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DVD Review - Harvey Birdman - Attorney at Law - Volume 2

November 8th, 2006

Harvey Birdman has given up his career as a super hero and has instead become a lawyer. His list of clients includes the cream-of-the-crop of the Hanna Barbara portfolio that have been accused of everything from terrorism to taking steroids. Like the rest of Adult Swim, Harvey Birdman is cartoon aimed at the immaturely mature audience. Those that have grown older, but who haven't grown up. Harvey Birdman - Volume 2 contains the second batch of 13 episodes as well as a ton of extras, but it is really worth picking up? The answer to that below.

This review will be in a slightly different format from most. First there will be short description of each of the main characters and then a brief look at each of the 13 episodes. This does mean there will be spoilers sprinkled throughout the review, but I will print them in white so you have to highlight to read.

Key cast members include...

  • Harvey Birdman: Former super hero turned attorney... but not a very good one. Then again, 26 episodes into the show and I have yet to see any evidence that any of the lawyers at Sebben & Sebben are competent. Voiced by Gary Cole who does a great job at making him sound like he sounds competent while giving him that sense of insecurity.
  • Avenger: Harvey's partner and falcon.
  • Peanut: Harvey's assistant. Doesn't help much, would turn on Harvey in a heartbeat if it meant a little more power. Would turn on anyone in a heartbeat if it meant a little more power. Is described in one of the audio commentaries as, "usually the smartest one in the room" but I think that distinction is held by Avenger.
  • Phil Ken Sebben: Harvey's boss and certifiable crazy man. In between tormenting his employees he... I actually don't know what he does. Best known for his signature laugh. Voiced by Stephen Colbert who gives the man an ego that even impresses someone like me.
  • Peter Potamus: Fellow attorney at Sebben and Sebben. Apparently he's a much better lawyer than Harvey, although I fail to see much evidence of that. For that matter, evidence seems to indication he spends all his time sending things and then asking if the person got it. That or making out with women that are far too attractive to be in his league.
  • Myron Reducto: Rival attorney who usually plays prosecution to Harvey's Defense. He has serious size issues and a shrink gun to go alone with them. Also voiced by Stephen Colbert and is the only opposing attorney that is a developed enough character to be the focus of an episode.
  • Mentok the Mind Taker: Judge with psychic abilities. Is seen a lot more in volume 2 than volume 1, which is a good thing as he is the funnier of the two judges. His signature 'wee-ooo-oooo' have been shrunk down, probably for time restraints. (Every second counts when you cram as many jokes in as this show does.)
  • Judge Mightor: Another judge, this one of the prehistoric kind. Not as funny as Mentok and doesn't appear as often this season. Has a running gag where he coughs up weird items and this gag improved this season.
  • X the Eliminator: A super villain who is obsessed with getting the crest on Birdman's helmet. One of the great running gags of the series. Very polite for a super-villain. Voiced by Peter MacNicol in two different voices. He has a faux-British arch-villain voice, and a decidedly less manly everyday voice. One of the funniest aspects of this character is how he switches back and forth between the two.
  • Black Falcon: Black Falcon is a superhero... In his pants.
  • Judy Sebben / Birdgirl: New character introduced this season. Very perky, very enthusiastic. Voiced by Paget Brewster. A possibly drunk Paget Brewster. At 4:55 of the first episode she appears in she instantly became the most popular character on the series. If you've seen the episode, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
  • George Bush and Dick Cheney: They never speak in the series but they appearances in about half a dozen episodes.
  • The Bailiff: I don't think he says more than a few words this entire volume but is still key in a number of gags. He was a lot more chatty the first 13 episodes.
  • The Bear: The living embodiment of Zen.
  • Erik Richter: He's not a character, but he sung the theme song. This fact is mentioned at least once in almost every audio commentary. In fact, co-writer Michael Ouweleen asked if he was paying people to bring it up.
And onto the episodes...

