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Sorry....

We've got that "Nothing in Queue" glitch again. (I just alerted Gore.) I had planned on answering a bunch of new questions, not just a few, and I would never have cleared the Latest Response Page, had I known.

But I'm sure we'll be up and running soon.


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AWAKENING, PART THREE

Watched this with the family half an hour ago...

More random observations...

RE: Our supporting cast...

Who knew that Brendan & Margot would wind up being so important? Credit Marina Sirtis, for making Margot so gloriously bitchy.

And then there's Vinnie's first appearance on that motorcycle. Of course, no one knew Vinnie existed back then, which is thoroughly appropriate to his character.

And credit Keith David with breathing real life into Morgan the cop. Morgan didn't even have a name then. He was just a place holder, someone for Elisa to respond to. But Keith made me interested in him.

Little things still bug me. Xanatos' floating ponytail in the scene where he and Elisa first meet.

In the Kitchen, the Freezer door was supposed to have one of those easy to open latches on the inside. The irony being that Broadway could easily extricate himself, if he just knew how to operate the latch (or even what it was). Something a kid could do, assuming the kid was born in the 20th century. But BW has to bust down the door.

In the original script and the recording of that script, it's Brooklyn who says "So many wonders..." and it's Broadway who says "Goliath said not to let anybody see us." But in those early days, lots of people in L.A. and in Tokyo kept confusing their names (and Bronx's) so the animation came back as you see it. And it was easier to re-record the voices then to reanimate. (Or am I getting all this totally backwards? I just saw the show again half an hour ago, and already, I'm confused.)

(CAVEAT: In all these little things, I'll probably be pointing out animation errors here and there. But please understand, I think most of the animation we got, particularly from Walt Disney TV Animation - Japan, was brilliant. I think those guys did a great job and don't get enough credit. But anecdotes generally come out of when things go wrong, not when they go right, so it may seem like I'm talking about mistakes more often than not. Sorry, in advance to Roy Sato or anyone else who might take offense.)

When Elisa is first being checked out by the Trio, there was a scene in the original animation where Brooklyn seems inordinantly interested in her behind. We had to call a retake, cuz the guy was practically drooling. I wonder if that's where I got the idea that Brooklyn would fall for anyone in a skirt (or with a tail).

Also, after Goliath saves Elisa from falling off the building we have a point of view shot from her. It begins at Goliath's feet and pans up to his face, as she takes him in. In the original animation, the pan started at his head and panned down. That seemed less effective, so we had our editors reverse the pan, without calling for a retake.

At the end of Act Two, the door slides open revealing Demona in silhouette, clearly plotting something with Xanatos. That always really bugged me. I didn't want to give away that she was alive in this episode. I didn't want to know who Xanatos was talking to. How did you guys react to this? Did that spill everything? Did any of you not know that Demona was alive? Did any of you, by this point, not know that she and Xanatos were the bad guys?

Elisa says something like "This is where Dracula shows up." when she's walking through the corridors of the castle. If you take that literally (and you might as well), then you gotta figure that someday, Dracula will be roaming that very hallway.

Elisa loses the first in her series of guns, when Goliath crushes it near the end of Act One.

Goliath tells a joke: "And please, don't fall off the building this time." Goliath tells a joke. Can you believe it? It wasn't bad either. We should have let him tell jokes more often.

Elisa's surprise that Goliath can talk is indicative of what I thought a 20th (or 21st) century initial response to the gargs would be. That's why Goliath Chronicles' trial episode bugged me so much. I don't think humans would take for granted sentience. And I think most humans, those less open than Elisa, wouldn't even buy talking as enough evidence that the gargs weren't just beasts. (Cf. Margot Yale.)

Goliath is a pretty begruding hero. That's somewhat unique for cartoons. Elisa asks if there are more gargs, and Goliath responds: "Barely." He cuts her very little slack. But already you can see their relationship developing. I still think Hudson's expression after Goliath sweeps Elisa up into his arms is just priceless.

In that same scene, Hudson gets named for the river. I love that scene, as I loved the scene where Tom, Brook and Lex are talking about names. Of course, the desire not to name most of the gargoyles until we got to NYC '94, was mostly pragmatic. It allowed us to use those fun, cool NY names for most of the characters. But once we came up with the rationale for it, and once I managed to explain it to everyone, I really fell in love with the concept. Hudson's lament, here, that humans don't think something is real until they've put there stamp on it, is, to me at least, so damn true. And Elisa's response is so feeble and circular. "Things need names." Pathetic. But I'm no different. <SIGH> I'm such a human. But I aspire to gargoylosity. Anyway, after Hudson points to the river, and Elisa basically tricks him into taking that name, she used to have a line, as I may have mentioned before, where she said (under her breath) "Good thing we weren't facing Queens" -- implication being that Hudson nearly ended up being called Queen, I guess. It was always funny, but S&P didn't care for it, and I couldn't really defend it. So out it went. We tried another version, where she just says, "Good thing we weren't facing East." But it didn't play. So out it went too.

