21 January 2019 | Better_TV
Not To Be Taken Seriously - Like, At All
My sheer joy at seeing the return of characters from "Harvey Birdman, Attorney At Law" was quickly tempered by the realization that this isn't *really* a new episode or a even genuine reunion; it's just another silly, surreal Adult Swim romp with modern-day references to things like America's current political dysfunction and Amazon Alexa.
This special takes after the weaker episodes of "Harvey Birdman's" later seasons, both in visual appearance and in tone. It's got the bouncy, colorful Flash animation style that replaced the sometimes choppy (though lovable) look of the show's earlier seasons. It's also got a zany, zippy, headache-inducing editing style and on-the-nose sense of humor -- all wrapped up in a barely coherent plot that employs a grab-bag of pop culture references to unsubtly remind the viewer that everything is set in 2018.
It's disappointing, because the best episodes of the original show were the ones that actually played within the framework of a legitimate legal procedural. It was still a goofy cartoon, with appearances aplenty by old Hanna-Barbera characters, but the writing was smart and witty, and the plots were coherent in their silliness.
This ain't that. You'll get to hear almost all of the classic voice cast, from Phil Lamar as the macho superhero Black Vulcan to Stephen Colbert as Phil Ken Sebben to Thomas Allen as Harvey's sidekick Peanut. But they're all utilized in service of a script that too often delivers limp satire and passable jokes when it could've served up something special. Peanut, my favorite character, is barely even present; there's far more (and perhaps too much) of Chris Edgerly's Peter Potamus, the purple loudmouth hippo whose slapstick humor should've been used sparingly to be effective.
And a word of warning: if you actually take the fates of any of these characters seriously, the ending, which retcons events shown in the series, may feel like someone flipped you the bird.
Overall, I laughed out loud a few times... but only a few times. Still, I'm not offended by it. In fact, I don't take it seriously - at all.