A Station Eight Fan Web Site
Looks like I'll be going down to San Diego for the ComicCon. I'll be appearing Sunday Morning the 23rd of July at a Starship Troopers panel, along with a lot of other people who worked on the show, particularly Producer Audu Paden and the voice of Johnny Rico, Rino Romano.
I'm also thinking about attending the performance of HENRY V at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre on Saturday night the 22nd.
If you see me at either event, say hi.
Written by Brynne Chandler Reaves & Lydia C. Marano
Story Edited by Michael Reaves
Well, I watched "Lighthouse" again last night with my family. First thing I noticed was the bad "Previously" recap. This is all my fault. The recap features Macbeth, because I wanted to make sure the audience knew who he was. But that blows out the first act surprise reveal that he's behind it all. Up to that point in the story, you'd be thinking Xanatos. But because of the dopey recap, you know it MUST be Mac. Later in the season, after I got hammered over these recaps by the folks on the Disney Afternoon e-Mailing list, I learned never to put anything into the recap that wasn't revealed in the first five minutes of the show to follow. But here's a perfect example of me screwing up my own mystery.
We introduce archeologists Lydia Duane and Arthur Morwood-Smythe. Dr. Duane was named after writers Lydia Marano and Diane Duane. Professor Morwood-Smythe was named after writers Arthur Byron Cover and Peter Morwood. Arthur is Lydia's husband. Peter is Diane's husband. I don't know anyone named Smythe.
Macbeth episodes, at least up to this point, seem to be cursed with mediocre animation. (Of course, everything's relative. Mediocre on Gargs was still better than most series got. But relative to our expectations, this ep is pretty weak.) I bet Elisa would have really looked cute in that red baseball hat if the animation had been even slightly better.
I don't know how clear it is in the prologue. The idea there, was that the wind was blowing through the lyre. The haunting sound drew the archeologists further into the cave. They read the warning which indicates that the seeker of knowledge has nothing to fear, the destroyer everything. They are supposed to hesitate, look at each other, decide that they are seekers not destroyers and then open the chest. Merlin's clearly put a safety spell of some kind on the chest. An image of the old man appears and basically checks to confirm whether the archeologists are in fact seekers or destroyers. Satisfied, the spell disipates. But you can imagine what would have happened if a Hakon type had stumbled in.
Anyway, it never felt like all that came across. Did it?
Brooklyn (re: Broadway): "Ignorance is bliss." In High School, I had a classmate named Howard Bliss. We had chemistry together with Mr. Miller. Mr. Miller once asked the class a question that we all should have known. No one knew the answer, and our own idiocy generated laughter among Miller's students. He just shook his head and said: "Ignorance is bliss." He forgot that he had a student named Bliss. It generated more laughter. I don't know why I told you that. But it's what I thought about when Brooklyn read that line.
There's a semi-heavy-handed "Read More About It" feel to the clock tower conversation regarding Merlin. Goliath practically quotes those public service announcements, saying there are many books about him in the library. I don't mind. I had wanted to cite a few actual books -- like Mary Stewart's THE CRYSTAL CAVE -- but our legal department wouldn't give us clearance for that. Very short-sighted.
A connection is made between Merlin and the Magus. This was not an accident, as at that time, I had planned to have the Magus journey with Arthur on his Pendragon quests to find Excalibur and Merlin. I later changed my mind. But the Magus does at least play a Merlin-esque roll in the Avalon three parter.
I always wonder who was playing in "Celebrity Hockey" that night.
Macbeth's standard Electro-Magnetic weapon was my idea. I didn't design it exactly, but I did make crude little drawings of something that looked vaguely like a staple gun, with two electrodes that generated the charge. I was always proud of that weapon. It was uniquely Macbeth's (and Banquo and Fleances'). Set him apart from all the concussion, laser and particle beam weapons we used elsewhere. (I did the same kind of thing on the Quarymen's hammers.)
It's fun to listen to B.J. Ward voice both sides of the confrontation between Fleance and Duane.
Banquo's model sheet showed him squinting out of one eye. Some episodes, not so much this one, but some took that to mean he only had one eye. So he walks around looking like Popeye for the entire episode. (His big lantern jaw helps accentuate that.) There are a couple of Popeye moments in this ep. But more in his next appearance I think.
It was my idea to just have Mac's mansion rebuilt without explanation. I don't exactly regret it, but it's kinda cheap. We burned it way down. He has it rebuilt. It makes sense. But we usually dealt with consequences more than that.
When he rebuilds it, he installs those cannons. They were supposed to be giant-sized versions of the hand-held E-M guns. But they don't come off that way. Instead they fire at the gargoyles. And mostly seem to destroy the various turrets of Macbeth's own place. Ugghh.
As in "Leader" we get another scene of Goliath and friends confronting Owen at the castle. Looking for Xanatos, when in fact Xanatos isn't the threat. It made sense in both episodes. And it's always nice to showcase Owen a bit. But after two of those in four episodes, I wasn't gonna do that again. (At least not until KINGDOM.)
I love the "Macbeth Theme" that Carl Johnson created for the villain, which is featured at the end of ACT ONE.