The thing that struck me most, however, was the almost thorough lack of action in this episode. After all that Viking stuff in Part One, and Vikings and a full act of commandos in Part Two, Part Three is a mood and character piece. Sure Elisa falls off a building, but that was a problem easily solved. Until the commandos' Central Park attack in the last seconds of Act Three, nothing else happens that could genuinely qualify as action. That was mostly a result of what was once a four-parter being turned into a five-parter. The reason we made that change is because Michael Reaves wrote a brillaint four-part script. It was amazing. But it was WAY too long. I was faced with either having to make drastic cuts (as I would later have to do in Avalon and Hunter's Moon) or expand it. Fortunately, Gary Krisel and Bruce Cranston saw the wisdom of expansion. For one thing, it would save us money. But also, it made sense because we could run the five parts across a whole week of the Disney Afternoon like a mini-series special event. It wouldn't require us to re-program one day of that first week. So we were all agreed, the four parter would become a five parter.

But that meant adding act breaks, and redividing everything. The episode that most benefited was Part One. In the orignal version, Part One covered all of what is currently part one, plus the first act of what's currently part two, i.e. ALL the Scotland stuff. The episode ended with Goliath's "suicide". A great ending, but we would have obviously had to cut a TON out of the flashback. This way we were able to expand into part two and preserve almost all of the story.

So Part Three winds up being nearly action-free. And by the way, I love that. I still think the episode works great, and it proved to me that the charcters themselves could really hold the audience's attention. (I'm such a proud papa. Unashamedly so. It must be pretty obnoxious.) I wish we had always had the luxury to be so... well, luxurious. To expand and play character. But generally a half-hour format makes it tough. I'm very sick of writing half hours, actually. But the powers that be in Animation believe that kids can't or won't sit through an hour long show.

As usual, I welcome posts here responding to this episode. Both your original reaction to seeing it for the first time, and your current reaction if you've seen it again recently.


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AWAKENING, PART TWO

Watched the episode again last night.

Little things....

My two year old son is fascinated with Tom. And misses him in the second act after he's gone. Misses him in other episodes too. Kinda puts the lie to the strongly held belief I've always had that contrary to Network Executive Dogma, kids don't need animated shows to be about kids. Of course, my son is just two. My five year old has no problem with their being no "little girl" in the show.

Goliath says "What sorcery is this?" for the first time. We wound up using it over and over in the series, til it became something of an in-joke. But the truth is, we could never come up with a better line that said the same thing.

Goliath's "suicide" at the end of Act One, is still one of the most startling things I've ever seen in a cartoon. That was Gary Krisel's idea (my boss Bruce Cranston's boss). And I've always admired him for it. It's also the reminder I use to keep me humble when I'm listening to notes from the higher ups. Michael Reaves and I were just going to have the Magus offer to cast his spell on Goliath as something of a consolation prize. "Best I can do" kinda thing.

Love that Chernabog moment where Goliath says "I've been denied everything, even my revenge!" Man, Keith David is great.

The way it's edited you'd never know the problem the last fight in the Viking's camp caused me vis-a-vis Broadway. As you may recall from Part One, during the Viking's initial attack, Broadway stopped for a snack, and then opportunistically used the turkey leg to bonk a Viking. A nice little comedic beat. Well, in Part Two, we wanted to contrast that by having Broadway land in front of the roasting spit by the fire -- so that the audience again thinks he's just thinking about his stomach. But that after the massacre, the much more serious Broadway immediatlely starts using it as a weapon. That's pretty much what you see. But that's not what we received in Animation. What we got was a virtual replay of the scene from Part One. Broadway lands with a big grin and starts to eat. Then he gets attacked and uses the spit as a weapon. It took judicious editing to keep Broadway from feeling too one-dimensional. And even then as the series progressed, we started to downplay Broadway's appetite (another good Gary Krisel suggestion). We brought it up again in Hunter's Moon, Part Three to show how far the character had come. Yeah, great kitchen, but an even better library. That kind of thing.

We had a similar problem with Hudson's sword. We were supposed to make a big deal of him using it for the first time in the battle at the Viking camp. But some of the animation in both Parts One and Part Two showed him using the sword and/or having it by his side before that. That's what retakes are for, I guess.

Xanatos' first appearance... I'm really curious to know how many people, seeing this for the first time knew that Xanatos was the bad guy. I thought it was a little too obvious myself. There's a look he gives Goliath when he's taking the gargs' questions in the Great Hall that I thought absolutely tipped his hand to the audience. But we did try to create a guy who looked like he should be the hero of the show. Handsome athletic Bruce Wayne type up against scary monsters. And Jonathan Frakes is terrific.

