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I'm not sure when I'll get around to viewing the next episode of Gargoyles with my family, but I thought I'd get ready to ramble by posting my November, '94 memo to story editor Cary Bates. This was Cary's first Gargoyles script, so he was still new to the characters, which was one of the reasons he started with a single gargoyle story. Just Broadway, Elisa and a little Matt, basically.
You'll notice in what follows that some of the big twists still weren't present at this stage. We just hadn't cracked it fully yet. As I recall, Development Associate Eddie Guzelian suggested making the OLD MAN into Dominic Dracon. I was probably resistant a bit at first, just because of how much work that change would involve. But we all realized that Eddie's idea made the story much, much better. So the change was made...
Anyway, here's the memo, unedited as usual:
Notes on "The Silver Falcon" Outline...
My main problem is that as a mystery story, this is a bit of a dud. We want to stump our audience, but here, we're cheating to do it. There's no way they could figure out where the diamonds are. We don't show them any options but the red herring. And if we did show them the true location, the answer becomes too obvious, and frankly not tricky enough. There's a silver falcon gargoyle on top of the speakeasy. There's another on top of the building across from Malone's office. We check both. One has it. One doesn't.
We need a double entendre here somewhere. We're looking for a silver falcon, and it turns out to be something that isn't literally that. Or in this case, Malone is being literal -- the jewels are in the silver falcon across from his office. But for most of the episode, we're looking for a more obscure answer, i.e. the speakeasy itself. Best not to have a literal silver falcon gargoyle in the vault at the speakeasy.
Even so, it's pretty straightforward. So let's make the whole situation more mysterious. Let's not learn what Matt was up to quite so fast. Let's not have Elisa be a Mace Malone expert. Let's not learn about the loot at all until act three. Let's misdirect more.
We also need secondary suspects. I suggest the Illuminati. That's the name of the Secret Society that Matt's always going on about. It'll be a huge red herring, if even Matt thought he was investigating the Illuminati, when in truth he stumbled on something considerably more mundane. For us, this would accomplish two goals. One, it misdirects Broadway, Elisa and the audience. Two, it sets us up for a future story where we actually use the Illuminati.
You get major points here. The theme is partnership, and it's presented clearly. Let's just give it more of an arc. Elisa doesn't have to be thrilled to have Sam Broadway Spade as a partner at first. She learns to appreciate the back-up.
You need to start thinking about the Audience you're writing for. Vogel's murder in the other premise, was never gonna fly. Likewise, here, a major clue revolving around alcohol consumption is definitely out. I wouldn't be afraid to do a story about alcohol, if we were really going to focus on that issue, but not as a throw away.
Don't make him or his rookery brothers too young. They can have the occasional childlike response, but don't overdue it. Showing them enjoying a cartoon is one thing. Generalizing that they always are watching cartoons makes them sound like kids. Think of 19 or 20 year old Viet Nam Vets. These guys are warriors.
Also, when he's stone, Broadway is WAY TOO HEAVY for Elisa to budge.
And as flesh, Broadway getting shot is like anybody getting shot. Fatal. Or maybe he'd just bleed to death before sunrise. Even if sunrise were close, without surgery to remove the bullets, he wouldn't heal. Basically, what I'm getting at is that the gargoyles are NOT invulnerable.
DRACON AND GLASSES
Dracon is young and hungry. He's tough, violent, savvy, sarcastic. It's not that he can't get angry, but please resist the temptation to show him throwing temper-tantrums -- ranting (and whining) like a cliché d foiled villain.
He's got money, but he doesn't have the high-tech resources of a Xanatos. We have to be sparing with our use of that stuff. Which does not mean we can have massive gun battles with real bullets. (For S&P reasons.)
And if Dracon is not Xanatos, Glasses is not Owen. Glasses shouldn't quietly clear his throat so that he can feed his boss a plan. It's not that Glasses is stupid, but he's not the brains behind the organization either. He's an aggressive, tough and violent street thug in expensive clothes.
Let's also keep clear on Dracon's motivations and how they differ from Elisa's. He wants the loot, but he doesn't want to have to flee to South America with it. He's crossed the line by kidnapping two cops. He's going to have to kill them.... So he frees Elisa to follow her to the diamonds? Major problems all around. 1) Why does he think Elisa will be able to find them? 2) Why does he think she's even going to try after she's freed her partner? She has no motivation for finding the loot. She's a cop who's out to save her partner and bust the guy who kidnapped them both. (It's not that I don't buy her being curious. But that can wait until after Dracon is in custody.) 3) After she drops Matt off at her place, why don't Dracon's men sneak in and kill the unconscious detective? After all, they can't let him live. What are they waiting for? For him to wake up and come take them out? Etc.