Macbeth opens the "second scroll" and starts to read Merlin's seal. This caused tons of fan confusion, as he read "Sealed by my own [i.e. Merlin's] hand". No one seemed to get that he was reading that. They thought Mac was saying that he [i.e. Macbeth] had sealed the scroll. Of course that notion renders the whole thing confusing as hell. But it never occured to us that anyone would take it that way.
We also introduce Jeffrey Robbins and Gilly in this episode. Gilly is of course short for Gilgamesh, one of the legendary characters that Robbins once wrote about. It's just a bit odd, because Gilly is a female.
Robbins is a very cool character. Wish we had had the opportunity to use him more.
I like how when Robbins and Hudson are introducing themselves, Robbins gives his first and last name. Hudson says, I'm Hudson, "like the river". An echo of how he got the name. And a reminder that names aren't natural to him. Even if they are addictive.
John Rhys-Davies is just fantastic as Macbeth. I love his speech to Broadway. It accomplishes everything we needed it too. That line about the "human heart" by the way is a reference to the Arthur/Lance/Gwen triangle.
I also love his line: "I'm Old, but not THAT Old." This was a little hint to what we'd reveal in CITY OF STONE. Sure Macbeth's from the eleventh century, but not the fifth or sixth. It's like someone saying to someone my age, "So what did you do during World War II?"
Lennox Macduff. That was a cool touch. Also a hint as to how Macbeth feels about Shakespeare.
I like the Phone Book scene too. Hudson says "Hmm. Magic Book." Robbins replies: "Aren't they all." Great stuff.
By the way, as Robbins goes through the phone book, scanning names, he passes "Macduff, Cameron". One of my college roommates was Cameron Douglas, who was really interested in his Scotish heritage. That was a mini-tribute to him.
My daughter Erin reacts to the fact that Macbeth threatens to use Merlin's spells on Broadway. She points out that Macbeth had promised to let Broadway go after he had the scrolls. She's surprised he hasn't kept his word. My wife at that point reminds Erin that Macbeth is the villain. Erin gets that. But you can tell it isn't quite sitting right with her.
Later when Macbeth DOES let everyone go without a struggle, Erin is clearly not sure what to make of him.
And on one level, that's exactly as we wanted it. Macbeth is a troubled guy -- a hero who's devolved into a villain. A suicidal villain on top of that, though we hadn't revealed that yet. But he is a villain. Later, it's debatable, but here he's taken to being an ends-justify-the-means kinda guy. And even his ends are hazy at best.
I love Broadway's "precious magic" speech. It's so wierd hearing poetry from the big galoot. But that's so Broadway. The soul of a poet. Bill Faggerbakke was a huge help.
And I love Robbins "They are lighthouses in the dark sea of time..." speech. I love that it's not exactly the title. Brynne and Lydia did fine work on this one.
I wonder what happened to that lyre?
Keith David, the voice of "Goliath", is currently appearing at the Delacourt Theatre in Manhattan's Central Park (the one right below Belvedere Castle) in William Shakespeare's A WINTER'S TALE. He's playing the lead Male role of LEONTES, the jealous king. It's a great part. A great play. A great theater. And a great actor. Plus it's FREE. I wish I could get to NYC and see it. PLEASE, someone go see the show, and report back how it was. PLEASE. This really is a DON'T MISS Opportunity.
I haven't re-watched "A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time" yet. But we all know that's next, so I thought I'd go ahead and post the memo I sent to Michael Reaves, Brynne Chandler Reaves and Lydia C. Marano, based on the first draft outline they gave me on this story. Here it is, unedited:
Notes on "A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time" Outline...
O.K. I'm gonna suggest some major changes here, though not without purpose. Brynne, they come right out of the phone conversation that led us to trade Xanatos & Demona for Macbeth. I don't think we've adjusted enough from the premise to meet our objectives.
THE MAIN OBJECTIVE
Remember, our primary objective is NOT to teach Hudson and Broadway to read. It is to ENGAGE them in the wonder of reading, to convince them it is a worthwhile, rewarding and magical endeavor. To make them WANT to learn how to read.
We discussed that Hudson and Broadway had two very different reasons for not wanting to learn. Broadway thinks it's a waste of time. He's got television, video, movies and a very exciting life. (The latter is the most important. I'm not going to preach the evils of the visual media, which are other legitimate windows into "other worlds", but which cannot and should not substitute for reading.) At any rate, Broadway doesn't see the relevance of reading to his life. This is a major cause of illiteracy among teen-agers.
Hudson doesn't learn for a very different reason. He's ashamed that he hasn't learned already. This is the main cause of continued illiteracy among adults.
I'm not getting a clear distinction between the two characters -- partially, because we're not getting much screen time for Broadway at all. We've got a lot to fit in here, but we still need to have enough time to explore both Hudson and Broadway's very different arcs. I think there's a relatively simple solution. Cut Elisa from the story, (at least for the most part). She's a great character, but she doesn't have a lot to learn from this adventure. We're wasting screen time on her. Make Broadway the V.T.O.L. stow-away instead of Elisa.
We also discussed toning Robbins' role down. I know some of that has been done, but the guy is still coming across as St. Jeffrey to me. He's an integral, not incidental part of the plot. Now normally, I'd cheer about this, but here it's not convincing. Hudson happens to be injured near the house of the one author that Goliath loves and Elisa mentioned, who also happens to be an Arthurian expert, who if not for his blindness, would be the only person who Macbeth could get to translate the scrolls. It's just too much.
