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So, Greg, just out of sure curiosity, have you ever felt there was a whole conspiracy against the Gargoyles series at Disney? I mean, judging from Disney's actions, it was like they wanted the series to fail?
As I've said many times before, that's SO far from the truth it's beyond preposterous.
They made 78 episodes before RATINGS caused them to cancel the series.
So, I'm curious about something involving the early development of Gargoyles...particularly, the pitching process. I'm not exactly sure how to word this, as my knowledge of how the process of actually pitching a show works, but I'll try my best.
Listening to commentary on Awakening recently and browsing the Archives revealed that you had pitched Gargoyles multiple times: First as a comedy, then as an action show. What intrigues me in particular is the fact that the show had multiple pitches over the course of however long (the amount of time escapes me, sorry).
1. Are repeated pitching sessions common for television shows?
2. On what basis are pitches repeated (after being tweaked)? Positive notes from executives, faith in the concept, a combination?
3. Has the environment for pitching become stricter? As in, are concepts expected to be marketable/viable in one try or are multiple pitching attempts on the same concept still possible?
I apologize if these aren't worded all that correctly, it's just something I find very puzzling and I'm not entirely sure how to word my questions.
1. Sometimes, although more often if a show doesn't sell the first time out it dies. But often enough, a creator will keep trying variations until he or she sells their idea... or runs out of people to sell it to.
2. All of the above, plus a smidgen of desperation.
3. See above. Nothing's really changed, though it's definitely tougher to sell an original idea now than it was back then.
i would like to say thank you for creating the best superhero animated series of all time...second, this is a question, i know you can't and won't reveal any future plans for the series but can you answer this, i know fox had a hellofalot things the 90's series couldn'y do like punch...PUNCH, obviously this series doesnt have as much problems but, finally my question, is carnage to dark for the series, along with morbius biting people, and how about the death of gwen and george stacey stories? thanks
I don't know any way to answer this without making it sound like hints toward future plans.
So just talking about S&P in general, the situation shifts and changes all the time, depending on everything from the network and its current strategy and target audience to the individual giving notes -- but most of all depending on how any given thing is handled by the writers and board artists. Ultimately, it's all about execution.
When recording voices for animation, must all actors record voices in the same studio?
It's not an absolute, but we like it both for reasons of actor chemistry and because it's easier on our budget.
Hi Mr. Wiesman
As a folllow-on from something asked of you by "Anonymous" on the issue of growth and evolution in Spider-Man , I would like to, first, argue that the Spider-Man series you have been working on isnt "pinned down" by the problems the comic version of Spidey faces. You have placed Peter, MJ, Gwen, Harry and others into the most innocent kind of "hell" on Earth, High School.
Long before girls fell off bridges, long before clones and long before Peter realized MJ was the love of his life and married her, you don't have to worry about "resetting" there because that only affects the characters outside of High School...where readers expect them to act grown up and responsible for one another, and when they act like rank adolescents as they do in BND (my opinion), or heck, ever since the last ten years worth (Spidey's never recovered since 1999, again, my opinion)
Spider-Girl has now been running for eleven years, with another good few years left in the tank (I don't know how long Tom intends to tell it, right now the word is "indefinatly"), yet Tom recently admited if he so much as fought for an animated series, he'd be shot down. I find this incredibly tragic and disheartening.
And yet...look at what D.C accomplished ten years ago with Batman Beyond.
Terry McGuiness may only have had the golden rule of syndication ("Get 65 and DIE") one movie, and one episode of JLU, but it says a great deal about the higher-ups at WB to risk three years worth on character growth on someone new, whilst balancing that with remarkable doses of growth for Bruce Wayne and Barbera Gordon to that extent than, say, three more years of "The New Batman Adventures"
Hell, let's argue LOONATICS. Done CORRECTLY, this would have made Loony Toon characters DRAMATIC...key word there is "done correctly" of course, but premises like that are ones any writer can eat up with a spoon...again, WB risked it, suceed or fail.
Likewise you have put a lot of risk into Spectacular Spider-Man that has paid off, so maybe it's not a case of marketers being afraid of "growth and change", maybe it's more a case of certain groups being behind the times and just not living in the here and now.
Time will tell. Right now, I like to think those people KNOW that we need something new. Nothing lasts forever.
