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Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law is a North Americanmarker animated television series comedy created by Williams Streetmarker and produced by Cartoon Network Studios that aired on Cartoon Network during its Adult Swim late night programming block. It is one of four spin-off of Space Ghost Coast to Coast. The series' pilot first aired in 2000, and later became a series in 2001. The show revolves around the activity of the Sebben & Sebben law firm, which is staffed mainly by superheroes and other characters who had originally been featured in 1960s-era Hanna-Barbera cartoons, most notably Birdman and the Galaxy Trio. The series had its final episode on July 22, 2007.The show also screens in Australia on The Comedy Channel as part of the channel`s adult swim block of programming.

Premise

Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law features ex-superhero Harvey T. Birdman of Birdman and the Galaxy Trio as an attorney working for a law firm alongside other cartoon stars from 1960s and 1970s Hanna-Barbera cartoon series. Similarly, Harvey's clients are also primarily composed of characters taken from Hanna-Barbera cartoon series of the same era. Many of Birdman's nemeses featured in his former cartoon series also became attorneys, often representing the opposing side of a given case.

Harvey usually fills the role of a criminal defense attorney, though he will act as a civil litigator or other such job when the plot calls for it. The series uses a surrealist style of comedy, featuring characters, objects, and jokes that are briefly introduced and rarely (if ever) referenced thereafter. Also, because the series relies heavily on pop culture references to classic television animation, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law constantly delves into parody, even featuring clips of these series or specially-created scenes which mimic the distinctive style of the animation being referenced. Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law is the first Williams Streetmarker cartoon to maintain continuity through the entire series. Various episodes reference Harvey's (or another superhero's) former crimefighting career. The episode "Turner Classic Birdman" even serves to bridge the gap between Birdman and the Galaxy Trio and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.

Instead of rigid plot structure, much of the humor is derived from the fact that superheroes and supervillains are given more realistic and human qualities, such as a mad scientist named Dr. Myron Reducto, who becomes a paranoid prosecutor. Also, several of the plots revolve around the popular myths about classic Hanna-Barbera characters, such as Shaggy and Scooby-Doo being stoners.

Although the first season was animated using traditional cel animation, the remaining seasons were animated using Adobe Flash. The reason for the switch was that the animation studio was having difficulty maintaining the fast pace of the show, and thus the production of episodes slowed down due to constant retakes. By animating the series at Turner Studios in Atlanta, Georgiamarker with Flash, not only were problems corrected faster, but production costs were much lower. Some animation was also done for the show at Bardel Entertainment in Vancouvermarker, British Columbiamarker.