I do not believe that after nine centuries, Macbeth needs any mere mortal to translate a book for him. It's not like he has only just now started searching for magic books. If he needed to know a language he didn't know, he has had plenty of time to learn it. If no one could translate the spells, that would be another thing. But the notion that some mortal knows a Celtic language that's a mystery to the immortal Celtic Macbeth doesn't play for me.
Again, I think the solution here is simple. Macbeth doesn't get the scrolls until near the end of the play. After Macbeth's men steal the scrolls, we have Hudson and Broadway steal them back before Macbeth can get his hands on them. Hudson's injured and washes up and into Robbins' lap. Mac's men return without Hudson's scrolls. Mac and his men have to go after them. They track Hudson to Robbins' nest. Now with this change, we don't need Robbins to be the only guy who can translate these spells. He doesn't have to be the foremost authority on all things Arthurian.
In fact, he doesn't have to be the foremost anything. Frankly, he doesn't even have to be Goliath's favorite author. He doesn't have to be famous or collectable. In a way, I think it works against us if he is. What if he's just a relatively average guy. He writes novels that take myth, legend and/or history and try to render them believable and "true". Think Mary Stewart or Mary Renault. He's had some success. Enough to make him comfortable. But he's no Stephen King. He's just a writer operating in relative obscurity. (We can all relate.) I feel strongly that this makes him a better messenger for our purposes. The guy just loves his job. It hasn't made him rich or famous, but he loves it. He gets to do all this research, all this reading, on the period he's going to write on. He writes. (He loves words, and his dialogue should show it -- no easy task, because simply giving him a big, latinate vocabulary won't cut it.) And then he gets a tremendous kick out of knowing that people read what he wrote. It's immortality. And a better kind of immortality than Macbeth's. (I mean, hell, that's why I'm in the business -- fame and wealth would be nice, but what I really need is to live forever.) Maybe he's never even written about Merlin or Arthur before. Maybe this adventure inspires him to. It would be a lot less contrived if all this were true.
Another thing that I think we should cut is Macbeth's little village. I don't know why it's been created. It seems to thematically fit our idea of visiting other places and times through books, but in fact it works against that theme. (As Broadway would say, "Why do I need to read about this stuff, when I can spend an hour at this glorified museum and see it? Not that I like museums.")
PHONE BOOKS, ETC.
Unfortunately, some of my changes are going to force adjustments to all the truly wonderful incidental references and uses that we put "reading" to in this outline, but we need to make sure the tail doesn't wag the dog. Let's get the structure squared away, and then work to fit as many of these as possible back into the show. Or come up with new ones. (Sure, easy for me to say.)
THE SCROLLS OF MERLIN
Let's refer to them as the SCROLLS OF MERLIN, not MERLIN'S JOURNALS. The former is neutral. The latter implies that they are exactly what they turn out to be: a narrative. We want everyone thinking that this is a book of spells. And that's everyone, not just Macbeth. We're tipping our hand otherwise. The treasure is the narrative, but it's a secret treasure. The notion of our gargoyles and all of New York getting hyped for narrative early on, makes the revelation less special. Plus, I don't want to be flagging to our audience from moment one that this is an episode about "LITERACY". Let the audience believe what Macbeth believes: we're hunting a magical macguffin. We'll sneak up on them with our true purpose (and Lord knows we're not being that subtle, so there won't be any doubt about it by the end). That way when Hudson meets Robbins, our audience won't say, "How convenient? Story about reading, and Hudson meets a writer!" They won't know the story's about reading when this happens.
With all of the above in mind, I think we need to be careful about dressing Elisa like Guinevere. It comes across as a fad here, and she doesn't seem the type to go in for a fad. It's not like this is gonna suddenly become standard attire in NYC. Let's not oversell our point, or I'm afraid we won't make the sale at all.
MORGAN THE DOG
Sorry. We already have Morgan the Cop. You need a new name. (Again, I wouldn't chose an Arthurian reference. Let this episode pique Robbin's interest in Arthurana. Up to now he's been writing novels about Beowulf or Gilgamesh.)
Instead of making them mercenaries, let's just give him two specific henchman. Tough and very well-trained. Maybe not geniuses, but definitely not stupid. (Why do intelligent villains always employ such dumb henchmen?) Maybe their real names are Mel and Steve, but Macbeth calls them BANQUO and FLEANCE. A private joke that maybe they don't even get. (When I got to page 10 of the outline I was gonna suggest Banquo and Macduff, until I saw the Lennox Macduff thing on page 11. So I switched Macduff to Fleance. We can still use the Lennox Macduff alias.)
Macbeth has a code of honor. It's flexible, but it exists. He's clearly willing to take prisoners. Hostages and ransom were an established and legitimate part of medieval warfare. But I don't know if he'd hold a knife to someone's head to facilitate his own escape. This isn't a hard and firm note, just keep it in mind. Also, I don't think his men have made a habit of stealing statues for him. After 900+ years, I doubt he'd be that much into material possessions. That's more Xanatos' gig. Macbeth keeps a fine house, but it's easier to buy than steal, and he's very wealthy.
