Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Birds of Prey: Feat of Clay (1.12)

I understand that the WB allowed Birds of Prey, even after cancellation, to fulfill its 13-episode order with a rushed two-part finale, shot on a low budget and featuring some immediate resolution to the show's various story arcs. It was a nice gift for the, oh, six people that were watching. Feat of Clay was all about the breaking down of secrets. There was nothing new on the Helena and Reese front, but we had Barbara forced into coming clean to Wade about her double life, Helena discovering her mother's killer, and Harley stumbling upon Helena's secret.

It felt a little out-of-character for Alfred to bring Wade into the clock tower. He's like the most loyal and devoted butler in the world, I can't see him doing something so potentially destructive. Wade could be evil, it could distract Barbara, and it could endanger lives. It just didn't ring true to possibly work. However, I guess it was the best the show could do with the rushed finale.

Equally pulled-out-of-left-field was the revelation that Clayface murdered Selina Kyle. Maybe I'm too familiar with the comic books (even if 'familiar' is pushing it a little...), but the idea that Clayface could kill her via stabbing is just too jarring. And I was always under the impression that Selina's death had something to do with The Joker. The scene itself was reminiscent of the 1989 Batman movie, with the smart-suited goon and a pocket knife, so maybe that's what confused me...

Clayface is one of my favorite comic book villains, especially his incarnation as a struggling actor who utilizes his shapeshifting abilities to extend his 'acting range'. But the Clayface here is a little too hammy and uninteresting. Kirk Baltz's performance is all over the shop, while the lack of budget is all too evident with the clay-victims and the lack of any real action. Few of the villains on this show have been great, restricted by both the TV budget and the series' determination to ground them in some form of realism (most are just crazy 'meta-humans'), which itself is then hampered by the fact that they're all performed so broadly by the actors. It's an annoying contrast.

Despite a lot of flaws, Feat of Clay is a pretty entertaining hour. There is a welcome sense of momentum with the characters, some neat tension between Helena and Barbara over Selina's murder, hilarity in the world's emptiest fashion show, and major underuse of Dinah (which in this case is glorious). In general, it's fine. B-

Guest stars Shawn Christian (Wade Brixton); Ian Reed Kesler (Chris Cassius); Kirk Baltz (Clayface); Patrick Fischler (Dr. Will Kroner)
Writers Adam Armus, Kay Foster Director Joe Napolitano

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