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"Long Way To Morning" This was my title, based on an idea I'd had from way early in the development of the series. It was always obvious to me that the fact that the gargs turned to vulnerable stone at sunrise, gave the series a built-in ticking clock that added tension. But given the gargoyles' healing factor (to borrow a Wolverine term) it occured to me early on that there might come a time when sunrise couldn't come fast enough. That was the origin of this episode and the title. (I think I may have even mentioned the scenario in the Series' Writers' Bible.)
The other obvious purpose of the episode was to give Hudson a showcase episode to equal the Trio tryptich. As I've mentioned before, Gargoyles was originally developed as a comic series, and one of the funny little gargoyles in that show was "Ralph", a very domestic couch potato Gargoyle who loved to stay at home and watch T.V. Hudson developed out of Ralph, but he spent much of the first few episodes "Guarding the castle" (or the clock tower). We'd given him some great action in AWAKENING. But we still felt a major need to UN-RALPH him.
I wanted to deal with his age as realistically as possible. To have him doubt himself, maybe even be aware of his limitations, but then have him prove to himself that he still had something to contribute. I think we basically succeed in that here.
But this ep afforded us other opportunities as well. Opportunities to explore Wyvern backstory in our parallel flashback story:
--We find out definitively that Hudson WAS the leader of the clan and that Goliath was his second. We also get to see the baton get passed.
--We learn how Hudson was blinded in one eye.
--We meet Prince Malcolm and get a sense of how Princess Katharine became the bitch she was at the start of "Awakening". I think this was very important in paving the way for her role in the "Avalon" tryptich. By the end of "Awakening", she's remorseful and has seen the error of her ways, but it doesn't change how badly she acted. But this episode reveals how and why her antipathy toward Gargoyles was created. It doesn't excuse her behaviour, but it helps to explain it enough so that we can buy her as a heroine when we next see her. Malcolm doesn't come off as well. I wanted to present how easily casual thoughtless words could be hurtful, and even lead to tragic consequences. My daughter Erin (age 5 1/2) had seen this episode at least once before. But this time, that aspect of Malcolm's inadvertent damage and Katharine's mistaken blame really grabbed her attention. The injustice of it really troubled her. Which is exactly the response I was looking for. (My kids are so cool. She also noticed Hudson's eye getting injured, and commented on how smart Hudson was to jump off into the waterfall.)
--I love the subtle changes that Jeff, Keith and Marina made in their voices when playing the young Magus, Goliath and Demona. It's interesting to see Demona's progression in hindsight from "Vows" to "Long Way" to "Awakening, Part One" to "City of Stone" to the present day. She really is a fascinating character, if I do say so myself. Here, you see her ambition. But no villainy. Of course, it made for a nice counterpoint with her vicious murderous tendencies in the present day story.
--Throughout production of this episode, I had to keep pointing out to the artists, etc., that the flashbacks all had a point of view, i.e. Hudson's. That Demona and Goliath's "private conversations" could NOT be as private as they thought. Hudson had to know what they were saying about him. Both because it further eroded his confidence in both the past and present (the true demon he had to overcome) and because if he didn't hear those conversations it would be cheating to include them in HIS dreams and flashbacks.
--We also intro'd the ARCHMAGE. A one-shot villain if I ever saw one, except that David Warner was so amazing, I knew I had to bring the character back. When he falls into the chasm, you can just here the Phoenix Gate exploding open down there. (Of course, to some people that sounded like him hitting bottom. Their mistake.)
Brooklyn still has it in for D. Broadway is now Ultra-Protective of Elisa. Hudson has superior tracking skills in the past and the present.
And Demona has clearly focused her hatred on Elisa. (Who, by the way, loses her second gun of the series.) It was important for these early episodes that we fool Demona into thinking that Elisa was dead. Otherwise, how else do we explain why she doesn't just kill her.
Demona at the end, uses her cannon as a club. This was designed to be ambiguous. Did Hudson's sword damage the weapon? Or was Demona just so furious that she wanted the satisfaction of cudgeling the old guy to death? Yeah, it was designed to be ambiguous, but no one ever EVER thought that the gun was damaged. They all assumed Demona just lost it. Which is probably true.