(There was a while when Gary Krisel thought maybe we should have Xanatos -- or another rich guy, a pre-Renard if you will -- actually be the gargoyles modern benefactor. I'm glad that's one bit of advice I didn't take from Gary.)

We also get the first look at Owen. Jeff Bennett. Man. What a great cast we had. Wasn't Owen just fascinating from moment one? I didn't know he was Puck way back then, but I sure did know there was a story behind him.

Love that moment when they all Shatter out of stone near the top of Act Two. The sky spinning behind Goliath. The rotating camera for the others. Bronx leaning into the foreground. Still gives me a little thrill. Don't disappoint me Xanatos said. Well, it worked for me.

The first time we got the animation back on that sequence, their stone skins didn't really EXPLODE off them. In fact the first version of the footage had no stone at all. Those of you who have been to the GATHERING have seen that footage. We really had to push to make that concept of them exploding to life every night play visually.

There's an intentional this-ain't-Batman moment during the fight with the Commandos. Goliath gets tossed off the building. He's falling and he grabs for a flagpole, just like Batman would. But Goliath is so heavy, he rips the flagpole right off the building, and he has to use his claws to save himself. Back in those days, everyone was terrified that GARGOYLES was going to be perceived as a BATMAN rip-off. I actually had to write up a memo for the Marketing Department, listing all the significant ways the shows were different. This flagpole bit was our (me, Frank, Michael's) conscious reaction to the constant comparisons.

There's a moment during the fight where Goliath is facing a Commando, and from off-stage Xanatos rescues Goliath by firing his laser at the wall and dumping the masonry on the commando. But that scene gave us nightmares, because it looked like the laser beam was coming from Goliath's eyes. Like he was Cyclops of the X-Men. This made us nervous, because the concept was so new, we were afraid that the audience would think that maybe Gargoyles have all sorts of "cool" super-powers like that.

One line got cut from Part One that would have helped a bit in understanding Lex's character. In Part One, during the initial battle with the Vikings, we had Lex investigating a catapult, fascinated with how it works. That little scenelet got cut from the script for time. But I still miss it.

Anyway, please feel free to post your own responses here on the episode. Both how you felt when you first saw it, and what strikes you now looking at it again.


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More on Theseus...

Apropos of nothing, I've been thinking some more about Theseus. So you guys are the victims of this off-topic Ramble.

I really like the guy.

Here's a kid with a tough upbringing. He's a bastard, and a royal one to boot. That's always hard. Then he pulls his father's sword from UNDER the stone (sound familiar?) and sets off on a quest. Lots of adventure, dealing with bandits and rogue kings. Gets to Athens. And immediately has to deal with an assassination attempt perpetrated by his step-mother (the always interesting Medea). Then he promptly volunteers for hazardous duty and goes to Crete where he's a big hero (at least from the Athenian point of view -- obviously the Cretans and the Minotaur wouldn't agree.)

On the way home, he does abandon Ariadne, but I still think he had no choice because the lady had caught Dyonisus' eye.

He then screws up and is indirectly responsible for his father's suicide. Mary Renault tries to explain this in THE KING MUST DIE. Everyone can decide for themselves whether her explanation is convincing.

Anyway, I'm coming to what I think is the key to his character. The transition point that changed his life, largely for the worse -- ultimately.

He fell in love. With Antiope, Queen of the Amazons. (Hyppolyta's younger sister.) I think this was a great love. A love of equals, in battle, in governance, in life, in bed, etc. This was the love of his life.

And then she dies. It all might have turned out differently if she had lived. I think they were a good influence on each other. But she died in battle, saving his life. And nothing would ever be the same.

After that, he makes one bad decision after another. (Though he does manage to set up the first semi-constitutional monarchy, which is something of an achievement, even if his motivation was selfish -- he didn't want to be tied down to dealing with day-to-day governance.) But basically, he just can't deal. His marriage to Phaedra is clearly a political alliance. And that's a disaster, resulting in her vengeful suicide and the death of Hyppolytus, his son by Antiope. The fact that Theseus is largely to blame for Hyppolytus' death (as he was for his father Aegeus') I think drives him past caring about much of anything.

Now he's just looking for something to kill the pain. He kidnaps Helen, not cause he wants her but because she's a prize. He becomes buddy to that idiot Perithoos. He abandons Athens and winds up stuck in Hades for seven years. And finally, he's killed by a king who was trying (in a very old west fashion) to build his rep by being the man who killed Theseus. It's not a great Arthurian way to go, of course.

But it feels honest to me.

I'm not trying to excuse all of Theseus' mistakes (some of them were fairly horrendous). But I do think there's an explanation.

And if you look at Antiope as the fulcrum of his life. With the Teeter-Totter heading uphill until he met her, holding steady while they were together, but swinging sharply down after her death, I think it ranks up there as one of the great tragedies. And yet still very human.


