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CORRECTION

CORRECTION:

I'll be at ANIME EXPO on SATURDAY, JULY 1ST! At 1pm. Talking about 3x3 Eyes, among other things. Sorry for any confusion.


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Anime Expo

Attention anime lovers...

I will be at Anime Expo on Saturday, July 2nd in Anaheim, California. I'll be on the New Generation Pictures panel at 1pm, where I'll largely be discussing 3X3 EYES. Other topics of discussion include NAZCA and NURSE NANAKO. (I'm not involved with the last one at all, so I hope I got the title right.) Stop by and say hi.

3X3 is a really fun series that I just finished voice directing into English. It stars Christian "Max Steel" Campbell and Brigitte "Angela" Bako, and features many former GARGOYLES actors including Goliath, Thailog, Morgan, Broadway, Hollywood, Lexington, Brentwood, Obsidiana, Coyote Trickster, Natsilane, Hudson, Jack Danforth and Burbank. It's the story of a three-eyed three hundred year old demon girl with multiple personality disorder and the teen-age zombie bodyguard who loves her.

Hope to see you there.


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Phil writes...

Hi, Greg.

1) In "Kingdom," whose arsenal did Fang raid? Those weapons were pretty high-tech; they obviously hadn't been there long. Was it Xanatos's, the Illuminati's, or someone else's?

2) Why was it there? Just for storage? Or was Fang meant to find it?

3) This is the first time I've watched "Kingdom" since hearing about your plans for "Bad Guys." With that possible spin-off in mind, I was impressed with Fang's potential as more of a primary character. Were you thinking of "Bad Guys" this early or are you just a natural genius?

Thanks for your time.

Greg responds...

1. Erin says: I think that was a very good question. But I don't know whose weapons they were. I'm just guessing Xanatos.

Greg says: They were Cyberbiotics weapons. The whole Labyrinth was the old Cyberbiotics base from Awakening, Part V.

2. Erin says: I also think that's a good question. They were left behind when Cyberbiotics abandoned the base.

Greg says: By accident. An oversight.

3. Erin says: I think that is a good question too. Because I think my father is both of those things.

Greg says: Fang (and in particular Jim Belushi's very fun performance in the roll) just begged for more attention. But I can't honestly say for sure whether we had the Bad Guys idea that early. Bad Guys evolved out of the Dingo/Matrix spin-off idea I had. Fang WAS the next join. Then Hunter. Then finally Yama.

Response recorded on June 17, 2000

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SEASON TWO

Well, my plan had been to finished transcribing the "Leader of the Pack" outline memo. Then start on my new ramble on seeing the episode last week. However, I'm at home today and the only copy of the memo is still at the office. So I'll finish the memo soon. Meantime, here's a ramble that "Leader" inspired with a little background info on the transition to Season Two...

So the second season begins. And we had a new system in place. Tiers and tentpoles. As you may recall from a previous ramble we had run into huge scheduling difficulties with "Enter Macbeth". The animation had come back very problematic and the nature of the story was such that we couldn't air it out of order. I received a mandate to make sure in Season Two's fifty-two episode killer schedule that we do everything possible not to run into that kind of problem again.

Trouble was, I liked the sequential nature of the series. If all the episodes could air in any order with no effect on each other then how could the characters grow, evolve, change? How could the situations?

My solution was tiers and tentpoles. We would create tiers of episodes that could air in any order as long as they aired BETWEEN their tentpole multi-parters. We'd pay special attention to the Tentpole episodes to make sure THEY didn't get into production trouble that would derail the entire airing schedule. But if an individual episode within a tier ran late, we could skootch another one forward without causing any harm.

Tentpole One was retroactively set as the "Awakening" five-parter. Tier One was retroactively everything between that and "Reawakening", which became Tentpole Two by default. (Now obviously the Season One airing order was very important, but they had aired already, so I didn't have to worry about them anymore.)

Tentpole Three would be the "City of Stone" four parter. Tier Two would include eight episodes: "Leader of the Pack", "Metamorphosis", "Legion", "A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time", "The Silver Falcon", "The Mirror", "Eye of the Beholder" and "Vows". In theory, I was supposed to make sure that these eight could air in any given order.

