A Station Eight Fan Web Site
Another try at sending this out-
I just typed up a particularly long question that didn't post and got lost, and I was foolish not to copy it somewhere before hitting submit. I apologize if it turns up later and this becomes a double post, and also if I can't get rid of the autoformating in Word and it looks a little screwy. After losing that long a question I am not taking a chance working directly into the web page.
It has been a long time since I posted a question... of course it has been a long time since I have been caught up with your answers. After reading all of the new responses, particularly those dealing with Oberon and Titania, a question has come to mind. [Actually two, but how many new ways can you ask, "What did Titania whisper to Fox?"? That question should almost have its own section.] The short form of the question is this: Just how different are Oberon's hildren from humans? I am not referring to physical or magical characteristics, but rather do they think in a quantifiably different way than do humans?
The long version of the questions comes after the long digression:
A while back a friend practically shoved an anthology into my hands and insisted I read a particular article. I believe it was called, "Hamlet in the Bush". The gist of it was that a young anthropologist found herself with an indigenous culture for a long boring stretch. [She had thought the off season would be a wonderful time to get to observe their culture. Had she asked them they would have told her the off season is the off season because the weather is so miserable that they cannot even visit the next village. They spend the time drink the local equivalent to bear waiting for it to pass.]
Before leaving she had had an argument with a friend. She argued that at base all humans are the same and once you do some explaining to take care of cultural differences, a great work of literature would be recognized as such by all people. The example that was bandied about was Hamlet, so he gave her a copy as a going away present.
With nothing else to do she sat in her tent and read it over and over until the locals asked her what on Earth she was doing. They were a non-literate culture and to them reading papers meant reading boring legal documents. Even a white person could not be so daft as to spend weeks doing so. She seized upon it an opportunity to test her theory and they, being a story telling culture, were happy to oblige.
She immediately ran into two problems:
-1-They didn't have a concept of "ghost". Zombie, yes. Evil spirit in false guise, yes. But the idea of a dead person's spirit hanging around this world was simply ludicrous to them.
-2-They thought Claudius was a great guy. He acted as an exemplary uncle and brother-in-law, although he waited a bit long in taking care of his brother's household. [Three whole months! And with only one wife to tend the fields!]
In the end they loved the story (with their corrections) and thought she was on her way being a great storyteller, (being female aside). They also told her to be sure to tell her elders that they had been good hosts and had corrected her misremembering lest she continue in error.
I think her premise held, but she hadn't realized how far cultural difference went. The more complex the story, the more it was tied to its own cultural assumptions and the harder it is to explain to another culture.
Back to Gargoyles-
In Gargoyles the basic emotions seem pretty much universal. Gargoyles, humans, New Olympians, and even Nokar and Matrix as far as we have seen them, display them. Love, hate, curiosity and fear, as well as slightly more complex emotions of protection and loneliness are clearly expressed and are more easily understood than some lost cultures of our own ancestors. Are Oberon's Children fundamentally different, or if we can imagine long enough the effects of great power and incredibly long lives we can empathize without too much brain-sprain?
There are great works of speculative fiction that try to understand the mind of The Other. Zelazny had a whole series of stories of robots worshiping and trying to understand the long last human race. I recently read a great book called "Exogesis" (a post-modern Prometheius) by Astro Teller dealing with how a newly emerged AI might think and how humanity might respond. If I would list every book I could think of on the topic I will never stop typing and will eventually have feel the urge to start listing plays and movies as well, (and probably have to deal with Frankenstein, and I am not fond of the book. It is hard to like a book when you hate the main character. Perhaps the movies were right to make the monster the lead character. :).
It all boils down to this: Are the Children of Oberon "the Other", or something very much like ourselves?
Boy this is long! sorry.
Don't apologize. It's fascinating.
Boiling it down...
Are Oberon's Children fundamentally different, or if we can imagine long enough the effects of great power and incredibly long lives we can empathize without too much brain-sprain?
I'd have to say the latter. Great power. Little or no responsibility. Long lives. Being able to look however you feel at a given moment. You add these things up and they may seem other for awhile. But fundamentally, it's about extrapolation on our human emotions.
Because fundamentally, as a writer, what else can I do? Maybe someone else has the talent, ability, INTEREST in truly creating the OTHER. But not me. I'm interested in US. Gargoyles, humans, Oberon's Children. Toss in the New Olympians, Nokkar, the Space-Spawn, the Lost Race, etc. I'm fundamentally interested in figuring out what makes us real world humans tick. Or boil it down further, and I'm fundamentally interested in figuring out what the hell makes ME tick. All the characters in the Gargverse are just there as an alternative to me being in therapy, I guess.
Does that make sense?
[Disclaimer: It is the nature of these things to forget more than one remembers. The feelings remain. The details are fuzzy. I apologize in advance if I get something wrong or leave something out.]
Thursday, June 21st, 2001
Yeah, I know, the Gathering 2001 didn't start until Friday, but for me it started last August in Orlando. I'd been working pretty closely with this year's staff to help them gather special guests. At G2000, I rashly promised over twenty guests would attend. By June 14th, 2001 we had over 50. And then I got pneumonia and it looked like I'd be the one guest who wasn't going to make it.
Fortunately, my doctor got me on antibiotics immediately. Within 48 hours I was feeling about 90% better. I was even able to go to a Team Atlantis recording session on Wednesday the 20th. Good thing to, because that was the day I secured Cree "Hyena/Kida" Summer to attend our little party.
Anyway, by Thursday the 21st, I was feeling world's better, and I attended the pre-con dinner at Camacho's at CityWalk. Carol Wagner, a former student of mine and our phenomenal guest liaison (who absolutely picked up tons of last minute slack in handling detail work on most of the guests), was the first to join me at the restaurant. But soon, Jennifer Anderson arrived with most of the gang, including Patrick, Kathy, Meredith, Kenna, (Cindy were you there?) and the Morgans. Tim had to take off with Becca, but Christine stuck around. Jen introduced me to Crispin Freeman and his girlfriend, the lovely and talented Izobel. Dinner was fine -- though the service was SLOW!
Then we hiked down to the hotel to get a tour of where everything was going to be. Thursday night it all seemed TOO spread out to me. But by Friday, I realized it was all close enough together. We elevated up to the con suite and sat around a bit. But I didn't want to stay up to late Thursday, so I took off at a semi-reasonable hour. Carol and I hiked back up to CityWalk. I drove home. Very excited. Like a kid, it was hard to sleep.
FINALLY! It's over!
Matt got the last correct answer (though it was the only answer he got), and we're all very grateful. He gets a prize.
The other prize goes to the individual who got the most answers correct first. Here are the results...
TIED FOR EIGHTEENTH PLACE:
Dracolich - 1
Faieq - 1
Fireball - 1
Matt - 1
Melissa - 1
The Guppi - 1
The Mighty Thor - 1
Vashkoda - 1
TIED FOR FIFTEENTH PLACE:
CZ - 2
Graymonk - 2
Slow - 2
IN FOURTEENTH PLACE: Bud-Clare - 4
IN THIRTEENTH PLACE: Coyote the Bando - 5
IN TWELFTH PLACE: Shari B. - 6
IN ELEVENTH PLACE: Leva - 7
IN TENTH PLACE: Todd Jensen - 8
TIED FOR EIGHT PLACE:
Aris Katsaris - 12
Demonskyre - 12
IN SEVENTH PLACE: Kalafarski - 31
IN SIXTH PLACE: DragonWolf - 32
IN FIFTH PLACE: Ray Kremer - 33
IN FOURTH PLACE: Galvatron - 35
IN THIRD PLACE: Kelly L. Creighton/Kya White Sapphire - 42
In SECOND PLACE: Adam - 101
AND IN FIRST PLACE: Phil - 183
Phil got nearly 35% of the answers single-handedly.
