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Todd Jensen writes...

A Macbeth question that I've been wondering for some time. In the Shakespeare play, he can only be killed by one who is not "of woman born". It occurred to me some time ago that this also holds true for the Gargoyles Macbeth, for the only one who can kill him is Demona, and she was hatched from a gargoyle egg, which counts just as well as a loophole as being from one's "mother's womb untimely ripped". Have you ever noticed this before?

Greg responds...

Yep. We talked about making a point about it in City of Stone, just as we discussed doing a Birnham Wood scene. But unfortunately all that "Shakespeare" stuff got cut for time (before we even went to script).

Response recorded on March 31, 2000

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Pyro X writes...

Hey Greg!

Some Questions About MacBeth:

1) In "A light house in the sea of time," MacBeth says "The Scrolls of Merlin, Seeld by my own hand." Did he mean the He (MacBeth) seeled the scrolls?

2) If that is the case, then did MacBeth know Arthur and
Merlin, or were they before his time? In pendragon, he did seem kinda shocked that that was King Arthur, so it make for a conflict.

the Next two also relate to MacBeth...

3. Did Macbeth Know that a play was being written about him by Shakespear and did he ever "see" the play?

4. Did Demona ever see MacBeth, because she knew it was about Macbeth?

5. Did MacBeth MEET Shakespear?

Thanks man!

Greg responds...

1. No. (Admit it, no one ever reads the archives.) Macbeth was reading that. Meaning, he read that Merlin sealed it with HIS own hand.

2. So, no, they were before his time.

3. Yes. And yes.

4. I'm sure she's seen it.

5. Yes. (Yeah, no one ever reads the archives.)

Response recorded on March 21, 2000

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Derek writes...

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.

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on March 19, 2000

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Man Mountain writes...

A few days after reading your review of "Titus" I saw Roger Ebert's TV show and had to smile at his review. He hit just about every point you did, including the fine acting of all involved (with special mention of Harry Lennix) and its corralation to "Scream." Maybe he reads ASK GREG... Well, I just thought you would like to know.

Greg responds...

Thanks.

Response recorded on March 17, 2000

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Todd Jensen writes...

One thing that I'm going to confess here, and it's that I'm still feeling somewhat taken aback at the discovery that the mythological gods in the Gargoyles Universe are subject to Oberon, a "mere" faerie king (though don't tell him that I called him that :) In traditional legend, Oberon wasn't a divinity, so seeing him have authority over gods like Odin feels a little strange to me still. It's like seeing an earl giving orders to a king. I know that in the Gargoyles Universe, Oberon does outrank the gods of mythology and that they were really "just" powerful faerie-folk, but it does feel a little odd to me all the same.

Greg responds...

That is... an absolutely SHOCKING confession.

Or not.

Look, I knew it was going to be controversial (relatively speaking). Frank Paur wasn't particularly comfortable with the idea, but I'm a fast talker.

The main motivation was that I wanted the Garg Universe to have a certain cohesion. I wanted it to be rich and expansive, but not completely arbitrary. So after a bit of tease and mystery, we reveal a feudal system.

And Oberon's lack of shall we say, press, didn't bother me. He was the big man behind the scenes. And although he's not exactly Mr. Maturity, I don't think that bothered him.

And of course, he did have at least one spectacular press agent. Guy named Will.

Response recorded on March 17, 2000

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Ashley E. writes...

Hi Greg My name is Ashley and I am the biggest fan of Gargoyles you will ever see. I cried when I found this page I have seen Gargoyle Series every single time it's been out and I miss you guys soooooo Much. I realy hope with all my heart that you guys bring it back. PLEASE!!!!! I thought that this cartoon was the best one ever made. I really want you guys to go on and on and on... How much would it cost to buy the rights from Walt Disney and start it yourself? Was it your baby from the start or was it there Idea? I read what you said about Titus how would I be able to see it and where can I get it??? Anyways I really miss you guys.. My favorite part was "The Hunter" Part 3 Where Alisa kissed Goliath, that was the best!!! Thank you for hours of absolute pleasure.