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"Awakening, Part One"

My kids and I have started watching the 66 chapters of Gargoyles from start to finish, so I thought I'd give a shot at rambling on each episode as we view them.

So starting at the beginning...

Random thoughts:

In the original script, there was a bit that came right after Princess Katharine reprimands the Captain for inviting the Gargoyles into the Great Hall. She says something to the effect of: "To allow beasts in the dining hall..." Right then, we were supposed to cut to a shot of one of those hounds that you can see milling about in the initial establing shot. The hound was supposed to grab a chunk of meat off of one of the nobles' plates. This would further establish Katharine's hypocracy, but also embarrass her further, lending believability to the things she says and does thereafter. I recall that the scenelet got animated, but not well. Frank refused to include it in the final cut. He may have been right, given what we had to work with. But I still miss the moment I envisioned in my head.

Katharine and the Magus are so nasty in this episode. Boy, did they go through some changes.

I'm also struck by just how much the Trio grew from this first appearance. They're kinda medieval ninja turtles here. But they show potential. I still love their exchange with Tom as he tries to get names out of them and they are baffled as to why names would be important.

I do wish we could have seen more Gargoyles flying around. (It really would have been nice to catch a glimpse of the Coldtrio, but frankly, they hadn't been designed yet. We knew they were coming, but we didn't have time to design them before they were necessary.) But it would have been great to see more beasts, more females. More young and old. But I guess we did all right.

The cliffhangers are interesting too. In both, the threat is the Gargoyles themselves. Princess Katharine says something nasty about gargoyles, just as Goliath enters the Hall. He growls, clearly having heard her statement. And we go to commercial... I could never have gotten away with that by even episode 2. But this early on, we didn't know the gargs well enough to know how they'd react. Clearly they had our sympathy. But would Goliath go berserk? Obviously, not. But that was the tension in that beat. Same thing happens between Acts II & III. The threat seems to be from Brooklyn, Lex and Bronx. Of course, they're bluffing. Annoyed with the humans, they are simply trying to put a scare into them. But the audience doesn't know that yet, so I can get away with the second cliffhanger being a Garg threat as well. Of course, by the end of the episode, we know just how noble they are. And that's a great cliffhanger I think. Goliath roaring to the heavens filled with grief over the death of his "Angel of the Night". 'SCool. (But how many of you really thought she was dead?)

There are also moments that are fairly mundane to us now. Elisa pulling up in her car. Goliath first breaking out of stone. Demona stepping out of the shadows. I'd be curious how all those moments made you guys feel the very first time you saw them, particularly those of you for whom this was in fact the first episode you ever saw.

I invite you to post your comments here on Awakening, Part One.


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Congratulate me!

I got through all the October questions in one day. I'll leave them up for about a week and move on to November soon.


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"ALONE": The Demona Contest Results

First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who entered: Shauntell, Airwalker, Derek!, Aris Katsaris, Jon and Bud-Clare. I'd like to state for the record that none of you gave a "wrong" answer. But this was, of course, a contest, and I had to choose a winner. My choice is quite subjective, but the winner by a hair is Airwalker with the following entry:

"ALONE: The Demona Contest Answer"

Demona consciously chose the word ALONE for a password because in her perspective she is alone. Only she seems to see that humanity is a threat and that what she is doing has to be done. Her birth clan remains blind to that fact. Only she alone can see it.

Subconsciously Demona chose ALONE as a password because inside Demona lurks Angel, the sane innocent she once was. Angel is alone, trapped inside a villain, unable to stop being alone until Demona can accept a millennia of guilt, forgive herself, and allow Angel to be free once more.

A close runner-up was Derek! who gave another very interesting answer:

ALONE: The Demona Contest

A city of humans had been turned to stone and their only hope was about to be eliminated. And Demona had done it alone. She alone had survived while others didn't and she alone had eluded the Hunters for centuries. But why would the word ALONE suddenly enter her mind?

Subconsciously, the word had been with her since she kissed Goliath on the forehead in 994 AD. She covered up her pain with the mask of a mightly warrior. She made a mistake 1000 years ago and couldn't deal with the consequences, which caused her to forever be alone.

These are both great entries. I particularly liked Derek!'s first paragraph and Airwalker's second. Which is not to say I didn't like the reverse.

Anyway, Airwalker, I'm not at my office right now, so I haven't yet chosen the prize, but I will contact you via e-mail early next week and arrange its delivery to you. As stated, it will be worthless, but it should hopefully be of interest.

Congratulations and thanks for playing.


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The nominees are in...

Praise the Dragon,

I finally got through all the September posts.

That means the next entry you see will be a Ramble that declares a winner to "ALONE: THE DEMONA CONTEST ANSWER".

Sometime next week.

Then, I'm taking on October.


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caveat

I feel like a came down to hard on Alaxk, and I didn't mean to. Again, I have no trouble with people not liking aspects of the show (or the entire show for that matter). And I think this (ASK GREG) is a legitimate forum to express those opinions. I welcome, even encourage criticism. I'm happy to respond.