Also, blowing up Matt's apartment is cool, but it has to feel like more of a last resort. Dracon doesn't want to draw any more attention to Matt's disappearance than necessary.
And, please note in your script that Dracon has a white streak in his hair from his previous encounter with the gargoyles.
CHAVEZ & BLUESTONE
Please do not play Maria as a callous boss, who doesn't care that one of her detectives has gone missing for two days. And yes, Matt's into secret society's and the like, but he's not the type to blow off work for two days in a row. Despite Matt's paranoia/hobby, he's a good partner and a good cop, someone that Elisa and Maria can count on.
On the other hand, Matt isn't psychic. He's seen gargoyles at a distance, but he knows nothing about them. Certainly, he has no idea of Elisa's connection to them. There's no way he'd casually decide that a "gargoyle" helped them crack a case. Why would it?
And we must resist the constant temptation to knock Matt out so that he doesn't find out the truth. We don't need it here. So I cut the drugged sleep.
Let's change Hacker into a real character that we might want to re-use later. An FBI agent who used to be Matt's partner before Matt was booted out of the bureau for investigating the Illuminati Society. The bureau doesn't officially acknowledge the Illuminati's existence. (All this will be a revelation to Elisa. She didn't know Matt had ever been in the bureau. Her surprise about this will add to the general feeling of mystery in the story.) Matt is persona non grata with the FBI, and Agent Smith (or whatever) can no longer be seen with him, which explains the clandestine meeting.
For future reference, the library is the other face of the same building that houses the twenty-third police precinct, above which is the clock tower where the gargoyles live. The library is closed at nights, and Goliath often reads down there. But I've cut the library scene, so it doesn't matter here.
1. Make the setting someplace other than a slaughterhouse, but otherwise MATT's kidnapping can play pretty much the way you had it.
2. Two days later at ELISA's place. BROADWAY is there to watch his video of the detective movie, (because Hudson is sick of him playing it over and over again on the tv set at the clock tower). Elisa gets a phone call from CHAVEZ. (Intercut.) Matt took some personal time to investigate Bigfoot or something. But he hasn't checked back in 48 hours, which isn't like him. And there's no answer at his place. Elisa hasn't heard from him either. This isn't good. Elisa's going to check on him on her way to work. Chavez makes Elisa promise to call for back-up if there's any trouble. Elisa says, yeah, sure, whatever.... (But she doesn't really think she needs any help.) Broadway overhears and wants to come along. He'll act as her back-up, her partner until she solves the mystery of the missing Matt. But Elisa's got one partner already. She doesn't need two. She'll handle this alone.
3. Matt's apartment. Elisa's outside Matt's door. She rings bell, knocks, calls for him. What she doesn't know is that the place has already been ransacked and that the ransack-er, a man dressed all in black and wearing a black SKI-MASK, is still inside. Plus another, bigger man in a trench coat and slouch hat (think Ben Grimm) is out on Matt's small terrace/balcony. (We should momentarily think these two men are working together -- the man on the balcony acting as look-out for Mr. Ski-Mask inside, but in reality, Ski-Mask is one of Dracon's men, and the guy on the balcony is Broadway. So in fact, Ski-Mask is unaware of Broadway's presence.) Elisa reaches above the door and finds Matt's spare key on the molding. She does not take out her gun. She is not expecting trouble. But inside, as she unlocks the door, Ski-Mask has his gun out and ready. Which is more than enough justification for Broadway to rip the terrace door right off and reveal himself, in a decidedly monstrous fashion. (NOTE: He does not crash through the glass!!) The clothes he's wearing should increase the scare factor, not make him look silly. By the time Elisa gets the door open, the terrified thug is pushing right past her and high-tailing it down the empty hallway with Broadway (who pauses only to say "Got you covered, partner") in close pursuit.
Ski-Mask makes it to the waiting elevator, and the doors close before Broadway can get to them. But Broadway pulls the elevator doors open and grabs the moving cable, which strains against him, until the elevator stops. Then he leaps down (about a flight) onto the roof of the elevator, shaking it's occupant. He rips open the trap door and yanks the guy up. By the time a stunned Elisa gets to the elevator, she barely misses getting hit by the flying thug whom Broadway has tossed out of the shaft. Ski-Mask crashes into the corridor wall and is temporarily knocked out.