So the winners are matt and Phil. But I'd like to thank everyone who participated.
As for the prizes, I'm first wondering if either matt or Phil are coming to the Gathering, so that I can hand-deliver their prizes. If not, I'll mail them out after the Gathering. (Too swamped to deal with it now.)
AND NOW THE COMPLETED BLANK-FILLED CONTEST:
(Fill-in-the-Blank Contest / 9-21-00)
One thousand years ago…
Superstition and the sword ruled.
It was a time of darkness.
It was a world of fear.
It was the age... of gargoyles!
Stone by day, warriors by night,
We were betrayed by the humans we had sworn to protect,
Frozen in stone by a magic spell for a thousand years.
Finally... the spell was broken, and we lived again!
But our struggle was far from over...
For the last two hundred years we have faced the future,
Navigating an uneasy truce with the human race.
But now the planet Earth itself is under attack!
Humanity is helpless!
And we may be your last hope for freedom…
We are defenders of the night!
We are protectors of this world!
The year is 2198.
And we… are GARGOYLES!
In 1996, humanity and the world at large discovered there were gargoyles living among them. Fortunately for the human race, Gargoyles are by nature a protective species. Unfortunately for the gargoyle race, humanity is by nature an intolerant species. Humans did not welcome having to share their world with other sentient creatures. Many were quick to label the gargoyles as beasts, monsters, demons or worse. Gargoyles were denied basic "human" rights. They were discriminated against. Experimented upon. Attacked. Caged. And sometimes destroyed.
Despite this, GOLIATH, the leader of the gargoyles, maintained hope that one day humans and gargoyles would live in peace. Eventually, that day came. The "GARGOYLE MINORITY PROTECTION ACT" was adopted by the UNITED NATIONS. Gargoyles were granted full "sentient rights". Though Gargoyle clans were scattered across the globe, they were collectively granted special status as an indigenous nation. Hunting Gargoyles became a crime.
True acceptance, however, is not so easily legislated. At best, Gargoyles were still barely tolerated by their human neighbors. Real peace would have to wait.
But the gargoyles would take what they could get. The species, once on the verge of extinction, began to make a comeback. Clans that were thriving helped to repopulate those that were not. By 2188, TWELVE CLANS comprised the GARGOYLE NATION. Each was strong in number and tradition. Now it was time to expand again. As a potent act of symbolism, every clan brought its GARGOYLE EGGS to QUEEN FLORENCE ISLAND, off the West Coast of Canada. The eggs would hatch together to demonstrate gargoyle unity. Some of the hatchlings would eventually return to the other Twelve Clans. But many would stay to form the basis of a new clan. A thirteenth clan.
Someone should have told the gargoyles that thirteen is NOT a lucky number.
March 21st, 2198. Queen Florence Island. From around the globe, human Heads of State and all Twelve Gargoyle Clan Leaders have come to this small island for the HATCHING. They wait within the caldera of the Island's dormant volcano to witness the new generation of gargoyles bursting out of their shells. Meanwhile, Samson, a young gargoyle warrior is stuck on ceremonial guard duty at the base of the mountain. Out of nowhere, an immense SPACESHIP materializes above the volcano. It emits a blinding beam of light that stabs down into the caldera. Samson races up the slope, but it's too late. The caldera is empty. No eggs. No gargoyles. No humans. No World Leaders!
Simultaneously, another giant spacecraft hovers over Antarctica. Another beam stabs downward. And Earth's MASTER MATRIX Computer -- the operating system for nearly everything on the planet -- vanishes.
It all happens so fast, there's no time to react. Earth is paralyzed and leaderless when the alien SPACE-SPAWN invades. In less than twenty-four hours, the planet is occupied, absorbed into the SPACE-SPAWN EMPIRE. There is very little loss of life. Very little damage done. Unless freedom matters to you.
It matters to Samson, the new leader of the RESISTENCE. One by one, he gathers his team…
SAMSON - Samson of the Manhattan Clan hatched in 2158. Though his coloring is different, it's obvious to anyone who'd care to look that he is descended from Goliath. Still no one knows how many biological generations removed from Goliath he is. He might be the biological grandson of either Artus or Gwenyvere, Angela and Broadway's first two biological children, or he might be the biological son of Lancelot, their third born. Frankly, it doesn't really matter. There were many eggs in that rookery. All raised collectively by the Manhattan Clan.
By 2198, Samson is forty years old, but only twenty biologically. He has been trained as a Gargoyle Warrior both in Manhattan and in Ishimura. He demonstrated enough promise to have recently been named Second-In-Command of the Manhattan Clan. Now, a reluctant Samson must become leader not just of his clan, but of the entire Resistance.
DELILAH - Delilah of the Labyrinth Clan is a half-breed. Mostly Gargoyle… but part Human as well. Her ancestors include her namesake, the Delilah that Anton Sevarius cloned by combining the DNA of ELISA MAZA with that of DEMONA. Being genetically part of both races has left Delilah feeling like she's not truly a part of either. Upon learning of her "heritage", humans seem to react with fear and even disgust. And Delilah has never been confident that the gargoyles she was raised with don't feel the same way. All this has made her tough on the outside, but desperately insecure on the inside. Nevertheless, she's a fierce young Gargoyle Warrior (the same age as Samson), and Samson makes her his Second in the Resistance.
ZAFIRO - Zafiro of the Mayan Clan hails from the rain forests of Guatemala. He's a descendent of Obsidiana and the Zafiro from "The Green". He has feathered wings, reptilian features and skin the color of sapphires. From the waist down, he looks like a giant snake. He's Samson's contemporary and close friend. Samson, Delilah and Zafiro all trained together as Gargoyle Warriors, studying bushido in Ishimura; they have a Three Musketeers kind of rapport. Zafiro isn't quite the fighter that the other two are, but he has other strengths. He's more spiritual, more intellectual, more book-smart. He has also been entrusted with his clan's ancient and sacred Sapphire Amulet; this magical Mayan talisman prevents him from turning to stone during the day.
GUARDIAN - Seventeen year old Nicholas Natsilane Maza is a scion of both the Natsilane and Maza families (which technically makes him a distant relative of Delilah's). Nick was raised among gargoyles and has taken the family tradition to heart. He too has traveled to Ishimura to join the ORDER OF THE GUARDIAN. He has trained as a Gargoyle Warrior, embracing the Gargoyle Way of Protection & Service. He's as much a gargoyle as a guy can be and not have wings. He's eager, perhaps a little too eager, for a chance to prove that he can hold his own with any other gargoyle. Only he's not a gargoyle. He's one hundred percent human, with a human being's unique strengths and weaknesses.
SENTINEL - NOKKAR (the original model for the mysterious moai statues of Easter Island) landed on Earth centuries ago to stand sentinel and protect our world from the Space-Spawn. But by the time the Space-Spawn actually arrived, their technology so far surpassed his, he was completely caught off guard. Now, there's nothing he can do but join Samson's Resistance cell and try to pitch in. Nokkar is deeply shamed by his failure to protect his adoptive world. He would gladly sacrifice his life to redeem himself.