Not even the relevancy of the "Modern Myth".
My question: Why is it easier for something like Batman Beyond to be favoured over something like Spider-Girl?
No idea. Not even sure that's true, frankly.
The thing to keep in mind is that the business is fluid and NOT monolithic. Things change. There's much human turnover, and with that turnover comes changes in direction at every studio and every network. What the RULES are this week may not be the rules in six months time.
I've often said we'd NEVER have gotten Gargoyles on the air today, and that's true TODAY. But tomorrow is a whole other story.
Maybe Batman Beyond hit at the right studio and the right network at the right time.
Spider-Girl's situation is complicated by the fact that Marvel and Sony co-control the Spider-Man license. I'd guess (and it's ONLY a guess) that Marvel views Spider-Girl as a separate property. And I'd guess Sony views it as part of the Spider-Man license... and that disagreement (assuming it exists and/or has EVER even come up) would obviously be a roadblock to making a Spider-Girl series.
In any case, you give me credit for taking risks that I don't really think I deserve. Sony and Marvel came to me and ASKED me to do a Spider-Man series set in his High School years that was not in continuity with the movies or the current comics or Ultimate or anything. That's all they gave me, but that fit perfectly with what I wanted to do with the character. And given the fact that Spidey is one of the top marquis characters in the known universe, it wasn't exactly a risky proposition.
I like to think we executed well, but let's face it -- ANY Spidey show would do pretty well just by virtue of it being Spidey. I can't exactly take credit for the character's popularity. All I can do is strive to do him justice. It's for others to judge if we succeeded, though we succeeded well enough to satisfy me. I'm biased, of course, but my standards are pretty high.
Sometimes when I write, I worry about how much specific influence other similar media has on what I'm working on. As a student and literary lover, I am well aware of the dangers of plagerism and feel very sensitive to it, but I worry about unitentionally drawing too much from source material in fiction writing. For example, if I was working on a story about a vampire, I would worry about how much I'm being influenced by, say, Interview With the Vampire, which is a personal favorite novel and series. It's important for ideas to be new and fresh, even if they cover subject matter already used in the past.
Like you, I produce what I'd like to consume, so how do you avoid copying your favorites? Any sagely advice?
Otherwise, also want you to know that I impressed upon my local comic shop the sheer importance of my obtaining the two trades coming out this summer. I talked up the series, of which he was alredy a similarly disappointed fan. Both trades are on my pull-list.
I don't have a set of guidelines for you. I try to feel my way through it, I guess. If I am going to "lift", I try to be direct and on the head about it, so that I'm acknowledging the debt as opposed to trying to get away with something. But I also avoid seeing/reading newer interpretations of stuff I know I plan to write about. And as much as possible I stick with "source material," i.e. things in the public domain.
I've got for you a very in-depth question: How did you get to where you are today? What kinds of steps did you take? If you could give specifics, I'd be quite happy.
You see, I myself would love to go into the business of TV and film, and I frequently identify myself with you (in a non-creepy way - I mean regarding style and that kind of stuff).
I've answered this in depth and with specifics before. Check the archives for a more detailed answer.
Generally, I'd say the first things you need to do, if you haven't already are...
1. Finish your formal education.
2. Move to Los Angeles.
3. Read, write and proofread a lot. Practice. Learn that your first draft may suck, and that even your second draft may need shelving.
As for my specifics...
*Bachelors from Stanford in English with a Fiction Writing emphasis.
*Started working as a writer for DC Comics as a 19-year-old while still in college.
*Moved to New York to work in comics, cuz that's where THAT action was.
*Masters from U.S.C in Professional Writing with an emphasis in playwriting.
*Staff Assistant at Disney Television Animation.
*Eventually promoted to Director of Series Development.
*Developed Gargoyles and moved sideways to produce it.
I have watched the first two seasons of Spectacular Spider-man and absolutely love them! I think the thing I appreciate the most is the fact my 3 yr old son and I can watch them with both of us being entertained. We can share that experience and take completely different things from the episode. Kudos for walking that tightrope. With the series moving to Disney XD I have a few questions. 1) How does the ratings thing work? We record and watch every episode that comes on and would LOVE for that to be counted as credit for you guys. I want to do whatever I can to ensure a third and forth season. 2) Is there somewhere or someone we can contact and/or email with our support for this series? I would hate for it to not get picked up. Keep up the good work if you get the opportunity!!