In practice, it never turned out to be that simple. For example, how could I air "Vows", the episode where Xanatos & Fox wed before "Eye of the Beholder" the episode where they get engaged? I wound up having a strong order preference for ALL 65 episodes. Tiers and Tentpoles be damned. But the truth is, the system served us well. It did tend to keep us on track. Creatively, it allowed us to build to strong multi-parters. And we rarely ever HAD to air episodes out of my preferred order. We only screwed up twice. "The Price" aired too soon. "Kingdom" aired too late. But only someone paying VERY careful attention would notice that. (Of course, anyone fanatical enough to be reading this was probably one of those people paying VERY careful attention.)

So anyway, "Leader" was my choice to open the new season. Lots of action. Some really great twists and turns. Some great character moments. It all seemed like a great way to intro potential new viewers to the series. BTWE, is there anyone out there for whom "Leader" was their first GARGOYLES episode? I'd love to hear from you here at ASK GREG.

We made other changes off the first season, as well. We had rebuilt the opening titles sequence to include some new footage. Keith David/Goliath's narration was added as well. This was written by Gary Sperling and myself. And hotly debated around our offices. Hotly debated inside my own brain as well. Frank Paur and I both felt that the titles were more powerful, more dramatic WITHOUT the narration. But we wanted to make sure that the series was still accessible to new viewers. The narration would serve the same function as the GILLIGAN'S ISLAND theme song. If you missed our pilot, you could still get the set up. Frank & I could see the wisdom of both positions. Even our boss, Gary Krisel, could. He left it up to me. I finally decided to err (and air) on the side of caution. I needn't have worried about "drama". Keith's voice, as usual, was so dramatic, that the opening narration became a classic -- reprinted on nearly every garg website I've ever seen. My kids love to shout out "WE LIVE AGAIN!" in chorus with Keith.

Another thing we did was to permanently install those "Previously on Gargoyles..." recaps at the head of EVERY episode. This was done for three reasons. One, see above, we wanted new viewers to have a chance to get what was going on without requiring them to see every episode that had come before. So the salient points could and would be summed up in those recaps. Two, since at some future time there was the possibility that the episodes WOULD air out of order, the recaps would help ground a viewer in when this particular episode was falling. And most important, three, it helped us in editing.

You see, footage would come back from overseas. And sometimes it would be great. And sometimes not. But no matter how good it was there wasn't a single episode that couldn't be improved by trimming a few frames here, a few frames there. No scenes were cut wholesale, but timing was improved and sped up. Mistakes were edited out. The recap gave us thirty extra seconds per episode of editing flexibility.

Now, on some level, the recaps may have backfired. Though they provided useful information, they may have given new viewers the IMPRESSION that there was too much to learn. I'm not sure it's true, but I've heard that argument. Also, I started hearing from the Disney Afternoon mailing list that everyone hated the recaps, because what they included tended to give away too much in the episode that was about to air. We fixed that problem midway through the season. Me, I still have no regrets. As I've mentioned before, HILL STREET BLUES was a major influence. The "Previously on..." format (which everyone uses today) came right out of Hill Street, so I was comfortable with it. And that 30 seconds of editing flexibility absolutely helped the shows play better.

NEXT TIME ON GREG'S RAMBLES...
More from my original memo to Michael Reaves and my specific responses to reviewing "Leader of the Pack"...


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Greg Weisman Update

As promised, here's a little update on what's been going on in my professional life...

The first season (all thirteen episodes) of MAX STEEL have been completed. I've lost track of how many have aired. I think they turned out pretty good. At any rate, the show is a success and will be back for a second season. Unfortunately, I won't be. The WB didn't invite me to produce/edit/write season two. So you can forget about any long term plans/arcs I had for the series. Still, I wish the show well. (After all, it'll still carry my "Developed By" credit.)

In other news, today I finished recording all of the two volume (seven episode) video anime series 3X3 EYES. I think we assembled a terrific cast for the English dub. Here's a complete list:

LEADS
Christian Cambell* as Yakumo Fujii
Brigitte Bako^ as Pai/Sanjiyan/Pabo Ayanokoji/Parvati/Howasho

SUPPORTING
Thom Adcox^* as Monkey
Edward Asner^* as Grandpa Ayanokoji
Earl Boen as Benares
Leslie Boone as Ken-Ken
Susan Chesler as Lee Ling-Ling
Bill Faggerbakke^ as Steve Long
Elisa Gabrielli^ as the Doll Demon
Jean Gilpin* as Mrs. Wong/Xunquai
Taliesin Jaffe as the Frog Demon and Feihong
William Katt as Tinzin
Mia Korf* as Natsuko
Ralph Lister as Choukai
Erin Matthews as Mei-Shin Long
Yuji Okumoto* as Chou and Naparva
Gregg Rainwater^* as Jake MacDonald
Dina Sherman as Dawn and Ran-Pao-Pao
Rick Simone as Tatsuya
Keith Szaribajka* as Professor Fujii and Ryouko
Rosie Taravella as Grandma Ayanokoji
Greg Weisman^ as Hide

and Keith David^ in a roll so rocking, I can't reveal it here. :)

* indicates a Voice Actor I worked with on MAX STEEL.
^ indicates a Voice Actor I worked with on GARGOYLES.

