Harley Quinn: The Complete First And Second Seasons Blu-ray Review: Very Adult, Very Funny

Remember back in the day when you were a child and you could turn on the television and watch Saturday morning cartoons? They were silly and fun and filled with cartoon violence of anvils dropping on people, or of getting hit by a truck only to see stars or tweeting birds circling their heads. Harley Quinn is not that kind of a cartoon. I’m sure you’re thinking, well of course it’s not. It’s a little more serious like Batman: The Animated Series. And if that’s what you think, you would be wrong.

Unless I’m not remembering it correctly. Hmm, I’m pretty sure Batman didn’t have people literally being ripped apart, flesh melting off bodies, and at least four F-bombs being dropped in the first minute of the premiere episode. I don’t think this would be suitable for Saturday morning and your eight-year-old sitting around in his footy pajamas eating his Captain Crunch cereal. Although I have seen some messed up parents bring their small children to R-rated movies, so who knows what they are letting them watch at home.

The first season kicks off with Harley (Kaley Cuoco) and the Joker (Alan Tudyk) robbing a yacht. But things go bad quickly and end with the Joker using her as a distraction for Batman (Diedrich Bader) while he escapes. While she is locked away in Arkham Asylum for a year pining away that her love will come to rescue her, Poison Ivy (Lake Bell), who is also incarcerated, takes things into her own hands and rescues Harley. Even after being left behind and abandoned by the Clown Prince of Crime, Harley still can’t come to the realization that she loves someone who doesn’t love her.

It is not until Ivy, with the help of the Riddler (Jim Rash), abducts both Harley and Batman that Harley realizes the truth. When the Riddler gives the Joker the choice of saving her or the Caped Crusader and Joker chooses to save Batman, it pushes Harley over the edge. Not only does she change her highly recognized harlequin costume, but she is determined to become a full-fledged villain, join the Legion of Doom, and take out the man who broke her heart.

But she can’t do that all by herself, and the first thing she needs to acquire is a crew. Considering that most thugs consider her a sidekick and are afraid to upset the Joker, she is forced to come up with a ragtag group of leftover underlings. Clayface (also Tudyk), a dripping mud man that is more concerned with being a thespian than committing crimes; King Shark (Ron Funches), a half man/half shark who is unsuccessfully trying not to bite the heads off people; and Dr. Psycho (Tony Hale), a powerful telekinetic runt who was just kicked out of the Legion and who nobody will associate with because he called Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall) a C-word on national television during a battle are all that Harley can wrangle together.

Even with the extra help, it will take a lot of effort for Harley to be recognized as a true villain. And once the invitation for the Legion comes, is the Joker playing her again, are they really after a member of her crew, or is it even something she really wants.

Season Two is about undoing what happened in the first season, Harley coming to terms with her role in the world, and her feelings regarding a new love interest. Starting where the first season left off, Gotham is in ruins and has been annexed from the United States. Super villains calling themselves the Injustice League have split up the city into territories, both Batman and the Joker are presumed dead, and the Justice League has gone missing.

Commissioner Gordon (Christopher Meloni) and Batgirl (Briana Cuoco) are the only ones left to fight for the innocent while Harley decides to enlist the services of Darkseid (Michael Ironside) and his Parademons to take over the entire city for herself. But just before she can complete her goal, Ivy helps her come to the realization that she isn’t that evil, causing her to change her mind and back out of the contract with Darkseid. This makes him very angry so he gives a disillusioned Dr. Psycho the power and an army to kill her. In order to stop him from eliminating her and taking over the world, Harley must bring back the Justice League. But before she does that, she needs to first find the Joker who holds the key to their return. And if that wasn’t enough on her plate, she must also deal with the fact that she has fallen in love with her best friend, Ivy, who is about to be married to Kite Man (Matt Oberg).

The Blu-ray is presented in 1080p High Definition 16×9 1.78:1 with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The video is sharp and clear with vibrant colors. The animation is very colorful, which makes it important that the quality is at its best in order to capture all the nuances. The surround sound is good and accentuates the action while immersing the viewer in the action. There are no Special Features on the Blu-ray which has 26 episodes split over three discs.

When I initially watched the first episode, I was really taken aback with the over-the-top violence and constant swearing. It was not at all what I was expecting. I didn’t want to watch the rest until a friend of mine said it was really funny and to give it a second chance. Even having seen the first episode multiple times now, I still can’t get into it.

But thankfully, it picks up in the second episode “A High Bar” where Ivy and Harley accidentally crash a Bar Mitzvah for the Penguin’s (Wayne Knight) nephew and then hits its stride the very next episode once the crew starts to come together. The show does a good job on being able to make fun of itself and the DC cast of characters. There are a good number of cultural references and it has a very original storyline. The super strong and powerful Bane (James Adomian) is such a lovable idiot that you end up feeling bad for him and rooting for him to be successful. The only negative aspect of the show is the character of Commissioner Gordon. He kind of redeems himself by the end, but he is such a pathetic, groveling, needy character that by the end you just don’t want to see him anymore even if he does end up doing something heroic.

Overall, it may not be your Saturday morning cartoon, but for me it ended up being a good Friday night TV show.

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Todd Karella

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