Characters

Main Characters

  • Harvey Birdman starred in the Hanna-Barbera show Birdman and the Galaxy Trio in the 1970s (his alter ego from that show, Ray Randal, is not mentioned, though if you look closely in the opening credits you can find it hidden). He gets strength and power from sunlight, and grows weak if kept away from the sun for too long. His superpowers include flight (though he would often forget about it), the ability to create a shield of solid light, and the ability to shoot destructive energy beams from his fists. These powers are thought to stem from the crest on his helmet, though Harvey isn't entirely sure of the crest's true role in his powers. He has since retired from his superhero job and is now working for the law firm of Sebben & Sebben. Harvey is 6'6", and has large wings growing out of his back, genetically inherited from his father. His clients consist of other Hanna-Barbera characters of the past and present.
  • Avenger, a large purple eagle, is Harvey's old sidekick, who now serves as his legal secretary. Avenger sits on a perch on Harvey's desk, and sleeps in a canary cage in the office at night. Avenger's tasks usually involve taking dictation or filing. Avenger is badly hindered by his inability to speak, even though it is clear that he can understand, or at least perceive the meaning in, the speech of other characters. Avenger can type and write English by claw, and Harvey seems to understand every "caw" he says.
  • Peanut was hired by Harvey to be his legal clerk; this character is modeled after Birdboy, who appeared in several episodes of the original Birdman cartoon. Unlike Birdman, Peanut's powers are not biological; his wings are mechanical, and his shield and energy beams come from "power bands" on his wrists. In most cases, he is unnervingly cool and calculated, often in extreme contrast to the goings-on around him, but can often be seen working behind the scenes towards uncertain or explicitly seedy ends, often sexual in nature, involving female clients, or females associated with clients, of Harvey. He sports a pink and green sweater-vest and often speaks in a hushed and whispered tone. He has an ongoing rivalry/partnership with Avenger where they dig a large hole in the middle of Harvey's office or play Foozball, bombing Harvey in his sleep with a toy plane (though the bombs were real), and even assembling a depth charge in the office, together. He speaks Japanese, Spanish, and French. First appearance: "Shaggy Busted." Quotes
  • Phil Ken Sebben is the deranged president and co-founder of the law firm Sebben & Sebben. In the original Birdman series, Phil's character was code-named 'Falcon Seven.' His name in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law is a play on these words (Falcon Seven = Phil Ken Sebben). He is recognizable by his blonde hair, an eyepatch, and a dark suit. He co-founded the firm with twin brother Bill when they were twenty-six years old (they were distinguishable by the fact their eyepatches are on opposite eyes). He has a habit of laughing whenever he says a double entendre or a non sequitur, followed by a short joke. For instance, his arm seems to have been turned backwards after falling off a building. Once he gets up, Phil asks a passerby "Hey lady, I need a yank. Ha ha, Dislocation." He has numerous vision problems; it is implied that he is blind in the eye not covered by his eyepatch, and he states that he "sees everything 3 feet to the left" of where they really are, and must account for this fact. Said partial blindness causes him to kill Birdman in the series finale by hitting him with a bus, which crashes into a building. He confirms this by showing everyone Birdman's blood, causing everyone to laugh, as most episodes end. He is voiced by Stephen Colbert. First appearance: "Death By Chocolate." Quotes
  • Peter Potamus works at the law firm of Sebben & Sebben as a lawyer. The former star of Peter Potamus, he has taken the role of annoying co-worker, as well as an accomplished lecher and glutton. He often uses the catch phrase, "Did you get that thing I sent you?" He takes this catchphrase to a personal level (he gets upset when someone doesn't get the thing) and to almost a spiritual level (whenever he is portrayed as a god, the catchphrase is almost the whole focus of the religion). Potamus is often unexpectedly caught mating with women in the office, often on a desk, followed usually by a quick "What the-", or the occasional "Mein Gott," German for "My God." He has a love/hate relationship with Judy Ken Sebben, and later in the series he acquired the ability to transform into the savage "Incredible Hippo" when angrily provoked. He had fingers up until late in season 3, after which they were replaced by flat, fingerless hands. First appearance: "Deadomutt, Part 1." Quotes
  • Myron Reducto is an attorney at Freezoid, Zarog & Skon, and is one of Harvey's most common courtroom opponents, as well as one of Birdman's closest friends. He is a small man with green-tinged skin, and brandishes a raygun that shrinks its target. He is highly obsessive compulsive about items smaller than he (Atom Ant and Inch High Private Eye for example) and usually responds with "BACK OFF" and using his Shrink Gun to ward them off. He is also prone to occasional paranoid and/or conspiracy theorist monologues, again about people who are smaller than he is. One example of this is in the "Bird Cage" (a bar Harvey and his friends go to) when while talking to Harvey he states that "there is no government, just a couple of multinational corporations that own everything". He drives a new Mini Cooper. He is also voiced by Stephen Colbert, as seen in the show's credits. First appearance: "Very Personal Injury."
  • Judge Mentok the Mind-Taker is a former enemy of Birdman, but now is a court judge who often hears his cases. He has various psychic powers including: teleportation, telepathy, hypnotism, precognition, and telekinesis—all referred to as "mind taking"—but he rarely uses them for anything beyond sophomoric mischief. He has been given the personality of a cocky and flamboyant stage magician; because of this, he often predicts the result of the cases he presides over before they have even started. Indeed, he often appears bored during trial; an expressionless look with his head resting in his hands. He often makes an entrance, such as appearing in a cloud of smoke or from a bolt of lightning. Mentok's gavel is a brain on a handle, which squishes when struck. He also seems to enjoy patronizing people such as Inch High Private Eye and especially the courtroom's bailiff, while the bailiff usually just ignores him and stares forward with a blank expression. During his time on Earth, Mentok has worked as a mufti, a genie, a sex trade worker, a Cossack, and an E.S.T. instructor. His main catch phrase is "Booweeoop" to give the impression of eerie sci-fi theremin music and is said whilst moving his hands around in a circular motion often when 'Mind Taking'. It has also been implied in several episodes that he is a cannabis user. First appearance: "Shoyu Weenie."