Speaking of that Waterfall thing, that image was important retro-pipe for Hunter's Moon, Part Three. (More on that in 54 chapters.)
Animation-wise, I just wish Demona hadn't come off as such a lousy shot.
I love Hudson and Goliath's last exchange. Goliath assures Hudson that he still has "Years of fighting left". Hudson, glad to be of use, is still less than thrilled at the prospect. It's a great wry beat, but it was also important to me to point out that no rational person would wish to fight like that forever. The gargs, including Hudson, fight the good fight because they have to, because it is their duty, part of their natural protective instincts. But none of them WANT to fight.
As usual, I'd like to encourage responses to this episode here at ASK GREG, particularly how you responded to viewing this for the first time.
The fourth episode of Max Steel airs tomorrow morning on the WB (in order for a rare change).
It's called "Sportsmen" and was written by Jon Weisman.
It features a few guest voice actors that might be familiar to you guys.
Cam Clark for starters, the voice of Erik Sturluson and Young Gillecomgain.
And oh, yeah, a couple of guys named Adcox and Bennett. (Tried to get Faggerbakke, but he was unavailable.)
God, I thought January would kill me. But it bit the dust.
But I gotta recuperate.
I think it's now safe to announce my latest project.
I'm voice directing the English dub of a two volume direct-to-video Japanese Anime series for New Generation Pictures and Pioneer. It's called 3X3 EYES, and it's the story, more-or-less, of a 3-eyed girl with multiple personality disorder and her teen-age zombie bodyguard. :)
The project isn't completely cast, but it stars
Christian "Max Steel" Campbell as Yakumo Fujii
Brigitte "Angela" Bako as Pai/Sanjiyan
There are a few other familiar names among the cast (many from either GARGOYLES or MAX STEEL or NAZCA).
So far the cast includes...
Thom "Lexington" Adcox
Keith "Goliath/Thailog" David
Bill "Broadway" Faggerbakke
Jean "Yevshenko/Keita" Gilpin
Yuji "Chang" Okumoto
Rick "Dan" Simone
Keith "Psycho/Mairot" Szaribajka
Greg "Nice Mask" Weisman
I'm having a great time. I'll keep you posted on our progress.
Hi again, Greg. This is in response to your ramble about the changing of characters and scenarios from episode to episode. Let me just say that, personally, it's probably the biggest reason I love Gargoyoles.
The fact that all these little storylines make up a few larger storylines that make up one huge story is what makes Gargoyles so intriguing. The evolution of characters, the fact the the situation isn't exactly the same at the end of every episode.... To me that's what makes the story.
Frankly, its kinda frustrating when a show with the potential for a changing, evolving storyline returns "everything to normal" at the end of each episode. Like some viewers couldn't figure out what was going on if they didn't. Gargoyles didn't do this. You guys took the risk, and it makes Gargoyles a great show.
Thanks. Status Quo television frustrates me as well. It scares most tv executives, but not anyone who loves great television. Better to take the risk and fail than not risk anything.
A response to your post on shocking moments in Gargoyles-
I was genuinely suprised by all three endings in the Hunter's Moon episodes. I saw PT 2 and figured the episode would be continued right as Robyn had her finger over the button, but then...SHE PRESSED IT!! The missile went off, the colck tower exploded! There was no going around that, they showed the explosion! I was in 8th grade at the time of it's original airing, and I remember sitting in my science class and wondering how they would ever get out of that situation? Where would they live now? With Elisa? I certainly NEVER would have guessed that Xantatos would show up and save them, but, it worked. I loved it. I was at the edge of my seat with my mouth open in awe, I couldn't wait until the GOLIATH CHRONICLES aired in January...
