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"Harvey Birdman" Soars On DVD

Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law was the first Adult Swim program I was subjected to, a few years ago, via a screener of the now-classic “Bannon Custody Battle” episode. It was bizarre and it spat on everything I remember as a child. I can remember watching reruns of the original Jonny Quest, The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, Birdman, all of it. Like any kid, these programs played an influencial role during childhood. And this show dragged them down, twisted them, and ripped them apart.

DVD Front Cover And I loved it. Every single minute. Watching these iconic characters be subjected to such spot-on ridicule was the most fun they’d ever given me.

And now all that’s on DVD with the release of Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law Volume One.

The premise is pretty simple. Retired from the superhero business, Harvey Birdman and Avenger, his pet eagle sidekick (and paralegal), face off against some of Birdman’s greatest enemies… in the courtroom. Birdman’s client list is quiet extensive, ranging from the aforementioned Benton Quest in my personal favorite episode “Bannon Custody Battle,” to Shaggy and Scooby Doo. Included on this two-disc set are all nine episodes from the first season and four from the second season, and like many of Warner Home Video’s recent animation releases, these episodes are in order of production number, not airdate.

The audio and visuals for the set are pretty standard, save a couple of problems. The audio is completely average, never going beyond what it has to in any way. Recycled animation from classic cartoons blends in almost flawlessly with the new footage. The video is standard for this type of release, with only one noticeable visual problem. During some scenes faint lines can be seen offset from the actual image, causing a “ghosting” effect during character movement. Thankfully, it’s not distracting, happens briefling, and is easy to overlook. In short, this release is on par with other Adult Swim brand releases.

DVD Front Cover Menus and packaging are excellent for this release. After a hilarious main menu, each successive menu is arranged to look like a messy desk covered in documents. The documents highlight the various episodes and extras within. It’s a great set-up with some great visual gags. The packaging for the discs, under an embossed cardboard sleeve, keep up the theme. Some of the text can be difficult to read, but overall it’s a great effort.

Outside of the commentary tracks, the extras are more pointless than informative. The truly bizarre ones should keep the dedicated Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law fan pleased. The commentary tracks is where most of the behind-the-scenes information is revealed, and they cover problems in animation, the transition to Flash, and a few extra standard (even unusual) tidbits about the show. All are worth a listen. But not since the Aqua Teen Hunger Force DVD sets have I seen an extra as strange as “Tab Can Redux with Lyrics.” Watch it. There’s no other way I can describe it here.

Lasting no more than thirteen minutes, these episodes pack in an abundance of absurdities, in-jokes, and enough shameful degradation for any grown-up former Hanna-Barbera fan, and Harvey Birdman manages to pay tribute to these iconic characters, even while incessantly mocking them. The DVD set serves as a great introduction to the Adult Swim world for those who for some reason are waiting to jump into the pool, and enough extras to please any longtime convert. Pick it up or I will make you tiny!

Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law Volume One is in stores starting today, April 12.

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