Broadway climbs out of the shaft only to face the wrath of...ELISA. She definitely isn't pleased. But she's not going to fight with Broadway out in the open. They'll discuss things privately, in Matt's apartment. She indicates the thug. "Better bring him too."
Inside Matt's place, Elisa searches the thug, while she verbally chews Broadway out for interfering. She removes the ski-mask, but she doesn't recognize the guy. She does find a page that the thug clearly ripped from Matt's calendar with today's date, a time and a specific location (just saying Central Park isn't enough, it's a big park). Ski-Mask starts to come to just as Broadway suggests checking Matt's computer to see if they can find any info there. The thug panics, tipping Elisa off that the thug had rigged the computer to blow. She tries to stop Broadway from flipping the switch, but it's too late.
Cut to outside Matt's window. There is a brief high-pitch whine, during which Broadway leaps out holding both Elisa and the thug -- and then BOOM!! The force of the explosion propels them across the gap to another lower rooftop. (Broadway can't spread his wings because of his trench coat.) They land hard. Broadway drops both humans and the momentum nearly takes him over the roof. Elisa helps him up, and by the time they turn around, the thug has split.
Now Elisa is really ticked off. But Broadway points out that he did just save her life. Only after creating the dangerous situation in the first place, Elisa reminds him. Broadway's embarrassed, but tenacious. Look, it's obvious that Matt was working alone and got into something way over his head. If Elisa tries to handle this alone, the same thing could happen to her. We get tight on Elisa. What will she decide?
4. Elisa arrives alone at the meeting described on the page from Matt's calendar. She cautiously approaches a man, who turns out to be Matt's ex-partner from the FBI, AGENT SMITH (or whatever). It's tense at first, but once Elisa identifies herself, Agent Smith is very cooperative. Matt's told him that Elisa is all right. A good partner. (Elisa's a little embarrassed.)
So Smith fills her in. As usual, Matt's been trying to prove the existence of the Illuminati Society. He's been investigating a gangster from the 1920's who was rumored to have ties to the Illuminati and vanished mysteriously on March 22, 1924. Matt had found a letter, that he wanted Smith to authenticate. The letter was hand-written on Malone's pre-printed stationary:
3150 Third Avenue #45D, New York
March 21, 1924
Our little Society is turning a nice profit.
Everyday I see the Silver Falcon, I smile. You
would too, if you knew what I knew.
Your Senior Partner (and don't you forget it),
The ink and paper do date from the 20s and the signature checks out too. The letter is legit. But where did Matt get it? Smith doesn't know. What's the Silver Falcon? Smith doesn't know. Who's "D.D."? Smith doesn't know.
Smith isn't happy to hear that Matt is missing. If he can help Elisa in any way.... But Elisa insists she can handle it from here. So Smith takes off. Elisa stands there examining the letter. She seems to be talking to herself. The only real lead it offers is Malone's address, but what good could it be 70 years later.
And Elisa may never find out. Suddenly, we discover that Elisa is surrounded by three BAD GUYS, led by Ski-Mask. It looks bad.
5. Elisa calls out: "Broadway, NOW!!" And Broadway comes out from wherever he's been hiding and takes out two of the thugs. But Ski-Mask hops into a getaway car that pulls up fast and takes off faster. Elisa handcuffs the two unconscious thugs to something, but she's worried. She doesn't know if the escaped thug heard her talking about Malone's old address. They have to get there before the Illuminati blow it up like they did Matt's apartment. Broadway sweeps her up and they're off.
6. 3150 Third Avenue. 45th floor. Elisa's inside. Broadway watches from the roof. (We need to somehow establish that Elisa and Broadway both might have seen the Falcon-heads across the street -- and yet we need to do it in a way that doesn't immediately tip off our audience. One thing that would help is if the chrome falcons were now literally black with NYC soot and grime.)
There's a light on in 45D. An OLD MAN answers Elisa's knock. He's an accountant, working late. She realizes it's a long shot, but wonders if he knows anything about Mace Malone. Turns out that he's something of a Mace Malone buff. That's why he rented this particular office. He's got Mace's original desk and everything. Here, sit down.
