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"Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1599..."

Yesterday, I took my kids to see "Hamlet, The Artist Formerly Known As Prince Of Denmark". It's a fairly faithful adaption of Shakespeare's Hamlet, set to the music of Prince with a ton of clown shtick thrown in for good measure. For folks of a certain age, like me, who remember the 1984 joy of total emersion in Purple Rain, it was a blast. And my kids really liked it too. Plus, hey, Shakespeare to boot!

And all of it, the brilliant work of the Troubador Theater Company. Matt Walker, who directed the show and leads the company and plays Hamlet, is an f-ing genius.

(Oh, and that guy on stilts... Whoah!)

I think this is my favorite Troubie show since "A Midsummer Saturday Night's Fever Dream".

The talented Troubies are celebrating their tenth anniversary. Other shows of theirs include:

"Fleetwood Macbeth"
"The Comedy of Aerosmith"
"It's a Stevie Wonderful Life"
"Alls Kool that Ends Cool"
"A Christmas Carol King"
"Funky Punks with Junk in their Trunks"
"Santa Claus is Coming to Motown"
"Twelfth Dog Night"

Coming in November... "Little Drummer Bowie"

If you're in L.A., you really don't want to miss it.


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Todd Jensen writes...

This is another comment rather than a question, but I thought that you might find it interesting.

A few days ago I was visiting the local Borders, and noticed a book in the Shakespeare section about Shakespeare in popular culture. When I peeked inside, I found that it briefly mentioned the inclusion of Macbeth, Oberon, Titania, and Puck in "Gargoyles" as an example of Shakespearean characters cropping up in pop culture. It didn't say anything more about the series than that or go into detail, but I thought that you might find it amusing.

Greg responds...

Cool. Do you remember the name of the book?

Response recorded on June 21, 2005

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Christina (CelebornEstel@aol.com) writes...

I've been a fan of Gargoyles for a while and I was wondering what a few characters were based on. The mythology is put into the sotry so well and fits like a puzzle. Anyway, I was wondering who the Weird Sisters and Megus. The mythology of the story is beautiful and the plot is extraordinary. So, That's my question- What were Megus and The Weird Sisters based on?

Greg responds...

The Weird Sisters were based primarily on the Weird Sisters, from William Shakespeare's play MACBETH. They were also influenced by various triple/lunar goddesses from various mythologies, in particular the Graces, The Furies, the Fates/Norns.

The Magus is more of an "original" creation. He begins, I think, as fairly standard D&D wizard material. But I like to believe that he transcends the stereotype.

Response recorded on June 28, 2004

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Balrog writes...

I have been reading the archives and was wonderig about one thing about a Shakespeare character and wondering something about it.

Why is Calaban(presumuble Caliban)to be a antagonist, I been cheking about the Tempest and thougt that he would be more suited in a role of protagonist,given to childis presonality.

That's just my opinon on the issue.

Greg responds...

You have no idea what I have in mind for the character, so it's a little odd to be challenged on the point.

But your welcome to your opinion.

Response recorded on June 25, 2004

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DeShawn writes...

Did you make up Oberon, or is he apart of real legend and myth.

Greg responds...

He's part of real myth & legend, and more importantly Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream".

Response recorded on June 03, 2004

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Orianna, the elven mage writes...

Alright, this may seem a bit strange to ask, but I'm working on a fan fiction that included Puck.
I need to know all I can about him.
So will you please help me out on this.
Bassically I need to know about his history and if he has a girlfriend or not.
Thanks for your help.

Greg responds...

My advice is to go to "original" sources such as Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" or Kipling's works.

Or study episodes with Puck and/or Owen.

I'm not revealing more than that now.

Response recorded on April 28, 2004

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jamie dayment writes...

hi plese could you tell me all the characters in scene 1 act 3 in a midsummers nights dream wrote by william shakespeare

Greg responds...

I could. I've got the play over on my bookshelf. But I figure you're better off learning how to look that up for yourself.

Response recorded on April 02, 2004

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Todd Jensen writes...

My thoughts on "Avalon Part One".

First off, a little about the eggs. I honestly hadn't expected to see anything further with the eggs at this point. The reason was that I'd always assumed that the eggs were indeed all gone, as Xanatos had claimed in "Awakening Part Two", even after we found out what he was really like, for this simple reason: the thousand years between the Wyvern Massacre and the Awakening. Since I didn't think it likely that gargoyles live naturally for a thousand years, my assumption always was that the eggs had hatched long ago and that the gargoyles that had hatched from them had grown up, lived out their lives, and died long before as well. I hadn't taken into account the possibility of a place where time moved slower.

(Of course, thinking over it some more, I should have expected the eggs to return, simply because, if they weren't going to, their inclusion to date would have been almost pointless. After all, they'd had no real impact on the storyline in "Awakening" - the mere fact that the video version was able to edit them out is proof enough of that - so that would have to mean that something further with them would have to be done, or else why include them in "Awakening" at all?)

Regarding your multi-parter comments: I also prefer it when the first episode of a multi-parter clearly labels itself as "Part One". That way, I'm already prepared for the "To Be Continued" part. So I'm glad that you always labeled the multi-parters as such.

I was a bit amused to notice the Brigadoon alternative to Avalon, in light of the fact that you did manage to use Brigadoon as the Avalon-substitute in your "Gargoyles meet Captain Atom" story. And, yep, I was definitely looking out for King Arthur to show up at some point in this story, given that the thing that Avalon is most famous for is being his resting-place. (More about that in my ramble on Part Two when it comes).