Back to the Present
The Case: The Jettisons come back in time to sue present for ruining the world.
Notes: Volume 2 starts off on a decidedly political note tackling the issue of global warming. On the one hand, I don't think this is one of the stronger episodes, (the jokes how the, 'future' is less advanced than the present fell flat). On the other hand, while the storyline wasn't as interesting as other episodes, there were still some great bits. I constantly get "I got that thing... He sent me" stuck in my head and the verdict is easily the funniest out of the 13 episodes of volume 2.
Audio Commentary: None.

Blackwatch Plaid
The Case: Secret Squirrel is arrested for flashing, but it really doesn't matter to the episodes.
Notes: The most political of the episodes this season, and one of the funniest. I especially like the use of live-action in this episode. I love how crazy the security procedures get and how the employees just seem to go along, "I have to go back to reading everyone's e-mails... over the P.A. system.". I also love the highest level on the color-coded crime alert system. (It's a great album, I suggest picking it up.)
Audio Commentary: Michael Ouweleen and Erik Richter are joined by Stephen Colbert, who has the most experience dealing with political issues.

Grape Juiced
Case: Grape Ape gets busted for steroids at the Laugh-a-Lympics.
Notes: One of the weaker episodes. Neither of the two main story lines are strong enough to carry the whole episode. Even so, there are some great jokes, but not as many quotable ones as other episodes.
Audio Commentary: None.

Peanut Puberty
Case: Doggie Daddy is accused of biting someone and his son, Auggie Doggie, comes to Harvey for help.
Notes: I'm not a big fan of Peanut, so an episode that focuses on him was not that interesting for me and the case wasn't as interesting as some others. However, I feel the need to point out that even the weaker episodes of this show are worth repeat viewing. Also, it contains one of the greatest lines in the whole series, "I am the Alpha Male. I am the Alpha Male."
Audio Commentary: Thomas "Peanut" Allen joins Michael Ouweleen and Erik Richter.

Gone Efficien...t
Case: Yakky Doodle wants to change his name. Really has nothing to do with the episode.
Notes: Another episodes the showcases the insanity of Phil Ken Sebben and how the employees, especially Harvey Birdman, are just expected to take it. Also, X the Eliminator proves to be the most polite and helpful super-villain ever. I also love the non-sequitur verdict in this case.
Audio Commentary: None.

Droopy Botox
Case: Harvey Birdman defends a plastic surgeon who botches a botox procedure on Droopy, and wins!
Notes: One of the best episodes in the series. In fact, if the season ended here it would still be worth picking up. Highlights include Phil Ken Sebben getting LASIK, (and a second eye-patch), Harvey Birdman being haunted by Droopy's crying, Peanut's Meg Ryan lips, and especially the end result of everyone's surgery.
Audio Commentary: None, and of the four episodes that don't have audio commentary tracks, this is the one I most wish had one.

Guitar Control
Case: Quick Draw McGraw is charged with carrying a concealed weapon, a six-string classical Spanish guitar.
Notes: The case in this episode is funny, especially the analogy between guns and guitars, which is weak to begin with, and was stretched even thinner. However, it was the B story that I liked more, it involved the election bid of Phil Ken Sebben, who is being funded by the Guitar Lobby to the tune of $12 billion. Almost every gag in this show is pure magic. The entrance by Mentok is great, the magic show and Mentok's magic trick, Phil Ken Sebben's campaign ad, "Shake hand, kiss baby, shake hand, kiss baby, shake hand, kiss hand, shake baby, kiss hand, shake baby," (the visual at the end of the gag is possibly funniest of the entire show), the end rant by Quick Draw.
Audio Commentary: Maurice LaMarche is the guest in this audio commentary. Many not recognize his name, but anyone interested in cartoons will know his work.

