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[In preparation for my new ramble for ASK GREG & the DCV, here's my original memo to Story Editor Gary Sperling on Adam Gilad's first draft outline of the episode "Upgrade". Note the date. At the time I wrote this, "Deadly Force" had just recently aired, but the rest of the first season was being saved for early 1995.]
Notes on "Upgrade" Outline...
My big fear is that Brooklyn didn't feel like leader material in this. To our audience he's going to come off as cautious and wimpy throughout most of the episode, with the added problem that he's subject to peer pressure. This is particularly problematic in that Brooklyn has always been defined as the MOST adventurous of our trio. Ultimately, the qualities that will define him as a leader include strategic abilities, common sense, a willingness to sacrifice... and, yes, knowing when to retreat and/or call for help. But if we make the latter quality into Brooklyn's first instinct, it will overshadow the others. And our audience won't buy him as leader. Maybe more important than all of this should be a natural unconscious quality of leadership, which parallel's Broadway and Lexington's roles as followers. When they stop thinking and slip into automatic pilot, Brooklyn naturally seems to give the orders and the others naturally follow.
These guys do work well as a team, don't be afraid to show that. We've got a competitive thing going between them that will tend to screw up their natural teamwork, but if we're going to prove our point, then we need to see moments when they forget to be competitive and just cooperate. In any case, let's not make them infantile. When you define competitiveness think Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer in Top Gun. These are young warriors, not children elbowing each other as they fly.
Let's also avoid setting up non-existent flaws in Lex and Broadway. Things like Broadway being slow to awaken is just not born out in any of our other episodes. They all wake up within a few seconds of each other at sunset.
Having said all this, you'll see below that I gave them less screen time, mostly because it choreographed cleaner, but also because it really put something at stake other than the contest for leader (i.e. the lives of their friends). Plus I've isolated them from everyone that usually provides them with help or advice (Goliath, Hudson, Elisa and even Bronx). So I'm crossing my fingers that what we lose in quantity time, we will make up for in quality.
I'm also concerned that we've Upgraded the Pack, only to make them seem even more incompetent than ever. They've got to feel considerably more dangerous. We need to believe the Gargoyles barely survived this go 'round. The Pack's leadership issues cannot get too far in the way of their success. Ultimately the gargoyles do triumph because their teamwork under Brooklyn defeats a divided Pack. But if the Pack members are just at each others throats through the whole program, they'll never feel like a viable threat. Remember, despite the dangerously unstable personalities involved (including Coyote, but not Dingo), the Pack's fighting style is based on teamwork by definition. Let them play to their strength, that way it'll be even more ironic when the gargoyles defeat them through teamwork driven by sound leadership.
PACK UPGRADE SPECS
What follows may be what you had in mind, but I want to make sure we're all operating off the same page.
WOLF - gets turned into a werewolf. The biggest and most obvious change will be to his head, which will have a canine shape. Like Talon and his mutants, Wolf will be covered with hair all over, his hands will be clawed, and he'll have haunches. He cannot fly, but he can leap far distances. He'll probably have a better sense of smell and hearing, but I want to downplay these last qualities, because I think they can come off as silly. (Let's not make him an object of ridicule to his teammates simply because he's gotten more dog-like. They are all themed off canines. Both Coyote's head and Dingo's helmet will be dog-shaped as well. I would think that Jackal, Hyena and Coyote would all respect the power which came with his choice of Upgrade. Hyena might make an obnoxious comment here or there, but the only one who's really attacking his choice is Dingo -- and obviously it's not for aesthetic reasons.) Wolf will be much stronger than he was, now on a par with Goliath.
JACKAL & HYENA - become Cyborgs. Half human. Half machine. And the machine parts are NOT camouflaged as human. They have built in weapons. Cyborg legs will also allow them to leap far distances. Maybe even built in flight capabilities. And their strength will increase to Gargoyle level. Maybe not as strong as Goliath or Broadway, but equal or above the others.
DINGO - wears full body armor, including a helmet. Sort of like what we thought Xanatos was wearing as Coyote (in "Leader of the Pack") before we found out Coyote was a robot. (Model sheets are available for Coyote if you're unclear.) The focus should be on his armor, not on "weapons". All the weapons are built in. And the armor should be as flexible and powerful as Xanatos' own Gargoyle armor (screen "The Edge"), plus whatever latest innovations were thrown into this design. That means Dingo should be able to fly. Rocket jets in his boots. Or a rocket pack on his back. Probably not as maneuverable or graceful as a Gargoyle, but he can hover, which they can't do. Again, his strength level is now increased. Probably just under Wolf and Goliath range. (Note: Dingo also has less screen time than I'd like to be able to give him here, so we've really got to make his moments of uneasiness about his partners count. One visual clue that I think will help is the fact that Dingo removes his helmet every chance he gets. He subconsciously needs periodic reassurance that the helmet isn't a part of him and that he hasn't in fact relinquished his humanity.)