Needless to say, I enjoyed the flashback. More 10th century Scotland! And more real Scottish history! In some ways, it was even more fun than the Macbeth backstory in "City of Stone"; after all, I already knew about the historical Macbeth before "Gargoyles" ever came out, but I'd never heard of Kenneth II and Constantine III before. After seeing this episode, I eagerly looked up everything on them that I could at the local library (although I wasn't able to find much, thanks to the scanty records for this part of Scottish history).

Constantine definitely struck me as shrewd when he provided a very convincing "innocent reason" for the secret meeting in the drying-house (the argument that it would be better for Kenneth's dignity to have Finella turn down his suit in private, rather than before his entire court). I thought he made a good antagonist here, even if for only one episode.

(I haven't seen the McKellen "Richard III" movie, by the way, but I do have a book that McKellen wrote about the making of it, including the screenplay, which I found fascinating reading.)

I also liked the mention of Michaelmas, which added to the medieval flavor of the story. (It's things like this that make me regret the fact that you never got to make the "Dark Ages" spin-off. Of course, I suppose that an animated series set entirely in 10th century Scotland wouldn't be all that commercially viable, more's the pity.)

I'm looking forward to your rambles on Part Two and Part Three, as well.

Greg responds...

I have that same McKellen book. I've seen the movie of course, but I found the screenplay and his commentary on how and why he made the decisions he made, very informative.

I don't know that Dark Ages wouldn't be commercially viable. I do know it's tough to convince Network Executives that it's commercially viable.

Response recorded on March 12, 2004

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Saboor Ghafoor writes...

in A shakespeare's book;
Who murders a king and marries the widow
What is the alternative title of 'Twelfth Night'?
In which play will you find the stage direction 'Exit pursued by bear'?
Who demands a pound of flesh as a guarantee on a loan?
Which play begins with;
'If music be the food of love,play on?'
'Now fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour/Draws on apace?'

Who is the 'Serpant of old Nile'?

Who attempts to kill himself after the high Roman fashion?

which play has a female character disguises herself as a boy?

Who dies in a vat of malmsy

If the second line of the sonnet is; Thou art more lovely and more temperate what is the next line

Greg responds...

Now it's getting more annoying and less amusing.

What's the point of this?

Response recorded on March 03, 2004

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Saboor Ghafoor writes...

which play ends with:

a)We that are young/Shall never see son much nor live so long?

b)So thanks to all at once and to each one,/whom we invite to see us crowned at Scone?

c)Give me your hands, if we be friends,/And Robin shall restore amends?

d)But that's all one, our play is done/and we'll strive to please you everyday?

Greg responds...

a. Lear
b. Macbeth
c. Dream
d. 12th Night

I'm not sure why you're quizzing me. It's both annoying and (admittedly) a bit fun. I didn't look any of them up, but I'm extremely confident of a-c and fairly darn confident of d.

Response recorded on March 03, 2004

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jamie writes...

what are the roles of puck and oberon in a midsummers night dream

Greg responds...

In the Shakespeare play, Oberon is King of the Fairies and Puck is his servant.

Response recorded on February 12, 2004

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NEEDS HElP writes...

AHH! I need to know what Shakespear's The Tempest and King Lear were about my monday!!! HURRY!!! plez a breif discription 2 or 3 sentances for each :(

Greg responds...

You wrote this on a Sunday?

Forget that I'm two years behind. How were you EVER going to get this answer in less than 24 hours?

Tempest: Guy and daughter are set adrift. Guy gets magic. Punishes his tormentors. All ends happy.

Lear: Dad has three daughters. Splits his kingdom between the nasty two. All ends sad.

Does that help?

No?

Good.

Response recorded on January 21, 2004

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Alfred Manifesto writes...

Yo
Long time watcher, first time question asker, I happen to be doing a research paper for colege concerning the literary references within Gargoyles (shakespeare and mythology). I was wondering what comments you might have concerning the way which you used these works. For example, your re-telling of McBeth in city of stone parts 1-4 is very different from the play. This makes sense because the play is an altered versain of the actual historical story to make it more entertaining as well as aceptable to the king of england. As i intend on focusing a majority of my paper to Mcbeth I was wondering how you went about combining history, shakespeare, and your own storyline. If you could make any general comments or speak about mythology in any way would be greatly apriciated. I ask not only because it would help my paper, but also it would be a personal thrill to even get a responce. I've known about this site for a while, but this is the first time i've had a decent question. Lastly, I know its quite possible this has been answered before, but i have not yet read all of the entries in the archives, you are creator and producer of one of my favorite cartoons of all time, how does one find themself in that possition of creater and producer? thanx for your time

Greg responds...

Well, unless your paper wasn't due until 2004, I guess I'm too late to help you there.

Macbeth (with an "a" and a lower case "b") the play was indeed a major influence on our version of Macbeth, but we chose to follow the less-told tale that was the true (or truer) history. But we kept the Weird Sisters in it, and even a few lines of Shakespeare where possible. Plus of course we added the gargoyle race, weaving Demona in and out of Macbeth's story. Or rather, we weaved Macbeth's story into the tapestry that is the Gargoyles' Universe.

As to my background, I'd suggest checking the FAQ and coming back here if you have more specific questions that the FAQ didn't answer.

Response recorded on January 21, 2004

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Todd Jensen writes...

This is something of a musing that I've been pondering for some time about your hinted-at plans to bring Prospero (and other characters from "The Tempest") into "Gargoyles" (it's more a ramble than a genuine question, actually). I was not the least bit surprised by your mention, when you first started up "Ask Greg", to include Prospero in "Gargoyles" somewhere; after all, a series that had already made use of "Macbeth" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in its framework would obviously have to bring "The Tempest" in somewhere as well. What I do find myself wondering, from time to time, is the role that Prospero (and Ariel and Caliban as well, if they were to show up - and it's obvious that they would also) would have played in the series, in relation to the other characters.