The only thing that sorta bugged me about Alaxk's approach was that he didn't state his opinions as his own. He put them in the form of questions meant to imply that by now I must realize what a mistake I had made. Since I don't feel that way, it procluded any clear discussion of ideas. It felt a bit precious to me, and I'll admit, it bugged me a bit.

But that's not to say that Alaxk isn't 100% entitled to his opinions about the World Tour -- or anything. And those opinions are perfectly legitimate. Next time just state them.

Sure we're called "ASK GREG" but this isn't JEOPARDY, and your posts don't HAVE to be in the form of a question.


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Sorry...

This hasn't been a great batch of answers so far. I suppose I might be in a mood, but the questions haven't been too helpful. I'll try to do better later in the week.


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More Theseus...

Hey Aris,

Stopped by the comment room and saw some of your comments on Theseus.

I have a slightly different take on the guy. I do think he's heavily flawed, but I think (or like to think) that some of the stories about him reflect bias. He's still more of a hero to me than a villain. (By the way, have you read the Mary Renault books THE KING MUST DIE and THE BULL FROM THE SEA. I'd recommend them.)

For example, in the Persephone story, I've always gone with the version that Theseus swore an oath of loyalty to Perithoos. Perithoos then insisted on going to Hades to take Persephone. Theseus is then stuck. He either has to break his oath to his friend or go to hell, so to speak. He tries to talk Perithoos out of this fool's gambit, but the guy won't listen. (And I wonder if Perithoos hadn't pissed off Eros and gotten shafted.) So Theseus goes. And is severly punished. Thus Athens is abandoned by him for years, and they don't forgive him. Thus you get some bias...

As for his history with women...

Ariadne - I always read that Theseus was FORCED to abandon her by Dionysus, who had taken a shine to the lady. (And this fits with Renault's more realistic interpretation too.)

ANTIOPE - I always thought that Theseus only ever really fell in love once. With Antiope the Amazon. (Sister to Hyppolyta, though Renault and others often confuse her with Hyppolyta herself. It may be that Hyppolyta was more of a title than a name. When Herakles' Hypolyta was killed, her sister Antiope ascended to the throne and took the name/title Hypolyta. That might explain the confusion.) When Antiope died, I think it killed something inside him.

I don't want to whitewash the guy, and maybe my problem is that too many of my early exposures to the character did just that. I do think he's a Bastard. With all that that implies. But I like to think there's more good in him than evil.

I could go on -- and some day I probably will -- but that should do for now.


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Shameless self-praise...

One thing (one of many things) I admire about Joss Whedon's tv version of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and his ANGEL is his fearlessness as a creator. His willingness to let things evolve, change.

Characters find out the truth about other characters. They fall in and out of love. Things aren't drawn out forever and ever. He's unafraid to GO for it.

And frankly, I think that's one of the things I'm proudest of about GARGOYLES.

Not everyone loved the World Tour, but how many of you ever thought we'd have the guts to do it. To take our two leads and send them away from their "franchise" location not just for an episode or two but for what amounted to a season's worth of episodes?

And, honestly, how many of you thought -- even at the very end of "Hunter's Moon, Part Two" -- that we'd REALLY blow up the clock tower? Did you anticipate that the Gargs would wind up back at the castle with Xanatos or was that a surprise? For that matter, in season one, how many of you would have thought we'd have moved them out of the castle in the first place? "Enter Macbeth" represented a defeat of sort for our heroes. Did you see that coming?

(NOTE: These are not rhetorical questions. I'd really like to know the answers, so don't hesitate to let me know with a post here.)

Anyway, if these things were shocking, I think it's because they were somewhat brave. A risk. But not a risk for the sake of risk, but a risk in the name of being true to the characters. We made the various franchise shifts because nothing else made sense. I think it paid off for us, at the very least in loyalty from all of you. What do you think?


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Miscellaneous...

My DC Comics editor finally sent me a few copies of that Justice League comic with the Captain Atom/Gargoyles story. I had forgotten just how many Gargoyle in-jokes I put in that story. There's much more there for a Gargoyle fan then for a Captain Atom fan. Though I think the scenes of Cap kissing Bette (and the mention of Las Vegas) would make a couple people (Simon Del Monte, Melissa Page, for example) a bit nostalgic. I think the story turned out pretty well. Anyway, I'm happy. My editor made a couple small changes. He removed the two references to the year the story took place (1991). And he changed the title. It was called something like: "An Exercise in Self-Indulgence". Now it's called "The Flashback of Notre Dame". Both are accurate, but his is much more clever.

Lately, I've been giving away a lot of ASK GREG tidbits for some reason. Not sure why. I'm just in the mood, I guess. But it suddenly occured to me to register this caveat.

There's canon and there's canon.