Booty Noir
Case: Is there a case in episode? Oh right, Wally Gator.
Notes: I have mixed feelings on this episode. On the one hand, there are some great bits in this episode, mostly quotes by Reducto, ("Dat booty is just too fine." "Okay, touch me.") On the other hand, the two stories had nothing in common and that hurt the episode's cohesiveness. It might have been better to flesh out one story more while dropping the other. One last note, while I prefer Mentok to Mightor, I think the latter's cough gag in this episode is the best seen in the series so far.
Audio Commentary: Stephen Colbert, a.k.a., Reducto, is the guest on this week's episode. One of the best audio commentary tracks as the level of jokes shocks even the participants. (The term softcore porn was used at one point.)

Harvey's Civvy
Case: Murro the Maurader sues for physical and emotional damages resulting from a decades old battle.
Notes: This is the second best episode on the DVD. The dueling psychic battle between Mentok the Mind Taker and Shado the Brain Thief is worth the price of the DVD by itself. To emphasize, the 30-second long duel is worth the $20 - $30 price tag of this 2-disc set. The whole episode is just too funny to give more highlights, because quite frankly, they entire show maintains a near perfect level of comedy. I could watch this episode six, seven times in a row and still laugh at every gag.
Audio Commentary: John Michael Higgins, a.k.a. Mentok the Mindtaker is the guest commentator here, who was given the wrong episode to prepare. But because he had never seen the episode, this is one of the best audio commentaries on the DVD.

X Gets the Crest
Case: Harvey helps Ricochet Rabbit who was sued for property damages. However, this is one of those episodes where the case is not the main storyline.
Notes: Easily one of the best episodes of this volume. The main storyline here is X the Eliminator finally gets the crest from Birdman's helmet. X the Eliminator is such a great character and his obsession with the crest on Birdman's helmet is one of the best running gags of the series. There are a few gags that set this episode as one of the best include This is an episode that demands repeat viewing. On a side note, the opening theme song is cut short and there's extra during the end credits because the episode ran a bit long.
Audio Commentary: Gary Cole and Peter MacNicol join the group. Peter MacNicol really carries the audio commentary and should be invited to do more, even on episodes that he's not on. While Gary Cole doesn't speak as much, he more than holds his own.

Bird Girl of Guantanamole
Case: Moroccan Mole is being held in Gitmole as an enemy combatant.
Notes: Another classic episode and the introduction of Birdgirl. The first time I saw this episode I knew Birdgirl had to become a regular character, and I'm glad to say she does, but this is the only episode is volume 2 that she appears in. On a side note, Paget Brewster makes the joke that she only gets drunk during audio commentary tracks but not when doing the actual voiceovers. I think she's not quite honest because her being drunk would explain a lot of her performance. Not that I would change anything about her performance. (Every time of hear her do the siren I laugh.) Other highlights from the episodes include the interaction between Phil Sebben and Birdgirl, whom he doesn't realize is also his daughter. One more thing, that eye patch that Phil Ken Sebben wears... down there... it's kind of small. Or am I the only one who noticed? Finally verdict, this is an amazing episode and worth the prize of the DVD by itself.
Audio Commentary: Paget Brewster joins the two regulars and her enthusiasm makes this one of the most entertaining audio commentary tracks, so is her willingness to discuss some of the baser issues regarding her character. Very entertaining. (On a side note, I think her idea about merchandise is sound. I would buy a copy. ... What?)

Beyond the Valley of the Dinosaurs
Case: None really. Unless you count the pre-historic divorce.
Notes: Harvey Birdman, Potomus, and a sammich get sucked into the past. They are quickly followed by Phil Ken Sebben with plans to rescue them. Ha ha ha. Just kidding, he plans on exploiting the past. Not one of the upper-tier episode, but still some good gags, but they are less memorable that in other episodes.
Audio Commentary: Chris Edgerly joins the writers for this one and he's one of the more enthusiastic of the guest shots. Sometimes the commentary overtakes the episode in terms of entertainment value.