You did a great job, very dramatic story telling that took risks and still made sense. I loved it. Gargoyles is one of the finest television series ever. Because of you and Gargoyles, I have taken an interest in mythology, Shakespeare, Arthurian Legends, Animation. It covers EVERYTHING. I read T.H. Whites "Once and Future King" over the summer (while ASK YOU was down) just because I wanted to know more about these subjects that interested me in the show. I'm a Senior in High School and for my Senior Project, I'm Illustrating in comic book fashion 3 of shakespeare's plays...WHY? Because of Gargoyles. You have opened up so many doors to me, and I thank you.
Thank you! You just made my night.
If the team and I introduced you to Shakespeare and White, then we really did something worthwhile. By the way, have you read White's "Book of Merlin". It's a wonderful final chapter to "Once and Future King". The scene with the hedgehog always breaks my heart.
By the end of this episode, everyone is happy.
Both Goliath and Xanatos are afraid they've lost their edge. Both are convinced by the end that they've regained it. Both are at least partially deceiving themselves. [One of the little ambiguities that I love about the Xanatos tags is that one way to interpret them is that David is just full of it. He loses, but claims victory anyway.]
But David is just so lovable in this episode. You gotta love the villain who does NOT penalize his subordinate for beating him in a judo match. And he has such great audacious dialogue (kudos to Michael Reaves and Jonathan Frakes). A few approximate samples:
--"I'm the best friend you have."
--"If you're going to be picky, we won't get anywhere."
--"You're taking this much too personally."
And those were all in one scene. A scene where he's just standing out there awaiting their arrival. I mean, a guy as busy as he is... Is that confidence/arrogance or what?
And he's not afraid to get his hands dirty. Giving X the armor was essential. Up to this point, David had been only the brains. But to be a true reverse-hero, he had to be a warrior as well. Here we showed he had what it takes to mix it up. But always without being stupid. Question: How many of you knew the "red robot" was Xanatos in armor before the tag? Of course, now it seems obvious, but what about the first time you saw this ep?
And yet Elisa "Wouldn't want his karma." What goes around comes around. All that arrogance, had to receive some commeuppance. (Can anyone say Oberon?)
One thing that I thought was TOO OBVIOUS was the Steel Clan theft of the EYE OF ODIN. I would have preferred if that scene had been more ambiguous in Act One. Preferred that the audience maybe think that the Robot WAS Goliath, so that when Matt takes aim at the cliffhanger, we think he's going to shoot Goliath. The cliffhanger doesn't really play as is. Only Elisa is fooled, not the audience.
Everyone wonders why Xanatos donated the Eye to the Museum of MODERN Art. (Maybe because it had mediocre security, but adequate security cameras.) But what I want to know is whether or not Edvard Munch's "The Scream" is really at that museum?
Speaking of THE EYE, I may have mentioned that this was actually the idea of the Disney interactive video game people. We wanted to be synergistic, and I kinda liked the whole idea, so we put it into the show. It was another of our step-by-step additions to the continuity. Intro it as a minor maguffin. A dewdad for Xanatos. And build from there, with the eventual plan to actually make it Odin's eye. At some point in all this, we completely forgot that the idea came from the interactive people. We went back to see them months and months later and were reminded. Luckily the concepts hadn't gotten too far away from each other. But the design did. Unfortunately, our design wound up looking a bit Egyptian for my tastes. The Interactive design had a great Raven motif. (Oh, well.)
New characters (more or less):
A cameo by Derek.
The first mention of the Emir.
The first appearance of Travis Marshall. Michael and I worked this guy out together. He wouldn't be one of those fluff journalists. He'd be old school. He wouldn't whitewash David, just because the guy was a rich man. We always made sure to give Travis that edge. And still, I always felt we underused him. In this episode, Matt gives him a lift in Derek's chopper. Matt says, "You owe me one." Eventually, I'd like to see Matt collect on that favor in a story focusing on the two of them.
And speaking of Matt...
The first real appearance of Matt Bluestone. This guy was largely Michael Reaves' creation. (Although the "Bluestone" name was one of our earlier choices for Elisa's last name. After Chavez, Reed and Chavez, but before Maza.) At first, I admit I was dubious about him being a conspiracy nut. But it so worked. And this was the first time I ever worked with Tom Wilson. He's just so great. And so damn funny to have in the booth. (I love him in FREAKS & GEEKS.)
