It seemed that Birds of Prey would have soared in the ratings on the then-WB Network. The series was created by some of the people responsible for making Smallville a hit. BOP was the small-screen adaptation from DC Comics about three young women that becomes the new guardians of New Gotham.
You have Helena Kyle/Huntress (Ashley Scott), the daughter of Batman and Catwoman; Barbara Gordon/Oracle (Dina Meyer), former Batgirl turned high-tech wheelchair crimefighter and mentor to future superheroes; Dinah Lance(Rachel Skarstein), a teenager with psychic powers who becomes the Black Canary. With the aid of Batman butler Alfred and honest cop Jesse Reese (Shemar Moore), this lovely trio of superheroines set out to fight evil as the Birds of Prey.
BOP was supposed to be part of the “girl power” mantle with Buffy, The Vampire Slayer and Charmed. The show had a strong debut in its premiere episode. So, why was Birds Of Prey really cancelled in the winter of 2003 after just 13 episodes?
Executive producer Brian Robbins said that there were other factors behind the series’ demise besides declining ratings. According to a 2002 Mediaweek article, he stated that then-WB President Jordan Levin “didn’t have faith in the show” and developed “buyers’ remorse” from day one.
“I think [Jordan] was afraid of the ‘Batman’ world being too dark for his air” he commented. “He was never a huge fan of the show.”
Levin called BOP’s cancellation “probably the biggest disappointment” since the WB Network debuted in 1995. “It comes down to who’s writing the show”, he continued, “and we really could not find someone who could write that show…. We usually are able to make good marriages between first-time writers and experienced writers, and this was a case where we just couldn’t make that marriage.”
Dedicated fans have even expressed on why Birds didn’t fly well, with reasons including weak scripts, and that Huntress was the protagonist instead of Black Canary, who was written as “a weak and dumb teenager”.
“About the only thing I truly disliked about the show”, said Elizabeth Hoff of St. Petersburg, Florida, “was that there were too many Helena/Det. Reese pairings (He’s not in the comics, not an original BOP. He was created specifically for the show) and not enough Dinah and Oracle (Who actually ARE in the comics).
“I wanted to see more of the three women. I wanted to know more of their back-story. I wanted to see them working together more (Reese was doing the work of both Dinah AND Oracle! If the BOP of the comics can get by without a “police contact”, why do they need one HERE?)”
Despite the off-set problems, Birds continued to developed a strong fan following even after it was cancelled, as fans praised the series for its sense of humor, its original concept, and the charisma as well as the acting of its female leads. They even tried to get the WB to listen to them and offered to help improved the series; it never happened. They also tried campaigning to keep Birds Of Prey on the WB with little success, but succeed in bringing the complete series onto DVD, which is on sale now with all 13 episodes and bonus extras.
For more on the series, go to Birds of Prey Online, but don’t forget to buy the entire series, now available on DVD.