Because I noticed that the other major Shakespearean characters (Macbeth, Puck, the Weird Sisters, Oberon, and Titania) were actually made an important part of the framework of "Gargoyles", linked up strongly to the central and near-central characters. Macbeth and the Weird Sisters were part of Demona's story (explaining, in particular, how she survived from 994 down to the present day). Oberon, Titania, and Puck were part of Xanatos's story (or Titania at least as Fox's mother and Puck as Owen's true identity, not to mention that Oberon and Titania's attempt to kidnap Alex was what led to the end of the feud between Xanatos and the gargoyles). From this, I believe that we can safely presume that, when Prospero, Ariel, and Caliban would have shown up somewhere in the series (if it had only lasted that long), they would have likewise had strong links with the major characters in the series as part of the framework.

I won't ask what those links were, of course (I know that you don't want to reveal that yet, at least, not in this forum), but that's one reason why a part of me still hopes that you can find some way of continuing "Gargoyles" some day; I'd certainly enjoy finding out when/if that happens just where Prospero, Ariel, and Caliban fit into the Gargoyles Universe, and which major figures in the series they are linked to, at least initially (of course, everybody tends to wind up getting linked to everybody else anyway - Puck with Demona in "The Mirror", the Weird Sisters,Oberon and Titania with the Avalon clan, Macbeth with King Arthur, etc.)

Greg responds...

There's truly nothing I'd like to do more, professionally, than to find a true forum (in some medium) for bringing the Gargoyles Tapestry back. I have so many stories still to tell, including those involving Prospero, etc.

And just so you know, so you all know, I'm still working on it. I haven't given up.

Response recorded on September 24, 2003

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angel writes...

hi greg,would you mind tell me what sonnet 116 is all about!

Greg responds...

Yeah.

Response recorded on August 26, 2003

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Todd Jensen writes...

Thanks for your comments on Asimov's "Guide to Shakespeare"; I agree with you that Asimov's analysis of "Hamlet" weakened the play in making Hamlet's actions and thoughts centered almost entirely around "How can I kill Claudius without being disqualified from the succession to the Danish throne?" I certainly feel that other matters seem far more important in Hamlet's thoughts in the play than just becoming king - his troubled feelings over his mother being so quick to forget about the old King and marry Claudius when her first husband has only just been buried, for example.

Incidentally, have you ever read "Hamlet and Revenge"? I can't remember the author, but it's a very interesting analysis of the play focusing on the revenge issue (and, to a certain extent, on the Ghost). The thesis that the author takes is that Hamlet's choice of revenge is wrong - and also focuses on how, in fact, the Ghost, when examined closely, doesn't seem too reassuring (even pointing out that the fact that the Ghost is telling the truth about how Claudius killed him doesn't necessarily mean that it's an "honest ghost"; after all, the Weird Sisters similarly "tell the truth" to Macbeth in his play). It's very good reading.

Greg responds...

It's definitely a good question as to whether or not the Ghost is in fact a ghost at all. The play clearly raises the question as to whether it might not be a demon from hell, sent to cause Hamlet's downfall. The fact that it tells Hamlet a truth, notwithstanding.

The title "Hamlet and Revenge" sounds very familiar, but I've read so much about the play over the last 25 years, that I'd be hard-pressed to tell you whether or not I've read that analysis.

Response recorded on August 22, 2003

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lorena murati writes...

what type of character has titania in midsummer nights dream shakespear

Greg responds...

I'm not sure what you're asking. She was Queen of the Fairies. I'd recommend reading the play or, even better, attending a production.

Response recorded on August 06, 2003

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G2003 Journal (6/30)

MONDAY, JUNE 30, 2003:

Today, in the middle of my two week vacation was a work day -- or at least half of one.

I got up and headed back to Krispy Kreme for more donuts. Then I walked to midtown for my first meeting.

Then I had a meeting at MTV. Just what we call a Meet & Greet. Hi. Nice to meet you. Hope we get to work together some day. It was nice, and they're doing some interesting stuff. So I do hope I get to work with them someday. I talked to her (I'm not giving names on purpose) about the project that Vic and Greg and I have, but I didn't pitch it, as we're waiting to see if Warners wants to sign on and pitch it to MTV with us.

Then I had time to kill. I had passed Midtown Comics on my way to MTV, so I headed back there. I don't frequent comic book stores, much these days. Wound up quitting that world more or less cold turkey in 1996. But the commercials for "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" movie had intrigued me. When the "FROM HELL" movie came out, I didn't go see it, but I went into a bookstore and bought Alan Moore's graphic novel, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I had been haunting bookstores for League, thinking that the movie would bring the GN into similar wide release. Hadn't been able to find it, so I finally broke down and entered a comic book store. Midtown Comics is a great looking store. I found LXG immediately, and then looked around. It's the same old thing for me. I'm out of the world and too far behind. If I started buying anything (on impulse that is) I'd have to buy EVERYTHING. So I stuck to my original purchase.

Then it was up to William Morris for my meeting with DAG Entertainment. Me and the DAG guys really hit it off. We spent a good chunk of time talking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, how much we liked the series and how disappointed we were in the final episode. (My main gripe: too much to fit into one hour; it should have been a two-parter.) They talked about a project they had that they were interested in me working on. It sounded cool, and now that I'm back (two weeks later) it looks like I actually got a job thanks to the Gathering.

We talked so long, I realized I was going to be late for my next meeting. I called ahead and then took off rather abruptly.

Soon enough I arrived at Noodlesoup Productions to meet with the guys there. It was another really fun Meet & Greet. I hope to do some work someday with these guys too.