Matt & Elisa discuss the Illuminati, UFO's and Loch Ness. I love how dubious she is, with her inside joke: "Believe me, the world's strange enough as it is." Little does she know.
But my favorite thing about Matt is that ultimately he's a healthy influence on Elisa... "Maybe that's when you need one [a partner] the most." He's just a really good guy.
As usual, characters keep their promises. Matt vows to find out what those creatures (the gargs) are. And by God, eventually he does.
More on continuity...
Elisa's only JUST coming back to work. In cartoon terms, the fact that we waited this long after her gunshot wound, was a relative eternity. The height of cartoon realism. It doesn't seem like very long, but months passed between the original airings of DEADLY FORCE and THE EDGE.
And Chavez won't let her go back on the job without a partner. Michael conceptualized Matt -- after I mandated the creation of Elisa's partner. Cops have partners. It is one of the defining things about cops. When cop-shows show cops working solo, it always bugs me. I felt we got away with it for a bit. But it was time to make Elisa a more real cop. And that meant a partner. Not a bad guy. But someone who could potentially cause her trouble. And yet still really be her partner.
Broadway is still very solicitous toward Elisa. Taking the tv from her. It's sweet.
The show is gorgeous to look at. (Thanks Roy, et al.)
I love Lexington's line when he regains consciousness: "We're still alive. How come?"
Watching the show this time, my daughter was very nervous that the Statue of Liberty would be damaged in the battle between our gargs and the Steel Clan. But when Broadway nailed one robot by impaling him with a metal claw from the other robot, Erin said, "Nice one."
Goliath is reading Dostoevsky. Are you?
The "second" episode of Max Steel, "Sacrifices", should air this Saturday morning on the WB (check local listings).
For those hopeless few attempting to keep track continuity-wise, this one was designed to fit between the two you've already seen, i.e. after the pilot episode (set in Berlin) and before the origin/flashback episode (set largely in Paris).
Another episode by episode ramble. Feedback encouraged.
So here's where all that great continuity got us in major trouble.
The episodes were all designed to play in a certain order. But I didn't tell my bosses that in advance. I know it sounds sneaky, but it wasn't really. We wrote the darn things and sent them off in order. It never occured to me they wouldn't be able to come back and air in order. I mean, how could a newer episode get the jump on an older one? How could an older episode not be ready before a newer one? Then the footage came back on "Enter Macbeth".
This was the first episode not animated in Japan. And immediately we knew we were in trouble. I'm not talking about the version you all have seen. The one that aired. I'm talking about stuff you never saw. Much of the original footage we got was unusable. This wasn't about just calling retakes. This wasn't about us bitching how "Thrill" wasn't as well animated as "Awakening". This was a major disaster. So my bosses said: "Air the next one." And I responded, "We can't."
And not just because they were all designed to air in order. It was a horrible coincidence, but this episode, this episode that was unairable, was a tentpole. Yeah, if Thrill or Temptation had been reordered it would have been sad. Same with "The Edge" and "Long Way To Morning". But big deal, right? Better to get a new episode out and not make the audience deal with repeats this early in the season. (Remember, we had aired our first five episodes in one week. This was only week five. In those days, week five was considered way too early in the year for reruns.)
But this was the follow-up to Elisa's injury. It was important to us that we continue our policy of "repercussions". We put her on crutches to show that a gunshot wasn't something that was solved in twenty-two minutes. This was an ongoing recovery. If you pulled the crutches out by airing Edge next, you blew out the sense of repercussions.
But that wasn't the clincher. Of course, the clincher was the Clock Tower. This was the episode where the Gargs were "banished" from the castle and moved to the Clock Tower. That was a major shift. If we cut straight to Edge, the audience would be lost. Fortunately, Gary was convinced. In a way, I was lucky that our first crisis of order came on such a pivotal "tentpole" episode. We couldn't reorder these. So we went with reruns. But it was a lesson learned. And it would effect the way we approached the second season.