Mace's mysterious disappearance makes him a curiosity, and every once in a while someone stops by and asks questions. Why just the other day, that nice red-headed boy was here. Elisa realizes he's talking about Matt. What did the old man tell Matt? Nothing. He ran out of here, as soon as he saw the picture. What picture? This one. It's an old photograph of Malone and a couple of other men (at least one of which is Dracon's grandfather) in front of a non-descript building. Does the old man know where this was taken? Sure, that's Malone's old speakeasy, the Silver Falcon. He gives Elisa the same lower east side address he had given to Matt, and the same caveat... the Falcon was torn down ages ago, they built something else there. Elisa thanks him as she ushers him out of his own office. It's temporarily unsafe here. She asks him to call Chavez and fill her in on everything he told Elisa and Matt, (and also about the two hand-cuffed thugs). She's heading straight to the lower eastside, as the crow flies, so to speak.
7. Elisa and Broadway arrive at the scene-one location where we last saw Matt. They soon discover GLASSES and his salvage operation. He's clearly digging for something, but what? Matt is there. Tied up and blind-folded. But before they can get near him, Broadway's weight collapses the wooden staircase, and they're discovered. A brief battle ensues. Glasses and his MEN use their semi-hi-tech construction equipment as make-shift weapons. Plus maybe a stick of dynamite or something. There's a cave-in that buries Elisa and Broadway. Glasses turns to Matt and taunts him. So much for the cavalry, Bluestone -- That was your partner. And she's dead.
8. Cut to a small cavity, with-in the cave-in. It's pitch black except for Broadway's glowing eyes. Elisa asks Broadway if he's o.k. He says he is but his voice is clearly straining. As she fumbles for her pocket flashlight, Elisa points out that there can't be much air in here. Will Broadway be able to use his claws to dig them out? Broadway has a couple of problems with that. The main one being that he's starting to feel real tired and that can only mean one thing. What? But Broadway is strangely silent and his eyes stop glowing. Elisa finally clicks on her flashlight and looks. Broadway's frozen in stone.
9. Outside, the sun has come up on a new day. Inside the cavity, Elisa realizes that when the cave-in occurred, Broadway acted as a living pillar, straining under the weight of a lot of rock and dirt, protecting them both from being buried alive. Now he stands there frozen like a medieval column. There isn't anything she can do but start digging.
10. Out in the main cave, Matt convinces Glasses to try and dig Elisa out. She's probably dead anyway, but she might have Malone's letter. If she does, Glasses' boss can stop looking for it. Glasses isn't dumb. He knows that Matt is simply trying to save his partner, but he can't deny Matt's sound logic regarding the letter, so he sets his men working.
11. Dissolve to a short while later. Glasses' men are getting close to Elisa, who's dug a little of the way out but is running out of air. She can hear them getting close, and she can't let them find Broadway in his vulnerable state. So to protect him, she pulls down one of the rocks above her own little dugout, and allows herself to be buried alive. Fortunately, she's timed it right. Glasses digs her out, but to all appearances, she's lucky to be alive and the guy in the trench coat is still buried under all that rock. She has Malone's letter. So the guy can stay buried.
Finally, DRACON arrives with the Ski-Mask guy from Matt's apartment and the old man from Mace's old office. Ski-Mask got to the old man before he could call Chavez, so there's no help on the way. (And Elisa realizes that the few minutes it would have cost her to call Chavez herself would have been well worth it.)
Dracon's fairly annoyed that Glasses hasn't finished digging through to the vault yet. Glasses explains the delay and produces the letter. But Dracon, shakes his head. We don't have to worry about someone else getting the letter, if we already have the loot. Dig out that vault!!
Loot? Vault? Dracon? What's going on? Matt fills Elisa in. Malone's letter didn't refer to the Illuminati at all, but to a bank robbing syndicate that included both Malone and Dracon's grandfather, Dominic Dracon (aka D.D.). Malone disappeared before he got around to telling Dominic where the loot from all their heists was. But the letter suggests that it might be here at the speakeasy. It wasn't found when the place was demolished decades ago, so Tony is convinced that there must have been an underground vault.
But how did Matt get involved? Matt had found the letter, among the younger Dracon's papers when Dracon was arrested months ago for grand theft. (Dracon's case is still pending. He's out on bail.) Matt investigated on his own, thinking he was on the trail of the Illuminati, and accidentally stumbled on this. Dracon kept him alive, because they wanted to make sure the letter was out of circulation. They didn't want anyone else stumbling on their little operation, before they had the loot. Matt apologizes for not keeping his partner up to speed. He really screwed up by acting alone.