COYOTE - Although he's still programmed to have a slightly more vengeful version of Xanatos' personality, Coyote doesn't look like Xanatos anymore. What would be the point? He looks like a huge exaggerated version of the original Coyote. Mighty Joe Young may be a little too big, but you get the idea. If Goliath is eight feet tall than Coyote-II is more like ten or eleven, and built like a gorilla. Coyote is definitely stronger than Goliath, and he can fly. Being huge may have it's disadvantages, but not too many. This is the most powerful and sophisticated robot that Xanatos has built yet. It's computer brain (at least part of which should be the damaged head from "Leader") is well-protected in the robot's chest.
PACK ATTACK VEHICLE - This isn't and never was a van. It flies. It submerges underwater. This is super high-tech. I'm not sure if it even has an exhaust pipe. Model sheets exist if you need to see them.
OWEN vs. COYOTE'S HEAD
You can't have Owen. He's a stand-in for Xanatos, and you've already got one of those: the damaged head of Coyote from "Leader".
LEXINGTON'S TRACKING DEVICE vs. FOX
You can't have this device either. I don't want to ever make the gargoyles too high-tech in their crime-fighting. If we give Lex the ability to make one of these here, we're stuck with him having this knowledge and wondering all the time why he doesn't use it over and over. Besides, why would he create a device that tracks, but only tracks when it's inhaling carbon monoxide fumes?
At any rate, the gargoyles may not need the device. They have a secret ally that even they are not aware of: Fox. It's obvious here how Xanatos is manipulating his chess pieces. But Fox doesn't seem to be moving hers in opposition. She's simply counting on them to defeat the Pack. In some subtle way, let her "move" her pieces too. [Note: the method I use below is semi-goofy at best. If you like it you can use it, but feel free to come up with something better.]
Also, please be careful that Xanatos doesn't say anything that might imply that he threw the match. If he wasn't trying his best to win, he wasn't respecting Fox as an opponent.
MONTAGE vs. NO MONTAGE
Sorry. After cuts were made for both S&P and for things that I did not want to reveal, there wasn't anything left. So out it went.
All gargoyles sleep as stone to recharge during the day, which allows them to operate at their peak throughout the night. Hudson's peak may not be what it once was, but he doesn't need extra downtime at night.
1. Night. Bank job being carried out by what's left of the PACK: WOLF, JACKAL, HYENA and DINGO. There's an air of desperation here. They need money because they are on the run. They get to the roof, where their PACK ATTACK VEHICLE is hovering. And where it has attracted the attention of the patrolling gargoyles: BROOKLYN, LEXINGTON, BROADWAY and GOLIATH. There is a battle. The Pack is a bit out-classed, but only just. The Pack has the weapons and technology. What they lack is flight capability, brute strength (Wolf is incredibly strong for a human, but no match for Goliath) and leadership (Wolf acts like he's the leader, the others just don't naturally follow him). In contrast, Goliath leads his troops effectively. Give the Pack credit for figuring that out. They agree to take out the leader. And they do. Goliath is injured.
The Pack get away in their vehicle, but without the money. Lex momentarily wants to pursue his hated enemies, but as sirens approach, Brooklyn thinks the priority should be to get Goliath back to the safety of the CLOCK TOWER. He asks Broadway to help him carry Goliath. Neither Lex or Broadway question Brooklyn's leadership at this stage. Nor do any of the three, including Brooklyn, make a point of saying that Brooklyn is in charge. He just says some very common sense things and the others see the sense in it and follow his lead.
2. Meanwhile, the Pack Vehicle flies through the Manhattan Night. Maybe some brief sniping between the members, before there's a knock on the door... which seems odd at this altitude. Almost despite himself, Dingo opens the hatch to reveal COYOTE'S HEAD flying alongside on it's little mini-rocket. It still has half of Xanatos' face, and it asks politely in Xanatos' voice if it can come in. (There's also a model sheet completed on this damaged head. It looks pretty cool if you want the reference.)
3. Back at the Clock Tower near dawn, HUDSON tends to Goliath. It's a bad laser burn, but it'll heal when the sun rises and they turn to stone. But it brings up something that's concerned Hudson for awhile. He hates to even say it, but next time Goliath might not be so lucky. Goliath needs to name a second-in-command. Goliath chooses Hudson, of course. But Hudson declines. Goliath was Hudson's lieutenant and became his successor when it was time for Hudson to step down. Goliath needs to choose one of the trio. But first Goliath must sleep. The trio hear all this. Hudson has intentionally made no attempt to hide the conversation from them. They all straighten-up, leader-like. And the sun rises. Goliath turns to stone still cradled in his comrades arms.
