All thirteen episodes were provided prior to broadcast.
Before I even get close to critiquing the inaugural season of DC Universe’s new Harley Quinn animated series, I must say it was quite beneficial to view every episode in advance of the premiere. Obviously, this can’t happen all too often because it’s very seldom that entire seasons of television are complete this early in the game, but you can imagine how it allows folks such as myself the chance to better get an idea of what’s on tap. I think five episodes of a given series were the most I’d been allotted in the past, so this was quite the treat.
To be entirely honest, had I screened even, say, three episodes before writing this review, I’d be singing a much different tune. I hate to say it, but I absolutely loathed the first three installments viewed. To put it bluntly, they made even Doom Patrol look squeaky clean by comparison, as the word “f*ck” is used, like, every three seconds. It almost seemed like the producers were trying too hard to show how edgy this thing can get but it instead made me cringe – and keep in my mind I’m someone who cracks a glory hole joke every time life affords him the opportunity.
I’d say it was around the fourth episode when I really started warming up to this series though and became addicted. So, if you also find yourself put off by the first three, just stick with it and see if you like what follows. In some respects, it’ll satisfy those of you who likewise enjoyed Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s comic book run, although you won’t see the likes of Big Tony or Red Tool showing up.
Instead, expect for the people surrounding Harley Quinn (Kaley Cuoco) to come in the form of a crew comprised of Clayface (Alan Tudyk), Dr. Psycho (Tony Hale), King Shark (Ron Funches), Sy Borgman (Jason Alexander), and, to an extent, Frank the Plant (JB Smoove). Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) also plays a huge part in the tale, but she’s more so there in the best friend role rather than being an actual partner in crime.
When it comes to the leading lady herself, Kaley Cuoco knocks it out of the park as the Clown Princess of Crime. In my view, she brings the requisite exuberance needed for a character such as this. I also don’t care that she didn’t have a Brooklyn accent (save for the episode that saw Quinn visit her family). For the most part, every voice actress to follow Arleen Sorkin’s work on Batman: The Animated Series has been doing an impression of her, and I really don’t see the need to continue that trend. Cuoco makes Harley her own, and I applaud her for it.
And if I must single out one other talent enlisted for this project, props must be given to Alan Tudyk. Not only does he lend his pipes to the aforementioned Clayface, but he also does so for the Joker. As maniacally awesome as his Ace of Knaves may be, I believe it’s actually Clayface who became my favorite character overall because his background as an actor is really played up in a way never before seen. To describe him succinctly, he’s not an actor – he’s an act-or, an over-the-top thespian who lives for his craft.
In order to describe the overall plot in a nutshell, it sees Harley finally dumping the Joker and aiming to establish herself as Gotham City’s premier supervillain. Another goal on her agenda is to join the Legion of Doom, which is comprised of evildoers from around the DC Universe, and not just Batman’s (Diedrich Bader) corner of it. Believe it or not, some pretty big swings are taken in the season finale, so don’t think you’re merely in for an ultraviolent laugh riot.
Having said all this, you can probably guess the show is comedic in tone, and that’s really for the best when it comes to playing to Harley Quinn’s strengths as a character. Still, this doesn’t carry over well to them all. I’d say Bane (James Adomian) works well as a parody of Tom Hardy’s iteration made famous by The Dark Knight Rises, but the subsequent portrayals of Jim Gordon and Damian Wayne come off as disrespectful. No contempt of mine is directed toward actors such as Christopher Meloni and Jacob Tremblay, but you may find yourself agreeing with me when the time comes for you to watch this.
Basically, what I’m saying is to give Harley Quinn a chance. If you don’t like it after five or six episodes, you probably aren’t going to. Then again, you might love it from the start. Sure, it’s kind of like The LEGO Batman Movie if it were chock full of F-bombs, but at least it’s better than the costuming done for the upcoming Birds of Prey film.
When you get down to it, Harley Quinn is essentially just the "Family Guy" of the DC animation pantheon.