"My name is Alfred Pennyworth. And I have a story to tell." Oh, great. A clunky voiceover to kick off Birds of Prey. I'm kind of surprised they didn't just go all the way and start the show with a shot of someone opening a book. We see a blue street map of "New Gotham City" that morphs into a CGI three-dimensional version, which we swoop through, like a bird of prey, I suppose. Alfred explains that for many years "a civil war" was fought at night, and this war was unknown to the general public. Must have been some war for "the very heart of the city" between Batman and Joker, if nobody knew it was going on. I'm thinking I'm going to require a pretty heavy-duty crane to suspend my disbelief for this show.
Alfred continues: "One night, the final battle was fought. And Joker lost." We see a brief snippet of a battle in which the Joker fires some sort of blue electric lightning stuff from his palm, and Batman tackles him, while burning beams collapse around them on not the most detailed set I've ever seen in my life.
So Joker takes his revenge, not on Batman, but on Batman's loved ones, including the young, dark-haired Helena Kyle, who "didn't know that her father was Batman; nor did she know that her mother had once been Catwoman." Batman has a kid now? Don't anyone email me over what an idiot I am, please. The last time I bought comic books for anything other than nostalgia purposes, I was twelve. The shot of young, vivacious Helena (played by Ashley Scott) cuts quickly to a certainly-not-Michelle-Pfeiffer in a Catwoman suit, sparring with Batman. Overhead shot of a woman in a blue dress lying motionless on the pavement as Alfred intones, "The Catwoman was the Joker's first victim." Helena kneels by her mom's dead body, crying and asking dumb questions like, "Can you hear me?" and shaking her mom's shoulders, only she's pretty lousy at portraying grief, especially when she's gripping her mom's shoulders with just the heels of her hands. Maybe that's unfair of me. After all, it's not like wrecking her manicure would bring her mom back, so I guess there's no need for her to compound her tragedy. Helena keeps looking off-screen, and finally yells, "Somebody stop him!" as some shadowy figure drops a bloody knife in a puddle and scoots off. Naturally, none of The Most Useless Onlookers Ever makes a move to stop him.
"Helena Kyle's life was forever changed that dark night, but the Joker's revenge wasn't finished." Alfred tells us that Batman trained many protégés over the years, including Barbara Gordon, who called herself Batgirl. Okay, her I remember. We watch as Barbara, played by Dina Meyer, takes a shower and leans her head forlornly against the glass for some reason we're not privy to. Maybe she's just wiped after fighting the Joker.