After that it was back to the hotel. I was supposed to meet up with my old friend Bruce Cranston, a former Disney boss of mine who now lives on the East. But his daughter was sick, so he had to cancel.

I decided to head for McDonalds. I ran into Mandi in the lobby, and she kept me company at McD's. It didn't seem to air-conditioned, so we took the food back to my room. I ate and then felt VERY sleepy. I didn't want to find myself sleeping through the play that night, so I kicked Mandi out to take a nap.

Only, I didn't fall asleep. Oh, well.

We now segue right into dinner. Dreamie, Carol, Patrick, Karlyle, Liz, Kelly and Montreal Rob all headed to P.J.Clark's, which was one of my haunts back when I lived in NYC. It was a place I always went to with my dad for burgers, whenever he came to town. And the last time I was there was probably in 1996, when I dragged Keith David and a few other folks there after a Gargoyles event (sort of a pre-Gathering) at a Gallery in Queens. Had a great burger.

But then Carol and Patrick and I had to hustle to attend Shakespeare in the Park. We raced uptown via subway, and then took a cab across the Park. We got out and ran to the Delacourt Theater. Fortunately, Carol had already picked up our tickets (a gift from Keith David and his manager Josh Silver).

The show was really terrific. Liev Shrieber was great as a conflicted Henry V. The rest of the cast, especially the Chorus, was also great. And I loved the production -- with the small exception of a gratuitous direct reference to Bush & Hussein. It was so unnecessary.

After the show, the three of us hung out. We walked around, past another one of my old apartment buildings, this one on Amsterdam near 76th. The neighborhood has changed so dramatically since I lived there my first summer in New York. Then I realized that it has been TWENTY YEARS, so I suppose it's entitled to change in that much time. But suddenly I felt old.

Back at the hotel, the three of us watched, uh, THE BLUES BROTHERS Movie or something on tv, while we killed off the last of the bottled water Carol had given me on Thursday and the last of the Peanut M&Ms that Kathy had given my on Sunday.

Then I kicked 'em out. I read some of LXG. Again it fit the theme of the rest of my reading this week. Mixing new fiction with old fiction, legends and history. Alan Moore, a writer I've long admired, seems interested in the same sorts of things I am. ALL THINGS ARE TRUE. Creating a grand tapestry of characters that can interact. But I was stunned at the breadth of his knowledge. For example, I was surprised to see that he had portrayed Captain Nemo as an Indian. I had read 20K Leagues and had not gotten that impression. Turns out, that in Mysterious Island, Verne establishes Nemo's ethnicity. And that's just the most obvious example. The research represented in this work is nothing short of MASSIVE. All I can say is... thank god I've got Kathy Pogge to do my research for me. I'm way too slow a reader to cover that much ground.

Anyway, I quite enjoyed the book. I haven't seen the movie yet, and some of the changes seem needless and less-than-helpful. Still, you can't ask for better Quatermain casting then Connery, so I'll keep an open mind.

TUNE IN TOMORROW FOR GREG & GREG'S HARROWING "ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK..."

It's the entry Bishansky's been dreading for the last two weeks...


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Treena writes...

I have seen on some sites Coldstones girlfriend being refered to as Desdemona just wondering if that is offically what she is called or just a name someone tagged her with and if it is offical what is the thought behinded is it in reference to Orthelo??

Greg responds...

The Desdemona and Iago names were used in our scripts to identify the characters before they got their Coldfire and Coldsteel names in "Possession". The name Othello was also used in the script to refer to Coldsteel in flashback scenes, before he became a cyborg.

None of these names were ever used in dialogue on the series. But both Desdemona and Iago were used in the credits to identify the actors (C.C.H. Pounder and Xander Berkeley) who voiced the two characters. (Othello was never used, because we simply listed Michael Dorn as Coldstone.)

So obviously, yes, we saw the relationship between the three characters as being very "OTHELLO". Particularly in their first appearance, "Legion". With Goliath in the Michael Cassio role.

Response recorded on June 03, 2003

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HANNA BERHANU writes...

Macbeth:
what is king Duncan's reaction to the news that cawdor is a traitor ?what will happen to his title'
2-do Macbeth and Banquo have the same reaction to ROSS'NEWS?
3-WHAT ANNOUNCEMENT IS MADE ABOUT MALCOLM? WHAT IS MACBETH'S REACTION?
4-HOW DID LADY MACBETH FIND OUT ABOUT THE WITCHES' PROPHECIES?
5-HOW WILLING IS MACBETH TO GO ALONG WITH LADY MACBETH'S PLANS FOR HIM TO ATTAIN THE THRONE?

Greg responds...

Are you writing a term paper, Hanna?

Or are you just quizzing me on my Reading Comprehension of the play?

This seems rather pointless.

Response recorded on May 28, 2003

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Aaron writes...

Enquiring minds want to know, Greg: When you were in college, did you ever wall yourself into your dorm room and spend two days writing fan fic about an animated show? ;)

Greg responds...

No. I didn't have a t.v. in college -- and thus there's a four year gap in my otherwise copious television knowledge.

Of course, I didn't have a computer until the last semester of my senior year. And I hated typing before computers. I wrote everything long hand and then typed it up only when I was confident that I didn't want to make any changes. So I typed very little. And the internet? Forgeddaboudit. Didn't exist -- at least not to my knowledge.

Also, I was an English Major with an emphasis in Fiction Writing, so I had plenty of writing to do for classes. And starting in my sophomore year, I was already writing professionally for DC Comics. So any non-school writing at that time, tended toward paid work, not fanfic.

Besides, the whole concept of fanfic didn't really exist for me until after the Garg fans told me about it.

I guess I did right a King Lear fanfic once -- as a term paper.

Response recorded on May 09, 2003

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Colleen Thompson writes...