As far as I'm concerned the only true canon is the 66 episodes of the series running from "Awakening, Part One" through "The Journey". As many of you know, I don't like to consider the other twelve episodes of Goliath Chronicles to be canon, let alone whatever other stories got published by Marvel or Disney Adventures Digest or whatever.

But to be honest, even some of my ASK GREG answers cannot truly be considered canon. They're closer. But I won't be held to them in any absolute sense. Part of the wonder of producing the first two seasons of Gargoyles involved things discovered along the way. I won't etch things in stone (pun intended) just for the sake of making these ramblings and off-the-cuff answers sacrosanct. If I got the chance to produce the show (or one of its spin-offs) again, I'd ABSOLUTELY incorporate much of what's here. But I'd be a fool not to hold everything up to a microscope and decide with consideration what would and wouldn't be best for the new series.

Having said that, I've been giving some particular thought to G2158 recently, studying timelines for example. And I've changed a few things in my head. Nothing major. But certain things have changed that would in turn effect things in TimeDancer and present-day Gargoyles. Maybe even New Olympians and Pendragon. (So far nothing that would alter Bad Guys or Dark Ages.)

The good news is that none of these changes effect our three current contests. (Wouldn't that be an ASK GREG disaster?)

And all this thought has gotten me thinking about how I might handle a couple of thorny problems in any revival of the original series, specifically the time gap between 1996 and whenever the new show hit the air, and/or the existence of those 12 non-canon Chronicle episodes.

And frankly, I think the internet is the answer.

Goliath Chronicles exists. I can't change that. But I think I can ignore it. For example, if I wanted to do my version of the trial of Goliath -- the one where the question before the court is his very sentience -- couldn't I just do it?

New fans wouldn't know about the Chronicles trial and thus wouldn't be upset about it. Old fans could check here and find out why it was being ignored.

That only leaves a small percentage of people, who, for example, see the Chronicles episode on Toon Disney and wonder about it, but don't have the resources or whatever to find a site like this and learn the rationale. Would they be very put off? Is that too selfish an approach for me to take?

Likewise, the time gap. What if in the fist season, I did that Halloween story I've mentioned before. I wouldn't mention what year it was. For a new audience, they'd just assume that the story took place in say, October 2002. No harm done. But I could post here and tell people it took place in 1996. Then, by the end of the first season, I could have the series caught up to 2002, but still have gotten to do the stories that would have depended (continuity-wise) on proximity to the events in Hunter's Moon and The Journey.

What about that?

I'm very interested in all of your opinions on these notions. Please post them here.


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Technical difficulties...

My ASK GREG answering/rambling system is telling me that there are no more questions in the Queue. We all know that's not the case, but I can't answer anymore questions until Gore finds the problem. Bare with us...


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Thailog, you Bastard.

Yeah, Todd, the archetype of the Bastard (particularly the more villainous Edmund version) was definitely running around my head when Cary and I created Thailog.

I recall that Cary was thinking of Thailog in more evil twin mode. As Goliath's brother (after a fashion). This was a legitimate approach, but I guided him toward making Goliath and Thailog into father/son figures. And by throwing in Xanatos and Sevarius as father-figures as well, I was hitting the Bastard idea head on.

After all, who is Theseus' father? Aegeus or Poseidon? Both had "intercourse" with Theseus' mother. Both claimed Theseus as his son. And Theseus was smart enough not to disagree with either.

(Though in his heart, I think Theseus' true "father-figure" was his maternal Grandfather.)


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Jonathan Frakes

Last night, my wife and I went to the WB's fifth anniversary party.

I talked with Alan Burnette and Rich Fogel. Two guys who I used to work with at Disney, but who are now on BATMAN BEYOND.

I also saw a number of celebs, including the actors who play the title roles in ANGEL and FELICITY. Plus Diedrich Bader, (Oswald on DREW CAREY and Jason Canmore of "Hunter's Moon"). I also literally bumped into Shiri Appleby who's "Liz" the female lead on ROSWELL. And she was very nice about me being a clutz.

And, best of all, I ran into Jonathan Frakes, who's an exec producer on ROSWELL. He was terrifically charming as always to both myself and Beth. (Beth and Jonathan's wife Genie Francis were once in MOMMY & ME classes together after we both had our respective first kids.)

Without any prompting from me, he bemoaned the fact that Disney stopped making GARGOYLES. He's still a big fan of the show. We started to talk some more but he was approached by Ray Wise, the actor who played Laura Palmer's father on TWIN PEAKS. I left them to talk, and we didn't get to hook up again before Beth and I had to leave. (Babysitters, school nights, plus as glamorous as it may sound, I feel very out of place at this kind of party. Very uncomfortable.)

Anyway, I realize it's not much of an anectdote, but I thought you'd like to know.


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Shakespeare ramblings...