Reccuring Characters

  • Judy Ken Sebben is Phil's daughter. Upon meeting Harvey, she professes an immediate interest in his work, dressing up as "Birdgirl" and attempting to secure a position as his sidekick. When she is in costume, she is constantly hit on by Phil, who does not realize that they are related. She is prone to making monologues about her secret identity when she undergoes an internal crisis, often failing to realize that others are within earshot. The monologues, however, are never noticed. Near the end of the series, after Phil is seemingly killed by a bus, she takes control of the law firm. First appearance: "Birdgirl of Guantanamole"
  • Judge Hiram Mightor was a Hanna-Barbera superhero of the Sixties known as Mighty Mightor, one who lived in prehistoric times and got his powers from a magic club. He dresses in traditional judge's robes and wig. He is the subject of several recurring themes such as his mispronunciation of Harvey's last name (such as Mr. Bumnuts) and coughing up objects relevant to the trials he presides over. Whenever a double entendre is made about male genitalia, there is a cutaway to Mightor swinging a long, thin object around and saying "Deedle deedle dee." First appearance: "Bannon Custody Battle."'
  • The Bailiff is the court's bailiff. His main function is to announce the arrival of the judge, and Mentok in particular often has the Bailiff announce him in a particularly grand fashion. Often picked on by Mentok who is shown at one stage explaining to The Bailiff the importance of mind taking. First appearance: "Shoyu Weenie."
  • The Bear is a character who is constantly shown, but never speaks. He usually shows up when the characters are laughing at the end of the episode. First appearance: "Very Personal Injury".
  • X the Eliminator is an enemy of Birdman's who was originally commissioned by the organization F.E.A.R. to kill Birdman and bring the crest as proof; in this series, X does in fact suggest killing Birdman, which F.E.A.R. reacts to with surprise. His failure to do so has, over several decades, turned him into a stalking fanatic with a love/hate relationship with Birdman, despite the fact Birdman had completely forgotten about him until meeting him once after becoming a lawyer. X's tool of choice is an ungainly silver death console with a telescoping laser emitter that uses obsolete vacuum tube technology. It takes so long to recharge, Harvey has time to escape. He once had a camera in Harvey's office but Harvey destroyed it shortly after realising it was there (it was only seen once as a gag). X sometimes arrives at Harvey's office to destroy him, but tends to be thwarted by inattentive office personnel. According to the credits of the episode of his first appearance, one of the voiced characters is known as "X's Wife". Other evidence seems to suggest he lives with his close friend Zardo as well. First appearance: "X, the Exterminator."
  • Apache Chief is a small-time superhero and former member of the Super Friends, whose power is enlarging himself to immense size. Apache Chief once hired Harvey to represent him in a case where he spilled hot coffee on himself and burned his genitals, losing the ability to enlarge. From then on, he appears in various episodes with a deep fear of coffee. As a fellow third-string superhero, Harvey often comes to Apache for advice such as having him talk to Peanut about going through "superty". First appearance: "Very Personal Injury."
  • Black Vulcan is a small-time superhero who was once a member of the Super Friends. His power is that of lightning, which he sums up as, "Pure electricity... in my pants." He used to insist upon being called "Super Vulcan," but has since accepted "Black Vulcan" as his super-moniker, although he insists he got the name because of racism. In most of his appearances, he or another character says some variation on the phrase, "In my pants." One example of this is in "X the exterminator" when Harvey's powers are returned from X's death console, and he yells "the energy of the sun has returned to me!". The energy beam that returned his energy was aimed into his pants (Harvey's groin area starts glowing). Prompting Black Vulcan to say "in his pants". First appearance: "Very Personal Injury."
  • Zardo is a former enemy of Birdman, having relented his criminal ways apparently to be a home-maker and best friend of X the Eliminator. He has a mace in place of a left hand, is never seen without his bullet-shaped helmet (through which only his eyes can be seen), and speaks with a German accent. Although he does his best to assist X, he is frequently annoyed by the fact X considers himself "alone". First appearance: "X, the Exterminator."
  • Vulturo is a former enemy of Birdman, but now he is a rival lawyer. He speaks with a slight german accent, wears a bird mask on his head, and has a hangout that is based on the Batcave. One time he had Avenger as a sidekick, but he decided to fire him. First appearance: "Bannon Custody Battle"