Could you translate Shakespere's sonnet 116?

Greg responds...

Without looking, I'd still hazard a guess that it's in English. So pick the language you want me to translate it to... and pretty much no matter what, I'll tell you that I don't speak that language.

Response recorded on April 02, 2003

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Galvatron writes...

1.Did the Porter from MacBeth the play exist in the gargoyles universe?
2.What about the Lennox from MacBeth the play? Banquo(not the mercenary)? Fleance(not the mercenary)?
3.Did Hecate from MacBeth the play exist in the gargoyles universe?

Greg responds...

1. Probably.
2. Probably in one form or another.
3. In some form.

Response recorded on August 08, 2002

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Chapter XXXVIII: "Heritage"

Time to ramble...

This chapter was written by Adam Gilad. Story Edited by Gary Sperling, and directed by Frank Paur.

FAME

As I watch each episode with my family, I've got my journal open in front of me to take notes for these rambles. During the opening credits, my five-year-old son Benny said: "I like Gargoyles." I was very pleased, of course. Then he said, "Can you write down that?" So I did. And so I have.

SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT

Back on the skiff, and Elisa still hasn't QUITE gotten the idea. She still anticipates being back in Manhattan. Like visiting Scotland was an anamoly, but now surely Avalon will send them home. (What did you all think at the time?)

And boy, that girl likes her hot dogs. Make her one with everything, you know?

A.K.A. CECIL

Our Sea Monster attacks. It's a cool design, based on research that we did. (It happens to look a lot like a pre-historic whale I saw last night on a Discovery Channel special: "Walking with Pre-Historic Beasts".)

I wish we could have found a less generic name for the creature than "Sea Monster". Thunderbird is a cool name -- particularly since I have fond memories of the L.A. T-Birds from Roller Derby telecasts of my youth -- but our research never turned up another name for the Sea Monster.

Keep in mind that though we did research, we also had time constraints. We couldn't keep researching a topic indefinitely. Eventually, we'd have to use what we had and run with it in order for the story and script to be delivered on time.

But I know Gary and Adam did quite a bit of backgrounding for this story. The Sea Monster, Thunderbird, Raven and Grandmother all came from Haida stories -- though we conflated quite a bit, I think. We did always try to be as true as possible to the history and legends we were riffing on.

HEY, WEREN'T THERE FOUR OF YOU?

As the battle with the Sea Monster came to a close, my seven-year-old daughter Erin said: "What about Elisa? Where's Elisa?"

Five seconds later, Goliath surfaces and says pretty much the same thing, before fearing her drowned by shouting "ELISAAAAA!!" (Shades of things to come -- in Hunter's Moon III.)

TOTEM POLES

Speaking of research, the origin of the whole episode was the fact that Totem Poles caught my eye as being a particularly gargoylesque deal. Then we did some preliminary research and found that they weren't carved in anything that seemed to resemble a gargoyle tradition. They were 'carved to honor animal ancestors'. So rather than stretch (or abuse) the truth, we decided to let the characters (and audience) be lured off course by the poles, just as we had been.

Fake GARGOYLES, right here in North America.

In many ways, I think it could be argued that what takes place in this episode is handled or covered in other episodes to come. We have another episode with a 'sea monster'... a more famous sea monster in a certain loch... coming up rapidly in "Monsters". Also in that ep, one of our cast is lost and feared drowned after an early attack by that monster. And much of Nick/Natsilane's dilemma is also re-covered with a more-important recurring character (Peter Maza) in our other Native American-themed episode: "Cloud Fathers". We even do more with a volcano in "Ill Met by Moonlight". On some level I suppose I regret the duplication of efforts. I don't think we usually did this sort of thing.

But I don't regret the episode. I had plans for Raven. Plans for Queen Florence Island. Plans for Nick/Natsilane. I still think the ep has some cool stuff in it. And I think we NEEDED to cover Totem Poles. It was a natural.

HAR with a V. VAR with a D.

I went to a high school in North Hollywood, CA named "Harvard High School". Named after the University. (Some people have incorrectly stated I went to Harvard for college. But I went to Stanford for Undergrad and U.S.C. to get my Masters.)

I don't remember who's idea it was to have Nick be a graduate of Harvard. Might have been mine. Harvard of course is useful as a symbol.

I like Nick/Natsilane. He's got some nice attitude here and a nice shift. Maybe not the most impressive of our so-called "International Heroes". But very likable.

I give a lot of credit to the voice actor for bringing him to life. Gregg Rainwater was brought in by our Voice Director Jamie Thomason. Gregg was terrific. We used him again in Cloud Fathers, but I've used him many times since Gargoyles. I've even written parts with Gregg in mind. He was Jake Nez in Max Steel. And I cast him as Jake MacDonald in 3x3 Eyes. He always brings incredible humanity to a part, I think. Heroic, but real.

THAT'S NOT A CROW

It's a raven. Our second Trickster makes his first appearance. Of the four (Puck, Raven, Anansi and Coyote), Raven was the guy we gave the most evil bent to.

I like all the shape-shifting he does. (Though when he flees at the end, I wanted him to flee in his bird form, not his Raven-Goyle form.) I also like how he lies by using pieces of the Truth.

Raven-Goyle: "There is an evil sorceress named Grandmother. She summoned the monster that you fought."

When he said that, did you believe him?

Of course, Grandmother does have magic power and she did, in a way, summon the Sea Monster.

IT COULD BE WORSE. I ONCE LIVED ON 28TH STREET.

While doing our research, we encountered names of Islands off the Canadian coast like Queen Charlotte Island. So I named the fictional island we'd be using "Queen Florence Island."

