You read right: The Third DVD! How many shows can say they’ve got three DVDs I’m sorry? All right. Green Acres, but that was a classic. How many recent shows — Full House? Six DVDs?! You gotta be kidding! Friggin’ Saget. All right, how many animated, 15 minute shows with horny hippopotami and nearly incestuous one-eyed father/superhero daughter relations have three DVDs? That’s right, smartie slacks: One. And it’s Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. And this is its third DVD.
eyelights: its non-stop non sequiturs. its anti-social/social commentary.
eyesores: its growing focus on side characters. its seemingly drying up creative pool.
“I’m no Fred Flintstone, but I’m gonna make your bed rock!”
‘Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law’ is much like the Star Wars trilogy (Nota bene: There is only one trilogy. Disavowal of the prequels is essential to any self-respecting Star Wars fan’s credibility… and sanity).
- Star Wars? Pretty damned awesome! It had stuff we’d never seen before! It pretty much rocked our worlds. (Nota bene: “A New Hope” does not exist. It’s a figment of George Lucas’ twisted pompadoured brain-pan. The first film is called ‘Star Wars’. Period)
- The Empire Strikes Back? Even more awesome! It was exciting and deeper, too! How could they have made a sequel more awesomer than its predecessor? A green Grover and brother-sister Frenching, that’s how!
- Return of the Jedi? Still lots of fun, but flawed. Plus which it has too many Ewoks in it. Too many that even Princess Leah in slave garb can’t save it. Should have, but didn’t. (Bet she saves many a lonely night though!).
I’m not saying that Season 3 of ‘Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law’ has tons of Ewoks in it. Or hardly. Or any. I’m not. And if I did, inadvertently or not, I take it back. Maybe.
And no, I’m not saying that it has a lot of Princess Leah in slave garb. Sadly, there isn’t any. In fact, for all of Phil Ken Sebben’s twisted inclinations, there isn’t anyone in slave garb at any of the twelve episodes.
What I’m saying is that this season of ‘Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law’, which will henceforth be known by the more fluid name ‘Pink Feathered Man-bird Coming from the Sky to Bring Pestilence and Death Upon Our Tribe’, or ‘PFMBCFTSTBPADUOT’…
(It just rolls off the tongue! Haha! Lingual acrobatics!)
…is still enjoyable but isn’t nearly as sharp as the first two were. (Thought I’d lost sight of my original point, had you? Not a chance! And even if I had, it’s nothing a good eye-patch won’t fix!)
In fact, if anyone or anything has lost its focus, I’d have a strong argument for saying that ‘PFMBCFTSTBPADUOT’ did. Not I. Eye. Aye, eye keep my I on my objective. Err… I keep my eye on the objective.
What bothers me is that the show’s writers seem to have forgotten that it’s called ‘Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law’ (or ‘PFMBCFTSTBPADUOT’). Not ‘Harvey and the Peanut Gallery’, not ‘Super Attorneys at Law’, and not ‘Sebben and Sebben and Friends (and Not-Friends) (A Time Warner Company)’.
The thing is that, as the show wears on, Harvey is becoming less of a central figure in his own show. Now, I understand that the secondary characters are hilarious, but part of the reason that they are is because they pepper the show, because they are put in contrast with the seriously inept Birdman.
So giving them more screen time only serves to throw off the careful balance that made the show work in the first place. Case-in-point, whereas Phil Ken Sebben was side-splitting as a cameo, he now frequently gets half the show, thereby watering him down and making him less funny. And, by extension, Harvey Birdman.
The show also spends a lot less time in court and in the law offices and a lot more time at home, outdoors, not outdoors, and/or in a time warp. Well… a little bit more time in a time warp. So the show is becoming anything but a satire of law shows and court room dramas – which is what made it so deliciously different.
Now it’s merely a show about ex-superheroes and ex-supervillains, who (mostly) happen to be in the legal profession, interacting. Been there, done that (ex: ‘The Tick’).
Which takes us back to the Star Wars trilogy analogy: You know how, when the whole thing first started, it was Luke’s story, and Han and Leah were only secondary characters? Well, by the third installment, they all shared the screen about equally – with R2D2 , C-3PO, Chewbacca and Darth Vader all trying to get some action, too.
What I’m saying is that the third season of ‘PFMBCFTSTBPADUOT’ is merely a few Ewoks away from reeking of Rancor refuse. Which Ewoks do. Or so I’ve heard.
Harvey Birdman: “Operating a speedboat in protected waters… Operating a speedboat while firing a weapon… Operating a speedboat while operating a twelve pack… so, he’s pretty much being charged for…”
Phil Ken Sebben: “Being a redneck. Yep.”