Anyway, the voices are all recorded. I've got three mix sessions left to do. I should be done in a week or so, at which point -- I'm unemployed.

Or nearly. I'm still teaching the animation writing course through UCLA extension. That's been a lot of fun and it keeps me pretty busy. Plus I'm working on writing a spec screenplay with my brother. And I go on the occasional job interview.

All this means is that it looks like I'll soon have plenty of time to dive back into ASK GREG. At one point we were closing in on completely catching up. Now we're over three months behind. But I'll try to make some fast progress. We've now got Todd Jensen helping Gorebash out to keep the site current, so that should help us avoid the "Nothing in queue" problems that were slowing us up before.

And I hope to see most of you at Gathering 2000 this August. It should be a GREAT con this year. I'll be there with Thom Adcox plus my wife and kids. We'll have new and special treats from Gargoyles, 3x3 Eyes and another EXCLUSIVE radio play event -- something that I guarantee you won't want to miss. Plus Disneyworld is a shuttle ride away. Make your reservations now.


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Chapter XIII: "Reawakening" (The new ramble...)

As promised, I'll now attempt to recreate the lost ramble on this episode, which I recently watched again with my family.

For those of you who haven't seen it, I refer you to my recently posted "Memo" on this episode dated back in April of 1994. One thing you might have noticed was that the title of the episode was "The Awakening". In the memo, I suggested what I thought was the more appropriate title "Reawakening". Michael liked that idea but had a suggestion that did it one better. He suggested renaming our pilot five-parter "Awakening". I jumped at the idea. At the time, the five-parter was simply titled "Gargoyles, Part One", "Gargoyles, Part Two", etc. I've never liked that sort of cop out where the pilot's title is simply the series' title. Among other things, it lacks imagination. And it's dishonest. By that standard, "The Journey"'s real title should have been "Gargoyles, Part Sixty-Six". So giving our pilot its own title seemed like a very good idea to me.

But there was another reason why I liked Michael's plan. We were working on our last episode of the first season. It was April of 1994, nearly a year before that episode would air. And a good six months before our premiere. There was no way of knowing whether or not there would ever be a SECOND season. And so to protect myself (emotionally) I had to operate on the assumption that their might not be. Obviously, I wasn't going to do anything apocalyptic. I wanted there to be a second season, so I wanted to leave the doorway open for it. So Michael, Frank, Brynne and I discussed the idea of open-ended closure. If there never was a second season, we'd go out with a bang. We'd give some small amount of closure to our characters. Let them reach a turning point. If this was to be it, we'd have created a little 13 episode novel that brought the Gargoyles from the past to the present and renewed (reawakened) their sense of purpose.

Nice. We'd done the open-ended closure thing (to a lesser degree) at the end of what would eventually be called "Awakening, Part Five" and we'd eventually do it again at the end of "Hunter's Moon, Part Three". And I'd do it for myself in my script for "The Journey".

But there are tricks to achieving a sense of closure. And one of the tricks is to create parallels with the episodes that launched your story.

So by retro-titling our pilot "Awakening" and naming our last ep "RE-Awakening" you can see how we gave ourselves a headstart.

But there were other parallels. The flashback to the past, (which we intentionally built so that it could theoretically be edited into the pilot if necessary) included the Magus at his most pre-Avalon obnoxious. Obviously, that flashback also intro'd pre-Coldstone, but it served the purpose of calling those first couple of flashback episodes clearly into the viewers' minds. (The only problem with that scene, is that Hudson has his sword in a couple of the shots. This is a mistake, as any good Garg fan knows that Hudson first acquired his sword in the battle with the Vikings that took place the following night.)

We also did the big event VILLAIN TEAM-UP thing, bringing Xanatos and Demona back together for the first time since "Awakening, Part Five". (I love the exquisite tension that plays between them. They are both SO using each other. When Demona tells Coldstone that X is her servant, you know that she's partly doing that to circumvent Coldstone's questions, but that she also partly believes that it's true.)

We also used Morgan in Times Square in a very similar way to how he was used in "Awakening, Part One" (reiterated in "Awakening, Part Two").

