Plot: What’s it about?
When cartoon characters are on television, they’re hilarious and larger than life. But in their lives at home, even these cartoons can run into trouble. When one of them lands on the wrong side of the law, the media can be brutal and public opinion can be just as harsh. So who do these cartoons turn to when they face time in the slammer? Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, of course. He doesn’t make a lot of sense and tends to do and say some outlandish things, but Birdman is always on the case. When Scooby and Shaggy are on the block for possession, Birdman is there. When Boo Boo Bear is accused of being a domestic terrorist, Birdman is there to lend a hand. Even when Fred Flintsone has to defend himself against charges of mafia involvement, Birdman stands up to take on his cause. But with so much on the line, can Harvey Birdman secure freedom or his clients, or will he only make matters worse?
Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim continues to be a haven for fans of hilarious, off the wall animation, as more and more brilliant shows are broadcast. Harvey Birdman is one of Adult Swim’s better shows and while not on the same level as Sealab 2021 or Aqua Teen Hunger Force, the show is terrific and loaded with unusual, even dark humor. Now we know what happens when cartoons cross the law and need help, as Harvey Birdman springs into action to defend his clients. The show does require some knowledge about the characters, but even if you don’t know them, you’ll find some chuckles. But if you do know them all, Harvey Birdman is a surreal, often unbelievable excursion. The show can run thin at times, but thanks to the short duration of the episodes, none of the shows run too long. This two disc collection houses twelve episodes, plus a host of supplements, so Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law is well recommended.
Video: How does it look?
The episodes are presented in full frame, as intended. The episodes look about the same as they do when broadcast, perhaps a little more refined. The animation is simple, even crude at times, so the visuals don’t have a lot of flash or substance. The shows look terrific however, with a clean overall look and no signs of debris or other source flaws to mention. I didn’t notice any softness either, so the visuals come across as sharp and well detailed, as expected for a recent show like this. I found black levels to be balanced and free from errors, while colors give off vivid hues throughout. Not much I can complain about here, as these episodes look as good as we could expect.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio is Dolby 2.0 surround, but don’t think this is going to be a feast for the ears. You have to keep in mind, this is animated series about a third rate superhero turned lawyer, not the latest action show that tries to replicate a motion picture style surround sound atmosphere. The music does add some depth to the audio, with deep bass and such, which is nice. Aside from that, some sound effects can be loud and directional, but this is still pretty much a straight forward presentation. The vocals sound great and the other elements fall into place, not much else we could want here. This release also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, and French, just in case you might need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release holds a nice selection of extras, including audio commentary tracks on a handful or so of the episodes. I browsed the sessions and while humorousat times, I didn’t find much insight and in truth, even most fans can skip these tracks. Of more interest are the deleted scenes, which allow us more precious time with these episodes. I also enjoyed the pencil tests to final animation comparisons, while the Harvey Birdman movie trailer was too classic for words.