With all the new streaming options these days, it can be hard to justify ponying up for each new service that comes along. DC Universe recently debuted Harley Quinn to their original programming line-up…one that doesn’t seem to add much more incentive for your $7.99 a month.
Yes, it’s certainly an R-rated cartoon, with plenty of f-bombs and repetitive over-the-top gratuitous violence (how many compound fractures do we need to see?), with the emphasis on gratuitous, but they only seem to be done to prove the show is intended for adults. Disappointingly, the stories and animation so far don’t seem much different or more sophisticated than those that appeared on Batman: The Animated Series 20 years ago.
That’s not to say that there aren’t bits to enjoy. In the first 25-minute episode, we do get to see the Joker (voiced by Alan Tudyk), a cool suit design for Batman (Diedrich Bader), and the carnivorous plant (blatantly repotted from Little Shop Of Horrors) in Poison Ivy’s apartment providing comic relief, but beyond that, there’s not much to get excited about.
The voice acting on this show is hit and miss. Kaley Cuoco (Big Bang Theory) as Harley, and also as an executive producer, seems miscast. Cuoco makes no attempt whatsoever to make her voice sound any different from her normal speaking voice or her Penny character on BBT, or to use a New York City accent as we have heard from every other incarnation of Harley so far. She sounds way too much like normal Harleen, and not nearly enough like nutjob Harley. Even Alan Tudyk (Firefly) seems way too restrained as Joker, which is difficult to understand since he has no trouble acting unhinged as a villain on Doom Patrol, or on his web series Con Man. Even Lake Bell as Ivy seems too sedate. Perhaps the blame lays at the feet of the voice director. However, Diedrich Bader is a solid Batman (Batman: Brave and the Bold), and Chris Meloni shines as an over-caffeinated and on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown Commissioner Gordon.
Predictably, to add to the adult label, there are hints of the romantic relationship between Ivy and Harley that has developed in recent DC comics, and perhaps that is Ivy’s motivation for pushing Harley to strike out on her own, so she can have her to herself.
The premise of this series is Ivy getting Harley to dump Mr. J and be her own boss, become the Queenpin of Gotham, and then rub Joker’s nose in it. A peek at the next several episodes shows other unusual characters being introduced, but aside from what promises to be a steady dose of Joker and Batman and other DCU guest stars each episode, I don’t see this premise and series holding much interest.
The first season of Harley Quinn is currently streaming one new episode per week on DC Universe.
The Batman Adventures: Mad Love #1 (1993)
Batman: Harley Quinn (1999)
Batman: The Animated Series (1992)
Suicide Squad (2016)