But meanwhile, we had the problem at hand. We couldn't reanimate the entire show. So we picked shots to redo judiciously. There are still some awful looking scenes. When Goliath says, "How Dare You?!" to Elisa, he looks like an Animaniacs parody of Goliath. And that sarcophogus/iron maiden thing that Goliath follows Macbeth through looks like a prop out of CHIP N DALE'S RESCUE RANGERS. (Another perfectly good series, but with a slightly different art style, if you know what I mean.) Or how about the GIANT remote that Macbeth pulls from his duster in order to summon his ship? "Enter Macbeth" is still, as aired, the worst looking episode of the first season. And that really killed Frank and I, because we both really loved this story. We were sure that the bad animation would kill any interest in Macbeth. The fact that generally, the character did catch hold of fandom's collective imagination is a true testament to the work of Steve Perry, Michael Reaves, John Rhys-Davies and Jamie Thomason. And, oh, yes... William Shakespeare.
The weak picture forced us to use a lot of little tricks to get a final cut. One thing we did, which I regret, is reuse dialogue. Elisa says "You aren't safe here" like three times. And it isn't three different takes. It's just the exact same take reprinted and reused. Lex & Brooklyn also reuse lines to get Bronx to find Goliath. That sort of thing drives me nuts.
There is one really nice moment in the animation. When Macbeth chooses his sword off the wall, the reflection effect is quite sweet. And I also like the down shot of Bronx running right down the middle of Broadway (the street not the gargoyle). I also love how Goliath makes no attempt to hide. That really spoke to the Gargoyles attitude about living among humans. They wouldn't hold press conferences, but they would not cower.
Anyway, we ran reruns. Awakenings. And obviously all five episodes on five consecutive weeks. That might have been a good thing for people who had heard about the show by word of mouth in week two or later and needed to catch up. But for anyone who had been following the show from its premiere, it was a long time to wait for new episodes. By the time we came back, so much time had passed since "Deadly Force" that we felt the need to put a "Previously on Gargoyles" at the head of the episode. Another trick I cribbed from HILL STREET BLUES. Cartoons rarely did that sort of thing. Sure multi-parters had to. But single episodes... For some reason, it made me feel very grown up. (Which only proves how immature I really am.) The "Previously" also allowed us to cut 30 more seconds of bad looking footage out of the episode. That little bonus was something I'd remember for season two as well.
As we pushed guns in the previous episode, this one is laced with the imagery and language of home. What is it? What makes it? What price is one willing to pay to keep or secure it? There are four homes depicted. Well, really five. The Gargoyles' castle. Xanatos' prison. Macbeth's mansion. The Clock Tower. And the Castle again, once it is reclaimed by Xanatos and thus becomes a very, very different place.
I tried to make sure, as much as possible, that every episode had that kind of underlying theme. (I recently tried with very limited success to do the same thing in MAX STEEL. Someone asked me once, why the one-word S-Titles for all the Max Steel episodes. They were my attempt to make me and the writers focus on the theme of each story.)
And how do all these homes turn out? Macbeth is so obsessed that he loses his home to a fire. Xanatos finally gets out of prison. (Not on Halloween by the way, or that would make the dates depicted in Double Jeopardy innacurate. Obviously, Halloween was circled on his calendar because the guy just loves Halloween. And after all, Owen specifically says in a LATER scene that Xanatos has one week left before he gets out. The wall calendar had shown only a few days.) The Gargoyles lose the castle, gain the clock tower, but realize that home is literally where the heart is. And Xanatos... well all other concerns of Grimorum and gargoyle of destruction and competition pale next to the simple pleasure of being back home.
And how many of you were suprised that the Gargoyles lost the castle? That was supposed to be another pretty shocking development. I mean, sure, Batman might lose the Batcave for an episode, but for 56 episodes? When Goliath said "We'll be back to claim that which is ours" at the end, did most of you think he'd be back next week? Next month? By the time, the gang finally did return in chapter 65, did anyone still remember Goliath's vow?