Greg responds...

Ashley,

What a wonderful post. Thank you.

Disney would never sell the rights, and if they did, lowly me could never afford to buy them. And no one's sorrier about that than I am.

Gargoyles was definitely my baby. (Still is.) Though many, many people participated in raising it to be the child that you saw on television. The basic ideas were mine, but it was very collaborative, extremely collaborative. And in any case, we were all working for Disney, so they own it, lock stock and gargoyle.

As for Titus, well I saw it in a movie theater. It's rated R (or should be) and I don't know how old you are or where you live, so I don't know if it's in your local theaters or whether you should be allowed in or not.

Eventually, it'll be on home video.

Response recorded on March 11, 2000

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Chapter IX: "Enter Macbeth"

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.

HOME

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?

MACBETH

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...

[dialogue approximate]
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.


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Greg "Xanatos" Bishansky writes...

Thanks for the info on the Titus Andronicus movie. Sounds like it has a good cast. I hope it comes out near me soon. By the time you get this you'll probably have seen it, so what did you think of it?

Greg responds...

I have seen it. By now I'm sure you've read my responses to it. If not, check out the ASK GREG: Shakespeare archive.

Response recorded on March 03, 2000

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Todd Jensen writes...

You once gave a list here of Shakespeare plays that you especially liked because you had ideas for using them in your stories: Henry IV Part One, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, The Tempest, Hamlet, and Love's Labor's Lost. Just for the fun of it, I went over that list recently to see how many of these you'd made use of in "Gargoyles", or had indicated making use of in this forum.

HENRY IV PART ONE: You mentioned that Dingo's real name would be Harry Monmouth, an aka of Prince Hal, and I definitely see a parallel between the two.

KING LEAR: Aside from the mention that I once made of the similarities between Edmund and Thailog (which may not count since you indicated in your response that it was subconscious on your part), I noticed that Xanatos quoted this play in "Vows" in his "Reason not the need" line to Petros Xanatos (interesting, since in the play, Lear quoted that line to one of his daughters - either Goneril or Regan; I can't remember which - so that Xanatos had reversed the parent/child roles here).

ROMEO AND JULIET: The quotes in the library scene in "The Journey", Queen Mab, and Terry and Sphinx as a parallel to Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM: Oberon, Titania, and Puck. (No prizes there).

MACBETH: Macbeth and the Weird Sisters. (Again, no prizes there).

THE TEMPEST: You mentioned having plans to bring Prospero into "Gargoyles" at some point.

HAMLET: Ophelia's name, Elisa doing the "more things in heaven and earth" quote in "Heritage", and Xanatos's "Alas, poor Yorick" parody in "Future Tense".

That leaves just "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Love's Labor's Lost" on the list. Had you ever planned to use anything from those plays in "Gargoyles", similarly?

Greg responds...

As with everything, given enough time and episodes, it would probably be inevitable.

But no, not really. My idea for "Much Ado" is a feature screenplay, which I hope to make myself write someday. My idea for "LLL" is a stageplay, which I also hope to make myself write some day.

And incidentally, my idea for Lear is another stage play, based on a one-act play that I wrote in college (actually when I was living in Oxford). The one-act had three parts for actors: EDMUND, the MEN and the WOMEN. Me, my roommate Cameron Douglas and my then-girlfriend Peggy Gold, performed one reading of the play at Stanford in 1985. I played Edmund. Cameron played the Men. Peggy played the Women. I've always hoped that I could expand this into a full length play. I've had the structure and basic story in my head forever. It's just another one of the long list of projects that I am too enfeebled to pursue.

(I'm much less of a role model than most of you think.)

Response recorded on March 03, 2000

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LSZ writes...

What was Macbeth's exact relationship to Shakespeare?

Greg responds...

They were drinking buddies.

Response recorded on February 20, 2000


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