Growing up in Woodland Hills, California, I lived on Queen Florence Lane, a street off Queen Victoria Road. Victoria and Florence were the daughters of Michael Curtiz, the director of such films as CASABLANCA. Curtiz, at one time, owned all the property in that area, so he named the two streets after his daughters.

OR so I once was told... by a ghost named Humphrey who tried to convince me that he was Humphrey Bogart, though you could tell by looking at him that he wasn't.

WHO EXACTLY IS THE SICK ONE HERE?

Elisa is so strong so much of the time, that it's kinda sexy to see her vulnerable and feverish.

Notice that Grandmother doesn't use Fairy magic to heal Elisa. She uses Haida medicine. Thus the rule of non-interference is bent not broken.

I like when Nick comes back in and the Fever's broken. And he says just don't tell me you cured her with tree bark.

When she says, "...and roots." His expression is priceless.

SEEING RED

I like the lighting in the Volcano scene.

Goliath is so glad to learn that other clans have survived, that he doesn't notice -- in fact defends -- the inconsistencies in Raven's story.

Angela, on the other hand is suspicious. This was done, in part, to further develop her character. She's naive about certain things. Having been raised by humans, she's not inclined to judge them harshly or fear their prejudices. But she's not stupid. Something doesn't smell right and she notices.

For once, Bronx though does not. I chalk this up to the high quantity of magic being tossed around on this dying island. Grandmother is not what she seems. Neither is Raven. Bronx is confused.

Anyway, Goliath speaks to Gargoyles protecting to explain away why "Raven's Clan" can both hate humans and protect them. You get the sense that he understands all too well. Like despite everything, there's a part of him -- a prejudiced part -- that hasn't forgiven the human race for what happened at Wyvern. (Also keep in mind, he was just at Wyvern again, rehashing all those old memories.)

Of course, once Goliath learns that Raven was pulling something, he's furious at the trickster. Playing on his hopes AND his prejudices, Raven has risked G's wrath.

At the end of this scene, the three silent gargs vanish magically.

Erin said: "What happened? What just happened?"
Benny said: "How did they just vanish?"

They know I know the answer. But I resist telling them. It's a touch cruel. What did you guys think?

YOU CAN TAKE THE GIRL OUT OF THE CITY...

Elisa is such a New Yorker. Everything is compared to that. "This sure isn't Central Park."

Anyway, Raven, then a bear, then Bronx and finally Angela and Goliath find Elisa. I love Goliath and Elisa's hug. It's so unselfconscious. They were so worried about each other that they forgot the usual distance that they maintain.

SUSPICIOUS MINDS

So who did you trust? When the gargs disappeared, that had to indicate that something was up with the Raven-goyle.

So when Goliath tells Elisa that Grandmother is a sorceress, particularly given that Grandmother saved Elisa's life, we all tend to think that G's been duped. Then we spot Grandmother turning into Thunderbird. What did you all think then?

Benny noticed "her ears" and suspected her even before she turned into T-Bird.

THAT'S GOTTA HOIT

A cool moment in the battle against T-Bird is when Goliath rakes the creature with his claws.

Then Angela spots the Illusion. And plays it cool with Raven.

I like Goliath's line to Grandmother: "We live. We do not thrive."

Grandmother than establishes that Raven is a Trickster and that they are both "Children of Oberon". Thus we establish that aspect of our series.

She states that they are forbidden from directly interfering in human affairs. Reinforcing what the Weird Sisters said a few episodes before.

Raven joins the party. The jigs up, but he revels in it. He's got a few decent lines too.

I like "It's so messy."

POOR HORATIO, ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID, NEVER A BRIDE

Elisa more-or-less quotes Shakespeare: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Natsilane, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

I've always loved that line.

Anyway, Goliath and Angela depart to fight Raven. They arrive first, but given the fact that Nick had to...
1. Have a final change of heart.
2. Change clothes.
3. Get up to the volcano without wings.

...He makes good time, don't you think?

Raven brings the totem beasts to life. This was always a bit weird. We introduce illusion gargs based on the totem beasts. But then when we bring the totem pole to actual life (or semblance) we have new designs for the woody creatures.

Does everyone see Goliath play dead for that bear?

Raven has a nice exit line here: "This place no longer amuses me."

Neither does this Ramble.


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Chapter XXXIV: "Avalon, Part One"

There's no memo, outline or script for this one on my computer, so we'll head right into my ramble on...

"AVALON, PART ONE"
DIRECTOR: Dennis Woodyard.
WRITER: Lydia Marano.
STORY EDITOR: Brynne Chandler Reaves.

THE RECAP

...is all over the place. So much was coming together in this three-parter. The Weird Sisters, the eggs, the Archmage, Tom, Princess Katharine, the Magus, Macbeth, Demona. This was our most ambitious story yet. Which given episodes like "The Mirror" or "Vows" and multi-parters like "Awakening" and "City of Stone" was saying something.

Of course "Avalon" was never designed to be the cohesive single story movie that "City of Stone" was. It was designed as a tryptych. Part one would bring our heroes up to date. Part two would bring our villains up to date. Part three would pit them against each other.

"Avalon I" also represented the first episode in our fourth tier. The three-parter was what we called a 'tentpole'. We knew we couldn't air it until all the Tier 3 episodes had aired. And we knew we couldn't air any other Tier 4 episodes until this three-parter had aired. Despite the fact that "The Price" aired out of order, generally our Tentpole/Tier system worked very well. Out of 66 episodes that I worked on only two: "The Price" and "Kingdom" aired out of order, hopefully with minimal damage to the continuity.