OWEN BURNETT - OWEN BURNETT was Chief of Staff of the United Nations. An indispensable aide to Secretary General ALEXANDER FOX XANATOS IV. In fact Owen has been an indispensable aide to the Xanatos family since before Alexander was born. But now the Secretary General is gone. Taken by the Space-Spawn and put in stasis with the rest of the world's leaders. The new acting Secretary has surrendered the planet to the enemy. He has no use for Owen's quiet efficiency and intensity. And Owen has no use for a man who won't fight. So Owen has left public service to rejoin the private sector. Secretly, he has placed all the resources of the Lexington-Xanatos Corporation at Samson's disposal. Of course, we all know that Owen is really the Puck. But since he already failed to protect his charge, and certainly has no opportunity to teach him anything at the moment, he's stuck as Owen, stone hand and all.
LXM - LXM (a product of the Lexington-Xanatos Corporation) stands for Lexington-Xanatos-Matrix, a line of robotic personal assistants that were all but ubiquitous in 2198. Almost everyone who was anyone had one of the cute little, five-foot tall, Lexington-shaped chrome robots. Each robot was directly connected via satellite to the Master Matrix in Antarctica, giving each one the ability to instantaneously summon any or all of mankind's collective knowledge. But when the Space-Spawn attacked, one of their first acts was to steal the Master Matrix. Now each LXM is on its own. Each one still has a powerful computer brain with crude artificial intelligence and long-term adaptive programming. But now, knowledge is finite, and experience is becoming the best teacher. Actually, two of these robots, LXM-994 and LXM-1057 will play a role in our series. When we open, these robots will be all but indistinguishable from each other. Automatons, merely. But as the series progresses, each will slowly develop its own personality.
DEMONA - For over a thousand years, Demona has plotted against humanity, blaming them for crimes against the gargoyle race. Now that a greater threat, the Space-Spawn, has reared it's many ugly heads, Demona has reluctantly joined Samson's Resistance cell. But no one, including Demona herself, is fully confident that she'll continue to fight on the side of the angels. This may be her last chance at redemption... or her final opportunity to annihilate the human race. Still, Samson felt it necessary to actively recruit her. It's hard to pass up the help of a warrior who's survived a millennium's worth of battles, a sorceress who knows how to combine ancient magic with modern technology. And then there's that bit about her turning into a human during the day. The only question is how she will use her talents. For now, she's siding with the Resistance. But can that last?
BROOKLYN - Brooklyn is a young gargoyle warrior from our own present day. In our second episode, he'll timedance forward to 2198. The future is as new and strange to him as it is to our audience, and often Brooklyn will be the point of view character to introduce us all to this brave new world. Brooklyn does hope to return to his own time someday, and so makes a special effort not to learn too much about his own "future". But he has no intention of abandoning Samson or Earth in their time of need. Someday, however, he may have to make a choice.
FU-DOG - FU-DOG is a Gargoyle Beast bred by the Xanadu Clan in China, who arrives in 2198 with Brooklyn. Fu-Dog is fiercely loyal (especially to Brooklyn). The ultimate watchdog.
[NOTE: Eventually, the large cast will be split in half. Nokkar will take Demona, Zafiro, Guardian and LXM-1057 into space to hit the Space-Spawn where they live. Samson, Delilah, Brooklyn, Fu-Dog, Owen and LXM-994 will remain on Earth, thwarting the aliens at every turn and engaging in many non-Space-Spawn stories.]
Anyway, those are our heroes. (Other characters will be added over time.) Here's who they're up against…
THE SPACE-SPAWN - Our main antagonists. This alien race was literally "spawned in space", born amidst the fury of an exploding star. For thousands of years, they have expanded their Empire in all directions, and nothing has been able to stand in their way. Their technology is far superior to anything we had on Earth. They possess faster-than-light space travel, cloaking devices, powerful force shields and molecular transporters. They also have weapons capable of destroying the entire planet in a matter of minutes. This creates a dilemma for Samson's Resistance. If Earth becomes more trouble than it's worth, the invaders will simply evacuate the globe and annihilate it.
THE QUARRYMEN - Decades ago, the Quarrymen organization fell out of favor. They were no longer "politically correct". But the events of March 21st, 2198 changed all that. Because most of the world's leaders were abducted while attending the Gargoyle Hatching, many humans became convinced -- at least in part due to Quarrymen propaganda -- that the Gargoyles had conspired and collaborated with the aliens. Now the Quarrymen are making a comeback. They don't much care for the Space-Spawn, but their scapegoat of choice is still the Gargoyles.
THE ILLUMINATI - Of course, the Gargoyles are not collaborators. But THE ILLUMINATI SOCIETY is. The Society is an ancient fraternal organization made up of almost all the true movers and shakers on planet Earth. Many of the world leaders abducted by the Space-Spawn were secretly members of the Illuminati -- proof that the Society definitely did NOT have advanced warning of the invasion. But once the occupation was complete, the Illuminati wasted no time capitalizing on it. They negotiated a secret treaty with the aliens, promising to infiltrate, sabotage and expose any sign of resistance. In exchange, the Space-Spawn promised to release those world leaders that the Society was prepared to vouch for. This devil's agreement was the beginning of a profitable arrangement for all concerned -- and the onset of a major headache for the Resistance.
COYOTE-X - COYOTE-X is a super-advanced robot with a highly evolved and Machiavellian artificial intelligence. He has multiple robot and cyborg operatives, and any number of android bodies that can accommodate his software. Once upon a time, Coyote-X had designs on taking over the world. But that was before the Space-Spawn showed up and rebooted his operating parameters. Now anything less than total control of the entire galaxy would strike him as under-achieving.
And that's the series in a nutshell.
GARGOYLES 2198. The future is now!
Sorry, I've been so derelict in "Answering Greg" recently.
It's true that voice directing Team Atlantis has filled a bit of my time, but the fact is that what's really keeping me busy is preparations for the GATHERING (June 22-25 at the Universal Sheridan in Los Angeles).
We've been confirming guests for the last few weeks, and though unfortunately we've lost four of what might be described as "our heavy hitters", the fact remains that we have confirmed OVER FORTY special guests for the convention. Since the most we've EVER had was FOUR, I think you'll agree that this is likely to be the biggest and best Gathering to date.
Anyway, I have about twenty minutes now to answer some questions... and right before the Gathering, I'm going to my in-laws for a few days. If they've got their Web-TV set up, I should have some free time to answer a bunch of questions while I'm there. So keep your fingers crossed.
And I'll see you at the Sheridan.
In an earlier post, you said you wanted the God of the gargoyle universe to be bigger than the God of Abraham. How is that possible? The very nature of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim teachings makes this impossible. And He is in no way limited to these three religions. If you examine other faiths, it is easy to see that even religions as distant from these three as American Indians have some similarities.
I see similarities all over. ALL OVER.
These things aren't mutually exclusive, which I believe was my point.
But I've studied the bible, and I see CLEAR signs in it of a non-monotheistic god. He seems to be a geotheistic god, particularly in chapters of Genesis and Exodus. Not the only. Just "THE BEST" (or at least the toughest).
Personally, I'm a Jew who believes in God. But I can't limit my perception of him to the Torah. It just doesn't work for me. Having said that -- and before I get slammed for saying it -- let me state clearly that the above opinions are first and foremost, merely that -- OPINIONS. They are my highly personal opinions. I have no interest or desire in trying to get anyone (ANYONE) to see things my way -- anymore than I have any interest or desire for someone to attempt to convert me.
So take everything I say with a grain of salt. Or a pillar of it.