Seeing TITUS and having some professional free time to dedicate to a more long term project finds me re-emersing myself in the Works of Will (WoW). At least, after a fashion.

Since this ramble will knock my comments on TITUS off the "LATEST RESPONSES" page, so may want to check those comments out by visiting the "Shakespeare" section of the ASK GREG archive.

But recently, I've also been reading Harold Bloom's book, "Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human". It's really an amazing work. I've been reading it while viewing various takes on ROMEO AND JULIET and HAMLET. It's really helped me to appreciate HAMLET more. In the past, I've always admired the play, but it never reached me as deeply as LEAR or R&J or MIDSUMMER or MUCH ADO or WINTER'S TALE, etc. I'm gaining a new, deeper understanding and appreciation of HAMLET now. In part from Bloom's book.

And in part, from Kenneth Brannaugh's four hour movie version, which I saw and liked in the movie theater a few years ago. Still, I'm gaining a new appreciation for it on video. So many little things to love. Such a scope. And I think I'm finally "getting" Hamlet himself.

But frankly, one of the big helps has been revisiting a film that Brannaugh directed (but did not star in) just before he took on HAMLET. In America, it's called "A MIDWINTER'S TALE". (Elsewhere, I think it's known as "IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER".) It's a little black & white film about a company of seven actors (and two support people) who put together a local production of HAMLET in order to raise money to save the church they're performining in. This is another movie I saw and liked in the theater. But seeing it again on video has been wonderful. Ophelia's song of madness has never been more poignant, then in the "rehersal" scene in this film. I can't help feeling, that this little movie was an important act of mental preparation before Brannaugh took on his big HAMLET film. Among other points of interest, the actors who play Hamlet, Claudius and Laertes in A MIDWINTER'S TALE, went on to play Laertes, Polonius and Horatio (respectively) in HAMLET.

I've also been revisiting ROMEO & JULIET. Bloom's book has some really interesting stuff about that play as well. (Though I'm convinced he gets one thing dead wrong. It's trivial, but he takes for granted that Susan is Juliet's late twin sister. His brain must be short-circuiting there. It seems beyond obvious to me that Susan was the Nurse's daughter. Born at the same time as Juliet, an infant who died shortly thereafter, making the Nurse a good candidate to be Juliet's wetnurse -- and surrogate mother.)

I've also watched the video of Baz Luhrman's version of R&J, starring Leonardo & Claire. I like it. This one suffers a bit off the big screen, but it has some great moments.

SPOILER WARNING

Romeo actually getting to see Juliet come back to life just AFTER he's taken the poison for example.

Next up, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE on video and then the ZEFIRELLI R&J. The movie that first opened the door to Shakespeare to me. (I'm still in love with Olivia Hussey.)

BTW, I realize that a lot of Gargoyles fans won't really know what I'm talking about here. ("Who the heck is Susan?") But, you are an exceedingly bright group. Maybe all this cryptic rambling will get you to check all of this stuff out. I recommend it.


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Progress

Well, I just answered the last question from August. September, you are next. I'm determined to catch up so that questions are answered within a week of being asked.


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TITUS

I saw TITUS on Saturday with my wife Beth and three people who worked on GARGOYLES.

1. Fred Schaefer, who was a development associate who helped develop the show. (I think it's safe to say that Talon was sort of Fred's idea in a very early pre-Derek form. We called the character Catscan then.) Fred is currently a producer/executive/story editor at Porchlight Entertainment.

2. Monique Beatty was my assistant during the Gargoyles years. She did a lot of research for me. She's now a producer at Kinofilms.

3. Tuppence Macintyre is an old friend of mine. She also did a lot of Scotish research for Gargoyles, just as a personal favor and because it interested her. She's a Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles.

Anyway, the five of us went to see TITUS in Santa Monica. The film is based on one of Shakespeare's early tragedies, TITUS ANDRONICUS. It was adapted and directed by Julie Taymor, who adapted and directed THE LION KING for the Broadway stage. So it's not surprise that the film is visually stunning. Monique didn't like the anachronistic style of the film (depicting chariots and motorcycles side-by-side for example), but it's not the first time I've seen that kind of interpretation, so it didn't bother me.

And the acting is fantastic. Anthony Hopkins (who I've loved forever -- does anyone remember the movie MAGIC?) plays Titus. He's brilliant. His lament to the stones is heartbreaking. Jessica Lange is good as "Tamara, Queen of the Goths" (now tell me that isn't a Gargoyles' character in the making). And Alan Cumming (who voiced John Castaway in "The Journey") is a nice, twisted villain as Saturninus, the Roman Emperor. But the revelation is Harry Lennix as Aaron the Moor. Amazing.

The story of Titus is not for the squeemish or for children. It's a real pot-boiler. Something just this side of a horror movie with a hard R rating for violence and nudity, though thankfully a minimum of on-screen gore.