Don't really see any purpose to it anymore.
1. Open with a prologue that shows us the British archeologists discovering the two large scrolls. More exciting than watching a report about it on television. Maybe the underground chamber was sealed magically. (A red herring to get us thinking spell book, instead of narrative.)
2. But now we segue to the clock tower. Lex is reading a newspaper article about the scrolls out loud to the rest of the gang. It seems the Scrolls are coming to NYC for authentification or whatever. Elisa says she and Matt volunteered to guard the shipment of the scrolls, and they got the nod. She admits that it's silly for her to be so excited, after all, she won't get to read them, but the whole thing really intrigues her.
Brooklyn wants to know more about Merlin. He had heard of him even back in the 10th century. He knows Merlin was some kind of 5th century magician, but that's about it. Goliath recommends some books.
(Adrienne, can we recommend a real book? Mary Stewart's THE CRYSTAL CAVE is a wonderful novel about Merlin. I read it for the first time in eighth grade. I'm rereading it now to Erin. I know we usually don't want to appear to be endorsing anything, but given this episode's subject matter, shouldn't we make an exception? Wouldn't this be a public service? We could slip in the titles of a number of good books throughout this episode. They do it on CBS with those "Read More About It" segments. Anyway, let me know.)
Broadway doesn't get it. He doesn't know how to read, and he doesn't see why he should bother to learn. Let's rent the video. They argue a bit. Hudson pointedly refuses to give his opinion, but we don't reveal his illiteracy here. (Let's make a small point of showing Hudson's rapport with Bronx here though.)
Goliath wants to know what the scrolls contain? Elisa says the seals won't be broken until they are authenticated, but the rumor is they might be Merlin's magic spells. Goliath looks concerned.
3. Dark, stormy night. Low visibility. Harbor attack by two VTOLs. Elisa and Matt are guarding the two scroll containers. But Banquo and Fleance outgun them by a mile. They each take one container into their VTOLs. Thank goodness the gargoyles were gliding nearby. (Goliath was worried that the magic scrolls might be a prime target for Demona or Xanatos.) The gargoyles attack the VTOL's. (Maybe Broadway makes a crack: "When your life is this exciting, who needs books?")
In the confusion, Hudson manages to rip open the hatch of Banquo's VTOL. He grabs the container from the shocked Banquo, but Banquo manages to get off a concussion blast that severly wounds Hudson. He's blown out of the VTOL and into the bay, still clutching the water-proof container. None of the other gargoyles see this happen.
Fleance and Banquo hit their turbo buttons and go shooting off into the night. Goliath, Lex and Brooklyn can't keep up, but a flash of lightning reveals that Broadway has managed to dig in and hitch a ride on the underside of Fleance's VTOL. They don't see Hudson, but they assume/hope that maybe he's done the same. They retreat as police helicopters approach the scene.
But Hudson (still clutching the container) is in the water, maybe going down for the last time.
4. Banquo & Fleance land their VTOL's at their boss's compound. (It might as well be Macbeth' mansion from episode -008, rebuilt since the fire.) Banq tells Fleance that he lost his container. "WHAT?! The boss is gonna kill us!" Well, big shot, where's yours? Safe in the hold of my VTOL where it belongs. Well, one scroll is better than none. Let's bring it to him. They go to get it, but the hull's been torn open and the scroll is missing.
5. Down by the docks, Elisa confers quietly with Goliath, Lex and Brooklyn. They are all worried about Broadway and Hudson. Plus this whole theft smells like Xanatos to Elisa. But no proof. So no warrant. Goliath doesn't have that problem.
6. Still raining. Hudson sees the sillouettes of a bunch of gargoyles and heads for them. He just barely makes it to shore. He's hurting bad, and is wildly disappointed when he realizes that the sillouette's weren't Goliath and the trio, but "phonies". He collapses.
7. Goliath, Brooklyn and Lex arrive at Xanatos' castle. Owen's there alone. Goliath insists on searching the place... top to bottom. (At this point in story, we should not feel that Goliath is wasting time. Owen should be ambiguous enough so that the audience WILL think that this is a Xanatos plan.)
8. Back at the Compound's hangar, we find Broadway in hiding, clutching the second container. (And feeling like this "old book" definitely isn't worth it.) Well, Banquo and Fleance are going nuts looking for the stupid thing. Now seems like a good time to bolt for the exit. He goes for it. Catches B&F off-guard and bulls his way past them. Only to be taken down by... the boss. Macbeth.
9. Broadway recovers and attacks. But Macbeth makes short work of him. By now B&F have him totally covered (by high-tech futuristic non-imitatable weapons of course). Macbeth opens the container and carefully removes the scroll. He examines the seal and confirms that the scroll is authentic Merlin and that it is the second of the two scrolls. He doesn't break the seal, because he believes the scrolls contain magic. It's dangerous to get things out of order. Where's the first scroll?
10. Still raining. Robbins and his dog find Hudson, who. is regaining consciousness. Robbins surmises that Hudson was mugged, and Hudson lets him think so. The dog likes Hudson. Hudson says he's good with animals. Robbins appreciates that and is solicitous. Hudson sees that Robbins is blind. He gets an idea. He just needs a safe place to rest 'til morning. Then he'll cease to be any trouble. Robbins invites him inside, offers to help. But Hudson won't let him get too close. They go in.