I've discussed this before, but Macbeth's origins (at least in terms of our series) were (ironically) an early attempt to play the notion of THE HUNTER. I was looking for someone human who could physically take on the Gargoyles as prey. Someone smart, with an agenda. We actually started with the notion of trying to create our own KRAVEN THE HUNTER type character. But it quickly moved in its own direction. Frankly, away from Kraven and more toward BATMAN. In those days, we were constantly being told that we would be accused of ripping off Batman. So Frank, Michael and I decided to create a villain who, at least in M.O. would be our Batman.
I had a semi-separate idea to add a human to the cast who was from Goliath's time. Thus creating a good thematic nemesis or opposite for him. (The key to creating a good villain, in my opinion.) But this villain would have lived through the centuries. So that he was familiar with the very latest in technology. This dove-tailed with our anti-Batman, and was also exactly how we viewed Demona. So it soon became clear to Michael and I that the two characters must be connected in some way. That suggested that he shouldn't merely be 1000 years old. He should be Scottish as well. All that was left was a name. And given my love of Shakespeare, I'm surprised it took me so long to figure it out. Our nemesis was Macbeth himself. An immortal Scottish King. What Scottish King was more immortal than Macbeth? More mortal too for that matter.
This was the beginning of countless Shakespearian references that I would either slide (or force) into the show, or that the writers would stick in knowing I was a sucker for them. And I love the little exchange between Lex & Brooklyn...
LEX: "Wasn't "Macbeth" the name of that play by that new writer Shakespeare that Goliath was talking about?"
BROOKLYN: "Have you read it?"
LEX: "No. Have you?"
BROOKLYN: "No. But maybe we should."
This was my little way of trying to encourage our viewers to read or at least learn about the play. If they wanted to know who Macbeth was, it wouldn't hurt to go to the primary source.
And at the time, Shakespeare was my primary source for Macbeth. This was long before Tuppence Macintyre and Monique Beatty did all their research for me for "City of Stone". Back then, the only Macbeth I knew about was Shakespeare's.
We gave him a sense of honor, but a twisted one. And we gave him a very interesting motivation. I didn't yet know the particulars, but this guy was after Demona in a major way. He had stained glass windows in his home depicting the two of them. He was the man who named her. It was all pretty intriguing stuff to me. I love the exchange between him and Goliath. Goliath is a pawn. Mac wants the queen and believes that endangering Goliath is the surest way to ensnare Demona. And how does Goliath respond? By gum, if he doesn't laugh -- MANIACALLY!! And watch how the tables turn. Macbeth is not infallible and suddenly Goliath has him on the defensive. Goliath even uses a MACE!! Great stuff.
Incidentally, we had in the script described Macbeth as wearing a thin layer of exo-armor. And Goliath was supposed to dig his claws into it. Macbeth would escape by detaching from the armor. Instead, the artists did the bit with the duster coat. But I remembered the claws in armor thing and eventually found a place for it... in HUNTER'S MOON, PART THREE.
Finally, watching the episode tonight, my five year old daughter said she spotted the Mona Lisa on Macbeth's wall. I didn't see it. But I believe her. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if that was the original. Too bad about that fire.
Another ramble as I review the entire series. Comments welcome.
"Deadly Force". I have to admit. I never liked the title. It always sounded too generic to me. Michael Reaves pointed out how appropriate it was, but "Temptation" had already given me a taste for one word titles. I came to prefer those, unless I was given a damn good reason not to.
The third episode of our trio tryptich. Broadway. Broadway and Goliath. Broadway, Elisa and Goliath. But this episode represents so much more.
If you were watching the series in '94 during it's original run, and you didn't already think, "Hey, this is different." Then by the end of Act One of "Deadly Force" you knew. I don't know if there's ever been a cartoon like "Deadly Force". A mainstream media production. We had had up to that point a few fairly shocking cliffhangers, a few fairly shocking events, but what equals Broadway pulling that trigger, the suddenly "empty" kitchen and Elisa lying in a pool of her own blood as we fade to black and cut to a commercial?