4. Because the sun has risen, the Pack Vehicle dives beneath the surface of the Hudson River (or the East River or the Bay or whatever). It comes to a stop on the bottom and rests.
Inside, the Coyote Head has literally latched itself onto the ships computers. He's lowered a screen and is starting his sales pitch. Tired of being out-classed by the gargoyles? Ready to be as strong as them? To fly like them? Etc.? Well, let me show you what we can do. Is Genetic-Engineering your passion? (He shows footage of TALON in action trashing Goliath.) Or is Cybernetics more your style? (He shows footage of COLDSTONE trashing Goliath.) A little high-tech haberdashery, perhaps? (Footage of XANATOS in his GARGOYLE ARMOR trashing Goliath, with at least one shot of Xanatos with the helmet off.) Or my favorite, Robotics? (Footage of COYOTE trashing Goliath. This obviously doesn't apply to the four humans, but I want to get it in here to hint at Coyote's rebirth as well.)
Obviously, they are all very interested. Dingo goes for the armor and pretty much writes off the rest as horror show. The other three don't state their preferences. Coyote Head: "All made possible by the men and women of XANATOS ENTERPRISES." Where is Xanatos? Occupied at the moment, but happy to be of assistance.
5. At the castle, Xanatos and FOX seem to be playing chess, but we don't get to see the game board or the pieces. Xanatos has made the first move.
6. Super: ONE MONTH LATER. Clock Tower. The trio are just leaving to patrol the city separately and in competition. They've hardly done anything else, each is so intent on being Goliath's second in command. Hudson's in his comfy chair with the t.v. set on, but he's not watching. After the trio leave, he chides Goliath, who has to decide between the three young warriors. Goliath seems strangely reluctant to choose.
Just then ELISA enters. The desk sergeant just received an "anonymous" tip on the Pack's location. S.W.A.T. Teams from three precincts are mobilizing. But Elisa has listened to a recording of the tip and recognized the voice as Xanatos'. She'd like to be there in an unofficial capacity. Goliath agrees. No time to wait for the trio, but the Pack can be tough, so they'll take BRONX. They leave in such a hurry, Hudson doesn't bother to turn off the t.v.
7. An abandoned building scheduled for demolition, which the police have totally surrounded. The S.W.A.T. LEADER talks through a megaphone, giving the Pack a chance to surrender peacefully. There is no response. Tear gas canisters are shot through the windows -- followed by an explosion that practically levels the building. The tear gas couldn't have caused that. The building must have been rigged to blow.
Goliath, Elisa, Hudson and Bronx watch from a nearby rooftop. At first they don't notice the little Coyote Head, which zips around the site like a humming bird looking for food. Then the head spots them and approaches. It tells them that this little display was just designed to attract their attention. If the gargoyles really want to find the Pack, they're going to have to follow the head, which they do.
8. Goliath, Elisa, Hudson and Bronx follow the Head to a construction site. It's the skeletal beginnings of a skyscraper. As soon as they arrive the new ARMORED DINGO flies in. After Dingo, comes the new CYBORG JACKAL and HYENA, followed finally by the new WERE-WOLF. Our heroes are surrounded.
9. Picking up where we left off, we have a fight. The Coyote-Head zips away and with Hudson's blessing Goliath follows it. (He thinks it will lead to the source of the trouble.) Although the Pack works together, there are hints that they are in some competition with each other. Ultimately, the Pack knocks out Hudson, Elisa and Bronx, with Wolf personally taking down Hudson.
Elsewhere in the structure, Goliath catches up to the Head which says that it would like to introduce Goliath to its "better half". A huge shadow looms.
Back with the Pack, where we get a sense of the tension between the members. As Dingo takes off his helmet, hint that he hasn't been able to get over the horrific things that his teammates have had done to their bodies. We also find out they've been fighting over who should lead. They agreed before the fight that whoever took out the biggest gargoyle, would get to be the leader. Wolf took out Hudson, so he feels entitled.
On cue, Goliath is knocked through a brick wall. He falls unconscious at their feet. And then the rest of the wall is knocked down to reveal the new robot COYOTE-II: "Sorry, Wolf. I think my Goliath tops your Hudson."
The Pack are all stunned, but for Hyena it's love at first sight: "Coyote, honey, is that you?" A panel slides open inside Coyote's chest to reveal the Coyote Head literally plugged into the inner workings of this huge machine. No way Wolf is taking orders from a machine. No one ever said Coyote was part of the contest. Wolf is still leader. But Hyena disagrees, she's siding with her new boyfriend. Jackal can't believe his sister has fallen in love with a glorified toaster oven. He's not exactly Wolf's biggest fan, but he's got to go with old furball. They all turn to Dingo to break the tie. Dingo looks at his helmet. He makes it clear that he's not wild about his options: a robot who thinks he's human or a lunatic who gave up his humanity. But he turns to Coyote and says, "O.K. boss, what's our next move?"