Minor Characters

  • Alexander the Bartender is the man behind the counter at The Birdcage, a bar Harvey frequents with his friends. Oddly, he appears to be a former agent of F.E.A.R., an organization that was determined to destroy Birdman in his superhero days. First appearance: "Very Personal Injury."
  • Mr. Fezz is a man from somewhere around Saudi Arabia. He is a short bald man, wearing a red fez, a pink vest, and white pants. He usually steals Harvey's office supplies. First appearance: "Grape Juiced."
  • Professor Elliott Taggart the Deadly Duplicator is a villain from Birdman's superhero days who continues to be his enemy. First seen (in this series) in the background during Murro the Marauder's civil suit against Harvey, Elliott later became a recurring character who's determined to destroy Birdman. First appearances: "Harvey's Civvy" (non-speaking cameo), "Identity Theft" (speaking role).
  • M!!!butu Junior is M!!!butu's son. He is identical to M!!!butu, but is slightly shorter. He is a master of voodoo arts and is quite nifty with a blow dart. According to Phil, he doesn't understand english. First appearance: "Grape Juiced."


Episodes

Cast and crew

Main cast



Crew



Guest appearances



Reception

Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law was named the 91st best animated series by IGN. They compared it to Space Ghost Coast to Coast, a show that is also based on an old Hanna Barbara cartoon, and calls it a clever show.

DVD releases

DVD name Release date Ep # Additional information
Volume One April 12, 2005 13 This two-disc box-set contains the first thirteen episodes of the show ("Bannon Custody Battle" through "High Speed Buggy Chase") in production order, along with commentaries on selected episodes, deleted scenes, and other special features. A Region 2 version is to be released on November 3.The color of the DVD boxart is purple.
Volume Two October 10, 2006 13 This two-disc box-set contains the next thirteen episodes of the show ("Back to the Present" through "Evolutionary War") in production order, along with commentaries on nine episodes, additional footage and other special features. The colour of the DVD boxart is blue.
July 24, 2007 13 This two-disc box-set contains the final thirteen episodes of the show ("Turner Classic Birdman" through "The Death of Harvey") in production order, along with special features. The color of the DVD boxart is black.


Music

The theme song is an edited version of the song "Slow Moody Blues" written by R. Tisley.

Video game

A video game based on the series has been released for the PlayStation 2, Wii and PlayStation Portable video game consoles.

It was developed by High Voltage Software (developers of The Conduit) and published by Capcom, with gameplay mechanics similar to Capcom's Ace Attorney trial simulation series. It was released on January 8 2008.

DVD boxart

Each DVD boxart is in the shape of a law book, each seasons boxart is nearly identical, the only change for each season is the background color (Season 1 is brown-purple, Season 2 is blue and Season 3 is black), the small picture next to the title, and the title itself also appears different.

See also



Notes



External links




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