I’d never seen, nor heard of, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law before I received my review copy of this second volume of the series, which aired as part of Adult Swim. What a bizarre show! Not since Ren and Stimpy have I seen such a strange, adult-oriented cartoon.
Harvey Birdman was a shoddy superhero who has become a substandard Attorney. His firm handles cases for well-known animated Hanna-Barbara characters like The Jetsons, with each of the 13 episodes in this second volume presenting a new case. The episodes run about 11 minutes each, and they’re all very odd and pretty darn funny. Since the episodes are so short, I’m not going to spoil any of the storylines here. If you’re not familiar with the show or the adult-oriented cartoon genre, I suggest renting a disc from Harvey Birdman volume one to get a taste. If you enjoy that, you’ll eat up this volume two release.
One of the show’s best qualities is its voice talent. With Gary Cole (Office Space) as Harvey Birdman, Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report) as Phil Ken Sebben, Harvey’s dictatorial boss, and John Michael Higgins (The Break-Up) as Judge Mentok the Mindtaker, the voice acting is first-rate.
This volume two release covers most of the show’s second season, from wherever volume one left off, right into part of season three. New episodes continue to air on the Cartoon Network, with the series expected to wrap up some time in 2007. In other words, there’s at least one more volume of DVDs where this came from. That’s a good thing.
So the show is quirky and laugh-out-loud funny. How’s the DVD set?
Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law is presented here on two discs, in 1.33:1 full-screen format. The show looks surprisingly good, considering some of the source material is from the 60’s. Most everything looks nice and sharp, with good colours. There are some film artifacts here and there, but nothing too bad.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is pretty basic, but all audio is clear. Definitely nothing special, but also nothing to complain about.
Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.
Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law – Vol. 2 offers up a nice selection of bonus material. There are audio commentaries for nine episodes, unaired scenes, three featurettes, a music video, some promos and a feature called Fun with Audio segments.
- The commentary tracks are by show creators Michael Ouweleen and Erik Richter, and also include various cast members, including Gary Cole, Stephen Colbert, John Michael Higgins and others. They’re a bit hard to follow, with so many voices and a lot of laughing. They definitely have entertaining moments, so they’re worth checking out.
- The Unaired Scenes are really storyboards from one episode. Amusing, but the episode worked well without them.
- Clothes-less Animation Pass is a funny, 45-second scene from one episode. Except this time the characters are all naked, save for the Birdman crest over their unmentionables.
- Birdman Stripper is a montage of a live action male stripper dressed as Harvey Birdman. Apparently, this guy is a major Birdman fan. Weird.
- “Hey Mr. Passerby” is a music video featuring footage from the show. A weird song for a weird video filled with weird characters for a weird-but-funny show. I think I’m weirded out.
- Records of Records runs a little more than four minutes, and shows part of an episode with picture-in-picture of the actors recording their voices. Pretty cool to see the actors at work, but most of Gary Cole’s face is obscured by his music stand, and Stephen Colbert is nowhere to be found.
- Behind the Scenes is the most in-depth featurette, at about eight minutes. See the show’s animators doing their thing, and hear the show’s creators in a short question session. Interesting stuff.
- CGI Clip is short but neat. It takes a short scene from storyboard to final animation, showing how the series is animated.
- Bluetube Moments is a three-minute behind-the-scenes of the sound effects process. I guess it shows the guys at work, but without any explanation or commentary it’s not particularly informative.
Finally, there’s a collection of 12 promos, basically just the various ads run on the Cartoon Network to, well, promote the show. But hey, they’re funny.
Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law is one strange, hilarious show. This second volume DVD set has solid video and audio presentations, and the great batch of special features really brings it home. Like Adult Swim? Buy this set.