Thanks. I'm glad you and your son both enjoy the show. That was the intent, for there to be something for kids and adults without short-changing either demographic.
1. Unless you are a Nielson household, your personal viewing is not specifically counted, but IN THEORY if you and your kid are watching and a bunch of other folks like you are watching with their kids, then the odds are some Nielson family just like yours is mirroring your collective behavior and that DOES count in the ratings. It has to do with statistics, and I don't pretend to understand it really -- or even fully buy into it. But that's how it works. Again, IN THEORY, if you stop viewing the show it suggests that somewhere some Nielson family just like you has also stopped. So DON'T STOP!!!
2. You can try to contact Disney XD through their website or write a letter to them. It can't hurt.
How much does it cost to commission or create a series or season and how does that work?
sorry for my ignorance and ambiguity,
Um... costs really vary. A lot depends on the mode of production, the development budget, etc.
Episodic costs on Gargoyles averaged about $450K per episode, at least for the first 65 episodes. (I have no idea what the final budget was for Goliath Chronicles, but I imagine it was considerably less.) And those per episode costs do NOT include development costs, marketing costs, etc. So making a series is a VERY expensive prospect, which is why we need/put up with studios, networks and the like.
Greetings, Mr. Weisman. First off, let me say that it is an honor to be able to speak to you, regardless of whether my question is accepted or not. I truly wish I were able to meet you someday being a writer myself! If only my living in Puerto Rico were not so bothersome... (why not make a Gathering here? :3)
Anyways, on to my question. We all know the story: for reasons beyond us, Disney canceled the legendary Gargoyles TV show we all know and love, and then we got a certain spin-off fiasco. Then, literally a decade later, we get a gratifying notice: the comics! (which I will definitely buy this summer, hopefully, even if it's only the Clan Building trades.) But now, sadly, Disney's gone EPIC CANCEL on us. Again. Therefore, I must ask this question. Apologies if it has been asked, by the way. Here goes:
Has it crossed your mind to consult other animation companies, such as Viz, Funimation, Man of Action (creators of the excellent Ben 10 series) on acquiring the license off Disney, or perhaps giving the series a new animated show on a different genre, such as anime or CG? Hell, I'm pretty sure people would pack the theater if it were to be turned into an anime or CG, especially given the highly impressionable teenager crowd of today that's into these genres.
If you ask me, Gargoyles is definitely not doing well under Disney's wing- I mean, it was virtually untouched for a whole decade and more and would have been thrown into the dark hell of obscurity were it not for the fans-i.e. us, and I'd like to take the chance to thank the fans for doing everything the fandom has done.
Thank you very much for your time, sir. It has been an incredible privilege that you even read this letter. Greetings from Puerto Rico, God Bless and please keep giving us great stories to enjoy.
Wolf E. Urameshi
PS: Did I mention your Spider-Man series is awesome? If not, there we go. :)
First off, thanks for all the praise.
You're welcome to organize and hold a Gargoyles Convention in Puerto Rico. I'd be happy to attend too.
The reasons for Gargoyles being cancelled are NOT beyond us. I've laid them out many times, and you can find them by looking through the ASK GREG FAQ. Calling "Goliath Chronicles" a spin-off, isn't really accurate either. It was a third season, rebranded, and with different behind the scenes talent running the production.
And again, to be accurate, Disney didn't cancel the comics. Technically, SLG did, because they could not afford the license under the terms Disney was offering. But sales of the trades will determine whether we'll eventually be back.
And, yes, this question has been asked and answered MANY, MANY times, so check the archives for fuller answers. But briefly, there's no way Disney would release the animation license to another company. And bashing Disney's efforts doesn't further our cause.
This is a question kind of about a Gargoyles movie but not really. I read that back in the 90s one of the reasons a live-action Gargoyles movie wasn't made was because a good script couldn't be found. Not sure if this is true or not but it leads to my question.
Why is it, Gargoyles or otherwise, movie companies contact outside screenwriters to develope a script instead of the creator, if the creator is available for contact (Not dead or no longer working on the project)?
I assume they think that the creator can't create something that would work for a wide audience because they'd be TOO faithful to their creation. I'm sure in some cases that might be true. But there's also a basic assumption that movie writers are inherently superior to television (and certainly cartoon) writers.
