I'm also a comic geek. I shudder to even imagine how much money I've spent on those in the last twenty years or so.
Immersing myself in pop culture relics has left me with two very odd side effects:
- There are a lot of things that are basically crap, that I find as amusing as hell and everyone else hates, so they never see the light of day outside of my presence... witness my video tape of the show Cop Rock and my Laserdisc copy of Test Tube Teens from the Year 2000 which i actually went through the trouble of tracking down the production studio and making them sift through a warehouse to find (they didn't even seem to know they had made the film).
- Whether I like something or not, I generally have a good grasp on what the rest of the population at large will think of it. This is part and parcel of having a good ol' LCS degree. it comes in useful when you want to either turn off all of your friends by going on ad nauseum about cinema themes and why American Beauty is such an important film, or making meaningless lists of films everyone should see, or winning $28 by predicting all the winners on Oscar night at someone's party (thus making the $10K investment so worth it).
In general, my little world of niche favorites is just that. I'll stay up and watch bimbos in space movies or be a fan of Carmen Electra's music (yes, she sings) or I'll read the entire series run of Lost in Space or Nomad and no one else ever has to care and no one gets hurt. But everyonce in a while a bizarre series of events leads to a snowballing wherein something that only I could care about becomes big or culturally relevant, and then the whole world takes notice, and then they realize that things that ultimately only I should care about are really really stupid, and those things get put under scrutiny, and things ultimately end up bad for me.
The last time this happened, it was with professional wrestling. No one watched pro-wrestling but me and a few other lame-os from like 1988-1998 and then it got popular for some weird reason and really really big, and then people started paying attention to it, then they started complaining because its basically violent, and sexist and racist and homophobic and stupid. But those are the things that us lame-os have liked about it for the past 90 years. and now everything is fucked up.
Now its happening with Birds of Prey.
A long time ago, there was a superheroine called Black Canary. Black Canary wore leather and fishnets and a trashy blonde wig. Black Canary was the Green Arrow's girlfriend, mostly because he was a horny bastard who was into that sorty of thing. She first appeared in like the 40s or something. No one much cared about her and she was pretty much a supporting character in more important books. Black Canary had the superpower to scream really loud. That was it. That's what she could do. Now you're starting to understand why she was mostly ignored. Well in the 80s a brilliant writer by the name of Mike Grell wrote a story where Dinah Lance (the Canary's secret identity) was kidnapped, sexually abused and tortured at knife point by a psychotic maniac. The end result, she lost her ability to scream really loud, and thusly the only thing that really made her special. In my opinion that made her cool. See I've been a fan of superhero comic books since I was like 7 years old. Only I've never been much of a fan of superheroes. To me the regular guy who goes out and fights crime with no powers was always so much cooler. I"m not even a Batman fan. Batman is almost too powerful, so I like Robin better. And I like the Question. The Question is cool as shit. He has no powers. None at all. And he doesn't have any Utility belt or coolio gadgets either. You know what he does? He has a mask that makes it look like he has no face and runs around and punches people. The Question rocks!
Anyway, back to the Black Canary. After she lost her single lame superpower, she actually managed to get a 4 issue limited series that was only read by the likes of me (people who like street level super heroes and maybe have a thing for fishnets and leather). A little while later they gave her a monthly series which lasted for a while and like Nomad or Cap Wolf, only I read it... I can only support a book for so long, so it eventually got cancelled. A while later, they brought her back for another limited series where they teamed her up with Oracle, the now paraplegic, former Batgirl. Another four issue limited series. This went over big, so they did it again, adding the Huntress and Catwoman to the mix. Not so big, but big enough to start an ongoing series which only i read.
Enter 2002, WB has its biggest hit in ages with Smallville, the story of Clark Kent growing up in Dawson's Creek. The WB braintrust figures they'd like to have 2 hit shows. Why stop at one? So they offer the producers of Smallville to make a new show based on another DC comics property (Warner Brothers owns both DC Comics and the WB network, so its only natural to save money by tapping their own projects). The duo picks Batman. Warner Bros. says no, we're alread y working on optioning a new Batman movie and we don't want you fucking it up. Pick something else. So they pick Birds of Prey this obscure little property that no one cares about. Plus it stars chicks, so we can get that whole Buffy crowd back that we lost when we sold our only hit show to UPN. Brilliant! So we have a comic book property that no one has ever heard of, plus 1 part Smallville, plus 1 part Buffy. Mix them all up and throw them at the wall and see what sticks.
so thanx to anisodragnfly, I got my hands on a copy of the unaired pilot of Birds of Prey.. I certainly hope they do a bit of editting before they let this on the air. Actually, I know they will do some, because Sherilyn Fenn who plays Harley Quinn in this version of the Pilot has already been replaced in the cast by Mia Sara so all her scenes (3) will have to have been reshot and added back in.
That's actually a shame, because Fenn does a decent job in the roll, and although it was not the Harley that I know and love from previous incarnations in comics and cartoons, but Fenn was good in it. Probably the best performance in the pilot. The worse acting in the pilot was during the "I am the Weapon" scene that's used in the promo. It was so clearly written to be a promo, and once editted down to a 10 second promo, it works much better than it did as a 2 minute scene.
The bigger problem is the the writers. They didn't bind themselves by previously established continuity. I would have been ok with them writing a completly new premise, but they kept enough stuff to make it annoying. And the stuff they did change made me wish they had just started from scratch. They're trying to do way too much, and it really shows.
Most offensive on a personal level is the doctoring of the premise. They made the Huntress the main character instead of the Canary. And they gave them both superpowers. Huntress is a 20-something who when her mother, Catwoman, was killed was adopted by Batgirl/Oracle. She has the power to fly and some mystic vision kind of thing that gives her cats eyes. Dinah (they never refer to her as Black Canary) is younger than Huntress and has psychic powers. If you're going to make her an entirely different character, why even bother to use the name. I mean, she's not the Canary, she might as well be named Cindy or something, but naming her Cindy wouldn't piss me off, so they felt the need to name her Dinah. Moreover, Dinah is the new teenager superhero being trained by the brash Huntress and the crippled Batgirl. Wouldn't it make more sense if Canary and Batgirl were training the orphan Huntress? And they don't need powers, and if they are gonna have them, couldn't they at least have the powers from the book? Or say pick characters that do have those powers?
There are other little details that bother me. For instance, the news seems to know on the day that Selina Kyle dies that she was Catwoman, but Helena doesn't. The news also knows that Selina had been romantically linked to Bruce Wayne, apparently for years, and yet no one was able to figure out that he was Helana's father. In fact, he didn't even know. He didn't even know she had a a 17-year old daughter, even though they were seeing each other and he's the world's greatest detective. Also, sometimes its supposed to be a big secret that Batman existed or that there are super-heroes at all, only the world knows that selina kyle was catwoman, and they know about the Joker, adn who the hell supposedly caught them?
Oh, and did I mention that much of the acting was just really really bad?
Anyway there was just much much badness about several things. And its trying to be too much. I think it is more striving to be Buffy than Smallville, only its not either and that shows. I don't feel like any of this crap will really stick to the wall.
I guess I should just give it a week and see what it looks like on premiere night.
Hmmm... I really thought this was gonna be shorter.