1. Booty Noir: Birdman is charged with defending Wally Gator – who, in this iteration, is a moronic redneck. Meanwhile, Reducto falls in lust for a big booty, which causes him no small amount of mental anguish, since he is obsessed with small things. To make matters worse, she’s Black Vulcan’s special lady friend! This episode is rather middling, but its saving grace is the greatest final line ever! EVER! Sort of. 6.0
Harvey: “I’m being sued! Right?”
Peanut: “Yeah… I think that’s fair to say.”
Harvey: “Quick, I need a lawyer!”
Peanut: ” … Wait…”
Harvey: “I need a good lawyer!”
2. Harvey’s Civvy: Birdman gets sued for personal injury caused to a villain that he defeated back in the ’60s. Consequently, he begins to self-doubt and worry about the impact he’s had on others in his life. Meanwhile, Mentok the Mind-Taker has to contend with the similar powers of Shado the Brain Thief, who is with the prosecution. Evidently, a silly duel of wills takes place. I like the episode if only because it questions the use of force to solve problems – not just superheroes but, by extension, peace officers and military, too! 7.5
X: “I’m sorry, the crest made me do it! Its powerful good is overpowering my own inherent desire to evil do – the evil do that I do do.”
3. X gets the Crest: Birdman loses his crest to X in a gin rummy match, thinking that it’s a poker game. X returns to F.E.A.R. to return the crest, and finally fulfill his mission, but they’re no longer there – so he feels compelled to do good with the help of Birdman’s powers. Meanwhile, Birdman takes on the case of Ricochet Rabbit, who is about to be stripped of his duties for causing more damage than the villains he arrests. The latter is a good commentary on all the superhero stories where the hero is nearly as bad as the villain (‘The Dark Kanigget‘, anyone?). 8.0
Phil Ken Sebben: “Everyone, it’s Take Phil’s Daughter To Work Day.”
Peanut: “I hereby volunteer to show her the interior of every supply closet.”
4. Bird Girl of Guantanamole: I’m no fan of Morocco Mole, but they used the character to comment on the U.S. Enemy combatant/Gitmo situation, which was alright. Mostly, what makes this episode work is the first appearance of Judy/Birdgirl, who is brought in by her dad, Phil, to help out at the firm. She is all too eager to work with Birdman. I adored her zest and and eagerness. Too funny. Adding a twist of incorrectness, Phil doesn’t know that Judy is Birdgirl, so he hits on her at every chance, and she’s conflicted between telling him and destroying her secret identity… or enduring his advances. 8.0
Birdman: “That’s it, Falcon Seven! I quit!”
Falcon Seven: “Quit, and do what?”
Birdman: “I don’t know, a regular job, like normal people have, a desk job with normal clothes and regular work, work you get paid for…”
[cut to present day]
5. Turner Classic Birdman: Hosted by Robert Osborne of Turner Clasic Movies, this is a fake “lost” Birdman classic “from 1967” that was “recently found in the archives”. It features a nice spoof of the old Birdman show, feat. Reducto, Vulturo, Mentok, X, …etc. It’s very funny, even if each encounter is all too short; all in all, it was well-executed concept. 8.25
Potamus: “Sentcha decrees a feast and an orgy… Hell, an orgy sexy feast.”
Grok: “That’s Prince’s best album.”
6. Beyond the Valley of the Dinosaurs: I’m not sure what the writers were doing, but they decided to send Birdman back in time with Potamus via a time warp in Potamus’ office hot tub. He ends up litigating a divorce between some neanderthals – some of whom are more knowledgeable than you’d imagine. Meanwhile, Phil discovers the time warp and uses it to charge for dinosaur hunting tours. Of course, Dick Cheney signs up. This was mildly amusing, but not especially great. 7.0
Reducto: “Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you… do you think you’re descended from… apes? From filthy animals, covered in fur, hair everywhere on their body? Hair that grows back even if we spend hours each day removing one by one any offending follicle from our face or chest or worse, back? With tweezers or dare I say more painful methods like harsh depilatory creams or sugar waxing? FULL BRAZILIAN!”
7. Evolutionary War: In the aftermath of the last episode, dinosaurs and neanderthals are rampaging all over town. And Phil is out fighting them. Of course. This episode features Cavey, jr., Captain Caveman’s son, and it’s a satire of the educational system and all the controversy around teaching evolution in schools. It has a good time blasting creationist arguments. 7.25
Phil Ken Sebben: “No beer for you, that’s man juice. Now who wants to pump my twelve gauge?”
