Harley Quinn: A High Bar

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A surprisingly entertaining pairing

I admit that I’m having a split reaction to DC Universe’s Harley Quinn. The writing, casting, and voice performances are actually pretty good. The blood-spatter fight scenes aren’t to my taste at all. Harley is a favorite character of mine, I’m just not sure about this take on some of it. Harley’s quest for independence from the Joker continues in “A High Bar.”

The episode opens with a shot of the Hall of Doom, looking a bit like the Hall of Justice from Superfriends. Inside, various Gotham villains chatter inanely until the rumor that Harley was the one behind the breakup reaches the Joker. You’d expect him to completely flip out, but the man is unpredictable. At Ivy’s place, Harley, her friend, and the plant-critter watch Good Morning Gotham with Howie Mandel (actually voiced by Howie Mandel). The usual morning chatter gets interrupted by the Joker appearing and expressing some displeasure at Howie’s banter from the day before. It goes badly for the comedian/tv host. After some amusing exchanges, Harley decides to hack Joker’s calendar and then crash a Legion party to show that she’s doing so well on her own.

 

Given the comedic nature of the show, nothing turns out as intended. Harley’s big entrance falls flat when they realize what kind of party it is. Ivy continues to try and be the voice of reason, but reason isn’t really Harley’s forte. It’s an amusing mix of unexpected civilians and various villains. One D-list Bat-foe takes an amusing and surprising part in the episode.

 

In a nice bit of continuity from last episode, Joker is rebuilding his hideout, and the show’s mix of banality and villainy pops up as even the Clown Prince of Crime has trouble dealing with contractors and zoning permits. He gets saved from the normality by a call telling him what Harley is up to, and goes to stick his pale nose in. After being mocked again by the Joker, Harley comes up with another dubious plan that Ivy tries to talk her out of while going through the buffet line. Even villainesses like free food. While Harley goes off to commit more mayhem, Ivy deals with some complications from an unwanted admirer that isn’t the fault of her pheromone powers for once.

 

While Harley mounts an offensive, Ivy handles a new problem, Joker continues to be a jerk, and an unexpected character is revealed to be the host of the party. A few plotlines run into each other in some very unexpected developments. Harley isn’t making any new friends here. Elsewhere, Ivy and her new friend try and find a way to solve her new problem, which is an improvement over the way the sociopathic villain used to be. That situation takes an unexpected detour for some great comic relief that wouldn’t make it on a “regular” cartoon.

 

Harley finds herself in a new situation that isn’t a good one, and is forced to fall back on her original skill set, before she went bad guy. But she was very good at what she did, and comes up with a unique way to deal with at least her immediate threat. Ivy finds at least a little bit to like about her new buddy, and they swoop in to come to the rescue… after a fashion. Things devolve into a major fight that, in part, gets resolved in a very unexpected fashion, with karma catching up to someone. After a very entertaining goodbye on the way out, the ladies get back home. Ivy’s hopes that her friend has learned something get dashed when Harley announces a new goal. I suspect this is going to be the focus of the rest of the season. Ivy has a very entertaining follow-up to finish off her earlier conundrum.

 

What I liked: From the bits I’ve seen about this show, I’d have expected to hate it. The writing and the humor are winning me over. Tudyk is doing a great job as Joker, and is distinctly different from his other roles. Ivy’s subplot was entertaining. They could have taken it several different easy and cheap directions, but handled it a bit better. Frank the plant is growing on me, no pun intended for once.

 

What I didn’t: They do seem to like taking well-established, tough characters and making them into really strange distorted versions of themselves. I really don’t like the blood-spatter style of the fighting sequences. Ivy’s look is different here than I’ve seen before, and, after two episodes, I’m really not liking it.

 

This is more entertaining than I expected it to be. I’ll give this a solid 3 out of 5.

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