A comment, inspired by my last question about the Standards & Practices deaths.
Many of the "deaths by falling" that you had in the series, such as Findleach's and Gillecomgain's, were there simply because of S&P, and I don't think that it would have made a sizable difference to the story and characterization if, say, Gillecomgain had run Findlaech with a sword instead.
But it made good dramatic sense, I think, to have the Captain and Hakon die that way. One of the crucial points of "Awakening"'s opening was Goliath being driven to despair by one blow after another, to the point where he finally commits suicide (in a sense). The Captain and Hakon falling off the cliff rather than being ripped to shreds by Goliath worked there; now, not only has Goliath's clan been massacred, but he can't even exact vengeance upon the two people most responsible for his loss. It brings him one step closer to devastation.
So I think that even without Standards & Practices, it was a good idea to have the Captain and Hakon die that way.
In "City of Stone", you had Findlaech, Gillecomgain, and Duncan all die by either falling off something or getting burned up by the Weird Sisters' magic, to make the methods of their deaths acceptable for Standards & Practices.
But in Part Four, you had Canmore temporarily slay Macbeth by running him through with a sword. Did you have any difficulty with Standards & Practices over that?
Nope. Because (a) the audience saw no details of the event and (b) a few seconds later he stood up.
I know you are probably used to hearing it, but I am a big fan of both Gargoyles and The Spectacular Spider-Man. My questions mostly concern Spectacular Spider-Man.
1. How do the overseas ratings effect our chances for a third Spider-Man season?
2. What is the earliest we could possibly know if Spider-Man is picked up again?
3. If picked up, how long would it take to produce a new season?
4. How has the show being transferred to a Disney channel helped or hindered the possibilities of a third season?
5. Will Disney now be handling the DVD releases of Spider-Man?
My last question I ask because I am hoping they will be as I think (or hope) that they would use that as a sort of free advertising for the Gargoyles DVDs (If you like this, buy this other series by creator Greg Weisman, etc.) and possibly give us the season 2 part 2 we have all been waiting for. Anyways, thanks for your time and just know that I, as a dedicated Spider-Man fan who was highly wary of any new incarnation of the character, love what you have been doing on that series so far. Thanks again.
1. Well, if ratings are high all over the world and those stations want more episodes than perhaps it would encourage Sony International to put more money into the series, so that if for WHATEVER reason, other Sony divisions are less interested, it might help compensate. But we're still waiting for Disney to give us a domestic pick-up sometime after the second season starts airing in June.
2. June at the earliest.
3. About ten months, give or take.
4. Well, we lack continuity, and Disney wants us to prove ourselves all over again, I suppose.
5. No. That's always been Sony Home Entertainment.
I was just wondering...I have a very general question. How is it you or any of us know how well a cartoon does. I mean, is there a website that shows a show's ratings? I was interested in knowing how spectacular Spiderman, or any show for that matter, is doing in popularity and there seems to be little out there when I search. Great work on spectacular spiderman by the way. Best cartoon ever.
I learn about the ratings from my bosses. I would think they're published SOMEWHERE, but I couldn't tell you where.
Hello, Greg. I'm familiar with the guidelines and I clearly understand why you dont want any original ideas or fanfic. But I got this ideas for season 3 (I know its not even picked yet), its really only the major plot for the episodes, not getting into any depth. All I'm asking is if I can post them or somehow send them to you, just to take a look and tell me is it good, bad, what do you think of it. Just this. I dont wanna make your life miserable. I know that you, Vic Cook and everybody else can and will come up with something way better. I just want your opinion. If this question/request doesnt get approved, I'll understand.
I appreciate you asking so nicely, but there's no way Sony would allow me to read what you're offering, even on an educational "tell me if it's good" basis. Spidey is a LIVE property. I can't risk the lawsuits, and Sony wouldn't let me risk the lawsuits even if I was inclined to take the risk. Policy. Sorry.
I'm loving the effort and detail put into Spectacular Spider-Man! It's incredible how this show stays close to the comics, and somehow does its own thing! I can't find anything negative to say, and I'm accustomed to always finding something bad to say.