Time to Ramble...
Fueled by (what I perceived in my own mind to be) the success of "City of Stone", I began to get more daring in my story structure. In Revelations, Cary and I utilized the time-honored tradition of "in medias res", where a story starts in the middle and catches the viewer up along the way. (Thanks, Homer.)
We also used voice over narration for the first time. It's interesting because Matt just seemed like a perfect character to do that kind of Philip Marlowe naration. But at the same time, it was daring, because of course, Matt is not a regular. The audience didn't know him that well. I think it showed the strength of our supporting cast that Matt could carry a show like this. Of course, having the massively talented Tom Wilson playing Matt helped. I knew he could handle it. And he did. Tom is terrific and VERY funny in the booth. I hope someday he gets his own tv show. (I also loved him as Coach Fredericks on Freaks & Geeks.)
The basic springboard for this episode came from four sources.
1. The notion that eventually Matt would have to find out about the Gargoyles. We didn't want to just throw it away or constantly come up with new excuses why he had "just missed them" or whatever.
2. Matt's pursuit of the Illuminati. What began as a Michael Reaves throwaway line in "The Edge" had evolved into its own subplot. Cary's "Silver Falcon" had taken us to the next level of hearsay. It was time to finally bring the Society into the series.
3. Disney's desire to do a cross-over event with their new "TOWER OF TERROR" ride down in Orlando. Unfortunately, they had wanted this much earlier -- in 1994. We had piggy-backed our World Premiere Screening of Gargoyles down in Florida in September of 1994 with the press event for the Tower's Grand Opening. (That's how Keith David, Marina Sirtis, Salli Richardson, Gary Krisel and I wound up riding the Tower of Terror together on the night before it opened to the general public.) But this was the soonest we could fit the notion into our continuity. You'll see in the memo that I just posted previous to this ramble, that when we were at the outline stage, I was still trying to more firmly tie the two properties together. Partway through the script process, someone at Disney changed their mind. They didn't want the tie-in anymore. I shrugged, I think. And the HOLLYWOOD TOWER became the HOTEL CABAL.
4. An episode of the British TV series, THE AVENGERS, called something like "The House That Jack Built". This was a classic that we ripped off shamelessly. (Wait, wait, I mean we paid it homage shamelessly.) It was about this nutty house designed, I believe, to trap spies inside and drive them bonkers and break them. Sound familiar? John Steed and Emma Peel redone as Goliath and Matt. Didn't you notice the resemblance?
(Gee, so far I've credited Raymond Chandler, Homer and THE AVENGERS as influences. What a fun episode.)
We reintroduced Hacker, mostly so that we could bookend him at the end as Matt's new Illuminati contact. This was something that Cary and I planned as far back as Silver Falcon. We always had to keep Hacker's agenda straight. Make sure any info he gave Matt was a wild goose chase, at least as far as Hacker knew.
In this episode, and only in this episode, Maria Chavez is played by the talented Elisa Gabrielli (also known as Obsidiana). Rachel Ticotin, our usual Chavez, was just unavailable. So Elisa filled in. She has a lighter sound. But I think it works. Did anyone notice? Both Elisa and Rachel are great. I used Elisa as the Doll Demon in 3x3 Eyes (now available on VHS and DVD).
My 3 year old son Ben, who at this point is used to me writing down what he and his older sister says during these viewings told me to write down the following: "When it's night, Demona's a gargoyle. When it's day, she's a human. He likes it when Demona's a human." This had absolutely nothing to do with this episode, but hey, who cares?
I really loved what Ed Asner did with the throwaway character of Jack Dane. "Tell him he's a bum." Dane was so much fun, I brought him back for TURF later.
Matt climbs into the clock tower and finds the TV he helped Elisa with on the day they met. That was fun. This whole episode ties back to Matt's Illuminati musings in "The Edge". It was nice to find another connection. Also, Elisa's been lying to him as long as they've known each other. Nice to remind the audience of that as well.
I like the "family of gorillas" line.
"The Dental Plan" line is vintage Cary Bates.
Elisa: "Matt, you haven't said three words all night..."
Matt: "Let me drive." HEY! THREE WORDS! :) This is fun because, I always thought of Elisa as someone who was such a control freak, she never let her partner drive her car. A big part of this episode, though it could easily sneak past you what with everything else going on, is revealing more facets of Elisa's personality. We learn much more about her and she grows here too.
It's fun to establish Xanatos as "a lower eschelon member". Immediately makes the Illuminati impressive, if Xanatos barely registers on their scale. Also sets up eventual conflicts with him.
First act cliffhanger: Here the threat is Matt. Again, how well did you all think you knew Matt? Here we're inside his point of view -- his narration. But we still try to play him edgy enough that we don't know if he'll kill them both. It helps that we opened with the shocker that he betrayed Goliath to Mace. How many people bought that? Thought Matt was the Judas that Mace said he was?
Anyway, I really like this scene. Elisa yelling at Matt. Matt getting out of the car and yelling at... no one. And Elisa's quiet revelation that Matt isn't crazy... "They don't follow me everywhere." Again, this line was as important for Elisa as for Matt. Sure she can count on the Gargoyles for help. But I never wanted it to seem like Lois and Superman. Like he was always around or would here her with super-senses everytime she screamed. Most of the time, Elisa's on her own.
"This time I'll drive."
Fun to see the gargoyles reactions when Matt is introduced. Goliath's not upset. He appreciates that Elisa has a loyal partner and probably gave her permission to bring Matt in from the cold long before. The truth is they know Matt already.
Elisa: "better late than never".
And then immediately Goliath is suspicious. "Trust is not... to be bartered."
As creators, we were playing both ends here. Omitting pieces of conversation. Trying to get the audience to believe that Matt might in fact be betraying G. But also making it believable that in hindsight, he wasn't. Not cheating, in other words.
At this point, my six year old daughter Erin said: "I don't like Bluestone in this one. He's usually very nice. But in this one he's mean." That's how she saw him. Not righteously angry with Elisa for the lies. Just mean.
It took remarkably more effort than I'd have expected to get things to hook up with our Teaser from the beginning of the act. To help, I reused a couple of Mace's line as prompts to the audience.
It's fun to hear Tom Wilson playing Matt playing at being a bad guy.
I like all the hotel references. "Check out time" etc.
Mace falls down the shaft and grabs the cables with his bare hands. One hundred years old or not, that's gotta hoit.
I like Matt using his coat as a parachute. That wouldn't be necessary except for that darn Gallileo. If it weren't for him, Goliath, being heavier, could have fallen faster than Matt to catch up to him. :)
And of course, I enjoy the irony of Mace being trapped in a Hell of his own making. And i like the notion that the Illuminati just left him there to rot. He had outlived his usefulness. A non-member had found him thanks to his annoying sentimental habit of visiting Pine Lawn. AND he had failed to hold the Gargoyle in the Cabal. Breaking a perfect record. Woops.
Goliath refers to Bluestone as his friend. That's to make sure the audience is clear that Goliath was in on the plan from the beginning. Later, I gathered, some people still didn't get that.
We have a great Turning to Stone sequence here. Every once in a while it's nice to remind the audience that this is unique and special. Seeing it through a new characrer's eyes is a great way to do that.
I love Elisa and Matt's conversation. Elisa reveals that she's subconsciously been keeping the gargs to herself because it made her feel special. Explains a lot about "Her Brother's Keeper", doesn't it? And Matt admits to something similar. I think we all do little things to help ourselves stand out, even if no one notices them but us.