10. Back at the Clock Tower, the trio are each getting back after a night of competitively patrolling the city alone. Lex prevented two muggings. Brooklyn prevented one mugging and scared off a burglar. Broadway stopped three muggings and an armed robbery: "Just have to know where to look," he says proudly. Then they realize that the tower is empty. Even Bronx is gone. And if Hudson and Goliath lugged Bronx along with them it must have been trouble.
11. Cut to the interior of some kind of hanger for the Pack Attack Vehicle. We do not get an exterior to show us where we are, but we do hear a train go by every minute or so. Goliath, Hudson, Bronx and Elisa are in a glass chamber filled with a colored gas that keeps them unconscious. Wolf isn't at all pleased about waiting around. How is sitting on their hands going to help them find the other gargoyles? But Coyote has a plan. It's midnight now. At 4:30 am they'll release Bronx from the chamber. He'll almost definitely lead them straight to the Gargoyle's Home Base. And he should get there just before sunrise, allowing the Pack to arrive just after sunrise and smash the remaining gargoyles into gravel.
12. In Xanatos' office, he and Fox are still playing chess. Xanatos: "You're in check, my dear."
13. The trio are still waiting for Goliath et al at the clock tower. It's 3 A.M. and they are very worried. It's only a couple hours 'til sunrise. And no sign of Elisa either. And the tension isn't doing wonders for their dispositions. They argue over what to do. The television gives them a clue when a report comes in about the bombing at the abandoned building. The report mentions that the fire was contained because the police were already on the scene, having received a false tip that those escaped felons (and former television stars) known as the Pack were there. They're about to head out to investigate, when they hear "The following is a paid commercial message." Lex recognizes the voice as Fox's. Brooklyn didn't think Fox was still in the Pack. But the commercial continues. "Tired of walking up Lexington Avenue? Sick of taking the bus down Broadway? Fed up with driving your car to Brooklyn? Then take the subway!" And an image appears on the screen of a place where multiple tracks criss-cross above ground. Well, that can't be a coincidence. One of them recognizes the location, he's flown over it. But is this a tip or a trap? Well, what choice do they have? Off they go.
14. Trio arrive at Train crossing. Again, there are multiple tracks crossing in multiple directions, and every minute or so, another train rushes by at high speed. They find a large metal shack, that's supposed to house train cars or something, but is acting as a hangar for the Pack Vehicle instead. They sneak in and get a look at the upgraded Pack and their sleeping friends. Broadway and Lexington are all for mounting an immediate attack. Brooklyn is reluctant. Just look at the size of Coyote, who's in the middle of putting a tracking device on Bronx. They need help to defeat these guys. But where are they going to get help? From Goliath and the rest. Our priority should be freeing them. Both Broadway and Lex try to peer pressure him. Maybe he's afraid to fight without Goliath, but they're not. But Brooklyn isn't biting. He's not scared, and he's also not stupid. They need a plan.
A little bit later, Brooklyn makes his presence known and then takes off as a decoy. Coyote figures as much, but Wolf and Jackal won't listen to reason and take off after him. And right after they leave, the power goes out inside the hanger, thanks to Lex. Dingo reaches for his helmet, but it's not there. Broadway has it and throws it with all his might at the sleep chamber. The helmet smashes a hole in the chamber, allowing the gas to pour out. But meanwhile things don't look good for the trio. Coyote slams into Broadway carrying them both outside. Hyena and Dingo pursue Lex.
So outside the battle continues amid the backdrop of unpredictable and speeding trains shooting past on random tracks. Eventually, however, Brooklyn's delaying tactic pays off. The others have been given the opportunity to recover from the sleep chamber. They join the fight, and the tide of the battle turns. The Pack is defeated. GARY, LET'S DISCUSS WHAT HAPPENS TO THE PACK AT THE END OF THIS SHOW.
15. Back at the clock tower, Goliath realizes that tonight's events only prove what Hudson has been saying all along. He must choose a second in command. He's had a choice in mind for weeks, but has been reluctant to reveal it, because he was afraid that it would drive a wedge between the trio. But tonight they worked together and saved the clan. He has to trust that they are mature enough to handle this. He chooses Brooklyn. (This without being aware of who spear-headed tonight's success.) The others are genuinely happy for Brooklyn. He proved himself to them. They take their places outside and Brooklyn looks across the city. A siren wails. He shakes his head and tells Goliath to be careful. He's in no hurry to take his place. They turn to stone.
16. Dawn. Fox says checkmate, and we reveal the board with its pieces based on our characters. She knows her husband doesn't like to lose. Is he upset? Of course not, he's happy to have an opponent to match his skill. Made the game more fun. "Care to play again?" FADE OUT.