11. Mac, Fleance and Banquo are in a VTOL, heading back to the harbor. Broadway is there too, in VERY heavy chains. Macbeth's keeping him around until he gets hold of the other scroll. Banquo protests: he blew that old gargoyle away, the other scroll is probably lying on the floor of the bay. Macbeth says it better not be, or Banquo will join it.
12. It's still storming outside. Breathing heavily, Hudson lowers himself into an easy chair and looks around Robbins' home. It's wall-to-wall bookshelves. Hudson doesn't like being here, but he's a bit of a captive audience. There's an uncomfortable silence. On a table near his chair, Hudson picks a medal off a display case. Also on the display case, is a plaque of some kind that clearly reads something like: "ROBBINS RECEIVES PURPLE HEART", but Hudson still asks what it is. Eventually, we get the idea that Robbins lost his sight in the war. (Vietnam? Korea? How old do we want Robbins to be? If we want him to be the same (biological) age as Hudson, we should go with Korea.) Hudson points to his one blind eye, which was also injured in battle. (Against the Archmage in episode #11, but Hudson won't go into details.) The two old warriors have made a connection. Now they can become friends. Robbins asks Hudson what he does. Hudson says he's...still a soldier. Robbins is a novelist. Or he used to be, before he ran out of ideas. He did have a few minor successes. Maybe Hudson's heard of them. Hudson doesn't read much, but he's shocked that the blind Robbins can read and write. Robbins is borderline insulted. Hasn't Hudson heard of braille? Hudson hasn't. Robbins is surprised. He hands Hudson a braille book (one that he wrote). Hudson runs his fingers over the bumps. Robbins then hands him the same book in standard English. Hudson lets slip that the bumps mean as much to him as the chicken scrawl. Robbins puts two and two together. And we find out that Hudson can't read.
13. In the harbor, near dawn, The VTOL searches for some clue. Broadway asks Macbeth what all the fuss is about. Who was this Merlin guy? Just another stupid magician. Macbeth tells him who Merlin was. Tells him about what he, Arthur and Guinevere created. Maybe he quotes Tennyson or Muir. But he's eloquent and evocative, and Broadway listens with rapt attention, perhaps (do we dare?) even visualizing Macbeth's words with hazy images. When Macbeth finishes Broadway says with awe: "You describe it like you were there..." Macbeth tosses off his reply (he doesn't realize the effect he's had on Broadway): "I'm old, but not THAT old. Obviously, I read about it in books." But Broadway can't help repeating to himself: "But you describe it like you were there..."
14. Back at the castle, Goliath and co. have obviously, found nothing of value. It won't be long til sunrise and they dare not stay much longer. Owen enters with the early morning edition under his arm. He's deduced what they're after from the news story. Suggests that the VTOL described in the article has more in common with the kind of vehicle that Macbeth is wont to drive. (Goliath feels like big dumb jerk. But there's no time to fight about it.) Goliath, Brook and Lex leave.
15. Hudson: "I'm too old to learn to read now." Robbins: It's never too late. I had to learn to read all over again, learn to read braille after I was blinded. Hudson: Who would teach me? He's ashamed to tell his friends he doesn't know how. Robbins offers to teach him, but makes the point that Hudson should only be ashamed to continue his illiteracy. There's no shame in learning -- ever. Hudson doesn't respond.
The storm is breaking and dawn approaches. Hudson, still hurt, gets up to leave. Robbins is afraid he's gotten too preachy. But Hudson insists he must go. He goes to the terrace. Takes his place among the gargoyles. Turns to stone, still clutching the scroll container. The dog barks. Robbins calls out to his new friend. But there's no sound, no movement. He doesn't know how Hudson got away so fast, but he did.
16. On the VTOL, Broadway, still in chains, has turned to stone. Macbeth spots the gargoyles of Robbins' terrace. He orders Banquo to head that way.
17. Robbins and his dog hear a noise on the terrace. He calls out "Hudson?", but the dog is growling and he knows Hudson isn't there. It's a man named Lennox Macduff, who claims to be a friend of Hudson's; he's looking for him. Robbins is suspicious. But Macduff is very polite and leaves without incident. What Robbins doesn't see is that Macduff slips the container out of Hudson's stone hand.
18. Sunset. Hudson bursts free. But the scroll container is gone. The noise has again brought Robbins to his terrace. Hudson claims that when he left in such a hurry this morning, he must have left something here accidentally. Has Robbins "seen" it? No, but you're friend Lennox Macduff was here, maybe he took it. Hudson knows no Macduff. Robbins isn't too surprised. He thought the name was odd. The two characters who found the dead king in Shakespeare's MACBETH. Hudson: "Macbeth?!!"
And maybe here is where we get the looking up of "Lennox Macduff's" address in the phone book. (Hudson never saw Macbeth's mansion in Episode 8. Goliath, Brook and Lex did.)
19. Inside Macbeth's compound Macbeth is preparing for some magic ceremony thing. There's a flame pit and other magical acoutrements. Broadway's flesh again, but still bound by heavy chains now anchored to the floors. He'll be Macbeth's guinea pig for trying out Merlin's spells. He starts to open the first scroll.