8. Free Magilla: This one has a few moments, even though it’s scattered. Some animal rights activists break Magilla Gorilla free and Birdman has to find him. Things get dicey when the animal rights groups picket Birdman’s office because they believe he’s mistreating Avenger, his fearless eagle sidekick. Meanwhile, Phil goes hunting with Potamus and his nephews. That goes well. Haha! The rabbit comes out of the hole! 8.0
Phil Ken Sebben: “Don’t listen to him, he’s just jealous! He wants to marry my daughter – wait, I’m sorry, Freudian slip. He just wants to marry my fiance!”
Harvey: ‘Phil, Birdgirl IS your daughter!”
Phil Ken Sebben: “Oh God! Oh… God, I’m so disgusted! I… can’t believe it!”
Birdgirl: “That I’m your daughter?”
Phil Ken Sebben: “No, that Birdman would lie like that out of jealousy! Let’s pick it back up, Padre!”
9. Return of Birdgirl: Dr. Quest and Race Bannnon return from the first episode for a gay marriage episode, with Birdgirl spearheading their cause. Being a constitutional matter, Birdman ends up taking it to the highest court, The Justices League. Meanwhile, Phil wants marry Birdgirl, not knowing that she’s his daughter, and she continues to be torn between keeping her identity secret and getting out of the predicament. It’s very funny on so many levels. 8.0
Mentok: “Y’know, two dates…two nights…people will start a-talkin’. Are you comfortable?”
Gigi: “Not with these clothes on. They’re so tight and…clothesy.”
10. Mindless: Birdman defends Top Cat, who has been arrested for being a cat, which obviously includes (but isn’t limited to) um… “grooming” in public. Harvey lets Top Cat and his friends stay at his place temporarily, and people start questioning his sexuality. Because, you know what they say about men with cats, right? Meanwhile, Mentok gets bored so he swaps Spyro’s mind with a dog’s. Then he loses track of Spyro’s mind, so he has to take care of the Spyro-dog, causing him all sorts of grief. Although it has moments, this one’s a bit sketchy and has very little replay value. 6.5
Narrator: “But no matter what we do, it all comes down to company’s one mission statement: Putting clients first by putting employees first. Immediately after prioritizing fiscal responsibility and leveraging profitability toward exceeding by empowering our employees to put clients (and themselves) first, in a diverse and respectful environment of only those that come first, first.”
11. Sebben and Sebben Employee Orientation: This one’s a pretty great spoof of employee orientation videos. Heck, it just might be the best employee orientation video ever. Not that this is saying much, really. Anyway, I loved the so-called “perks”. Haha! 7.5
Harvey Birdman: “Morning! Can I really get this in an hour?”
The Deadly Duplicator: “Yes, sir. We’ll have it done in two hours.”
Harvey Birdman: “Ah, okay! Great! Two hours!”
The Deadly Duplicator: “Come on back in four hours and we’ll have it all ready for you.”
12. Identity Theft: Birdman walks into a copying shop and insults Elliott, a.k.a. The Deadly Duplicator, who decides to make a copy of Birdman with the intention of frustrating Phil and having him shoot Birdman. But his plan doesn’t go quite as… um… planned and he ends up making multiple copies, creating a mini army of Harveys. And then a bunch of Phils. And then copies of just about everyone else. Until he runs out of toner, that is. Wacky, zany, but not very funny. 6.5
Well, that’s Season 3!
What’s frustrating is that the producers of these here DVDs were sneaky and swapped episodes 11 and 12 around. Why is beyond me, but I wish they hadn’t done that. It’s annoying for purists who want to watch the shows in the proper sequence (as I eloquently pointed out in the ‘Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law: Season Two‘ blurb).
I’m not asking for much: I’m just asking to see the darned show the way it was intended to be seen. Much like I want to watch the stupid Star Wars trilogy the way that it was originally shown: sans the Han Solo and googly-eyed Jabba confrontation, with Darth Vader eerily silent as he chucks the Emperor down the shaft, with Han Solo shooting first, and with non-blinking Ewoks.
It’s all about the Ewoks, really, in the end. The !@#$ Ewoks. But at least Season 3 of ‘Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law’ doesn’t have a Jar Jar Binks in it. Yet. And I cross my sebum-encrusted fingers that there won’t be one in the fourth and final (maybe) season. Because meesah would really hate that!
Robert Osborne: “And that was 1944’s “Double Indemnity” with Fred MacMurray and, of course, the glorious Barbara Stanwyck. Now, later Frank Capra would confess in his autobiography that he fell in love with Stanwyck and had he not been more in love with Lucille Rayburn, whom he eventually did marry, he would have asked Barbara Stanwyck to marry him, after she called it quits with Frank Fay and before she married Robert Taylor. Well, that’s it for tonight, thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next time.”
Date of viewing: October 2013