Maria then helps us see that Matt and Elisa are going to be okay.
And finally, our Hacker tag. (This episode had like six tags.) Matt gets his pin. I thought that was kinda cool...
What say all of you....
In Prep for my coming RAMBLE on REVELATIONS, here's the memo I wrote to Story Editor Cary Bates in response to his outline...
Notes on "Revelations" Outline...
I was very concerned that the first act and much of the second act came across as prologue to our adventure. And yet most of it is necessary stuff. So I think we should open the story with GOLIATH trapped in the "house that Jack built" (HTJB) and flashback from there. Probably with MATT narrating the whole story in Voice Over.
I've suggested act breaks, but you don't have to feel married to them, if the timing or page count seems wrong.
Also, I didn't suggest any specific revisits to the HTJB (after the prologue) until our story brings us back there chronologically. If you want to revisit the present in the HTJB a few times to remind the audience of the current situation and to up the action with Goliath facing another death trap, go for it. Totally up to you.
I also moved the Hacker scene up, so that he can bookend the show a little more. In his first scene, he'll still be telling Matt that the Society is a myth. In his last scene, he'll be inviting Matt to join.
HTJB/MOUNTAIN RETREAT/TOWER OF TERROR/SEEDY HOTEL
It's a bit of a stretch to believe that Goliath would go to this "Mountain Retreat" with Matt. What do they hope to accomplish there, besides illegal search and seizure? Matt's "informant" is fishy beyond belief. So is the gizmo that gets them past the security perimeter. The point of which is lost on me, since they are immediately spotted by security forces. How does defeating these forces help? THEY'VE BEEN SPOTTED. What can they hope to accomplish now? These security guards can't radio inside to hide or destroy whatever data there might be? It's all adding up to a big old fishy mess. And yes, I realize that the Illuminati want Goliath inside and that Goliath wants to get "trapped" in order for Matt's plan to work out, but it's too convenient to say everyone is intentionally acting like idiots. The audience won't be in on it. They'll just be getting frustrated. By the time we reveal the truth, they'll just generally feel the whole story was contrived.
So let's start by ditching the mountain retreat. I like the Seedy Hotel better. Someplace that from the outside seems like a totally non-descript Manhattan building. Maybe it's boarded up and condemned. Getting in is not a problem. They land on the roof and sneak inside. But getting out is impossible.
The hotel is really the "House That Jack Built". Yes, steel shutters slam shut, trapping Goliath, but more importantly, we should really lose our bearings inside. Goliath rips open a window that he thinks leads outside, only to find it's a false facade that leads into another room. At another point, he thinks he has gotten back onto the roof. But this turns out to be another interior room, with a domed ceiling painted with stars. Another room has all the furniture on the ceiling and the razor sharp ceiling fan on the floor. Maybe another room rotates. Think about optical illusions, Escher paintings, etc. The death traps are fun, but we've done them before, so it's the mind-bending surreal stuff that will make this place special.
Also since the powers-that-be have asked, and since it fits our story, please refer to this place at least once as the "TOWER OF TERROR" and do at least one death trap with a rapidly falling elevator. This is "Synergy" with the Disney/MGM theme park's TOWER OF TERROR ride in Florida. I wouldn't suggest it if it didn't fit, but it fits just fine and that kind of goodwill never hurts. The name of the hotel should be the Hollywood Tower, cause that's the name in the ride. Now I know that seems like a weird name for a manhattan hotel, but if you figure it was built in the thirties or forties, during Hollywood's heyday, you can RATIONALIZE that even a New York Hotel would want to associate itself with the glamour of Hollywood. O.K. It's a stretch, but go for it.
MATT AND SECRECY
THE THEME OF OUR STORY IS TRUST. Hit it as much as possible. However, I don't want to replay Matt's emotional arc from Silver Falcon. He learned his lesson in that story. He no longer runs off without telling Elisa where he's going or what he's doing. Matt's honesty at the beginning of the story will contrast nicely with Elisa's deception about the gargoyles and with Matt's later bitter, furtive behavior. He can't feel too betrayed by Elisa's lies if he opened the story lying to her as well.
In your beat #9, Goliath is behaving completely out of character. He may never have been introduced to Matt, but he's seen him from a distance and knows who he is. He must know from Elisa that Matt is a good guy. His long-term goal in Manhattan is to find acceptance with a growing number of humans. Elisa was the first (and is still the foremost), but Renard is a friend of Goliath's now. Jeffrey Robbins the novelist is a friend of Hudson's. Goliath tried to convince Elisa to tell the truth to her brother, etc. And in any case, he's not likely to physically assault someone for doing nothing else but looking at them. I know you want to set up a tense dynamic, but the one in beat 9 is totally artificial. So drop it.
BOTHERSOME QUESTIONS THAT MUST BE DEALT WITH IN THE SCRIPT
1. Why was it necessary for Mace to vanish in the twenties? (Perhaps he was recruited by the Illuminati, but was about to get busted for his criminal operations with Dracon. So he vanished with the money, and the Illuminati set him up with a new life. But why did they want him? Why would they bother?)
2. Why would Mace give up his glamorous gangster life to live in a seedy hotel for the Illuminati? (He obviously wouldn't. So let's not imply that he did.)
3. How did Matt make the connection between Mace and the Illuminati in the first place? (This question must get answered in this episode. In "Silver Falcon", the old photo of Mace and Dominic will depict Mace wearing the Illuminati pyramid/eye emblem. But don't count on the audience noticing or remembering that. And don't forget that Matt thought Mace was involved with the Society long before he saw that photo in Benton's office.)
4. Did Matt just get phenomenally lucky that he happened to go to Flo's grave at the same time as Mace? Was he planning on setting up 24 hour surveillance? Did he have some way of knowing that Mace visits and when?
5. How does Mace being alive prove the existence of the Illuminati? (Hint: it doesn't, by itself. See question #3.)
Mace was a prominent gangster when he disappeared in 1924. If you figure he was about thirty, he'd be 100 now give or take five years. I think we should make a point of this. He looks great, thanks to the Illuminati's rejuvenation techniques. Like a man of 75 or 80. But he proudly tells Matt that today's his 100th birthday, or something like that.
1. Establishing shot of the Seedy Hotel. It's Friday night. Inside, Goliath is already alone. The steel shutters slam shut, trapping him inside, a mysterious voice (Mace) welcomes him to the "Tower of Terror". Maybe activate a death trap or two. Maybe Goliath finds an open window, but it leads back inside. Maybe the ceiling comes down on him or something.
2. Cut to the control room, where we see Goliath on a monitor. Mace is at the controls. (We don't yet know who he is.) And then pull back to see Matt looking over Mace's shoulder. We can't believe Matt is helping to trap and kill Goliath!! Push in on Matt. In his voice over, we find out he can hardly believe it either, it all began last Tuesday....
3. First flashback begins. Last Tuesday. It's the FBI target range and the scene with MARTIN HACKER. (Don't take for granted that the audience knows Hacker. Reintroduce all the necessary, pertinent info about him, Malone and the Illuminati -- pretend they've never been mentioned before this episode.) Hacker can't believe Matt is still chasing Mace Malone and the Illuminati. It's a wild goose chase that got him fired from the Bureau. When will he learn his lesson? But Matt is determined. He's going to prove the existence of the Illuminati, prove that he's not a nutcase. So Hacker gives him the info that he asked for: the location of Malone's step-son, a mobster who's part of the Federal Witness Relocation Program. (Hacker gives him this location because he knows that Malone's step-son has no idea where Malone is.)