Finally, Glasses hits pay dirt. There is a vault. Soon, they're burning through that. They break through. And inside... nothing. Nothing but a note:
Dracon is furious. But Elisa's not surprised. If the loot had been there, Dominic would have found it when he first received the letter seventy years ago. He must have been pretty confident it was here, or he wouldn't have gotten rid of Mace the day he received the letter. Dracon's a bit embarrassed by Elisa's superior powers of deductive reasoning. Embarrassed enough to tell Glasses to "take care of" the three hostages. But Elisa stays their hands by telling them she's figured out where the loot is hidden. Dracon demands to know where. But Elisa's not dumb. If she tells now, then she, Matt and the Old Man are wormfood. She's willing to take Dracon there. But it's pretty public, they'll have to wait until after dark, and we push in on the mound of dirt where Broadway is buried.
12. Let's indicate some passage of time here. The sun sets. Then we return to the underground chamber. No one's there at all. Broadway bursts from the cave in. He's panicked about Elisa. He finds Mace's second note and reads it with great difficulty. Will he figure everything out?
13. In a helicopter above the city, Dracon, Glasses and Ski-Mask are escorting Elisa, Matt and the old man to the roof of the building opposite Malone's old office. Matt whispers a warning: "They'll kill us as soon as you show them where the loot is." But Elisa says, "Don't worry, I've called for back-up. I think."
The building's too old to be equipped with a heli-pad, but Glasses manages to get close enough to allow Dracon and Elisa to jump onto the roof. Once on the roof, Elisa explains that from Malone's desk across the street, you can see these black bird-heads. And sure enough when she wipes the grime of seventy years away, she reveals the silver-like chrome beneath. Dracon probably has to check a couple heads, before finding the little bag of precious jewels that Mace had the bank loot converted to.
Now all Dracon has to do is get rid of his trio of hostages. He invites Elisa to step off the side of the building. And to his surprise she does.
Of course, she did it because she had already spotted Broadway, who catches her. (He didn't know anything about the loot or Dominic Dracon. But Mace's 2nd note invited "D.D." to guess again. The falcons on this building were the only other place Broadway could think of to check out. He's just glad he guessed right and that he was in time.)
Ultimately, Broadway takes out the chopper, without revealing himself to Matt or the old man. With Matt's help, Glasses, Ski-Mask and Dracon are all taken down. (This can all play largely as you had it.)
Matt thanks his partner Elisa for pulling his fat out of the fire.
14. And in the TAG at the clock tower, Elisa thanks her partner Broadway for doing the same.
That's it. Call me if you have any questions.
I asked these before, but they either vanished into the ether, or got pulled for reasons I can't figure out.
Just a couple of questions about Dracon.
1. What, roughly, is Dracon's ranking in the New York underworld? (Capo, Sub-capo, etc)
2. Is Dracon his own boss, or does he report to someone?
3. Is Tony's grandfather still an active participant in the "Family business" or is he retired now?
4. Does Tony have any family we haven't seen?
5. If so, are they active in the "Family business"?
6. Off subject, but have you caught any episodes of the Sopranos?
1. This is another question I'd probably have to do more research on to NAIL down. Suffice it to say, that at one point he was one of only a few major operators in NYC. His powerbase has been devastated of course, since. "TURF" really wiped him out.
2. In theory, Dracon reported to the head of the Dracon family. In practice, he operated solo.
3. Dominic's sanity didn't do well, coming out of "SILVER FALCON" -- or at least that's what his lawyer said. He was retired. Came out of retirement for "Silver Falcon". Now he's in Bellevue.
5. Some of them.
6. Yes. I've seen the whole first season. And the first five episodes of season two. I don't get HBO, so I have to wait and see it on video, (my brother records it for me).
What division, roughly, does Elisa work in? Homicide, Narcotics, Missing Persons, etc. I'd have to guess Organized Crime, given her run-ins with Dracon, but we never really do find out much about Elisa's job. I realize that this is Gargoyles, not NYPD Blue, and what goes on in Elisa's personal life is much more important to our then her job, but it would be nice to know.
Awakenings memories: Hmmm, I caught it the first time around in '94, so they're a bit vague. All I really have is images, Goliath catching Hakon's sword, Demona's first appearence (Goliath may be bigger, but she's still scarier), etc. But even five minutes into the first episode, I knew I'd found something very different and very good. I was hooked.
Aaron, to be honest, I'd have to do a bit more research into the workings of the NYPD to answer your question completely.
Maybe, "A FAN" or Airwalker knows this....
But I thought she was a Squad Detective, meaning she handles whatever comes her way, ala NYPD BLUE. According to that show, I there are also special squads like ANTI-CRIME, Missing Persons, etc.
If I had to pick one of the ones you listed above, then I would pick Organized Crime. But I'd still lean toward "ordinary" Squad Detective.
