Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law was the first Adult Swim sitcom ever made, and it showed the potential of the new network off brilliantly as we saw the antics of a hilariously inept sort of superhero lawyer who helped various well known Hanna-Barbera characters, and who in the show were presented in a distinctly unusual and often adult light. It was fantastic from start to finish and when it came back for a one off special back in 2018 it showed there was plenty more mileage in the character, which might be why this spin-off featuring superhero Birdgirl (Paget Brewster) was commissioned.
Birdgirl’s secret identity is Judy Sebben, whose father lawyer Phil Ken Sebben is announced dead at the start of the episode, which is an awful shame given how he was one of the best characters in Harvey Birdman. Judy is in denial at first as he was well known for faking his death, and is frustrated that Birdgirl is announced as his replacement, and not Judy herself as Phil never knew her secret identity. A workplace sitcom follows, albeit a workplace filled with bizarre and unusual types, including Meredith the mind reader who is the only one smart enough to realise Judy’s very obvious secret, and a dog responsible for security. As well as Birdgirl buggering off to solve crimes every so often the main plot sees a member of staff called Brian who’s invented a device which is essentially a toilet you shit in the second you’ve finished eating, the idea being that it’s “Farm to mouth to toilet and back to farm”, as it turns excrement in to fertiliser.
Meredith keeps on trying to calm the ever manic Birdgirl down, suggesting that Judy is just as important as Birdgirl is, but of course she doesn’t listen as this would be a far shorter episode if she did. Soon Brian is trying to take over the company and then he spirals even more out of control when he starts murdering people with the toilet, and out on the streets of the city it appears to be growing bigger and bigger as it feasts on human beings. All of which is mildly amusing, there’s the odd decent line of dialogue or arresting image, but that’s about it.
As pilot’s go It’s okay, but it’s missing a certain something, with Judy the only character who shines throughout. Meredith shows a promise at least, and the security dog with a drinking problem might be fun, but given its predecessor was packed with amazing characters and insane adventures it feels a little disappointing that this new batch are often far too bland. Harvey Birdman’s presence is missed just as much Phil Ken Sebben, and even if you don’t compare it to Harvey Birdman it’s still only quite amusing, and you may well find yourself wondering why it chose Birdgirl as its lead character.
Hopefully it’ll find its feet and develop in to something a little more unique, but its not quite there yet. Paget Brewster’s strong in the title role but the character was always a little one note, and that note while amusing doesn’t suggest that she can helm her own series just yet. This is only the pilot as I don’t want to be too harsh about it, and I really hope it develops in to something which is essential tv, but right now there’s enough here to suggests it will ever be better than it’s brilliant parent show.