THE TITLE

The title was one of mine. But initially I wasn't sure that we were going to call the island Avalon. Now, it's mind-boggling to me, but I actually had my assistant Monique Beatty (who's now a producer in her own right) research Brigadoon to find out if that name was created only for the musical, or if it was something pulled from legends. I was thinking of Avalon, but looking for something from a Scotish tradition as opposed to British. Fortunately, Brigadoon was created for the musical. So we were 'stuck' with Avalon. Which made including King Arthur a natural.

Many series don't reveal that an episode is going to be a multi-parter until you get to the 'To Be Continued' line at the closer. "Avalon, Part One" could have just been titled "Avalon". The conventional wisdom is that people are reluctant to commit the time to a multi-parter in advance. That it is better to hook them on the story before revealing that they HAVE to come back to see the end. I always felt that was cheating. What is your reaction to seeing "Part One" attached to a title?

OPENING

Another cool shot of our gargs waking up. Always nice to reiterate that at the start of our bigger stories.

Bronx gets left behind. Of course, this often happens. It was one of the things that the World Tour would set about correcting in a BIG way. But we made his getting left behind a bit more obvious here. Usually, he just doesn't go. This time they won't take him and he's sad. We were laying pipe.

My 5-year-old son Benny asked where Hudson and the Trio were going. I had to think about it. "On Patrol, I guess."

OLD FRIENDS

Then the GUARDIAN shows up. I love his cool, Goliath-inspired armor. My 7-year-old daughter Erin immediately demanded to know who he was. I wouldn't tell her. (I'm so mean.) Did any of you guess?

Of course he immediately encounters BRENDAN & MARGOT. (What would one of our multi-parters be without him?)

Then comes the three gang-bangers from "AWAKENING, PART THREE". As usual, Keith David does the voice for one of them -- making it distinctive from both Goliath and MORGAN, who's about to come in and speak. The problem is we got a touch confused. In Awakening, Keith voices the bald white guy. Here he does the same voice, but it's assigned to the black guy. Hard to say which is wrong, except by virtue of which came first. It annoys me though.

Morgan's fun in this. I really like him. No one but Simon DelMonte will get this, and I don't know if he even reads these rambles, but Morgan kind of reminds me of Jeff Goslin, a character that Cary Bates and I created in Captain Atom.

Anyway, I like how Morgan talks Guardian down. And I like how the sword is much heavier than he thought it was going to be. His cop buddies tease him, but he maintains his sense of wonder and goodness when talking about the Guardian to Elisa.

That's kind of a cool scene. First off he describes Guardian's armor: "Real armor. King Arthur stuff." Anyone think this was a clue to what was coming in the next episode? Even with the Avalon title? Then he tells her the guy's looking for Gargoyles. Elisa of course discourages her fellow officers from taking Garg reports seriously. Everyone who's seen one must be a nut-case. These guys should form 'a club'. Then she finds out that this Guardian was asking for Goliath by name. BOOM.

BELVEDERE CASTLE

Site of our last encounter with Demona and Macbeth. Another clue.

Once Elisa got a look at the Guardian's armor, she must have thought -- yeah, there's a Goliath connection here all right.

Goliath shows with Bronx, who gets to come along and come along and come along for once. Bronx always seemed underutilized to us. We knew we couldn't bring the whole clan along. (Too many characters and no poignancy.) But Bronx was an easy addition. Of course, Bronx is also useful as a kind of living personality test. If Bronx likes you, it's a damn good sign. Bronx likes Tom. Does he remember him? What scents do you figure the Guardian carried back from Avalon. Anyway, Bronx engenders immediate trust in the Guardian for Goliath.

I love this scene. Guardian gives everyone so little time to catch up. He talks about the Archmage, reveals that he's Tom and talks about 'the eggs' being in danger. *That was a fun idea. Keep you guys thinking in terms of eggs for twenty minutes and reveal that it's just a pet name for the Avalon Clan.*

Benny asked: "What kind of Eggs?"
Erin: "Gargoyle Eggs."
Benny: "I didn't know Gargoyles hatch out of eggs." [Well, keep in mind it's been a year since he saw the first thirty episodes. And he's too young to remember the first time he saw the ones we're watching now.]

Then there's the skiff. Elisa: "Where'd that boat come from? ... To where? The other side of the lake? ... Wait for me!"

This all sounds fishy to her. Nothing makes sense. I wanted to get a clear shot in there of the pond in Central Park so that you could see objectively that it doesn't go anywhere. But I never quite managed that. I wanted you guys to be confused. Or at any rate to have a million questions. But like Elisa, no matter how suspicious, I figured you'd want to go along for the ride.

FLASHBACK

Mary, Katharine, the Magus and young Tom are all reintroduced. It's very clear that the first three have all learned their lesson from Awakening. They've all really become better people. Tom, of course, didn't need to learn that lesson. But he does learn to be a hero. He officially becomes the Guardian. It begins, I believe, as just a nice gesture on the part of the Princess. Later, of course, it'll become the truth. Then there's the long journey. I like the montage there. Hardship. We never had the time to show enough of the hardship of tenth century life.

Our gang heads into Edinburgh. Constantine's followers are all over the place. They all seem to look like Disney storyboard artists for some reason. ;)

VOICES

There's some stellar voice work in this ep. Morgan Shepard as King Kenneth II. Sheena Easton making her Garg Premiere as Finella. Ian Buchanan as Constantine. (I've already mentioned Keith's versatility.)

But as usual, real props must be handed out to Jeff Bennnett and Kath Soucie.

Jeff plays Brooklyn, the Magus and Maol Chalvim. (No Bruno or Owen or Vinnie in this ep, I'm afraid.)

Kath plays Katharine, Mary and all three Weird Sisters.

They're amazing.

SOAP OPERA

Benny saw Finella and said: "That's one of the witches."

