Birds of Prey (TV series)

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Birds of prey trio.jpg

An adaptation of a DC Comics series, Birds of Prey was a live-action TV series set in New Gotham and revolving around a pair of superheroes as They Fight Crime.

The series backstory is heavily influenced by the events of The Killing Joke, in which the Joker shot and paralyzed Barbara Gordon. Catwoman was killed in his sadistic crusade, then something went down where the Joker was never seen again and soon afterward Batman left Gotham, setting the stage for new heroes to appear. The series focused on the crime-fighting escapades of Helena Kyle (Huntress, daughter of Batman and Catwoman, as per her pre-Crisis backstory), Dinah (the daughter of Black Canary, who later takes that name), and Barbara Gordon (Oracle, forced to give up being Batgirl after becoming paraplegic). Most of the series revolved around the emergence of metahumans, people who have extraordinary abilities. Helena and Dinah themselves are metahuman, Helena having enhanced senses and cat-like agility and Dinah having growing telepathic/telekinetic powers.

The Big Bad was Harley Quinn, whose connection to the Joker was a rumor and she still operates as a mob leader while posing as a respectable psychiatrist. Alfred Pennyworth is maintaining Wayne Manor and offers the Girl Posse help and advice from time to time, with some hints that Batman/Bruce Wayne is still keeping tabs on them. The By-The-Book Cop Reese slowly starts to see the bigger picture of the Gotham underworld and finds himself attracted to Helena.

The series lasted from October 2002 to February 2003, for a total of 13 episodes in a single season. It was a modest success at first, riding the popularity of Smallville but rapidly dropping ratings led to its cancellation. It did have enough lead time to actually resolve its Myth Arc, though.

The tropes for the original comic book series can be found here.

Tropes used in Birds of Prey (TV series) include:
  • Badass Longcoat: Huntress, occasionally.
  • Badass Normal: Oracle/Batgirl
  • Bat Family Crossover
  • Batman Cold Open
  • Bat Signal
  • Bruce Wayne Held Hostage
  • The Cameo: In an early episode, The Joker is voiced in flashback by Mark Hamill.
  • Civvie Spandex / Coat, Hat, Mask / Not Wearing Tights: Huntress's outfits could be interpreted in several ways.
  • Clock Tower
  • Cleavage Window / Absolute Cleavage / Impossibly Low Neckline: Ashley Scott's... assets... get put to good use.
  • Coconut Superpowers
    • Clayface and his son get their powers revamped because their comicverse and animated powers would be too expensive, especially since they appeared near the end, when it was clear the show would not continue. Clayface is not shown doing any extensive re-forming but only turns into other humans and needs to use mundane weapons to do battle though it only took him a very small crack in his cell for him to be able to pull a jailbreak -- something comic Clayface probably couldn't have done. We of course don't see him do it. Meanwhile, his son can turn his victims into clay (harmlessly immobilizing them at first, but he then gets an upgraded version of the formula that lets him shatter victims). In the comics, that's based on a Clayface successor whose "claythings", as both the show and comic incarnations call them, actually become very mobile minions.
    • Meanwhile, the Power Trio has very inexpensive powers -- Huntress fights really well, Dinah touches things and winces to create Flash Back sequences, and Oracle is smart and has a big computer.
  • Code Name: Oracle/Batgirl; Huntress; Black Canary
  • Conspicuous CG: The birds eye views of New Gotham, complete with a litle CG Huntress running across the rooftops.
  • Cop Boyfriend: Reese
  • Dating Catwoman: Inverted, Helena operates as an Anti-Hero sometimes verging on Sociopathic Hero and finds herself attracted to the good cop Reese.
  • Death by Origin Story: In the backstory, Catwoman is dead and Batman is gone. And in the episode where the original Black Canary passes on her title, she dies.
  • Differently-Powered Individual: Metahumans.
  • Doom Doors: The clock tower's secret entrance use this.
  • Dutch Angle: In villain lairs, much like the original Batman series, but more briefly and subtly.
  • Executive Meddling: They wanted Oracle out of the wheelchair.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Helena
  • Forced Prize Fight: The "Gladiatorix" episode
  • Gender Flip: Darkstrike was basically a male Huntress. This was even Lampshaded.
  • Handicapped Badass: Barbara/Oracle, in the beginning.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: The few people that know about Huntress think she's a criminal.
  • I Am Not My Father: Huntress has little to no love for her father. That said, she still protects Gotham in his absence.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Huntress
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Dinah/Black Canary
  • In a Single Bound: Huntress, as well as Harley Quinn and Oracle in the final episode.
  • In Name Only: Lady Shiva is nothing like her comic book counterpart. In the comics, she's one of the absolute best martial artists in the entire DC Universe, one of the deadliest assassins on the planet, and the mother to Cassandra Cain (who, along with Shiva, is one of the few people capable of beating Batman in a one-on-one fight). In the series, she's a petty thief, who wants revenge upon Batgirl for the accidental death of her sister, a former classmate of Helena Kyle. She can barely hold her own against Barbara Gordon (whilst in her prime) or Huntress. Oh, and strangely enough for this series, she wears a mask. Dinah also has none of the powers of the classic Black Canary character, though her mother Carol shows up and does have the Sonic Scream.
  • In the Blood: Huntress is constantly fighting between the influence of her superhero father and supervillain mother.
  • I Work Alone: Huntress
  • Legacy Hero: Dinah, as Black Canary.
  • Meta Origin
  • Mission Control / Voice with an Internet Connection: Barbara/Oracle
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: For Al Hawke.
  • Monster of the Week: The Metahuman freak of the week.
  • Mythology Gag
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Dinah starts out in the series with limited telepathy, which she can use by touch or via dreams. She displays mild telekinetic abilities midway through the season, but not anything she can control. Then in the final fight of the last episode, she is able to project telekinetic force blasts (which knock mooks flying across a room) with complete control over them and no explanation as to where they came from.
  • Parental Abandonment
  • Pet Homosexual: Dinah's gay best friend Gabby.
  • Powers in the First Episode
  • Rapid Aging: Guy, in "Three Birds and a Baby".
  • Secret Identity: All three of the Birds of Prey. That is if you consider, not bothering to wear a mask or any kind of disguise whilst letting people see your face a secret. Huntress is the biggest offender of this trope as she explicitly states she has a secret identity and is shown working in a bar, then goes out and fights crime with only a change of wardrobe. No mask. No glasses. No change in hair coloring or skin tones. Not even a change in voice. No Clark Kenting at all. Which essentially means the effort to maintain a secret identity is so low on the priorities list that they may as well not have one at all. In fact out of all the main three, only Barbara is the only one to have ever worn any kind of real disguise. But that's only because she used to be Batgirl.
Furthermore, the series actually shows what happens when a secret identity gets compromised. The original Black Canary shows up and is killed fighting a mob gang, all because they had seen her face. And of course, within the universe of the series, the reason Barbara was shot by Joker was not because she was Commissioner Gordon's daughter who happened to answer the door, like the comic, but because Joker somehow discovered her secret identity. Needless to say, the lesson was not learned.
And then there's the excuse that Huntress doesn't wear a mask because she wants to "look good" whilst fighting crime. Yeah, we'll see how good you look if The Joker comes along and crashes your party. Whether Huntress has a secret identity if she doesn't wear a mask was actually discussed by the characters at one point. Alfred weighs in an neatly summarises the issues in a way that leaves the others unsure whether he just insulted Huntress or complimented her. (Something Oracle says is a "British thing".)

"Come on, not another one."