I spend a great deal of time painting and whilst I do so I generally watch DVDs. Naturally, I get through quite a lot of DVDs in a short space of time, and end up watching the same ones more than once (I think I have watched every disc of my 14 disc Monty Python TV series box-set at least 6 times). I seem to get most use out of TV comedy box-sets such as Father Ted, Black Books, Spaced, Family Guy, Big Train etc. Even better if they come with directors commentary as I get twice as much content out of them. I have to point out here that Graham Lineham does excellent commentaries.
For a good few years now I have been getting into the shows that are aired on AdultSwim. They’re mostly animations and the comedy is so fresh and sometimes quite bizarre. I think the first show I got into may have been Metalocalypse, the tales of the world conquering death-metal band DethKlok. From there I got into Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Squidbiliies, The Venture Bros, and my favourite of them all Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show Great Job. One downside is they aren’t always the easiest things to get on DVD, some of the ones I own are Region 1.
During my extended bank holiday weekend I took a trip into Guildford, and ended up in HMV. Now I would usually advise against this as some of their prices are ridiculous (Aqua Teen Hunger Force box-set £27 on Play.com £56 in HMV for example!?!) but it’s always worth having a look. I ended up buying 3 CD’s (Metallica “… And Justice for All”, Mastodon “Crack the Skye” and Carnifex “The Diseased and The Poisoned”) 2 of which were on sale, and 2 DVDs, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and AdultSwim’s Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law.
Harvey Birdman was an impulse buy. I think I had only ever seen one episode before quite a while ago and couldn’t really remember a lot about it, but at £7 I couldn’t really argue and hoped AdultSwim would come through for me. I was not disappointed at all.
As the title would suggest Harvey Birdman is an attorney, albeit wearing a superhero style mask and sprouting two large wings from his back. His clients will also be familiar to people who grew up watching Hanna-Barbera cartoons (Birdman himself being one of their creations). For example, one episode sees him representing Apache Chief from the Super Friends in a personal injury claim, another he is defending Yogi Bear’s friend BooBoo against terrorism charges where he is named the UnaBooBoo and one of my favourite episodes portrays Fred Flintstone as a Tony Soprano style character.
Another great episode sees Shaggy and Scooby Doo on trial for evading police and suspected possession of drugs. This could’ve gone down a very tired route but the way the plot is handled is fantastic and the use of old Scooby Doo footage out of context is hilarious. I believe I’m correct in thinking that for a lot of these old Hanna-Barbera characters they managed to get a lot of the original voice actors back in to reprise their roles, and if not then they’ve been replaced by someone that can do a damn fine impersonation.
Even the presiding Judges and Birdman’s rivals are villains from other shows, my favourite being Reducto, a villain/attorney that is obsessed with things being small and regularly threatens people with his shrink ray.
I know I’m a bit late to this show (it started in 2001 and ended in 2007) but I’m glad I stumbled upon it. It is great fun and definitely worth checking out. It has a great mix of tongue-in-cheek style humour, a love for the cartoons it pokes fun at and the surreal aspects of comedy that come hand in hand with an AdultSwim title. I’ve already ordered the next two seasons and look forward to watching them.
P.S. People not familiar with Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace definitely need to check it out, you can pick up the DVD pretty cheap now. The commentary with Garth, Dean Learner and Todd Rivers (Holness, Ayoade and Berry all stay in character through-out) is worth it alone.