A year ago, Tom was his favorite character. Now Tom barely registered. And he really is fascinated with the Weird Sisters. Anyway, I corrected him, but I was glad that they were appearing later.

Ian Buchanan, once of General Hospital, is playing a cad here. We have to very quickly set up a lot of politics, sexual and otherwise. This story was as historical as we could make it based on the available research, the fact that we had to fit in a few fictional characters and eggs, and screen time compression.

Believe it or not, we also had another character originally that we cut early on because it was just getting too damn complicated. Katharine and Maol Chalvim's cousin: the future King Kenneth III. The father of Bodhe. Yep. That Bodhe. The father of Gruoch.

Kenneth III winds up being made High King of Scotland after Constantine is killed. To get a sense of their relationship, at least as I see it, you might want to check out "Once upon a time there were three brothers..."

(Or to give you a hint, ten years after the events depicted here, King Kenneth III would be murdered by Maol Chalvim's operatives during a civil war. Maol Chalvim was also known as Malcolm Forranach, the Destroyer. We used the Maol Chalvim version of his name so as not to confuse him with Katharine's father Prince Malcolm. Just as in City of Stone we emphasized Malcolm Canmore's Canmore name for the same reason.)

Anyway, Maol Chalvim seems intense but right on the money here. He's even kind of heroic when he and the Magus bring Tom back to Katharine's apartment, and he begs Katharine to go. Kind of heroic. He still leaves her. We were trying very hard to balance out his minor role here with his future roll as the grandfather of and major influence on Duncan. (Of course, he's also Macbeth's grandfather, as well.)

After Katharine tells Maol to go, there's a weird cut of him just standing there smiling. We needed some kind of transition before he took off running, and I guess that was the best we could do. But it's still awkward as hell.

THE MURDER

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

We establish early on that Katharine doesn't think much of Constantine. You wouldn't know it from Awakening, but obvioulsy she's learned to be a decent judge of character.

Kenneth isn't quite so sharp. Everyone can see that he's a fool for Finella. And he doesn't recognize Constantine's threat (despite the fact that Constantine's father was a bitter enemy and) despite the fact that his son flat out tells him to beware. My thinking was that the crown had kept bouncing back and forth between different branches of the royal family. Kenneth had hoped that by taking Constantine in, instead of banishing him, he'd be able to be a positive influence on the boy. A nice idea perhaps, but maybe Kenneth was too innattentive to pull it off. And Maol probably was too covetous to really be a brother to young Con.

Anyway, Constantine tricks Finella and kills the king. We hear Finella sobbing, just to prove that she was neither in on it nor that she would approve of it. (Though one wonders what her reaction would have been down the road if Constantine hadn't spurned her in favor of Katharine. Would she have adjusted to the crime? Or did Constantine become an unredeemable villain in her eyes immediately? I hate to say it, but I tend to think it's the former. Actually, I don't hate to say it. She's more interesting to write that way.)

Erin asked: "He killed King Arthur? Why?"

That's a tough question. So first I had to explain that it was King Kenneth, not King Arthur. Then my wife Beth helped out by explaining that Constantine wanted to be king.

We come back from the act and we see that Constantine was ready for the takeover. The Banners are immediately changed in a scene clearly inspired by the Ian McKellan (spelling?) movie version of Shakespeare's Richard III. (A version I heartily recommend, by the way.)

We also continue to set up the Magus' own tragedy. He loves Katharine. Has loved her since before Awakening. That feeling is shown to deepen here when she is once again in danger. And when Constantine tries to coerce her into marrying him. (The astute Mary and Tom have to hold him back.) Here, we sense that maybe Katharine might some day return that love. That's what I wanted you all to think anyway. Did you?

Constantine takes his crown. Originally we wanted to stage this with the Stone of Destiny as we did with Macbeth. But again, I think we just had too many sets.

Michaelmas. I just like that word.

Constantine is fairly astute himself: "You have 36 very good reasons to obey." We kept reiterating the number of eggs for what was coming later.

THE ESCAPE

The Magus disguises broken pots as eggs and vice-versa. But it always seemed to me that the kitchen staff at Edinburgh sure broke a lot of pots. I mean a LOT!

I like the lines: "Taking the wee bairns for a walk?" and "I don't think I like Gargoyle eggs." Very menacing.

Princess K burns her wedding dress. She feels she cannot leave because C will follow her to "the ends of the Earth." So the Magus responds: "Then I will take you beyond them." Again. Very romantic moment between them.

Finella joins the troop. The WOMAN SCORNED. She's really fun now. Dangerous. I always laugh when Constantine drinks the brew and collapses so abruptly.

Erin: "The Weird Sisters". My kids are just fascinated with this trio. I wonder if they still will be by the end of this three-parter or if like many fans, they will be disappointed?

They get turned into owls. But the Magus worries about giving up the source of his power. K doesn't care about that.

And Finella and Mary agree to take the book. I love these two. I think they'd make a totally kick-ass team. I doubt it would be commercial enough, but I'd love to do a spin-off show just with these two women. At any rate, there was the plan to include them as recurring characters in TimeDancer.

Tom has to leave his mother and his childhood behind. Now his role as the Guardian is a way for Katharine to make him accept the loss. It is the start of their relationship, though neither knows it. I watch this now, and I can't help thinking of the Anakin & Padma relationship and where that's destined to go.

AVALON

Back to the present. We see the impressive shores of Avalon. Very cool painting.

Bronx reacts. Guardian: "He's found the eggs..." And the music swells and two gargs and a garg beast appear on the cliff.

Now is that a cliff-hanger or what? What was your reaction?

Erin and Benny wanted "to see ther rest!" I told them they'd have to wait a week and we got a lot of protesting. Just what I was hoping for.

Anyway, that's my ramble. Where's yours?



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