Attorney at Law
off-hand remark on an episode of Space
Ghost: Coast to Coast, the super powered host mentioned
a spin-off for fellow '60's Saturday morning refugee Birdman.
A couple of years later, the winged wonder even guest-hosted
for Space Ghost. As a joke, using Birdman this way would
be pretty one note. Fortunately, ME Productions had a better
Instead of entering the world of late-night
television, Birdman went to law school. He emerged with
a not-so-secret identity (Harvey), a sharp suit and a keen
sense of legality, if not the justice he once served. Practicing
both criminal and civil law, Harvey fights for the rights
of faded cartoon stars in the Hanna-Barbera stable. Perhaps
luckily for him, most of his arch-enemies followed suit
and entered the courtroom.
Luckily for us, Cartoon Network has released
the first two seasons of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at
Law on DVD.
Packaged as a slim law book (Harvey grows
tired easily), the two-disc set includes such classics as
"The Dabba Don" and "Death by Chocolate," in which Yogi
Bear's sidekick Boo Boo becomes a terrorist. Though the
Adult Swim show tackles a lot of popular characters, it's
always been impressive how obscure some of the characters
Case in point: "The Devlin Made Me Do It,"
in which Harvey defends stuntman Ernie Devlin when a boy
injures himself duplicating one of the Evil Knievel wanna-be's
stunts. You don't remember Devlin? He had his own show for
one season, and clearly he went to seed after losing his
shot at Saturday morning stardom.
Others temporarily returning to the limelight
include Speed Buggy and Inch High Private Eye. If you have
fond memories of these characters - wow. It's impressive
you even have memories of them at all. But the show creators
clearly know their stuff, and have come up with a variety
of ways to mock with love. Even Charlie Chan and the Amazing
Chan Clan make a comeback, disguised as a Japanese pop group
named Shoyu Weenie.
So the humor isn't always highbrow.
Unlike Space Ghost, Harvey Birdman
does not rely on as many uncomfortable pauses to get laughs.
The show takes an almost opposite tack, filling each episode
with throwaway bits that may go by too fast. Now, of course,
you can watch them over and over.
A few of the episodes include commentary,
and deleted scenes. Most of those scenes never got past
the pencil test phase, but the jokes still work. For the
infamous episode "Shaggy Busted," the producers include
pencil test alongside finished scenes, showing the painstaking
detail that goes into making even the quietest visual joke
work. Or maybe the inkers got tired.
Fans of Stephen Colbert, a major contributor
the show, also get a chance to hear Harvey as voiced by
the Daily Show reporter. It's an interesting interpretation,
but one that would have worn thin quickly, as the disc notes.
Offering a tantalizing glimpse of a future
cult phenomenon, the disc also includes a trailer for a
non-existent live-action movie adaptation. Not enough of
us watch Adult Swim to make it financially viable, but...fanboys
Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law, Vol. 1