10 Great TV Shows - Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law
I’ll take the case!
Adult Swim’s original programming can really be hit or miss. For every Harvey Birdman, Venture Bros., or Tim & Eric, there is an Assy McGee, a 12 oz. Mouse, or a Perfect Hair Forever (just kidding, Perfect Hair Forever is awesome). It’s hard to pick which show out of Adult Swim’s original lineup is the best, and since Venture Bros. has yet to finish its run (which has been stellar so far), I’m going to go with good old Harvey Birdman.
The best thing about Harvey Birdman is by far the voice acting and, tying into that, the characters. It’s so hard to pick a favorite character. Is it Mentok, the mind-taking judge who is a walking non sequitur? Is it Phil Ken Sebben (voiced by Stephen Colbert), the runner of the law firm who has no regard for anything? Is it Peanut, Harvey’s assistant who is very obviously not fit to work at a law firm? Actually, it’s not hard to pick a favorite character. The answer to that question is Bear. Moving on.
I mentioned the voice work. Did I mention Maurice LaMarche (look him up if you don’t know him, you have definitely heard his voice before in your life) plays over a DOZEN characters, included but not limited to Fred Flintstone and Speed Buggy? That would be reason enough to watch the show, if there wasn’t a better reason: it’s fucking hilarious.
So many of Adult Swim’s shows rely on niche humor. Tim & Eric’s greatest pratfall is the fact that, by intentionally making the viewer uncomfortable, it alienates any people who are not cool with being taken out of their comfort zone. I love T&E, don’t get me wrong, but Harvey Birdman is just straight-up funny. So many sight gags, non sequiturs, puns (THE PUNS), et cetera are what make it good. And the stories are usually good as well, turning classic Hanna-Barbara characters into perverse but believable caricatures of themselves. The show’s last two episodes provide a thrilling end to the series by showcasing the creator’s ability to make a funny show dramatic while retaining the humor.
The last scene in the show is an homage to Cheers. Bear walks out of the office (which now resembles the bar in Cheers), turns off the lights, and walks up the stairs. Before it goes off the air, Stephen Colbert chimes in as Phil Ken Sebben and exclaims “Ha ha! Last laugh.” I can’t think of a better way such a good show could end.