And then there's that moment near the end where Elisa asks Goliath if there's anything he needs. He answers "A Detective" verbally echoing a key moment from their first meeting in "Awakening, Part Three". That still tickles me.

HOMAGE

Obviously, Frank and I both worked overtime to pay homage to the classic Universal "FRANKENSTEIN" movie. I can say "pay homage" with a straight face (as opposed to rip off) because we so clearly acknowledged the source. Frank's art direction of the lab. X's line: "It's alive! Alive!" (Wonderfully undercut by Jonathan Frakes' reading of the follow-up "I've always wanted to say that.") And the whole idea behind Coldstone. (More on this when I eventually ramble on "Legion".)

Coldstone would be our Frankenstein's monster. Pieced together. Gargoyle & Machine. Reanimated (reawakened). I even love the Coldstone name. And wasn't Michael Dorn's sepulchral tones just perfect for the role?

And Goliath's reaction is so multi-faceted, so Dr. Frankenstein... [You know Goliath's response to his brother here, would be echoed later in his response to his "son" Thailog in "Double Jeopardy". Initially, Goliath's simply repulsed by what he sees, calling Coldstone "an abomination". But given a bit of time, Goliath quickly sees past appearances and attempts whole-heartedly to save his brother. He'll go through the same changes with Thailog. Well... at least we (and Goliath) were consistent.]

CONTINUITY

Snow. It started snowing in "Her Brother's Keeper" and now the city is blanketed in the stuff. (And doesn't Elisa look cute in her scarf and gloves.)

Brooklyn's still pissed off at Demona, specifically and sarcastically asking if she has anymore "spells to save you now". In fact, we wanted to make clear that the spell used to resurrect (reawaken) Coldstone was one of the spells she tore out of the Grimorum in "Temptation". Instead, we cheated a bit. By having her tell Xanatos that the "Cantrips have already been spoken" it saved us the trouble of getting another spell translated into Latin. We were either lazy or short on time or -- most likely -- both.

Following out of "The Edge", and until the helmet comes off at the bridge, the gargs assume that Xanatos in his armor is simply another Steel Clan Robot. The next upgrade. The red model. They have no idea it's actually Xanatos himself in armor.

Small observation: Mirrors don't fare too well in the Gargoyles Universe.

Emotionally, I think the story is very successful at taking the audience through Goliath's spiritual reawakening. I love how he starts out pensive and brooding, listening to that great exchange between the trio and Hudson, realizing that all of them have lost track of their true purpose. Hudson recites the Gargoyle credo merely as an excuse not to go out in the cold. (And I love Thom's reading on Lex's "We don't even live in a castle anymore" response.) The trio are clearly missing the point, but methodical thinker Goliath isn't sure he remembers what the point is either.

And that dovetails SO nicely with Elisa revealing the Police motto "Protect and Serve". The police motto/gargoyle credo connection is so perfect, it struck me even at the time as further proof that we were tapping into something very true in our little fictions. (And don't cops -- for better and sometimes for worse -- act just like a clan?)

From there, Goliath moves past the notion of simply being a reactive character, struggling only to SURVIVE one crisis after another. Now he will strive to be proactive. To rededicate (reawaken) the clan toward their original life purpose. Extending the term "castle" to Manhattan island was always our plan. Even that was intentionally primitive in our view. Goliath doesn't protect New York City. Not all five burroughs anyway. That's beyond his medieval scope at this still-early stage. He can get his head around protecting an island surrounded by water. Not the whole world. But eventually, the plan would include expanding the clan's definition until Castle Earth was the only thing that made sense. Of course, that might not have been fully realized until 2158. But we'd have gotten there. And the World Tour was part of that process too.

PROBLEMS
(Besides Hudson's sword...)

--One line in the ep. that for some reason still makes me cringe is Elisa's "My car's big." It just seems awkward to me. Not sure why.

X & D watch Coldstone's progress from the castle. Almost instantaneously they're at Times Square. We always knew we were just skating by on that.

Goliath & Coldstone go into the water at the bridge TWICE within the span of a couple of minutes or so. The first time, Goliath nearly drowns. The second time he's completely uneffected (physically) by the experience. We get away with it because the second time he's diving in on purpose. But just the fact that we had to dunk them both twice is an awkward construction (and my fault). At least, Goliath looks good with wet hair.

Some really graceful animation here. Goliath has some great moves, and I love that moment when Matt and especially Elisa are diving into the snow, out of the way of the car that Coldstone has just thrown... And speaking of that scene...

