Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Birds of Prey: Slick (1.2)

An element of the show I didn't touch upon last review was the presence of Dr. Harleen "Harley Quinn" Quinzel, professional deranged megalomaniac and The Joker's right-hand woman. She's one of my favorite comic book characters and a huge reminder of my childhood (she regularly stole the show on Batman: The Animated Series and the Mad Love graphic novel is ridiculously awesome), but she's one of those comic book characters that just can't work outside of the page. A character so outlandish needs that rare actor who can make the insanity believable. Mark Hamill has got the voice down pat, while Heath Ledger was, of course, remarkable. But Mia Sara just can't pull that off.

The Birds of Prey Harley lacks the manic unpredictability of her comic-book counterpart: her comedic ditziness, disturbed craziness and aggressive sexuality are all lacking, the writers saddling her with an annoying "I want Gotham in the palm of my hand"-style master plan in place of any psychological depth. Her continued employing of a collection of Smallville-esque superfreaks is also already getting old. I admire the guts the show had to think they could bring Harley to the small screen, but it just doesn't really work.

The rest of Slick is a mixed bag. Slick himself, a water-based rent-a-maniac, is an uninspired villain, but I guess the special effects as he gushed his way into people's bodies were pretty fun. The subplot takes a back seat, however, to the show's mission to throw Helena together with Detective Jesse Reese, world's most noble and thematically cardboard detective. Their scenes together here, including a convenient stripping-off-in-a-locked-sauna moment, are absent of the sexual fissure I'm guessing the show was hoping for, and any chemistry between Ashley Scott and Shemar Moore is conspicuously flat.

Elsewhere, Dina Meyer manages to sell the whole "desperate for an ordinary life" angle to Barbara, but the story itself is pretty generic. Unlike Meyer, Rachel Skarsten fails to capture our interest with her increasingly vapid portrayal of Dinah. Maybe I'm being a little too harsh on the show. It does have a vacuous charm to it, I guess. But it's still pretty "meh". C-

Guest stars Shawn Christian (Wade Brixton); Silas Weir Mitchell (Syrus Waters); Brian Tahash (Detective Kelly); Brent Sexton (Detective McNally)
Teleplay Laeta Kalogridis Story Laeta Kalogridis, Melissa Rosenberg Director Michael Katleman

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