20. Outside the compound, Hudson is reunited with Goliath, Brook and Lex. They briefly exchange info. Then they attack. But Banquo and Fleance are ready. They're on turret mounted laser cannons that turn and twist like the ones on the Milennium Falcon (or something like that).
21. Macbeth tries to open the first scroll. It has been magically sealed, but a simple spell can break it open.
22. Goliath, Hudson, Brooklyn and Lex defeat Banquo and Fleance. They head inside.
23. Macbeth begins to read aloud from the first scroll. (I'm tempted to say he translates from Latin, but I don't know if that serves our aim. We could ignore the translation question. He reads it to us in English. Which may mean he's translating it for us automatically without bothering to mention that fact. Or we just do what we always have in this series which is ignore the differences between Old, Middle and Modern English, extending it to whatever Celtic dialect Merlin might have written in.) As he reads aloud, it soon becomes clear that it is not a spellbook but an autobiography, a narrative. A history. You get the idea. He's furious. All that trouble for a stupid book.
Hudson, Goliath, Brook and Lex storm in. Macbeth is unprepared, so he flips a release on Broadway's floor chains, but then uses him as a hostage for his escape. (Now I know I said to watch out for this. And we still need to. Macbeth needs to rationalize this. Probably outloud.) Goliath threatens to drop the scrolls into the fire if Macbeth doesn't release Broadway unharmed. (Goliath still believes that this is a book of magic, i.e. a dangerous human weapon.) Macbeth is about to laugh at this threat, when Broadway protests. "Goliath, you can't." Broadway now believes that the scrolls are infinitely precious. Goliath is surprised to hear this from Broadway. Where'd he get this from? From Macbeth. Those scrolls are magic. They can transport us back...all that good stuff. Even Macbeth is impressed. Cautiously, he releases Broadway. He tells the gargoyles they are tresspassing on his property. Take the scrolls and go.
24. The gargoyles wing their way back towards the clock tower. They plan on giving the scrolls back to Elisa, so that she can return them to the museum. Goliath's sure that after the museum has authenticated them, they will be transcribed and published. But if the others want, he can read the scrolls aloud to them, before he gives them to Elisa. But Hudson says no. For a moment, everyone is a bit taken aback. Then Hudson says that he wants to read them himself. As soon as his friends help teach him how. They glide off across the city.
25. Dissolve to Robbins at his house with his dog. He's reading a braille newspaper about the recovery of the Scrolls of Merlin. "Hmmm.... Scrolls of Merlin.... I think I've found my next novel."
And we get our Tuchman quote, probably read by Robbins (Ray Charles?).
O.K. That's it. Let me know if you have any questions or problems.
Again, I gave myself hours to try and get through April. And I failed. Now, I'm beat. I'll try and finish off that month soon.
And now the big SHOCKING announcement. I've been giving a lot of thought lately to GARGOYLES 2158. And I may be doing a significant reworking of the idea. For starters, I'm no longer sure I want to set the events I have in mind for the series in 2158. So the first thing that may change is the title. More info to come, once I nail some thoughts down. (And since I don't have any kind of deadline, it could take me a while.)
Story Editor: Michael Reaves
Written by Marty Isenberg & Robert N. Skir
I just watched "Legion" again. Time to Ramble.
From the memo I posted earlier this week, you'll see that the never used on screen names of Othello, Desdemona and Iago were my idea. But I've always wondered if that's the case. The outline that Marty and Bob wrote immediately prior to that memo had all the Othello elements very, very present in the story. All they didn't do was NAME the characters. I always wondered whether they and/or Michael had the Othello story specifically in mind, consciously or un-, and I just capitalized on it.
The Goldencup Bakery Building, which semi-secretly houses a defense department hi-tech research and development installation is modeled after the Silver Cup Bakery Building -- which actually exists in Brooklyn (as I recall). That Building was trashed in the original HIGHLANDER movie in the final battle between Connor and the Kragen (who was played by a pretty damned horrific Clancy Brown). Small world.
I was always worried that the whole Othello, Desdemona, Iago, Cassio (whoops, I mean Goliath) backstory was a bit vague in this episode. Did anyone have problems getting it?
I don't think I'd like to be one of those Goldencup Guards. Coldstone punches one of them out. That's gotta hoit. He just seems fairly unstoppable in that Xanatos-program controlled sequence. I like how that plays.
Matt says to Elisa: "You never let me drive." My wife's reaction: "Was that in homage to me?" My wife, you see, almost always drives when we're together. She gets carsick when anyone else drives. And I don't much care.
Speaking of Matt, we've got that line about him spending six months reading RECAP manuals to justify why a normal detective would be in charge of RECAP in the first place. Just trying to avoid either adding a superfluous character and/or making the situation seem artificial.
Another appearance of the Scarab Corp. Logo, even though Scarab is never mentioned by name. Oh, well...
Coldstone flees the Goldencup. Goliath and Lex pursue, and Coldstone attacks them. Then he immediately stops, when he sees it's Goliath. The problem I always had with that scene is that the lighting made it obvious that it was Goliath from moment one. (Not just to us, but to Coldstone.) If Goliath had been in shadows, it would have played better.