4. Tuesday Night. Later at the precinct house, Matt sees Captain Chavez coming out of the Ladies room. He asks her if Elisa is in there. She says no. Matt doesn't get it. Her car is here, but he can't find her.
He finally finds Elisa exiting the broom closet. Has she been sitting in a closet for the last twenty minutes? Of course, not. She was just, uh... returning a mop. One of the sinks in the ladies' room overflowed. That's where she's been (yeah, that's the ticket) cleaning up a flood in the Ladies' Room. Matt is so stunned by her obvious and clumsy lie, that he doesn't immediately confront her with it. Unaware that she's been caught in a lie, Elisa quickly changes the subject. Why was Matt looking for her? He's got a lead on the Illuminati. After the Silver Falcon debacle, he's learned his lesson about keeping his partner in the dark. (He says pointedly.) He just wanted to let her know where he's going to be tomorrow. (As with Hacker, Elisa likes Matt but seems to only tolerate his obsessions. There's the tiniest bit of a patronizing attitude toward them. Perhaps Matt invites her along on his investigation, but she thinks it's a waste of time. She's nice about it, but Matt's V.O. narration lets us know that he knows she thinks he's a kook. Same with Hacker in the scene above.)
5. Wednesday. Matt confronts Malone's step-son, JACKSON DANE (or whatever) at the gym (or wherever). (Jackson's 80 if he's a day, but he can have Ferrigno-sized goons. Though you need to be careful that Matt doesn't come across as a dirty or rogue cop. I don't want him to break any laws.) Matt asks Jackson about Mace. Dane hasn't seen Mace since he was a little kid. Matt pulls out a photo that was taken at the memorial service for Jackson's mother (Mace's ex-wife), actress Flo Dane, when she died fifteen years ago. It was a big deal thing. We see a picture of Jackson in the front row. Did Jackson see Mace at the funeral. No. Matt takes out a second picture. A blow up of people in the back row. He points to one. Jackson looks carefully, and whaddaya know? It's Mace. Now Matt wants to know where Flo Dane is buried. Jackson says that his mom didn't want her grave to become a tourist attraction, so she was buried under her real name, FLORA DREEDLE. Did Mace know that name? Yes, he did.
6. Wednesday, just before sundown. Back at the precinct, Elisa asks Chavez if Matt's checked in yet. No. Elisa goes up to see the gargoyles. We follow her into the broom closet. The pull-down ladder is already down. She nervously pulls her gun and goes upstairs. Only to find Matt there. She's under time pressure to get him out of there, since it's nearly sunset. He points to the t.v. set. He remembers helping her bring that into the precinct the day they met. She had said it was for a friend. She pretends that this is her little getaway spot when police life gets too intense. Some getaway spot. An old lounge chair. A hot plate. Video game equipment. Books. Enough food for a family of gorillas. She says she may be bending a few regulations, but she's not breaking any laws. Don't tell Chavez, o.k.? (She has got to get him downstairs.) So how'd it go with Mace's step-son? He's still highly suspicious, but enthusiastic enough about filling her in on Mace that he allows her to guide him back downstairs. Matt has checked with the funeral home. Some old man shows up there every Thursday and leaves a rose for Flora Dreedle. It's a long shot but Matt is going to be there tomorrow to find Mace Malone.
7. Thursday. Matt finds Mace Malone, who goes into a bit of denial, but we'll give him an Illuminati tattoo on the palm of his hand (or something). Mace relents, impressed. The Illuminati has been aware of Matt's quest. They've thrown multiple roadblocks in his way, and still Matt found Mace. The Society has clearly underestimated the boy. Mace offers Matt membership based on a loyalty test. Matt: You want me to prove my loyalty? How do I know I can trust you? Mace: Fair question. What if I prove good faith by revealing a bit of information donated by one of our lower echelon members, David Xanatos. Matt's listening.
8. Very late Thursday night. Elisa and Matt are driving in her car. She's driving. She asks him if everything's all right. The shift's almost over and he hasn't said three words all night. "Let me drive," he says [exactly three words]. No way -- it's my car, she replies, only half-kidding. He INSISTS. She relents, realizing he's pretty upset about something. It's a very awkward moment. She has to stop the car, get out and switch sides with him. He's silent the whole time. He drives. Where are they headed? He ignores the question, but tells her that today he found Mace Malone. That's great, she says, but you're driving awfully fast. He ignores that too, saying he feels like he's on a streak. Now that he's proven the Illuminati exists, he's about to prove the existence of another urban myth that he's been taunted for believing in. Matt, she yells, you're driving us right into the path of some kind of danger!! That's right he says, and the only way we can be saved is if your gargoyles save us.
9. Elisa manages to wrest the wheel from him and turn the car into a very uncontrolled 360° skid. Thank god for seat belts. They barely survive. Elisa is furious at Matt! What the heck does he think he's doing?! He's trying to get his partner to tell him the truth. He gets out of the car and yells to the sky. "I know you're out there! Show yourself!" Nothing happens. No gargoyles appear. Elisa gets out of the car. Matt's expecting another lie. But all she says is, "They don't follow me everywhere I go." They look at each other. C'mon, she says. I'll drive. (NOTE: I don't think we need to bring up informants. Elisa can believe that Matt has put two and two together from all the lies she's had to tell in the first act.)
10. But by the time they get back to the precinct it's dawn, early Friday morning. Too late, she says. He doesn't buy it. He knows that set-up in the clock tower must be for them. She's still reluctant to tell him the whole truth. Look, she says, you have to be patient for a little while longer. (Note: she has not actually apologized yet.) Meet me back here this evening. Ten minutes before sunrise.
11. Friday. Mace and Matt meet again. Has Matt seen the gargoyles yet? Tonight. But the information was correct? Yes, she friends with them. The Society has demonstrated good faith. Does Matt still want to join? Yes. Then you're willing to take the loyalty test? Yes, what do I have to do? Bring us a gargoyle.
12. Friday at twilight. Matt and Elisa head out the clock face's door (at roman numeral VI) Matt sees the statues of the gargoyles and gets pissed again. No stone statues are going to fool him. He knows they're flesh and blood. He's seen them (in previous episodes). She says hold on and stand back. The sun goes down. The gargoyles explode from stone. Milk this for all the awe and majesty, etc., that it's worth. Seeing it from Matt's point of view, we should all feel like we're seeing it again for the first time. The gargoyles approach. They all know Matt, even if he doesn't know them. Even Bronx is friendly. Matt is awestruck. Speechless. Elisa tells Matt that the Gargoyles have adopted the city and protect it as they once protected their castle in Scotland long ago. She asks him to keep the gargoyles' secret. He says he will, but he wants something in return. Goliath doesn't love the idea of being blackmailed into anything. Matt says he's tracked Mace to a seedy condemned hotel. He's sure he can get proof of the Illuminati's existence if he could just get into the hotel, but it's locked and boarded up on the ground floor. He needs Goliath's help to enter via the roof. The other gargoyles offer to help, but Matt isn't trying to lay siege to the place, he just wants to sneak in and sneak out. All he needs is Goliath. Elisa wants to go, but Matt specifically doesn't want her to. Why? Because I want to find out once and for all whether you trust me. So Goliath takes off with Matt. (AND I think we can assume that Matt filled Goliath in on his plan on the flight over to the seedy hotel.)
