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TV Review: 'Birds of Prey' brings Bat-women together

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

After the success of the Superman-inspired "Smallville," The WB now takes on the Batman-themed "Birds of Prey," a decent if not extraordinary action hour.

Actually, this is one of those series that's particularly tough to judge based on the first hour, which essentially tells the origins story. What "Birds of Prey" will become on a weekly basis remains unclear.

"Birds of Prey"

When: 9 tonight on The WB.

Starring: Dina Meyer, Ashley Scott, Rachel Skarsten


The story begins seven years in the past on a dark day when Selena Kyle (a.k.a. Catwoman) was stabbed to death, and The Joker shot and paralyzed Barbara Gordon (Dina Meyer), a.k.a. Batgirl. Gordon took in teenage Helena Kyle (Ashley Scott), daughter of Catwoman and Batman.

Batman fled town, leaving the two women to fight crime in New Gotham City as wheelchair-bound Oracle (a.k.a. Barbara Gordon) and rooftop skipping Huntress (a.k.a. Helena Kyle).

Oracle loves the superhero life; sarcastic Huntress is more cynical.

"Why do we do it? Why do we even bother?" Huntress wonders aloud.

"We do it because it's who we are," Oracle snaps.

In tonight's premiere, they're joined by a third because, well, The WB has had good luck with female triumvirates ("Charmed" comes to mind). Teenage Dinah (Rachel Skarsten) is a peppy "meta-human" with visions.

The climactic fight in tonight's premiere takes place in one of Dinah's mostly black-and-white visions, which robs the moment of real-world drama.

In that vision and other flashbacks, it's a kick to see Batgirl fighting, but with that character a thing of the past, viewers probably won't see much of Batgirl, which is disappointing.

Dark and broody though it is, "Birds of Prey" has its lighter moments, usually in the form of a Huntress quip.

"Sorry, we don't have an opening for junior Supergirl," Huntress tells Dinah.

"Birds of Prey" also has another "Charmed" influence: A cop (Shemar Moore) who will probably become friendly to the Birds' cause as time goes on. The show's Big Bad is Dr. Harleen Quinzel (Mia Sara), a shrink by day and scheming crime lord by night.

Taping note: Tonight's premiere runs longer than an hour, so set your VCR for an extra 15 minutes to be safe.

Rob Owen can be reached at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Post questions or comments to http://www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Forum.

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