Minutes later Lex asks Goliath if it's wise to take Coldstone into their home: "He hasn't always been your friend." This was, theoretically, a reference not simply to the most recent attack, nor even only to the events of "Reawakening", but also a reference to the pre-Massacre backstory of the actually non-existent love triangle (or square or pentagram if you include Demona) that caused Goliath and Othello to fight way back when. Lex remembers those days too. Othello was always a bit of a hot-head.
I love Goliath's response: "Without trust there can be no clan." And I love that this is part of a Lex/Goliath exchange. It fits in perfectly with the message they taught each other in "Thrill of the Hunt". Gotta take some chances on occasion. Or else you'll always be alone. It's an anti-Demona mentality. Or rather a mentality that is strikingly un-Demona-esque.
From the moment Coldstone premiered in "Reawakening" I knew (that if we survived to a second season) we'd discover that he was created from three Gargoyles. Tried to work that conceptually into the design more, but we never quite achieved it. So basically that becomes something that the audience has to take on trust.
Which brings me to the title "Legion". It's a one-word title which usually is a tip-off that it's one of mine. I know it's a biblical reference. Some possessed guy with a demon/devil inside who goes by the name "Legion". But that's not actually where I got it. When I was a kid, I saw this tv movie based on Mary Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN. It starred Michael Sarazan or Chris Sarandon. (I always used to mix those two guys up.) It was trying to present a more realistic believable version of the Frankenstein story. I was pretty young. And I don't remember too much about it. I do remember that I was supposed to be asleep -- past my bedtime in the days before my parents gave up and I began going to bed long after they were asleep. But instead of being asleep, I was watching it, in the dark, with the volume turned as far down as possible, me sitting right by the set, so I could flip it off if I heard my parents' door opening. (This was long before remote controls were common.) Anyway, the one scene that I really remember is a scene where they put the Monster under hypnosis. The voices of all the people who "donated" body parts begin to speak. And one of them quotes the "Legion" thing from the bible. But I didn't know that. That is I didn't know back then that he was quoting anyone or anything. It just seemed like a very powerful, poetic and humanly true statement. So it wasn't until college that I read that passage in the bible and realized where it was from. Can anyone cite the actual quote? I can't remember where exactly it's from, and I don't feel like searching right now.
Anyway, all this is relevant because Coldstone was ALWAYS our Frankenstein character from the "IT'S ALIVE!" moment to the "Legion" stuff here.
Coldstone calls Hudson "Mentor". That's a "name" I've been long considering for Hudson's "designation" in the DARK AGES prequel spin-off.
Coldstone shoots Goliath at point blank range. Goliath gets up unharmed. A far cry from what happened to G in "Long Way to Morning." Now in the outline and script, it says that Coldstone uses his "concussion cannon" as opposed to his laser cannon. But nothing in the as-aired episode makes that distinction. And so it just looks irresponsible to me. Like suddenly we're saying violence has no repercussions. Did that bother anyone else?
I love the dark comedy of Coldstone going bonkers at Ellis Island. Fighting with himself. I think Michael Dorn did a terrific job playing all four aspects of CS's personality. Which of you figured out what when? I'd like to know.
The Trio has the Recap visor. Now all they have to do is find Goliath, Hudson and Coldstone. How will they do that? "Three guesses?" A very elegant way to explain how in a huge city, they're able to locate three gargoyles.
Kenner's Coldstone toy is a lot of fun. With it's window into Coldstone's soul. And the spinner that allows any of the four personas to take over at random.
Xanatos doesn't even appear until the VERY END of Act Two. And it's not even really Xanatos, just a program designed by him. Normally, I'd say that wasn't playing fair. But I feel like his presence was obvious all-along. (And did David personally design that program. Or did he just put his stamp on it, management-style?)
There's a moment when Goliath, thrilled to see his rookery sister again, hugs Desdemona. She is immediately annoyed, because she knows that hug is prone to misinterpretation. It's a nice little touch in the animation.
I always wondered what if anything Demona thought about that ancient conflict way back when. Was Iago playing her as well? Trying to make her jealous of Desdemona? I think maybe he did try. But wouldn't it be cool if she didn't credit it for a second. If she just knew intuitively that Desdemona didn't present any threat at all to her relationship with G? Because, I feel the opposite is true. That Demona knew intuitively that Elisa DID present a threat. Say what you want for Demona, but her subconscious knows her man.
I love that moment where BOTH Iago and Xanatos are whispering in Othello's ears. Poor slob never stood a chance.
We've got a nice little Xanatos tag in this one too. Certainly not a doozy as in "Leader" or "Metamorphosis", but it's got a nice little kick to it, I think. And that's THREE episodes in a row. X had been busy.
And then I love the last beat back at the clock tower. Goliath has confiscated Coldstone's body, to keep it safe and "among friends" should he/she ever wake up again. I wanted to keep it in the corner from that point until "High Noon". Always present and visible. We didn't for two reasons. First, we figured it would be a bit confusing. The Batcave can get away with the giant penny and other souvenirs from Batman's cases, because there ARE multiple souvenirs. But just having one immobile gargoyle in the background, as cool and creepy as that is, would be horribly distracting for any audience member who missed this one particular episode. And second, we had our tier system. What if "Legion" wasn't ready as scheduled. We couldn't have Coldstone sitting around the clock tower in later episodes that we'd be forced to air first. Talk about disconcerting. So we invented a back room. Where Coldstone, the Grimorum, the Gate and eventually the eye could be stored.