Where do I start? With pride, I guess. I am extremely proud of this one.
Guns. My personal stance on gun control isn't an issue. Not in this episode. This is about something that I think every even vaguely intelligent person can agree on. Guns aren't toys. Guns aren't "cool", no matter how they're depicted in the media. Guns demand respect. Elisa is at fault. Broadway's massively at fault. Because neither held enough respect for the weapon. (Now one might argue that Elisa lived -- nominally -- alone. It didn't occur to her that she needed to be more careful with her weapon. But it should have. She's a cop. She should know better.) As I write this, as I watched the episode tonight, my head is of course filled with thoughts of the six year old boy who yesterday took his uncle's gun to school and shot a six year old girl, killing her. And I don't want to sound arrogant. But I am angry. And I feel like this episode could really help people. That parents should HAVE to watch this with their kids. Required viewing. And the fact that Toon Disney won't even air it...! I'm furious. Simply furious.
Guns are the least of it. We wanted to send a message about repercussions. Real world repercussions. I wanted our series to be ABOUT repercussions. Demona and the Captain betray Wyvern. There are repercussions. You can't fix things. You can't go back and change it. That's why time travel in the Gargoyles' Universe has such STRICT laws. Without those laws, you remove the dramatic law of repercussions. The real world law that actions have repercussions. This episode was our ode to repercussions. The guns were just our means to an end.
Still, guns would be our medium and the episode is laced with them. With gun imagery. With gun language (e.g. Chavez referring to Dracon's alibi: "He's bulletproof.", etc.). I don't think the episode is too pedantic. I hope it's honest. Probably the most dishonest thing in the story was that Elisa DIDN'T die. Forgive me for that. But I couldn't let her go just then. Still, I think we gave our audience a bigger scare in this one then in most of the other episodes combined. Maybe she would die. There's a sense of scary (again real world) vulnerability in this. And we tried to make her injuries and suffering as realistic as possible. We weren't doing E.R. (or St. Elsewhere, since E.R. didn't exist back then), but we did try to make the medical stuff play true.
All this makes me proud. Proud of what's on the screen.
But there's a whole other side to the making of this show that makes me proud. For what isn't visible on screen. For teamwork. This is a story that seemed to need to be told. Most of the springboards for the 66 chapters came from me, but this one was waiting for us. My bosses Gary Krisel and Bruce Cranston were behind the story from the start. Michael Reaves wrote an amazing script, and my God the thing is beautifully made. No one balked. Not our S&P executive. Not our bosses. No one. Think about how amazing that is? We had one of our young heroes pick up a very REAL gun and shoot our female lead in her own kitchen. That's pretty intense.
And fairly rewarding. Even our publicity department saw the value in this one. They got advance copies and sent them out. We had (always had) phenomenally good reviews. But this episode brought us praise from the kind of parents groups that most action cartoon shows usually fear. People got it. They got it. Dr. Madeline Levine wrote a book called "Viewing Violence". It's a fairly sobering study of the effect of modern media on impressionable minds. Disabused me of a few notions, I'll tell you. But she praises GARGOYLES, specifically this episode, in her book. People got it. But not TOON DISNEY people, I guess. They show a huge lack of respect for everyone who worked on that show. Everyone who did or might benefit from it.
(Re: The pool of blood. When it first came back from Japan, the pool of blood was much larger. We pulled it back by calling a retake. This wasn't cowardice on anyone's part. This was us trying to get our message across. We didn't want kids goofing on the pool of blood. Interested in the pool for the pool's sake, so to speak. We wanted enough blood there to make it real. To scare everyone. But we didn't want the pool to be distracting. And also we didn't want to imply that Elisa had already bled out.)
Broadway - First and foremost, this was still designed to showcase Broadway. All our nobler aspirations wouldn't matter if you walked out of this episode still thinking of the big guy as an eating machine and nothing else. So let's start by praising Bill Faggerbakke and voice director Jamie Thomason. Bill's performance is wonderfully poignant without falling into bathos.