13. Friday night. They land on the roof of the hotel. With Goliath's help, they break into the stairway and go inside. Almost immediately, Matt is forcibly separated from Goliath and spirited away to join Mace in the control room. Mace is very pleased with Matt. He presses a button and steel shutters slam home in a repeat of scene 1. Which brings us up to date, end on a cliff hanger and go to commercial.
14. Play Goliath in the HTJB. Have fun with it. You've got most of the act. Meanwhile, Matt asks Mace how long they plan to keep Goliath here. Why, we can keep him here forever. He'd never find his way out without help. So Matt has to secretly help Goliath. But you can't have that signal device. Where would Matt get it from? He's not Batman. So think of something else. Ultimately, they escape leaving Mace hopelessly lost inside the surreal world of his own making. (That's the Illuminati's punishment for him. He can die of dehydration there, some time in the future and we don't have to portray it or worry about S&P.) All this is done in such a way that the Illuminati would later blame Mace not Matt. If you need help to choreograph this, give me a call.
15. Pre-Dawn Saturday morning, Goliath and Matt return to the clock tower where Elisa and the others are waiting. We find out definitively that Matt tipped Goliath off to his plan on the way to the seedy hotel. He was hoping to join the Illuminati -- so he could bust them from the inside, but in order to escape, they had to trap Mace, his only Illuminati connection, in the HTJB, so it was all for nothing. Matt watches with Elisa as the Gargoyle's turn to stone. (Again, milk this. Through Matt's eyes it should feel like the first time.) Elisa and Matt have their little scene. She finally apologizes. He asks why she kept it a secret from him. And etc.
16. Matt walks outside and there's Hacker, who reveals that he's a member of the Illuminati who had been assigned to Matt to keep him away from the Illuminati. Matt can't believe it: Hacker helped him with info. Only info that Hacker thought led down a dead end. Matt just figured a way to do an end run around the dead ends. No hard feelings. Anyway, he always liked Matt, so he's proud to give him his official Illuminati membership pin. Matt doesn't get it. The society lost the gargoyle. Mace's fault, not Matt's. Hacker promises to keep in touch. He hops in an unmarked car and drives off. After he's gone, Matt says something determined about keeping in touch too. This isn't over.
Wow! A new episode ramble! Well, here's my thoughts on "City of Stone Part Three".
I get a chuckle out of the "I never watch television" scene - although I've occasionally thought that the lady must have been reading the script to know that watching Demona's broadcast was what turned everyone to stone :) (Then again, maybe it isn't such a hard connection to make).
Yes, I'd noted that Lulach's name got spelled wrong (I was aware of the original Lulach of history before "City of Stone" came out); thanks for explaining about how that happened.
I mentioned in my ramble on Part Two that the Duncan of "City of Stone" felt a lot closer to the Shakespearean Macbeth than the Macbeth of "City of Stone" did, and the Weird Sisters scene brings it home all the more. They do their "toil and trouble" scene, as per the play (which delighted me from the very first time that I saw the episode) - but note here the twist from Shakespeare. In Shakespeare, the Weird Sisters' words inspire Macbeth to move against Duncan. In "City of Stone", they inspire Duncan to move against Macbeth, instead. (And it says a lot about Duncan that he should completely forget that Macbeth just saved his life a few minutes before, simply because of the words of three old crones).
The scene where the Sisters transfer Demona and Macbeth's ages is a very effective one (although I don't know if I'd gotten the full story there until Part Four came along). So also is the battle scene, including Duncan's fiery end. (Again, I wasn't too surprised by the basic manner in which Macbeth overthrew Duncan; I'd already read that he did overthrow Duncan in actual history - and that it was in 1040, so I was expecting that incident the moment that the "1040" caption appeared on the screen. I'd also read that Shakespeare seems to have borrowed the more familiar murder story from Holinshed's account of the murder of a certain King Duff - apparently the same Duff who appeared in your "Once Upon a Time There Were Three Brothers" story as Kenneth II and Prince Malcolm's older brother. Although that Duff's final days reminded me more of Uther Pendragon's, in his going into his final battle in a litter - but I digress).
A couple of thoughts about Demona at the coronation that really stand out to me. First off, when Demona comments that she'd rather that humans feared gargoyles than respected them, I can't help but think that it shows how Demona doesn't always reason things out. For humans do fear gargoyles - and that's what causes the problem. Humans hunt and destroy gargoyles because they're afraid of them. So I don't think that it's clear thinking on Demona's part to desire that her race be feared.
The other part is the astonished, then delighted look upon Demona's face when the humans in the great hall actually cheer her. Another one of those almost sad moments, in that she's given an opportunity to see what it can be like to be loved by humans instead of feared - and seventeen years later, she'll reject it. A moment equal to her brief "What have I done?" moment in 994, before she changed it to "What have they done?"
I very much liked the Weird Sisters' little lurkings in the background throughout (and caught their policewoman role at once).
Oh, and I like the title "City of Stone". True, it indeed does ignore the flashbacks that are so crucial, but it sounds good. I didn't even notice that trait when I watched the multi-parter.
But perhaps the most intriguing part of "City of Stone" remains this: how many animated adventure series would dare air a story that spends so much of its time in medieval Scotland, as opposed to a more high-tech setting (whether modern-day or futuristic), exploring actual events in early Scottish history? "Gargoyles" was definitely unique in that regard.
I'm looking forward to the "Part Four" ramble.
And I'm looking forward to your response to that ramble.
City of Stone was obviously a momentous undertaking for us. In more ways then one. I was glad they let us do it at all. Impressed that they let us do it. And of course, I think it really is THE set of episodes that brings an EPIC flavor to the rest of the series. Sure the Pilot is big. But then we seemed to settle down. Now our scope has expanded in multiple directions at once. Avalon and the World Tour will do the same thing. But by then it's almost expected. I think City is more of a revelation. (When watched in order and for the first time.)
Time to Ramble...
My three year old son Ben watched the opening titles for about the five hundredth time. On the one hand, he made the point that it was getting dull seeing this same opening. He wanted me to fast-forward to the actual story.
On the other hand, he spent the time reviewing "the rules". How the gargs turn to stone during the day. How Goliath is the leader. Etc.
One thing we always cheated on was how Fortress-2 landed. There it is on the ground awaiting it's maiden voyage, and I just don't see any landing gear.
Vogel is introduced. This is another thing where I had to carefully explain my long-term intent behind the screen in order to get a model for the character that really looked like Owen but wasn't his twin. I remember a lot of people on the Disney Afternoon mailing list reacting negatively to Preston in this episode. Like he was a feeble imitation of Owen. Like we didn't know how to do any other kind of executive assistant. I was simultaneously amused and annoyed by those kind of comments. So now I'm curious. What was your initial reaction to Vogel? And what do you think of him now?
As usual, Travis has old-school attitude when interviewing his subjects. I like that. Makes him more of a character and not just a reporter place-holder.
Fox in casual clothes. With a very casual, yet strangely intense attitude. "I know what happens next," Fox says to David.
My six year old daughter Erin asked, "Why is she watching [Travis' report] like that?" She could tell something was up there.
And in fact, like UPGRADE, this was another episode where we were intentionally trying to show that Fox was David's equal. We show it physically in their martial arts work out. And we show it by giving her a ruthless and complex plot to take Cyberbiotics. In fact, in this episode, when you add in the fact that David is clearly in the dark about her pregnancy test, she seems to be a little equaler than he is.
