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Birds of Gay

posted by Mike on 11/08/02

Back in the early nineties, one summer film was released that epitomized the word "suckass." No, I'm not talking about Batman and Robin, though perhaps I should be. I'm talking about Bufy The Vampire Slayer. The film starred Kirstie Swanson as Buffy Summers, your typical Valley Girl airhead who just so happened to be the latest reincarnation of The Slayer, a female warrior born over and over again with one sole purpose: to kill vampires. The film also starred 90210 hunk Luke Perry as her slacker boyfriend Pike, Rutger Haur as her evil suckhead nemesis Lothos, Donald Sutherland as her mentor Remmick, and Paul "Pee Wee Herman" Reubens as Lothos' pointy-toothed sidekick. To say that the film was awful would be to understand the painfully obvious.

Hillary Swank's debut role as Daniel San's successor in The Next Karate Kid was a more convincing screen heroine than Kirstie's Buffy, and that's saying a hell of a lot. The only redeeming moment of the film was Reuben's exagerrated, and quite hilarious, endless death scene. The last time it was on TV, I just fast forwarded my Tivo to that one scene and played it over and over, much to the consternation of my wife. It bombed at the theater, naturally, but that didn't stop the WB powers that be from resurrecting it as a weekly television show starring then newcomer Sarah Michelle Gellar, most likely due to the surprising success of shows such as Xena Warrior Princess and Hercules.

The show was an instant hit. No matter how stupid or inane the plot, its ratings continued to climb. Even the WB's decision to not continue it didn't keep Buffy off the air. She simply switched networks, and the money kept rolling in. What followed was a plethora of Buffy clones, such as Charmed, Dark Angel, etc. Meanwhile, Superman had been reinvented in the form of Smallville, which has already been given the WD treatment, so I won't spend any time on it other than to mention it as just another teen drama packaged as a Super Hero adventure show. Warner Brothers saw its success, and Buffy's success, and so it was only a matter of time before they realized thatthey had another DC Comics license that they hadn't fully exploited... but how does one turn the story of the Caped Crusader into a weekly action show that featured some ass kicking chicks? Simple... you fuck up the entire mythology of the comic's premise to make a buck, that's how. And thus, we were graced with the presence of...

Fighting for ratings, advertising revenue, and the Buffy way!

Birds of Prey debuted last month, much to my chagrin. I tuned in for the debut episode, and was midly pleased with its opening scenes, explaining the hidden romance between Batman and Catwoman, forever destroyed by the Joker's desire for revenge. Unfortunately, those first three minutes were the only three I enjoyed. What followed was a mish mash of Batman mythos mixed with Buffy themes and Marvel Comics ideology.

Apparently, Batman did indeed have a romance with Selena Kyle, aka Catwoman. He also, having gotten all of his Robins killed, brought Comisioner Gordon's daughter Barbara under his wing, who became Batgirl. He finally defeated the Joker, and everything seemed peachy. Until the Joker escaped, that is... First, he shot Barbara Gordon at point blank range, turning her into a quadroplegic (whether this is a tribute to Christopher Reeve or not is open to debate.) Then, he killed Catwoman, Batman's last remaining supply of poontang... Knowing that the Joker would never stop, Batman disappeaed in an attempt to protect his dark secret: that he and Catwoman had conceived a child: their daughter, Helena Kyle.

Flashforward several years. Barbara, now confined to a wheelchair and calling herself Oracle, has continued the fight against crime in Batman's absense. Acting as the brains and mentor, she has pulled together a trio of crime fighters: herself, Dina Lance (a young girl with telepathic powers, who in the DC universe is known as The Black Canary) and Helena Kyle, now known as The Huntress. Both the Huntress and Dina are what the show's mythos calls "Meta Humans," which is essentially the same thing as the Mutants from the X-men mythology... humans with advanced abilities and powers. Whereas Dina is just a telepath, Helena has super human strength, catlike agility, and a sixth sense akin to Peter Parker's Spider sense. Oh, and her eyes turn into cat irises when she's pissed or horny... why she is a meta human when neither of her parents were has not yet been established. But I'm sure it will be, and I'm sure it will be stupid.


Barbara, as I said, is the brains of the bunch. She has set up a main base inside the clock tower of a high rise in downtown New Gotham (no mention has been made of what happened to Old Gotham, but I'm sure it will be, and again, I'm sure it will be stupid.) Fearing the return of the Joker, she has trained Helena with all of her Batgirl crime fighting knowledge, which apparently didn't include "don't open your door without looking through the peephole first." Dina appeared out of nowhere, a runaway from foster parents who just didn't understand.

The Oracle told me something, Neo... that I would not become a star based on this show...

Helena is more or less Trinity from The Matrix, only with shittier acting skills. In true Matrix form, her martial arts skills defy the laws of gravity. She can kick a bad guy fourteen times before her feet touch the ground. Of course, Trinity was in a computer simulation, and Helena is suppoed to be in the "real world." But then again, in the real world, Hollywood would find someone who could actually act, as opposed to just looking slutty in black leather and flashing her tits everywhere... (Mike pauses as he realizes that they're showing Pamela Lee in "Barb Wire" on TNN...)... Forget I said that... She's full of angst, rage, and the hots for Officer Reese, a detective with the New Gotham Police who gets his ass saved by Helena at least once an episode. Five bucks says he'll be exploring the nooks and crannies of her Bat Cave before the season is out.

A rare photo of Uma Thurman during her Poison Ivy audition for Batman and Robin

Finally, we have Dina, a teenage ditzy blonde type who, when not nearly killing her teammates with an illtossed batarang, spends her time seeing visions of future crimes, studying up on her crime fighting skills, and leafing through Gap catalogues for the sexiest super heroine ensembles. Of all the characters, her is the least eveloped, which I should probably count as a blessing... I think Rachael Skarsten, the actress who portrays Dina, is using this as a stepping stone to getting a bit part on Buffy, probably as Gellar's stunt double for any future lesbian kissing... Or maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part...

Finally I shall have my revenge, Ed Rooney! Ahahahahahah!!!!

The least appealing aspect of the show is the main villain, Harley Quinn (aka Dr. Harlene Quinzel) who is not only Helena's shrink, but the head shrink at Arkham Asylum. If she seems familiar, that's because she's portrayed by Mia Sara, who, once upon a time, played Simone, the girlfriend of a REAL teen role model, Ferris Bueller. When not probing the psyches of those just slightly less psychotic than herself, she plots and schemes to take over New Gotham, and avenge the misfortunes of her lost love, Jack Napier, aka The Joker. Personally, I think she should be plotting revenge agasint her agent, but that's neither here nor there...

I've sat through two entire episodes of this drivel, the last one being an episode that centered around a villain who could turn himself into water, which elicited droves of laughless drowning humor. I haven't watched it since, nor do I plan to... I'm sure I'll be able to catch up when it hits the rerun circuit on FX right behind Buffy, which I'm sad to say has now even claimed the mind of my simpleton mother, who watches it religiously. Of course, I'm not above understanding the appeal of such shows... they're aimed at masturbating comic fan boys... which is why I wasn't surprised to see a commercial for hand lotion during my last viewing... And with shows like Spy Girls on the way, I'm sure there'll be millions of young guys across the country literally glued with whooey blooey to their couches, exploring strange new worlds in their shorts whilst heroines like the Huntress show that you can defeat the nastiest of villains with nothing more than a good rack... Much like Baywatch before it, BOP is one of those shows you can watch with the volume muted without missing the entertainment value...


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