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I think Michael Reaves came up with this title. I wanted to shorten it to "Brother's Keeper" so that it would implicitly include the Trio, Goliath and his late rookery-brothers, Jackal & Hyena. But Michael talked me out of it. He was right.
This was the second out of three episodes where we attempted to do Kenner a solid by inserting a toy into the series. The Helicopter was a much more awkward fit than Brooklyn's motorcycle had been. But we all agreed to make it work. Originally, Lex was going to repair Derek's police chopper, but someone suggested using the Pack 'copter instead. So we tried to make it all play as organic as possible. Lex and the Simulator, to set up his ability to pilot the thing. Broadway bringing up the obvious question as to why winged gargs would need a chopper, so that the audience didn't think we were ignoring those points. Etc. And in the end, it still plays artificial. But fortunately it's in an episode that is othewise filled with tremendous emotional honesty. So maybe it all balances out.
Of course, the irony was that Kenner never made a gargoyle helicopter. Without telling us, they switched to a sky sled sorta thing, because they couldn't figure out how to do a helicopter that successfully interacted with the garg-toys' wings. No good deed goes unpunished.
Broadway: "If cops were meant to fly they'd have wings." I love that line.
Derek - This was part of our plan to turn Derek into Catscan. Of course, the Catscan name was eventually dropped for Talon. The original plan for Catscan had him being a scientist that worked for and was duped by Xanatos. Picture us trying to combine Derek and Anton. (I know it's a mind-bender. It was more like Derek's personality and Anton's expertise.) But the Garg Universe told me otherwise once we created Derek for "Deadly Force". He'd be the cursed one. And this was just step one. Step only, if we never got a second season. So we left it open ended. And I think it's a pretty stunning bittersweat ending. The snow starts to fall (all very symbolic) and we don't know if Derek will listen to Elisa's tape of Fox or not. And we leave Elisa, standing, wondering, thinking, as the snow falls. It's not your typical Saturday morning cartoon conclusion -- not even for a drama. What did you all think at the end of that after your first viewing?
The snow became a very important visual metaphor for me. I exchanged a few faxes with Japan to make sure (that contrary to the script) there was NO SNOW on the ground at Xanadu, no snow at all, until it starts falling during Elisa's last conversation with Derek.
Sure, Jackal and Hyena were at large, but we establish here that Wolf and Fox are in prison. Anyone looking back at "Thrill" would know that this makes sense. Lex and Goliath take Dingo, J & H out on the roof. No human witnesses to their evil. And they didn't do anything against anyone but the gargs. But Wolf and Fox were photographed taking human (well, fashion model) hostages. So they go to prison. Dingo goes to Europe. J&H are still around to do mischief. But meanwhile, most normal humans still regard them as celebrities, until Hyena pulls a knife. (We had planned once-upon-a-time to make knives a bigger element/part of their arsenal. But it was a bit problematic S&P-wise, and it became moot after "Upgrade".)
Broadway, ever Elisa's biggest fan, thinks Derek should just trust her.
Brooklyn, still scarred from trusting Demona, points out that trust doesn't mean much without honesty.
Lex, still pissed at the Pack, just wants to catch them.
And it's nice to see Morgan and Matt again. If you like guys in towels.
Xanatos, as usual, is so cool.
"Never a gargoyle around when you need one."
"Detective. Always a pleasure."
"My life is anything but dull."
And that's just his dialogue. His plan is audacious. He has Owen call the Police, counts on Elisa and the gargs to rescue him from Jackal & Hyena. (We loved playing that irony.) And instructs Fox to tell Elisa everything. He's so confident, he even has no qualms about leaving Elisa and Derek alone to talk at the end.
And you gotta love a guy named Xanatos naming his retreat Xanadu.
I love the Hannibal Lechter inspired scene between Elisa & Fox. This of course was the moment when we all figured out what the garg universe already knew: "My god, Fox is in love with Xanatos." I hadn't known that back when Fox was created in the development days of yore. Hadn't known it when we did "Thrill". Hadn't known it until we were way into script on this. But there it was. And nothing would ever be the same. (Did you guys realize it there? And how far did you think we'd take it?)
Suddenly, the events of "Leader of the Pack", "Eye of the Beholder" and "Vows" seemed to spread out before me. And Alexander became a glimmer in my eye (if not Xanatos').
Elisa acts true to form here. What we'd spell out later in "Revelations" is already implied here. Elisa is extremely (if subconsciously) reluctant to share her gargoyles secret with anyone. Three times Goliath tells her to share her secret with her brother. Three times she finds an excuse not to. (Frank Paur found this repetitive. He tried to take one of the scenes and make it play more subjective. Like Elisa imagining a conversation with Goliath, while the actual Goliath was sleeping in stone. It was a sweet idea, but it didn't make any logical sense in terms of story flow and forced us to make storyboard changes and call retakes in order to get the version we've all seen.)
We loved playing irony. Elisa and Peter are right about Xanatos, but dead wrong about the way they're trying to control Derek's life. Diane and Derek are absolutely right about Derek needing to control his own destiny, but make the tragic choice of trusting that destiny to Xanatos. Those two scenes are terrific. (Helped immensely by vocal performances. And I also love Nichelle Nichols as the diamond exchange saleslady.)
Derek thinks Elisa thinks Xanatos is the "Prince of Darkness". "He practically is!" she responds. <SIGH> Tricksters are always being confused with Satan.
But that was more irony. It's not the demonic-looking gargoyles who are being compared to Satan. It's the handsome, rich Bruce Wayne-esque playboy. I guess the goatee helps.