TIMES SQUARE SEQUENCE

There's some very interesting, fun stuff here besides what I've already mentioned about it above. A sampling:

Explosions in Bambi. :)

Demona's Clan: Herself, Coldstone, a Steel Clan Robot and Xanatos in Gargoyle Battle Armor. It's so twisted. I love it.

Goliath's very smart here. He doesn't want the fight to take place in public and basically convinces Xanatos to take his side on the issue by flattering him. Goliath refers to Manhattan as "your city" (i.e. Xanatos' city), this despite the obvious fact that Goliath does NOT regard Manhattan as Xanatos' personal property. And Xanatos, usually immune to such stuff, falls for it -- maybe BECAUSE it comes from the ultra-sincere Goliath.

I also am very fond of the Mr. Jaffe book-ends. I think they're a lot of fun. And I love how Matt talks about Mr. Jaffe. It gives us insight into Matt's character, his background, his youth. His empathy for Jaffe really helps humanize him. Matt was always eminently human.

Signing off now...

"Because six monsters just told me to..."


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Todd Jensen writes...

A ramble-reply to "The Thrill of the Hunt".

I liked reading your comments on it. I will confess that I can't remember now what my response was, when I first saw this episode, to the fact that Xanatos was still in prison or to Elisa's indication that the gargoyles would have to leave the castle (although looking back on it now, I'd say that I appreciate both - and the bit at the end where we get that look at Xanatos again and that taste of his character). A few bits that do stand out to me:

1. I always get a bit of a chuckle at the way that the announcer shouts, "Oh, no, it's the Evil Ninjas!" The guy sounded there as if he'd taken the same acting class that Sevarius did :)

2. That little bit where Lexington enthusiastically calls the Pack "defenders of the realm". I liked that touch as fitting in with the gargoyles' medieval origins and the fact that, so soon after their awakening, they'd still be seeing the world in such a light.

3. The bit where Billy and Susan show up was extremely funny, particularly the groans and facial expressions from Fox and Hyena over the timing of their arrival. (And I must confess, I hadn't even given that much thought to Wolf showing a bit more smarts in that scene in coming up with a way of explaining the gargoyles to those kids. Thanks for pointing it out).

I'm looking forward to the rest of your rambles on each individual episode.

Greg responds...

Thanks. I like all those things too. (That's Jim "Dingo/Darkwing Duck" Cummings saying "Oh, no, it's the Evil Ninjas!" Jim is, of course, a fine actor. It takes real skill to ham it up that badly and still make it play funny and not cringe-worthy.)

Response recorded on April 21, 2000

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Ambrosia writes...

One more quick thing... this is probably ridiculous, but there's someone named Jeffrey Bennett running for House of Representatives in California... do I even dare to hope...?

Greg responds...

Greg's response:

I'm fairly certain that's a different Jeff Bennett.

Erin responds:

I think you should say yes, because I am looking forward to meeting the actors that are playing the characters that I like.

Greg's P.S.:

Erin actually HAS met many of the actors already, but she was too young to remember them. But she'll get to see more at the Gatherings, including this summer's Gathering in Orlando, Florida. Daddy's friend Thom will be there, at least.

Response recorded on April 01, 2000

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Coldlaser writes...

Yet another ASK GREG question...

How do feel about having all those voice actors from Star Trek (that passed on Gargoyles in season 1 and 2) appear all together in one single episode?

Thanx

Greg responds...

I'm not sure I understand the question? Who from Star Trek "passed" on Gargoyles, besides Patrick Stewart? (And not even Patrick Stewart, just his representation.) We had Jonathan, Marina, Michael, Brent, Nichelle, Colm, LeVar, Kate, Avery... None of them passed.

Response recorded on March 31, 2000

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Coldlaser writes...

Hello mr. Weisman.

It was only recently that I saw Frank Welker was one of the voice actor. This guy is amasing when it come make animal sounds or strange voices. But, did you ever thought of giving him a role where he would actually talk, like all the other voice actors?

I first knew Welker as Megatron, Soundwave, Galvatron and other Transformers (well Decepticons actually), he was great!

Greg responds...

I first worked with Frank on DuckTales, where he talked very well. He did the voice of BigTime Beagle (among others) a particular favorite of mine. (Our cat's name is BigTime.)

And Frank did a few "Speaking Parts" for us: Banquo, Kiron, the Stone of Destiny and a bunch of one-liners here and there. We try never to let talent go to waste.

Response recorded on March 31, 2000


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