But I am curious...what was the reasons behind putting this show (in the USA) on Disney XD? The show started on CW, and it was doing well (wasn't it?) on that network, then BAM...Disney has the show...and their decisions to torment us with how long we have to wait for the season 2 episodes seem so...stupid. What happened? Why Disney?
(We are talking about the same company that screwed us all on Gargoyles after season 2 aftreall, Mr. Weisman...)
Wow... where to start.
First, thank you for the compliments.
Second, Disney did NOT "screw us all" after season 2 of Gargoyles. That's patently false. One could argue about how good a job they did or didn't do with the show, but no screwing was involved. For more information, read this: http://www.s8.org/gargoyles/askgreg/faq.php?s=realworld
Third, as for Spidey, the show aired originally on KidsWB, which was a programming block on the CW. Halfway through our season, we learned that CW was dissolving the KidsWB block and selling (renting?) the space to 4KidsTV. So KidsWB became CW4Kids. Sounds like nothing more than a minor name change, but that's not true. CW4Kids was a totally different business entity. I had ZERO involvement in or direct knowledge of the negotiations that followed with either CW4Kids or with DisneyXD (or with Cartoon Network or any other channel Sony might have talked to), but I think it's safe to assume that DisneyXD offered Sony the best OVERALL financial deal, which doesn't necessarily mean the biggest episodic license fee. There are other FINANCIAL factors too that I'm sure were considered. But... and I hope this doesn't shock you... it is ultimately all about money.
I read your guidelines, and I am curious how to 'break into the business' Not necisarily starting my own comic book, but working for a smaller, more independent company such as Creature Comics. I have purused job sites, having recently graduated with a Bachelor of Animation, but am not having luck finding any such companies or positions.
As a side note (coming from the fan side of me) thank you for keeping the Gargoyle universe alive for your fans!! I am so excited to read the new comics, and see the Gargoyles making a comback!
Creature Comics isn't really a company. It's more of a partnership -- between myself, Greg Guler and Marty Lund (and not really that anymore either) -- formed to get the license to the Gargoyles comic. That didn't happen, and we wound up at SLG instead.
But in any case, my first question is "Where do you live?" You have to go where there's work. Do some research into companies you might want to work for in your area. And if there are none in your area (or if the concentration is too slim to get employed) -- move.
I think spectacular spider-man is great and probably one of the best animated series in the past 5 years. The only other series that I can think of that have equally strong plotlines, acting, and sense of continuity are those in the DCAU (DC Animated Universe) created by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini. That whole shebang spun off of what was originally the standalone Batman: The Animated Series because of the commercial and critical success of that show. I already know that you're considering doing DVD movies after Spectacular Spider-Man ends it's run, but would you ever consider doing other shows set in the same self-contained Marvel Universe like that of the DCAU? Just wondering b/c I see how strong a series Spectacular Spider-Man is and can only imagine the potential for adapting other characters.
And once again, the DCAU was not "created" by Timm & Dini. For starters, of course, it was not CREATED by any of these people, it was DEVELOPED. An important distinction in this business. Secondly, it was developed by a number of people, but certainly the two most important were Timm & ALAN BURNETT (who was Paul Dini's boss). I feel bad about constantly doing this, because I think it leaves the (false) impression that I've got an axe to grind against the very talented Mr. Dini, and I absolutely do NOT. Paul is phenomenal and deserves major props for his work on the DCAU. But I'm really tired of Alan not getting the credit he deserves for (a) RESCUING Batman the Animated Series from mediocre writing and (b) being the Executive Producer (alongside Bruce) of the entire DCAU (including THE BATMAN).
As for Spidey launching a "MCAU"... it isn't likely. Marvel's doing that on their own. Sony has the rights to ONLY Spidey and Ghost Rider. And before you ask, Vic and I have asked Sony about doing an animated Ghost Rider, but they are currently uninterested.
I'll start off with my question, but please forgive me for including some praise which I feel you are due.
My question: With Disney's recent decision to raise their licensing fee (effectively ending production of the Gargoyles comic) as well as their now seemingly permanent decision to not release Season 2, Volume 2 on DVD - do you ever get the feeling Disney thinks of you as the bastard child they never wanted and would do anything to make go away forever?