And man, who is the scariest gargoyle when angered? Goliath? Demona? How about a vote for old Broadway? Guilt and anger tear him apart, and no one's safe. He PALMS Glasses for God's sake. He's young but maturing fast. I only had vague notions of Angela at this time. And I sure didn't know they were destined for each other. But I can see it here. The child who's done something so bad he's afraid to go home, ultimately taking responsibility for actions too horrible for most of us to face. Amazing strength of character.
Elisa - A secondary purpose (tertiary?) was to demonstrate that Elisa was a real human being, with real connections. A real life. She has a boss (introducing Maria Chavez), an apartment (introducing the loft), a cat (introducing Cagney). And she wasn't born a twenty-something police detective. She has a family. A father (introducing Sgt. Peter Maza), a mother (introducing Diane Maza), a brother (introducing Derek Maza) and a sister who's away at college (we even get a photo peak at Beth Maza). This wasn't some cypher who existed only to facilitate things for the Gargoyles. This was a woman whose life extended beyond their reach. A woman who now lived in TWO worlds. With two sets of hospital visitors.
Elisa's ethnic/racial make-up parallels actress Salli Richardson's, who has both African American and Native American ancestry. This is where serendipidy played a roll. We'd later get stories out of her multi-racial background. And it paralleled the inter-species romance we were preparing to build slowly. Sometimes, everything just goes your way.
Goliath - He says he'll find the man who shot Elisa and "Make him Pay". We didn't have to say "kill" there. Again, because this early in the series, we could all easily believe that Goliath could kill. And in fact, when Broadway tells Goliath that he "can't" kill Dracon, Goliath's response is: "You think not?" All the gargoyles had an edge of danger. We may have lost some of that along the way. It's natural. You get to know characters, you stop feeling tense around them. But here, both Goliath and Broadway go a little berserk. And we don't know how they'll act.
And Goliath already loves Elisa. It's so clear to me. The way he touches her hair. The way he reacts to her being shot. He loves her. He doesn't know it yet. But it is SO there. That moment when Goliath tells Broadway that they should go see Elisa, and Broadway is thrilled because he thinks that means that Elisa survived. And then Goliath stops. Because he realizes he isn't sure if Elisa is still alive. It slays me.
And meanwhile, Goliath is adapting fairly fast to the modern world. He clearly got his head around the idea that Xanatos was put away for possessing "stolen property", so he leaves the busted gun in Dracon's lap to make sure Dracon goes away too. He says as much. Not bad for a medieval gargoyle.
And this whole episode is a character-fest. Besides the above mentioned Family Maza, etc. We bring back Bruno, head of Xanatos' security. This was intentional. Establishing that the commandos from episode 2 were just Xanatos' security team being given an unusual assignment.
There's Dracon (pre-stripe) with Glasses and even Pal Joey. Rocky Caroll really brought Glasses to life. I like him. And Dracon, well, I just love his old-fashioned "noive". Calling Elisa "Honey" and "Sugar". Sending Glasses off to sell guns right in front of her. He's pretty fun in this episode.
Owen is incredibly cool. You can really see the Mr. Smithers influence in this one. Times ten. He fights, he negotiates. He manipulates. He's a phenomenal proxy for Xanatos. A true trickster with a low burning flame.
We also introduced Doctor Sato. I always planned on using him more. We just never found the story. Too bad. I liked him a lot.
And we cameo Matt. Originally, Chavez's driver was going to be Morgan. But we had already started work on "The Edge". We knew Matt was coming. So we decided to preview him here. Just a nice little touch for anyone paying attention.
I'd love to know a little bit more about the movie "Showdown", a black and white western that was premiering in 1994. A score by Ennio Morricone (channeled through Carl Johnson -- a guy who doesn't get enough praise for the stunning work he did on the show). And the movie seemed to be a hit. Go figure.
And what about that movie theater. The balcony is closed. But they're storing bags of pre-popped popcorn. How old was that stuff?
Finally, Owen is very specific about the 37 missing weapons. Early on, I tried to keep count. To allow Broadway to eventually account for every one of those guns. But that was one detail that got away from me.