Adult Swim” on the Cartoon Channel!! And like, I heard that Astro gets attacked by wild dogs! OMG! LOL! EMOTICON!
Yes. Yes, it is. That show, not that channel. And this is that show’s DVD. Correction: Its second DVD. But, you’ll be happy to know, the first’s still being heavily pirated in China. So why not do your duty as an American and snag this one good and fast – if only to see whether that rumored single frame of a named Birdgirl is actually true? Unless you’re planning a trip to China sometime soon, then, well, we’d recommend just holdin’ off. Enjoy!
eyelights: the absurdist humour. the spot-on satire. Gary Cole. Stephen Colbert.
eyesores: the abrupt show wrap-ups.
For years I’ve racked my brains over it, but I just can’ t make any sense of the fashion in which ‘Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law‘ was produced and released.
Here are the facts of the case:
- The pilot, “Bannon Custody Battle”, which is considered part of Season 1, was aired on December 30, 2000. It was re-edited and re-released on September 2, 2001.
- Season 1 properly began September 23, 2001 (almost a year later than the pilot), and ran until June 8, 2003 – almost two years! So two actual seasons in television years, or 6 actual seasons! Including the pilot, that’s almost three years! Or 9 actual seasons! Madness!
- Season 2 ran from January 1, 2004 to December 5, 2004 (after a long hiatus of 4 months between the before-last and last episodes). Better.
- Season 3 ran from July 24, 2005 to October 23, 2005. Much better.
- Season 4 ran from October 2, 2006 to July 22, 2007 (with a hiatus of 8.5 months between the 37th episode and the final two episodes).
Okay… so, unless my math skills are on the jitter… that’s… like… FOUR Seasons over the course of… *tick tick tick* SEVEN years!!!
Damn, I’m glad I wasn’t patiently waiting by the telly for months just to see the next riotous misadventure of Birdman! At 11 minutes an episode, if you even left your couch to hit the John, you were at risk of missing it entirely!
What is a Birdman fan to do?
Thankfully, the good people at Adult Swim thought of everything! They put their episodes on DVD (Digital Versatile Discs or Digital Video Discs, depending on whom you ask), and tossed Birdman out of their nest and into the world.
The thing is, though, is that they released the episodes as “Volumes”, not “Seasons”.
What they did was to cram Season 1 and part of Season 2 onto Volume 1, and part of Season 2 and Season 3 on Volume 2, and part of Season 3 with Season 4 on Volume 3 – without indicating where the seasons begin and end… and not entirely in the correct sequence, either.
I only discovered this after the fact, of course, got all confused and wept myself to sleep that night. After wetting myself and eating an inordinate amount of Ho Hos™, of course (damn you emotional eating!). It wasn’t until I woke up, weeks later, that I could begin to wrap my mind around it all.
It took forever. Wikipedia helped, as it often does, but I also had to endure months of therapy, trying to reconstruct my mind, put my scattered emotions back into the jar from whence they came, and get off the Ho Hos™. It was a trying time, to say the least, but it was damned worth it.
Now I can watch Season 2 without melting down, luxuriating in the comforting cathodic glow of Harvey Birdman in my living room, bursting a gut (or two) for 10 minutes at a time. Thank you, Adult Swim, for making my life non-sensical, but more meaningful, with your fine, fine show.
Oh, and thanks to Gary Cole and Stephen Colbert for their A+ renditions of Harvey and Kevin. “Ha ha ha! Pfft.”
This season serves up a baker’s-dozen-minus-two episodes:
Phil Ken Sebben: “And for everyone’s safety and security, and to preserve our way of life, I’m taking a drastic step and putting up a security camera. Just one… for safety, security, and omniscient, unblinking information gathering of everyone’s activities.”
1. Blackwatch Plaid: With Secret Squirrel as our guest cartoon character, we are treated to a delicious satire of post-9-11 paranoia. There’s this awesome colour chart that Phil comes up with that is even more ridiculous than the Bush Administration’s. The jabs at attitudes regarding torture and privacy were also spot on. I loved it! 8.5
Harvey Birdman: “My client, a private investigator.”
Mentok: “Colloquially known as…?”
Harvey Birdman: “Uhhh… a P.I.? Gumshoe?”
Inch-High, Private Eye: “He wants you to say “dick”.”
Mentok: “Which would make you an…?”
Inch-High, Private Eye (sighs): “Inch-high dick.”
2. Trio’s Company: This one’s alright. The main case, which is about Inch-High P.I. suing his ex-boss for discrimination, is a bit dull. The best part is that Birdman meets Gigi, who has slept with -and continues to sleep with- everyone, yet professes her devotion to him. It was absolute nonsense, which was fun. 7.75
Ernie Devlin: “Is it hot in here, or was I just engulfed in flames? And broads?”
