After three glorious seasons of difficult trial cases, pursuit from super-villains, and inter-office shenanigans, the uber-creative animated series Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law has come to a close. And within two weeks of its actual finale on Cartoon Network, the DVD collection for the last season is available for purchase, complete with a bevy of extras.
Review: Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law - Volume Three
By Kim Hollis
July 31, 2007
For the uninitiated, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law is set in the law offices of Sebben & Sebben, and staffed by some faces that might be familiar to fans of 1960s-era Hanna Barbera animated series. Primary amongst these, obviously, is Harvey Birdman, who headed up his own show, but he's also joined by Avenger (an eagle that originally served as Harvey's sidekick), Phil Ken Sebben (president and founder of Sebben and Sebben - and also Harvey's boss in the original series), Peter Potamus (originally seen on Peter Potamus and His Magic Flying Balloon), Antonio de Ribera Garcia Azul Falcon (aka the Blue Falcon), Judy Ken Sebben (who hides a secret identity as birdgirl), Peanut (a young man who bears a strong resemblance to Harvey's old sidekick Birdboy, except for the fact that he wears a pink vest) and Bear.
If you think those characters sound like the backbone of a very, very strange show, you'd be right. And yet, for anyone who ever enjoyed watching the wide array of Hanna Barbera shows that aired in the '60s and '70s, it's a treasure. For those who weren't lucky enough to grow up in that golden age of cartoons, it's still incredibly funny - but some context is lost. For those familiar with Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and The Brak Show, it's much in the same line.
After two seasons where we saw such classic cases as the Race Bannon custody battle, a Scooby/Shaggy arrest for driving under the influence, the murder of Yogi Bear and Fred Flintstone's trial for his ties to the Mafia, season three takes a couple of surprising directions. A brand new episode of Harvey Birdman (as in, the original Harvey Birdman) starts things off, something happens to put Phil Ken Sebben out of commission, and the finale ends on a *very* surprising note (though maybe not entirely surprising, after all). Everything is packed into a fast-paced 22 minute episode, which means that there is never time to dilly dally.
Special features included in this particular package include a joke timeline, which explains certain of the show's running gags, a montage of the main players, and an origin comic on villain X the Eliminator. Unfortunately, no commentary is included, and this is indeed a disappointment.
Even so, it's all about the show, and I have to say the final episodes are satisfying. Voice work continues to be exemplary as always. The great Gary Cole is the voice of Harvey, and is supported by such talent as Stephen Colbert, Peter MacNichol, John Michael Higgins, Maurice LaMarche and Paget Brewster. The last several shows are definitely leading to something, which is impressive given the fact that the show seems much more of a one-off type of comedy.
I'll miss you, Harvey Birdman. Your legal analysis and defense of the animated icons of my youth will stay with me always. (Love, X the Eliminator)