Inspired by my long ramble... The very first time we meet Dracon, it is quite clear that he and Elisa have some sort of prior relationship from before the series started. His calling her "Sugar" for instance. Exactly how did they know each other? Was it just through past dealing with her being a cop and him being a badguy? Their relationship seems too personal for that. Not that it seems that they dated at one point or anything,but there seems to be a back story. COuld you fill us in a little if there is one?
There were prior cop/criminal run ins. Dracon was her Lex Luthor, so to speak. And no, they never dated, but I think there are some interesting stories in their pasts.
After reading your answer to ExoLex, I thought that I'd weigh in with my two cents. I wasn't at all bothered by the fantasy elements in the series (partly because I like myths and legends), and I did think that you did a good job of balancing it. I might add that what I really liked about it was that you actually got in a sense of the significance of the legends that you were drawing on.
Take your use of Merlin in "A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time", one of my favorite episodes. Lots of animated series out there bring King Arthur and Merlin in at some point ("The New Batman/Superman Adventures" did it with an episode pitting Batman against a pet demon of Merlin's named Etrigan, for example). But the episode actually tackled - successfully, IMHO - the meaning that the Arthurian legend has to us. Macbeth got that very eloquent and moving speech about the importance of Arthur and Merlin's achievements that so impressed Broadway, all about Arthur as "a king who ruled with justice and compassion". Merlin's scrolls turn out to contain, not his magical secrets, but something even more valuable - his eyewitness account of King Arthur's time. (I can't help wondering what impact the Scrolls of Merlin must have had on Arthurian scholarship in the Gargoyles Universe - finally, another eyewitness account to "Arthurian" Britain besides Gildas's "De Excidio Britanniae"! Hudson and Broadway were right to urge Goliath not to burn those scrolls!) And Merlin, in a sense, plays his role as tutor, from beyond the Crystal Cave, to Hudson and Broadway, just as he did to the young Arthur 1500 years ago, by teaching the two gargoyles the worth of reading (although Jeffrey Robbins should get part of the credit in Hudson's case, of course).
I did think, as well, that while more "fantastic" in some ways than the average animated action/adventure series set in the modern world (such as "Batman"), "Gargoyles" did feel in other ways more realistic. The New York of "Gargoyles" felt much more like a real modern-day city than do, say, Gotham City or Metropolis, even in the crime scene (the leading criminal figure in Manhattan being Tony Dracon, an "ordinary" mob boss, rather than somebody like the Joker).
Thanks for the vote of confidence.
Of course, all that Arthur stuff meant a lot to me too. I wanted to really evoke Arthur and Merlin in "Lighthouse". Who better to do it than Macbeth?
And, yeah, I like to think that in the context of all our wierdness, that the series was grounded in a world that felt real.
Have Dracon and Elisa met before "Deadly Force". For some reasons I see signs of a history between them.
Yes. Too often.
Another ramble as I review the entire series. Comments welcome.
"Deadly Force". I have to admit. I never liked the title. It always sounded too generic to me. Michael Reaves pointed out how appropriate it was, but "Temptation" had already given me a taste for one word titles. I came to prefer those, unless I was given a damn good reason not to.
The third episode of our trio tryptich. Broadway. Broadway and Goliath. Broadway, Elisa and Goliath. But this episode represents so much more.
If you were watching the series in '94 during it's original run, and you didn't already think, "Hey, this is different." Then by the end of Act One of "Deadly Force" you knew. I don't know if there's ever been a cartoon like "Deadly Force". A mainstream media production. We had had up to that point a few fairly shocking cliffhangers, a few fairly shocking events, but what equals Broadway pulling that trigger, the suddenly "empty" kitchen and Elisa lying in a pool of her own blood as we fade to black and cut to a commercial?
Where do I start? With pride, I guess. I am extremely proud of this one.
Guns. My personal stance on gun control isn't an issue. Not in this episode. This is about something that I think every even vaguely intelligent person can agree on. Guns aren't toys. Guns aren't "cool", no matter how they're depicted in the media. Guns demand respect. Elisa is at fault. Broadway's massively at fault. Because neither held enough respect for the weapon. (Now one might argue that Elisa lived -- nominally -- alone. It didn't occur to her that she needed to be more careful with her weapon. But it should have. She's a cop. She should know better.) As I write this, as I watched the episode tonight, my head is of course filled with thoughts of the six year old boy who yesterday took his uncle's gun to school and shot a six year old girl, killing her. And I don't want to sound arrogant. But I am angry. And I feel like this episode could really help people. That parents should HAVE to watch this with their kids. Required viewing. And the fact that Toon Disney won't even air it...! I'm furious. Simply furious.