3. The Devlin Made Me Do It: A wannabe Evil Knievel character gets sued because a kid gets hurt while trying to emulate him. It made fun of personal responsibility vs liability and poked fun at has-been celebrities. This one was filled with gags a second, and I had to rewind to catch them all. 7.5
Phil Ken Sebben (regarding Avenger’s replacement: a canary): “What do you mean he can’t type?”
Harvey Birdman: “Well, he’s too light. Can’t push the keys down.”
4. High Speed Buggy Chase: The main case is menacingly bland, frankly. The meat of this episode is that Avenger, Birdman’s trusted assistant (a large purple eagle with above-average awareness and intelligence), quits. So Birdman, stuck without office help, ends up trying out a finch, a penguin, en emu and a parakeet in Avenger’s stead. Hilarious. 7.5
Harvey Birdman: “And, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, there are more. Many more. I give you: Big Duke, Bigger Duke, Quickie, Schnooker, The Magic Rabbit, Fluidman…”
Peanut: “That would be, “Ew.””
Harvey Birdman:“…Dirty Dog, Motherlode, and Goltar.”
Harvey Birdman: “AND his Golden Lance.”
5. SPF: This is a weird episode, because Harvey finds a mole on his face and suddenly becomes afraid of the sun… which gives him his powers. So not only does he lose his strength, he becomes addicted to sun screen – which is conveniently being provided to him at a significant cost by Peanut. It’s amusing, but no more. 7.0
Peanut: “So where are you guys from? Florida?”
George Jetson: “No. We’re from the future.”
Elroy Jetson: “The 21st century!”
George Jetson: “The magnificent far-off year of 2002!”
6. Back to the Present: The central theme of this episode is the environment, but the centrepiece are The Jetsons, who have come to 2004 from 2002 to warn Birdman of the massive consequences of our (in)actions today (Um… what?). The jabs at The Jetsons’ technology and their condescending attitude are riotous. 8.0
Phil Ken Sebben: “Did you know I won the silver in ’62?”
(Shows off a loaded crossbow)
Phil Ken Sebben: “Not for this, for judo. But, hey, a sport’s a sport. Hold still.”
7. Grape Juiced: This one revolves around Grape-Ape, who is accused of cheating at a sporting competition called the Laff-Alympics. It’s a satirical look at the use of steroids and of product placement in sports. 7.5
Harvey (Reading from book): “There comes a time when every young superhero starts to get their special powers.”
8. Peanut Puberty: For reasons unknown, the always-cocky and horny Peanut becomes meek and embarrassed as his powers begins to develop. This is meant to be a spoof of puberty clichés, and it had its moments, but it was pretty out-of-character for Peanut. 7.5
Phil Ken Sebben: “And it’s been brought to my attention that you’re not using both sides of the toilet paper. You’re wasting a ply.”
9. Gone Efficien…t: I really enjoy this episode, which take the piss out of today’s obsession with “efficiency” – at the expense of reason, empathy and quality of life. It takes an extreme view of the corporate mentality today and turns it on its head – to side-splitting results. 8.25
Phil: “Birdman, the doctor, the one you got off, got another case, botched bazoongas on a…it’s a wierd name, let’s see… safola, polyunsatura, olive, olive oil! We’re gettin’ more coupons!”
10. Droopy Botox: Droopy Dog is the victim of a botched Botox procedure, leaving him grinning like The Joker on crack. This one pokes fun at the ethics of plastic surgery in the modern age, where fine print can absolve the practitioner of any error – irrespective of the consequences. It also blasts legal ethics, in that Birdman won and his office is now showered with money and gifts from the plastic surgeon, thereby helping his career – a moral conflict that he struggles with. 8.0
Myron Reducto: “Yes, our Founding Fathers were certainly comfortable with the idea of the lute or the fiddle, but how could they have foreseen the fretless bass? No! There was absolutely no way for them to imagine a time when men would walk the streets brandishing Edgar Winter’s Special Edition portable keyboards with standard MIDI interface.”
11. Guitar Control: It’s weird… there’s not much to this episode as far as satirical content, and the one-liners aren’t that great, but it’s funny anyway. What the writers did was to substitute guns with guitars and turned this into a gun control spoof. Somehow, just turning them to stringed instruments makes it hilarious. Also, Phil runs for President – backed by the Guitar Lobby, of course. 8.0
Well, confused or not, I nonetheless really enjoyed Season 2 of ‘Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law’. Oh sure, it’s annoying as heck trying to watch the episode in their proper running order, but it’s well worth it. Like ‘Space Ghost, Coast-to-Coast’, this is an awesomely irreverent show with some seriously long-lasting flavour to savour.
Quick-Draw McGraw: “I didn’t write that, it was on some asshole’s website. I wish I’d written it. It’s a good line.”
Date of viewing: August 2013