So, I finally sat down and watched the Birds of Prey pilot. (No link to the site for now, as The WB seems to be reorganizing its site right now and everything's broken.) I have to say, I'm not entirely sure what to make of the show. It kept bouncing back and forth -- well-written, well-delivered dialog would be followed immediately by stiff deliveries of hokey lines. Well choreographed, just plain cool fight sequences would be followed by goofy looking movements by people wearing costumes that must have been rejected from the Batman & Robin flick(!).
As for the characters, they're a mixed bag. The Oracle seems much too worked up for who she's supposed to be, and there were a couple of times I swore she was going to just get up from that chair and pace around the room frenetically. Plus, there were a couple of moments where I could have honestly mistaken the actress for Tracy Scoggins. That is not intended as a compliment. The Huntress actually seems to be a pretty cool character -- no lame costume, interesting abilities (powers? I'll get to that in a minute...), and generally pretty slick. On the downside, she seems to get the majority of the cheesy one-liners, and she doesn't do the angst as well as one might hope. Dinah is -- well, the thing that struck me most about Dinah is how very, very pretty Rachel Skarsten is. As for the character she plays, I'm worried that the peppy enthusiasm is going to get old really quickly. Her visions have the potential to lead down interesting roads, though -- we'll see. Beyond the main characters, Alfred also makes a quick appearance. The actor who portrays him does an excellent job, and one would hope that his role will be recurring. There are a couple more familiar faces that make an appearance in this first episode, but I'll refrain from mentioning them here out of deference to those of you who might not see the show until this fall.
Beyond the cheesy/cool dichotomy, there was one thing that really struck me about Birds of Prey -- the super powers. Now, I'm not really a comic kinda guy, so I'm probably missing some back-story here, but what the heck? One of the things I always liked best about the Batman universe was that there really weren't any super powers. Everyone got their 'powers' from technology, hard work, industrial accidents, or what have you. But at the heart of it all everyone was just a regular human. Now in this show we have legitimate super powers -- hell, the way they're presented it's almost like mutancy. Really, you can almost map these characters onto Mutant X's mutant genres, with the Huntress being a feral and Dinah being a psionic. (I'm waiting for the moleculars and elementals to be introduced as baddies any time now...) Frankly, I'm not sure what to make of this aspect of the show; at the very least it's not something I was expecting.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention the heavy Charmed vibe that this show gives off. Three close-knit girls, magical powers (or super powers, whatever you want to call them it's the same thing), fighting evil. Hell, the show even has a useless black detective character! It took me a little while before I finally realized it wasn't the same actor.
The most grating part of the episode is definitely the way everyone says 'Helena'. I think we all know that the proper way to pronounce the name is 'Hell-ee-na' (long e), but everyone keeps saying 'Hell-in-a'. Like whoever came up with the name said to themselves, "You know, the world is going to hell in a hand basket -- Oh! I think that's what I'll name my daughter!" I mean, for christ's sake. And they keep saying it over and over and over again, especially at the start of the episode. It's enough to drive somebody nuts.
All in all, I'm not sure how long Birds of Prey is going to hold my interest, but the pilot has enough potential that I'll be watching the series this Fall. Hopefully the writing and acting will both pick up enough to knock out the cheese factor. If not, Miss Skarsten is likely to keep my interest for at least a few episodes, and the divine Mia Sara (of Legend and Ferris Bueller fame) will apparently be joining the cast as well.