Guns are the least of it. We wanted to send a message about repercussions. Real world repercussions. I wanted our series to be ABOUT repercussions. Demona and the Captain betray Wyvern. There are repercussions. You can't fix things. You can't go back and change it. That's why time travel in the Gargoyles' Universe has such STRICT laws. Without those laws, you remove the dramatic law of repercussions. The real world law that actions have repercussions. This episode was our ode to repercussions. The guns were just our means to an end.
Still, guns would be our medium and the episode is laced with them. With gun imagery. With gun language (e.g. Chavez referring to Dracon's alibi: "He's bulletproof.", etc.). I don't think the episode is too pedantic. I hope it's honest. Probably the most dishonest thing in the story was that Elisa DIDN'T die. Forgive me for that. But I couldn't let her go just then. Still, I think we gave our audience a bigger scare in this one then in most of the other episodes combined. Maybe she would die. There's a sense of scary (again real world) vulnerability in this. And we tried to make her injuries and suffering as realistic as possible. We weren't doing E.R. (or St. Elsewhere, since E.R. didn't exist back then), but we did try to make the medical stuff play true.
All this makes me proud. Proud of what's on the screen.
But there's a whole other side to the making of this show that makes me proud. For what isn't visible on screen. For teamwork. This is a story that seemed to need to be told. Most of the springboards for the 66 chapters came from me, but this one was waiting for us. My bosses Gary Krisel and Bruce Cranston were behind the story from the start. Michael Reaves wrote an amazing script, and my God the thing is beautifully made. No one balked. Not our S&P executive. Not our bosses. No one. Think about how amazing that is? We had one of our young heroes pick up a very REAL gun and shoot our female lead in her own kitchen. That's pretty intense.
And fairly rewarding. Even our publicity department saw the value in this one. They got advance copies and sent them out. We had (always had) phenomenally good reviews. But this episode brought us praise from the kind of parents groups that most action cartoon shows usually fear. People got it. They got it. Dr. Madeline Levine wrote a book called "Viewing Violence". It's a fairly sobering study of the effect of modern media on impressionable minds. Disabused me of a few notions, I'll tell you. But she praises GARGOYLES, specifically this episode, in her book. People got it. But not TOON DISNEY people, I guess. They show a huge lack of respect for everyone who worked on that show. Everyone who did or might benefit from it.
(Re: The pool of blood. When it first came back from Japan, the pool of blood was much larger. We pulled it back by calling a retake. This wasn't cowardice on anyone's part. This was us trying to get our message across. We didn't want kids goofing on the pool of blood. Interested in the pool for the pool's sake, so to speak. We wanted enough blood there to make it real. To scare everyone. But we didn't want the pool to be distracting. And also we didn't want to imply that Elisa had already bled out.)
Broadway - First and foremost, this was still designed to showcase Broadway. All our nobler aspirations wouldn't matter if you walked out of this episode still thinking of the big guy as an eating machine and nothing else. So let's start by praising Bill Faggerbakke and voice director Jamie Thomason. Bill's performance is wonderfully poignant without falling into bathos.
And man, who is the scariest gargoyle when angered? Goliath? Demona? How about a vote for old Broadway? Guilt and anger tear him apart, and no one's safe. He PALMS Glasses for God's sake. He's young but maturing fast. I only had vague notions of Angela at this time. And I sure didn't know they were destined for each other. But I can see it here. The child who's done something so bad he's afraid to go home, ultimately taking responsibility for actions too horrible for most of us to face. Amazing strength of character.
Elisa - A secondary purpose (tertiary?) was to demonstrate that Elisa was a real human being, with real connections. A real life. She has a boss (introducing Maria Chavez), an apartment (introducing the loft), a cat (introducing Cagney). And she wasn't born a twenty-something police detective. She has a family. A father (introducing Sgt. Peter Maza), a mother (introducing Diane Maza), a brother (introducing Derek Maza) and a sister who's away at college (we even get a photo peak at Beth Maza). This wasn't some cypher who existed only to facilitate things for the Gargoyles. This was a woman whose life extended beyond their reach. A woman who now lived in TWO worlds. With two sets of hospital visitors.
Elisa's ethnic/racial make-up parallels actress Salli Richardson's, who has both African American and Native American ancestry. This is where serendipidy played a roll. We'd later get stories out of her multi-racial background. And it paralleled the inter-species romance we were preparing to build slowly. Sometimes, everything just goes your way.
