Look, I’m sorry, DC Universe. As much as I would love to pay you good money to watch shows like Doom Patrol and Young Justice: Outsiders, you won’t let me. It’s not here in the Philippines. And I was so looking forward to your exclusive animated series based on Harley Quinn. The trailer looked really good and it may have captured the spirit of the kooky psychiatrist who’s head over heels in love with her “pudding,” the Clown Prince of Crime himself, the Joker. Or, at the very least, the more independent Suicide Squad/Secret Six/Birds of Prey version of the character.
Oh, wait. Someone managed to sneak in the entire pilot episode of Harley Quinn onto YouTube for a couple of days without the algorithm automatically taking it down for copyright reasons? Well, that’s one way to watch this DC Universe exclusive show! If you’re here to see me post the exact link of where I did see it, you’re out of luck. It’s already been taken off YouTube… but not before I got to watch it!
Harley Quinn is basically the adventures of the titular character. After being captured by Batman and sent to Arkham Asylum, Harley waits for an entire year for the Joker to fulfill his promise to break her out of the nuthouse. Poison Ivy feels sorry for the poor deluded former psychiatrist and the duo, and pretty much the entire Arkham Asylum, bust out. The first episode is more of an origin story for this new version of Harley who tosses her old harlequin outfit to the more stylized punk look we know her for nowadays.
Let me get straight to the point here. I loved the pilot episode! It was really good. Sure, it’s animated but it’s definitely more geared for adults. Adults with a rather sick sense of humor, mind you. But adults nonetheless. The first scene where Harley and the Joker board a boat to steal a literal pyramid of money from a bunch of white old dudes was priceless! Lots of dark humor, uber-violence and profanity in this first scene and it sets the tone for the entire series nicely. If you’re watching it with children, please make sure you’re there to tell them that it is not okay to rip off the skin of a captain and wear it as a mask, okay?
I will have to say that the animation also impressed me a whole lot. It didn’t seem like a low budget animated show thanks to a lot of vibrant colors and really smooth flowing animation. There’s a lot of energy whenever something is moving all around. Also, the actual art style is rather unique but detailed. The only character that does seem a little less detailed is, oddly enough, Harley Quinn herself. Her new look doesn’t leave all that much in the realm of any niceties because, well, that’s how she does look in the comics. It just looks kind of out of place just a tad.
The voice acting is also really good. DC Universe got a lot of big, boisterous voices this for this project and it money well spent. Everyone is bringing their A-game for Harley Quinn and everyone sounds spectacular in their role. Alan Tudyk gives a performance that is Mark Hamill-esque but he still manages to add his own spin. Lake Bell’s Poison Ivy, with her droll manner of speaking is great as the kind of straight man to Harley Quinn’s insanity. The best performance, thankfully, comes from Kaley Cuoco’s Harley Quinn. A lot is riding on her performance as she’s not only voicing the main character, she’s also one of the executive producers of the show. Kaley Cuoco doesn’t exactly have the Brooklyn accent like the original Harley Quinn but it’s a really engaging performance that brings a lot of peppy energy to the character. It may not exactly sound like the Harley Quinn I grew up with in the ’90s but works in its own way.
The show is decidedly much more silly than you would be accustomed to with a Batman property and I don’t mind this direction at all. It’s more Brave and the Bold than Batman: The Animated Series but with a good spoonful of Robot Chicken mixed with it all. The show takes the basic idea of the DC characters you all know and love and twists it in such a way that they’re almost parodies of themselves. An example would be Commissioner Gordon. Instead of the calm, collected police officer you’re familiar with, he’s now an overworked and super stressed police chief thanks to dealing with all the crazies of Gotham City. It oddly makes sense to me.
The timing of most of the jokes worked for me as there were actually a couple of points when I laughed out loud on how clever the writing is. The weird thing is the jokes that I laughed at weren’t the slapstick humor or the profanity laced dialogue. They were the lines that just caught me off guard. The one where the Joker calls the Riddler “the world’s most indirect asshole” was so on-point that I couldn’t help but laugh at it!
I guess I also have to talk about the pairing of Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. I always thought the two characters have a really good chemistry. It was very apparent way back in the early 2000s with the old Gotham Girls Shockwave animated shorts. The chemistry in Harley Quinn is a little bit different but just as engaging as those old animated shorts. They’re still best friends who bounce lines off each other really well.
Will I want to see the next episode of Harley Quinn? From what I’ve seen in the pilot, you bet I do! The show looks like a real home run for DC Universe. It’s mixture of adult humor, fantastic animation, great voice work and rather clever writing made me a fan. Now, all I just have to do is scrounge all throughout YouTube to see if someone else uploaded the second episode… that shouldn’t take too long.
Have you seen the pilot episode of Harley Quinn? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!