On a personal note - I would like to thank you for making my childhood better. "Gargoyles" was always a major part of my childhood - I had the toys, I had the VHS "The Heroes Awaken" with the game, I had everything. I even remember getting yelled at for putting TV above family when I commented to my mom one day that I couldn't go anywhere with her because the new "Gargoyles" episode was about to come on. After recently finding the two DVD collections currently available, I watched every single episode - and was once again amazed at how great they were.
Thanks for all that you do - I'm currently trying to buy all the comics that I can. I hope that, one day, we'll see the rest of your creation available on DVD, because I would love for my children to see it one day.
No, I don't feel that way. For starters, they did WANT us originally. They just never quite knew what to do with us. How to help us be as successful as possible. Now, we're simply a low, low, low priority. A corporation with literally hundreds of IPs needs to prioritize certainly, and we're low... largely because we have never made them quite ENOUGH money to be a high priority.
Are you the maker of Gargoyles? and if I want to make a book what should I do?
Please tell me how to make a good story.
I'm the creator (or at least co-creator) of the GARGOYLES television series. I was one of the writers, supervising producers and supervising story editor, and I'm currently writing the GARGOYLES and GARGOYLES: BAD GUYS comics.
I'm not sure what kind of book you have in mind. Generally, I advise would-be writers to get a great liberal arts education. Read... a lot. Write... a lot. And proofread.
Hello greg, I just wanted to say season 1 of SSM was very good and i cant wait to see many many more seasons come for the series. I loved it alot besides a few changes here and there i didnt like at first but grew on me over time and it works for the show itself. I just had a question i was wondering on the production side of things for the show. How long does it take to animate a single episode for the series?
It takes eight to ten months - give or take.
This is question in regards to censorship in Spectacular Spider-Man. Back in the 90s series, there was an obnoxious amount of censorship (Spidey couldn't throw a punch?!) that sometimes hindered the story in obvious ways. Now, Spectacular Spidey is obviously a bit of a lighter tone, so I don't expect to see people dying all over the place or anything, but I am curious about how the censorship from the studios of this series differs from other shows you've worked on, like Gargoyles--which I think was great about being delightfully edgy whilst still obeying the censors. Gargoyles was much darker that Spider-Man currently is, obviously; I'm just curious as to how similar the rules regarding the amount of death and violence and such are and if it has changed a lot since your work in the 90s.
And just to be clear, I'm not complaining or asking for Spider-Man to be darker or more violent or anything, I'm very happy with how everything has been handled and balanced without getting too "gritty" thus far (and I'm usually a sucker for dark stories). I'm just curious, you know?.
I'm hinky about the way you throw the word "censor" around. The biggest rule is, was and always has been our own personal standards of what's right and wrong, what is and isn't appropriate. After that, both Gargoyles and Spectacular Spider-Man benefited from having smart, intelligent and understanding S&P executives (Adrienne Bello for Gargoyles, Patricia Dennis for Spidey). As I've mentioned before, there wasn't much we wanted to do on Spidey that was disallowed. The realistic sound of gunshots comes to mind... and those are being restored on the DVDs. I think it has less to do with the era, and more to do with the individual looking over your shoulder.
I just wanted to say thanks Greg for the fantastic story you've created here. I went on a nostalgic kick awhile back and revisited some series from my childhood.. most did not stand up so well, but I actually appreciate what you were doing with Gargoyles more now than I ever did back then and, in hindsight, recognize just how far ahead of its time it actually was.
The world you have crafted here is so vivid and interesting, it got me to thinking, have you ever thought about writing a novel about the Gargoyles? Or do you see Gargoyles always existing in a more visual medium, like animation or comic books?
Just to go a little further afield, what are your thoughts on "opening it up," Stars Wars style, so other authors can write the stories while you maintain tight control over canon? I think I know what your answer will be, but I have quite the appetite for more Gargoyles stories than exist at the moment, so I have to ask.
As I've said (here) many times before, I'd LOVE to write a Gargoyles' novel.
As for your second question, that's pretty much how I ran the series in the first place.
Do you think that adapting a familiar comic-book figure from the medium of comic books to the television screen (as you're currently doing with "The Spectacular Spider-Man") is much like adapting a familiar legendary figure (such as King Arthur or Theseus) to a modern work of fiction (except, of course, that Arthur and Theseus have been around a lot longer than Spidey has)?
There are common factors, but no. The main difference is that Spider-Man isn't public domain. Marvel OWNS the character and is quite the watchdog, as it should be.