The play was a big hit for Shakespeare in his day. But it's been dismissed as a critical flop. And I can see why. I've read it a couple times and thought it awful. Which coming from a bardolitor like myself is pretty harsh. It seemed like none of the characters were sympathetic or interesting.

But I'd never seen it performed, so I was looking forward to the movie. As usual, Shakespeare plays tens times better than he reads. In the movie, I had -- at moments -- plenty of sympathy for nearly all the characters. And the wonderful thing is that my sympathies are constantly shifting. No one is without sin. All share the blame except for Aaron's son. And Aaron himself is amazing.

Although, I can't help agreeing that Shakespeare wrote TITUS at least in part as parody of the tragic genre -- the way SCREAM was designed to be both parody and exemplar of the horror film -- I can also see flashes of KING LEAR, HAMLET and CORIOLANUS in Titus' character.

But Aaron prefigures Othello, Iago, Edmund and Shylock at least. He's a remarkably progressive character for the time. A villain, who is the only character to succeed in preserving a sliver of innocence within the world of the play.

Anyway, I really enjoyed it. And I recommend it to any Gargoyle Fan over the age of 17.


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Galaxy Quest

I saw Galaxy Quest this past Saturday. Not a perfect film by any means, but I enjoyed it.

But mostly it got me thinking. The Star Trek parallels were obvious, and it's hard to apply the same kind of scenario to, say, a Gathering.

But I wondered how I'd respond this summer in Orlando if Thom Adcox and I (for example) were confronted by a woman who looked sort of like Salli Richardson but with blue jeans, black shirt and a red jacket. She tells us she really's Elisa Maza and she need our help.

I wound up coming up with this whole scenario in my head about Alexander accidentally using his magic to send Elisa, Fox and Lexington to our universe. I finally find out definitively what I've suspected all along, which is that I'm not inventing these stories, I'm simply tapping into another universe. Turns out I got a lot right and a little bit wrong here and there. (See previous comments about how I missed beats on "Hero of Ulster" and "Grief" as examples.)

Trapped in our universe, the unlikely trio happen to see an episode of the show. They get on the net and find out about me. And with no other idea how to get home they track me down at the Gathering, hoping I'd know how they are SUPPOSED TO GET HOME.

Then I got stuck. The whole idea got very messy. (This story is really up Cary Bates' alley. I still have that old issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE where Cary travels to EARTH-TWO, turns evil and tricks the JLA into killing the JSA. In that story, the Spectre personally intercedes with God to fix things.)

Anyway, I think this is what Todd calls a 'creativity demon'. I've been trying to "crack" open this story since Saturday night, with little success. But I'll keep working on it, and if I come up with anything good, I'll ramble further.


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ANOTHER UPDATE

Well, there's a good chunk of August done.

See you guys after the new year. Have a safe and great holiday.

Greg


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Only Five Months Behind...

July is done. Finally. Watch your back, August.


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I'm back...

And July is going down today!


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Progress

I was hoping I'd get through July today. But man, no dice. I'll try again tomorrow.


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UPDATE

Hi Gang,

I'm back. And determined to pour through these questions. I can't believe I'm still backlogged until JULY!!!

But first, let me give you a quick update on what I've been up to recently.

STARSHIP TROOPERS
Post-Production has been completed on my first arc of stories. They are all set on the jungle moon TESCA NEMEROSA. I think they turned out wonderfully. I'm still very proud of the writing, but I'm wildly impressed with the CGI. (And yes, there are a few small things that bother me, but...) Overall, I think it's a very powerful set of stories.

MAX STEEL
We've completed writing and recording all 13 episodes for the first season. Post-production should begin after the first of the year. The CGI series should premeire in February on the WB's Saturday Morning. And now that the heavy lifting is done, I'm all but unemployed, which means I should have plenty of time for ASK GREG.

NAZCA
A good friend of mine did the English dub for this Japanese Anime series. Thom Adcox does the voice for one of the leads, and I do a few incidental voices here and there. (Yes, the man who brought you "Nice Mask!" and "Father, the rockets aren't working!" is back behind the microphone. God help us all.) It's available on home video in stores starting mid-January.

JUSTICE LEAGUE GIANT
As many of you already know, I did a CAPTAIN ATOM/JLE/GARGOYLES parody team-up for this comic book. I wrote it a year ago and I still haven't seen the final result, but I'm told it turned out all right. And every copy you buy puts about a tenth of a penny into my pocket... Seriously, it wouldn't hurt if this issue sold out and was followed by a letter writing campaign asking DC to do an actual Gargoyles comic. Don't know if it would work, but it wouldn't hurt.

UCLA EXTENSION
For those of you living in the L.A. Area, Kevin Hopps and I are teaching a twenty week course on writing for Television Animation through UCLA Extension's Writer's Program at Universal CityWalk starting this Spring and running through the Summer. Hope to see some of you there.

Now, back to your questions...



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