My daughter's reactions:
As you may have gathered, it's become fascinating to me to see how Erin is reacting differently seeing all these episodes for the second time at age 5 1/2.
She was stunned at the end of Act One and following when Derek told Elisa that he was accepting Xanatos' offer. "That's not supposed to happen," she kept saying.
And all the trio stuff made her laugh. She especially liked Goliath's admonitions to the Trio: "Try to get along."
Brooklyn sure knows his pop-culture: Star Wars and Star Trek references within a few minutes of each other.
It was important to us to show that even guys as close as the Trio could get tired of each other. Sure they're all Rookery brothers and best friends. But if they had stayed at Wyvern (i.e. if there had been no massacre) they wouldn't have had to spend ALL their time together. At the very least, females would have provided a distraction. But here in the 20th century they're all they've got. So of course, there'd be good days and bad days. Like any siblings.
And of course, the sibling theme was central to the episode, including the Jackal & Hyena's relationship. The irony there being that they were getting along better than the Trio or the Mazas.
I loved Goliath's outrage at the lack of appreciation that the Mazas and Trio have for their siblings. It's very moving to me. (And helps us set up Coldstone for next episode.)
When Lex comments that if Broadway had his way, the garg-copter would be covered with food, I knew that we were pushing Broadway's eating habits into the dull one-joke tired category. I hate that line. And we tried to back off the eating jokes after that.
Anyone notice our tribute to Launchpad McQuack when Lex says "Any landing you can walk away from..."
Some gorgeous animation in this one. I loved what they did with the lighting when Lex gets Jackal and Hyena in the chopper's spot.
--The trio toss Jackal & Hyena out of their chopper. It's o.k. They're wearing parachutes. But did the Trio know that? Maybe with Jackal, since Hyena's chute had already opened. But was Hyena tossed to her presumptive death.
Yes. After all they're still thinking (first season) like tenth century warriors, not like twentieth century super-heros.
--One of the advantages to Syndication over Network is a more liberal S&P. We could show Broadway's fist heading into camera. We couldn't actually show him punching Jackal in the head, but we could show Jackal's POV of that fist heading toward him. A couple frames of black, and then we cut wide to Jackal on the ground, and we know what happened. But on Network, in "The Journey" or, say, "Max Steel", we are NEVER allowed to even imply a head blow. And we can't show a fist or gun or whatever pointed directly at camera (i.e. at the audience). Too disturbing, I'm told.
And finally, at the end, when Elisa arrests Hyena, I've got to ask, what do you think Hyena's smiling about?
Maybe that's the next contest...
Writer-Producer Kevin Hopps and I will be teaching a class through UCLA EXTENSION at Universal CityWalk
starting next week. There are still seven spaces available for "From Script to Cel: A Complete Writer's Guide to the
World of Television Animation" The class meets Wednesday nights, through early September (with a few weeks off in
the middle). In addition to Kevin and myself, we'll be having numerous guest speakers from every discipline of
producing an Animated series. And students will come out of the course with a completed spec script. I'd recommend this
class to anyone living in the Greater Los Angeles area who is truly interested in writing for TV Animation. If you're
interested contact Brandon Gannon or Kathy Pomerantz at UCLA Extension's Writer's Program. 310-206-1542.
I liked your rambling on "Awakening Part One", and look forward to the rambles on the other episodes following.
Both I and a number of other Gargoyles fans had indeed picked up on Princess Katharine's hypocrisy that you mentioned, disapproving of "beasts" (i.e. gargoyles) in the great hall, but permitting the dogs to roam about in there during the feast. I was amused to learn about how you'd planned to make that bit more pointed with the dog making off with somebody's food.
The bit where Lexington and Brooklyn were talking to Tom about not having names, and calling each other "Friend" instead, was a part that I liked as well. It was at that point that I definitely decided that I liked gargoyles.
I don't remember for certain what I thought about whether Demona was alive or dead. I suspect, however, that I may have believed her to ultimately turn up again, simply because it struck me as improbable that a character with such a big role in Episode One would be killed at the end of it and never heard from again.
I very much enjoyed the medieval scenes, which reminded me a bit of David Macaulay's animated specials for PBS about building in the ancient and medieval world (particularly the first one, "Castle"). Not to mention (as I said before) that I was delighted with the Vikings looking much more historically accurate, with not a single horned helmet in sight, being already familiar with the way that they actually did dress (I know that I should be thanking the animators on this, actually, but there isn't an "Ask Frank Paur" page up anywhere as far as I know, so this'll have to do :)
Before the episode first premiered, I'd been aware of "Gargoyles" soon to be coming out, but wasn't certain as to whether I'd like it that much or not, fearing that it would just be another mainstream super-hero series. But when it quickly began the "Scotland - 994 A.D." sequence, I decided that I was definitely going to like it. (And indeed, felt slightly disappointed when I reflected that the bulk of the series wouldn't be set in medieval Scotland, considering how much I was enjoying that part of the story - I'm something of a Middle Ages buff - and began to fantasize about "Wouldn't it be great if they did a prequel series set in 10th century Scotland before the massacre?" - which, of course, I now know that you did indeed plan on doing later on.
At any rate, thanks for the ramble again.
You're welcome. And thanks for responding in such detail.
In an ideal world I'd have definitely used the massacre to "kill off" characters that you got to know well, to make the tragedy more personal. But there was no room to include even Othello.
When you say that the "friend" conversation was the point where you decided you liked gargoyles, do you mean the series or the species?
"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.
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