Evolutionary War
Case: Cavey Jr. sues his school because they refuse to teach evolution.
Notes: One of the more political episodes and one that makes several really subtle jokes than perhaps only those who follow the Evolution vs. Creationism debate, (like when Peanut drops items on Isaac Newton, which refers to the fact that gravity is also just a theory). Easily the best scene of this episode is the song and the 3-D animated is fantastic. There's a lot of good points made in the political satire and I also like how the show continues from the previous because continuity is not something that most cartoons care about.
Audio Commentary: This is the only audio commentary track not featuring Michael Ouweleen and Erik Richter. Here there are the director and a few animators, which means there are more technical issues discussed, but it's not as entertaining as the others. That is not to say it isn't entertaining, it just has a little more technical information.

Special Features:

Audio commentary tracks
Nine of the thirteen episodes have audio commentary tracks with eight of those featuring the writers, Michael Ouweleen and Erik Richter. Plenty of guests show up for these audio commentaries and the discussion is always lively and entertaining. There's massive replay value here.

Deleted Scenes - 0:50
Three short scenes from X Gets the Crest done in pencil test stage. Have to go the episodes menu to find them.

Naked Scene - 0:45
A short scene from Bird Girl of Guantanamole where all the characters are drawn without clothes. Before you rush out and buy the DVD just for that, the animators used Birdman's crests to cover all the fun bits. They claim they have a fully nude clip at the studio, but I think they are lying. If anyone have any evidence to the contrary they could e-mail to me, I'd really appreciate it. You know, for research purposes.

Records of Records - 4:30
Several clips from Bird Girl of Guantanamole and Evolutionary War with a small picture in picture clip of the voice actors during their recording sessions. Interesting, but with limited replay value.

Mr. Passerby Video - 1:55
A music video that features several video and audio clips from the show. It's quite good, but the replay value is not as high as some of the other extras have.

Birdman Stripper - 0:40
Several images of a Birdman Stripper set to the end credits theme music. Disturbing in a number of ways. First of all, a stripped dressed up like Harvey Birdman? Secondly, why is he wearing briefs? Aren't strippers supposed to wear bikini style underwear? I know there's the legal briefs pun, but it still detracts from the stripping aspect.

Behind the Scenes - 6:10
Just what it sounds like. There are clips of people doing the voice work, the animation, the audio commentaries, and a several Q&A sessions. It's about as in-depth as one could expect given its running and there is some replay value as well.

CGI Clip - 1:10
A look at the various stages needed to create the signature
3-D animated scene from Evolutionary War. More for fans of the technical side of animation, which makes it a nice addition.

Birdman Promos - 5:20
A dozen promos for the show, some better than others. Personally, I like the live action ones with the lawyer the most.

Bluetube Moments - 3:15
A behind the scenes look at the creation of the sound effects. And a bit about a self-loathing bird. Like the behind-the-scenes featurette, this one give a brief glimpse into the making of the show and has enough re-play value to be a welcome addition to the DVD.

There are also a couple of screens of text you can read if you go into the episodes menu on disc 1 and check out the books.

Big Three:

As you may remember, the Big Three refer to three must have features for TV on DVD releases: Play All Button, Proper Chapter Placements, and Subtitles. I'm happy to say this DVD has two of the three with only Proper Chapter Placements missing. Normally you want to be able to skip the theme music / opening credits since there's little reason to watch it 13 times in one day. However, in this case the theme song sung by Erik Richter is so good you will want to hear it over and over again. In fact, I'm thinking of adding it to my .MP3 collection. On a side note, I didn't realize they were saying "Look Out" in-between scenes until I watched the show with the subtitles on, I didn't think it was real words, just sounds like, "Woo ca!"


Excellent absurdist comedy, which is not an easy form to work with. When it comes to absurdist humor there's a very fine line between, "Ha!" and "Huh?" This show constantly falls under the former category. It is a combination of great writing, great acting, and an acute sense of satire aimed at the classic cartoon characters from Hanna Barbara as well as some very topical subjects like homeland security, global warming and others. Of the 13 episodes on Volume 2, I would rank five as addictively good and another four that demand repeat viewing.

Add in special features that are impressive in terms of both quantity and quality and Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law Volume 2 is a must have.


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