Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law features ex-superhero Harvey T. Birdman of Birdman and the Galaxy Trio as a second rate attorney working for a law firm alongside other cartoon stars from the various 1960’s and 1970’s Hanna-Barbera cartoon series. Harvey’s clients are also characters taken from the Hanna-Barbera series of the same era. Many of Birdman’s nemeses featured that were featured in the original cartoon series are also often opposing counsel throughout the various cases.
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 Street cartoon to maintain continuity through the entire series. Various episodes reference Harvey’s (or another superhero’s) former crime fighting career.
Instead of rigid plot structure, much of the humor is derived from the fact that superheroes and super villains are realistic and have human qualities, such as a mad scientist named Dr. Myron Reducto, who is a paranoid prosecutor obsessed with shrinking people with his ray gun. Also, several of the plots revolve around the popular myths about classic Hanna-Barbera characters, such as Shaggy and Scooby-Doo being stoners.
The episodes are only 12 minutes each and are packed with absurd jokes and satire which makes the time fly by. The show adds a layer of humor by reminding us of how the old cartoons used to be. The comedy is great on so many levels that anyone can watch an episode and simply laugh the whole time.
In addition to the great writing, the voice cast is surprisingly famous. Gary Cole (Bill Lunberg from Office Space “if you could just. … that would be great”) is the voice of Birdman and plays opposite Stephen Colbert (“The Daily Show”) who is Birdman’s utterly insane boss, Phil Ken Sebben.
Volume One has arguably the best episodes of the entire run including the Bannon Custody Battle—where Dr. Benton Quest and Race Bannon are portrayed as gay and fight for custody of Jonny Quest and his Indian sidekick—totally outrageous. Shaggy and Scooby get busted for evading the police and possession of marijuana and Booboo is accused of being the Unabomber and that is just for a starters. There is even an episode “Turner Classic Birdman” is even hosted by none other than Robert Osborn—host of the real Turner Classic Movies. The clips are of entire episodes of the show so enjoy.
Adult Swim (which aired Birdman) has one hell of a creative staff. Watch Birdman, even if you don’t like it, it is only a 12 minute investment of your time.