Goliath - He says he'll find the man who shot Elisa and "Make him Pay". We didn't have to say "kill" there. Again, because this early in the series, we could all easily believe that Goliath could kill. And in fact, when Broadway tells Goliath that he "can't" kill Dracon, Goliath's response is: "You think not?" All the gargoyles had an edge of danger. We may have lost some of that along the way. It's natural. You get to know characters, you stop feeling tense around them. But here, both Goliath and Broadway go a little berserk. And we don't know how they'll act.
And Goliath already loves Elisa. It's so clear to me. The way he touches her hair. The way he reacts to her being shot. He loves her. He doesn't know it yet. But it is SO there. That moment when Goliath tells Broadway that they should go see Elisa, and Broadway is thrilled because he thinks that means that Elisa survived. And then Goliath stops. Because he realizes he isn't sure if Elisa is still alive. It slays me.
And meanwhile, Goliath is adapting fairly fast to the modern world. He clearly got his head around the idea that Xanatos was put away for possessing "stolen property", so he leaves the busted gun in Dracon's lap to make sure Dracon goes away too. He says as much. Not bad for a medieval gargoyle.
And this whole episode is a character-fest. Besides the above mentioned Family Maza, etc. We bring back Bruno, head of Xanatos' security. This was intentional. Establishing that the commandos from episode 2 were just Xanatos' security team being given an unusual assignment.
There's Dracon (pre-stripe) with Glasses and even Pal Joey. Rocky Caroll really brought Glasses to life. I like him. And Dracon, well, I just love his old-fashioned "noive". Calling Elisa "Honey" and "Sugar". Sending Glasses off to sell guns right in front of her. He's pretty fun in this episode.
Owen is incredibly cool. You can really see the Mr. Smithers influence in this one. Times ten. He fights, he negotiates. He manipulates. He's a phenomenal proxy for Xanatos. A true trickster with a low burning flame.
We also introduced Doctor Sato. I always planned on using him more. We just never found the story. Too bad. I liked him a lot.
And we cameo Matt. Originally, Chavez's driver was going to be Morgan. But we had already started work on "The Edge". We knew Matt was coming. So we decided to preview him here. Just a nice little touch for anyone paying attention.
I'd love to know a little bit more about the movie "Showdown", a black and white western that was premiering in 1994. A score by Ennio Morricone (channeled through Carl Johnson -- a guy who doesn't get enough praise for the stunning work he did on the show). And the movie seemed to be a hit. Go figure.
And what about that movie theater. The balcony is closed. But they're storing bags of pre-popped popcorn. How old was that stuff?
Finally, Owen is very specific about the 37 missing weapons. Early on, I tried to keep count. To allow Broadway to eventually account for every one of those guns. But that was one detail that got away from me.
Glasses never really did much apart from carry out Dracon's orders. So a couple of Glasses questions.
1. Did you ever consider giving him a further role?
2. (And in case you try the annoying answer for question one) if so, what was it? ^_^
3. Does Glasses really feel that much loyalty to Dracon? That is, if he felt it was worth his while, would he be willing to help Brod or whatever? Dracon certainly seems to take him for granted a lot.
4. How far back do Dracon and Glasses go?
1. Yeah. I liked Glasses a lot. I really like the name "Glasses".
2. I wanted to see him emerge as more of a leader than a follower.
3. I can't see Glasses going to Brod. If not Dracon, why not Glasses?
4. Early teens.
Is there an equivalent crime faction to Dracon's organisation in 2158? If so, are any relatives of existing people still operating? Dracons had 'owned' Manhattan's crime scene for three generations (I think that was the quote, I suppose it might have been more), so would they go forward?
Hi again Greg, sorry about my last Mega-post, I posted all those questions as a lump before you asked us not to, so sorry.
ANYWAY- Here's my question...
Where did Dracon's white streak come from? It wasn't there in DEADLY FORCE and then in THE SILVER FALCON, it was. Was there both a behind the scenes and a "real" reason for this like the change in the mutate's appearance? That's it, thanks.
Yeah. Two reasons.
I felt that Dracon didn't look distinctive enough in his first appearance, so Frank and I discussed it and decided that Goliath scared him so badly it turned part of his hair white. We even considered doing the same thing to Glasses. The idea appealed to me on some level, but it just seemed to artificial. And in some ways Glasses already looked more distinctive. (I always loved Glasses.)