Fortress-2 takes off. And Goliath sends us into flashback. This is flat-out padding. For some reason, though the script is the same basic length as any of our scripts, this one timed out short after story-boarding was done. (Most of my stories time out too long.) So we added this flashback. I think it was a mistake. It kills the stories momentum, and we already had the sequence later where Renard shows all the important scenelets to Goliath. Those become incredibly redundant. When you add in the "Previously on Gargoyles" opening, it was just too much.
Elisa reveals the show's Hill Street Blues influence by telling Goliath to "be careful out there."
Goliath gets attacked by cybots. As noted, any individual cybot is no match for him. But they have strength in numbers. I wanted to show that Goliath can still kick some ass when motivated. So the cybots shoot at him. And his only response is "That. Stings." Very intense. Unfortunately, I think sound-wise the line gets buried.
And that's a general problem with the episode. On a technical level this just wasn't one of our best. The animation isn't awful, but it's mediocre. Goliath's size relationship gets screwed up here and there. (Particularly in the brig sequences.) The story's padded by flashbacks. Our normally great sound team, didn't do the most inspiring job on this one either. It just generally feels like one that got away from us.
I still think there's some great stuff in it. And the revelation of Fox's pregnancy actually makes it something of a landmark (both for our series and for animated series in general), but the execution never quite lived up to its potential. Oh, well.
CONTINUITY & INTRIGUE
Did anyone remember Cyberbiotics before this ep? Had you ever wondered who Xanatos was stealing from in the pilot? We knew that Cyberbiotics abandoned their underground base, which became the home of the Mutates. Now we were rebuilding the air fortress and revealing that the CYberbiotics Tower is still in business.
Also, Renard mentions Gen-U-Tech. And the revelation that Sevarius and Burnett used to work for Cyberbiotics. Of course, Renard thinks that Xanatos stole Sevarius and Owen away. We know better. We knew even then that Sevarius is much better suited to work for a man like Xanatos than Renard. And of course, now we know why Owen was Xanatos-bound as well. But what did you guys think of that minor revelation at the time?
Renard's opinion of Xanatos is probably colored by his relationship to his daughter: "And that's the least that viper has stolen from me." Did you stop at that moment to consider what that meant and what he meant by the "My Anastasia. My Janine." line? Did anyone (from Renard's name, if nothing else) guess that Fox was his daughter, before the tag? Who did you think Anastasia and Janine were at that time? Or did Goliath's follow up line, "My angel of the night." distract you from considering these questions?
At this point, just before the Janine line, Erin (who has seen these before, but not recently) remembered: "That's Fox's daddy!"
Goliath has some cool lines here too. "I belong to no one." "I serve no master."
And Renard (voiced by Robert Culp to perfection) has some great lines too: "Not my fault, not my fault. You sound like every human employee I've ever FIRED." and "Take some responsibility."
What was fun for me, although maybe for no one else, was (a) to get some hard thoughts about both the need and the difficulty of maintaining personal integrity up onto the screen and (b) doing that by lecturing to Goliath, arguably one of the most "integrous" characters I've ever written. (b) served (a), by showing that even Goliath can be prone to slipping.
The thing is that integrity really matters to me. And yet, I don't know how much of it I exercise in my own life. I really do try. But it's so hard. And not because I'm a dishonest person, but more because I'm lazy. It's easier to shift blame, to tell white lies, etc. The alternative takes effort and vigilance. I think the rewards are immense, even if the costs are too. But I ain't kidding myself about the difficulty.
The martial arts scene. Reminiscent of the scene from the Edge where Owen toppled David. Here we hinted even more strongly that Fox is Renard's daughter. David is basically giving her permission to back out of the plan, to save face and exit, BEFORE she destroys her father. It's not that David really cares about Halcyon. I think he's thinking about his relationship to his own father. David likes to believe (at this stage in the series) that he's evolved beyond the need for a parental relationship. But "Vows" sort of demonstrates that his relationship with Petros is much more complex than that. David still needs parental approval and is somewhat amazed (at least subconsciously) that Fox does not. Again, in this episode, Fox is more than his equal.
And now the doctor calls with test results. David shows legitimate fear here for a moment. He's not thinking pregnancy. He's worried maybe she's sick or something. She enjoys toying with him. Maybe she's just in a mood. But her armor is on in force in this ep. We won't really get INSIDE Fox until "The Gathering" two-parter.
Finally, Goliath acknowledges his crime: "I was wrong." Cary had this great line for Renard: "I'm glad you're gargoyle enough to admit it."
Robert Culp and Peter Scolari were an interesting pair as Renard and Vogel. Culp was tough in the booth. Very precise. Very clear ideas about how he wanted to play the character. Tougher on his performance than Jamie and I were. And the results show.
Peter was a dream to work with. We spent an hour talking after the recording (about Busom Buddies, mostly). He's an incredibly nice guy. And he picked up the character right away. Despite the fact that we didn't have Jeff Bennett there to do a little Owen for him. He just got it.
Until the end, Vogel really plays Renard in this. He knows how much Renard hates whining blame-shifters, so he's constantly saying things like "You can place the blame on me if you like." in order to defuse any of Renard's suspicions.
But in a more subtle way, Renard is unwittingly playing upon Vogel as well. He doesn't intrude on Vogel's phone calls. He treats him with respect and gives him credit ("You and I built this ship together"). Insists that Vogel save the people in the tower, even if it means Renard's own life. We can see that Vogel was willing to take Fox's money for a bit of corporate espionage. But Vogel is not a killer. (It's important to see that he views Goliath as a creature.) This partially explains his turnaround at the end. (Which some people complained about.) All along he's been trying to get Renard to GET OFF THE SHIP. But Renard forces his hand. And when push comes to shove, Vogel likes Renard too much to see him die. "Mr. Vogel, I knew you wouldn't let me down." "You have that effect on people." And then Goliath basically bluffs him at the end there into confessing, screwing up their relationship.
But Goliath fixes it again. His last discussion with Renard sets up the reconciliation between them that must have taken place before "Golem".
At any rate, it's also nice to see Goliath make a NEW friend. This was important, because that has always been Goliath's goals. To make friends with humans on his own terms. Every once in a while, we had to show it working. Couldn't just be ONLY Elisa forever.
Ben weighed in at this point and said, "Daddy, I love Xanatos. And I love Fox." Of course, Ben and Erin dressed up as David and Fox at the last Gathering. In fact they dressed up in the martial arts outfits from this episode. Thus the affinity. I once played Theseus in the play THE WARRIOR'S HUSBAND. And Edmund in KING LEAR. It gave me an on-going affinity for both characters and awakened my interest in "The Bastard" archetype.
Now the tag. I'm usually pretty proud of our tags. They often advance the overall story as much as the entire episode. But this is one of my favorites. "Hello, Janine." "Hello, daddy." Was anyone ready for that? And her attitude: "Almost got you that time, didn't I?" The whole sense that Fox is in all this just for kicks. She's not as acquisitive as her husband. He'd always take the path of LEAST resistance to a goal. If Renard would give Janine the company, X would suggest she ask for it. But she doesn't care about the company. ONLY the game. X likes the game. But he's about RESULTS. All established in one little scene.
And of course that slick little pregnancy revelation. I think that was one of the most revolutionary and flat-out subversive things we did on the whole show. Was anyone ready for that? We had hinted at it with the "genetically compatible" line in "Eye of the Beholder" and obvioulsy with "It's your doctor... with test results." But I think it was quite the shocker.
And Fox is so tough. Pregnant and back on the hang-glider. I love it.
Okay, I'm done. You're turn. Ramble away...