Comments welcome, as usual...
March has bitten the dust. We're into April questions now. (Just over three months behind... <sigh>)
I re-watched "Legion" the other night. I'll post my Rambling on it sometime this week, but first here's a memo from September, '94, written by me to Michael Reaves in response to Bob Skir & Marty Isenberg's first draft outline on the episode [reprinted here unedited]:
Notes on "LEGION" Outline...
Lots of great stuff in here. I just want to make sure that (1) we're clear on the theme and we milk it for all it's worth; (2) we're not skipping beats that will keep things mysterious and interesting for our audience; (3) we clarify the relationships (and names) a bit, and (4) we divorce it all from the 994 Viking attack.
General notes, in no particular order:
O.K. I'm as well versed in our series as anyone is going to get, and even I found myself confused by (and backtracking because of) our name problem. Coldstone... Pre-Coldstone... Coldstone's Love... Coldstone's Foe... Coldstone's Dyslexia could cause Coldstone's Ulcer. So let's give our "internal characters" names. I would suggest carrying these names into the script for use in character descriptions and stage directions. Use the names to indicate who is controlling the Coldstone creature at any given moment. And when we are in the inner world of Coldstone's psyche they can also be used as headings for the dialogue. The only place where we should not use these names is in the actual spoken dialogue. They are for our designation only, since, as we all know, gargoyles had no names in the tenth century.
COLDSTONE = The cyborg/gargoyle creature currently known as Coldstone and voiced by Michael Dorn. Use this name only when referring to him in the present. Or in stage directions when referring to the external creature. And obviously, this is the one name we can use in spoken dialogue.
OTHELLO = (Hey, we've already done Macbeth.) The situation you described naturally brought Othello to mind. Othello will refer to Pre-Coldstone (also voiced by Michael Dorn) when he is internally depicted as he was in the tenth century.
DESDEMONA = Will obviously refer to Othello's female gargoyle lover. (Please remember that Desdemona was a warrior in her own right. She can justifiably be confused by this new and bizarre situation, but she shouldn't be weak, clingy or changeable.)
IAGO = Will refer to Othello's male gargoyle foe.
The main problem I had with this backstory was its tough-to-swallow interweaving with the Viking massacre. I sense you were trying to explain how all their gargoyle parts got mixed up together. This isn't necessary. I think it's safe to assume that when Demona and Xanatos were gathering parts to create Coldstone, they couldn't find enough usable parts from any single gargoyle. We don't know the magical and scientific details that were necessary to revivify this creature, but I think we can safely assume that neither Demona or Xanatos simply wanted to graft Othello's head onto a robot body. Demona especially would have wanted the creature to be as much a gargoyle as possible. So she found a large chunk of Othello's head and a few other usable pieces. She chose him because the Viking who shattered him was lazy and left some chunks intact, but also because she may have had reason to believe that Othello had shared her negative views of humanity. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough of him to build Coldstone. So she turned around and found a nice unbroken piece of Desdemona. And over here, a piece or two from Iago. Toss in Xanatos' computer parts and you've got yourself a creature. She didn't have to be mixing them together by accident. We can posit that she did it out of necessity.
That gives us the freedom to remove this event from the Viking attack. We don't need to imply that Goliath is distracted by an impending Viking attack (which frankly I don't think he was expecting). And we don't need to sandwich in Othello's pursuit of Goliath on the fateful night. And we don't have to toss Demona into this particular story at all. (It's crowded enough as it is.) In fact, the incidents of this story's flashback could have happened months or years before they were all destroyed by Hakon's men. Let's give ourselves this breathing room.
I think Coldstone only has one voice-box: Othello's. No matter who controls the creature from the inside, from the outside he sounds like Michael Dorn. I'm not simply suggesting this for logic and/or economy (we'll still cast a different actress and actor for Desdemona and Iago in the mind-world sequences), but because I think we'd be missing a bet by not keeping our audience guessing until the third act as to what's causing the odd behavior of Coldstone. When Othello is in control, he will remember the events of "Reawakening". Neither Desdemona or Iago will, and they will react very differently to being awakened in the 20th century. When the computer is in control (i.e. when Xanatos is issuing simple and direct commands), Coldstone will respond like an automaton. But in every case, he will speak with Dorn's voice. This does more than present an interesting challenge for Dorn. It keeps our audience guessing as to what is going on.
However, we have no desire to keep our storyboard artists and animators guessing. Please resist the temptation to write the script as a mystery that only reveals things to the reader when the audience discovers the same truth. We need this teleplay to be a blueprint: as clear and straightforward as possible. We need to track who is in control of Coldstone at all times. (And if the above paragraph goes without saying, accept my apologies in advance.)
The theme of today's adventure is TRUST. And I really want to emphasize it as much as possible. Misplaced trust. Lack of trust. The need for trust. Betrayed trust. All those good trust beats. Goliath puts his trust in Coldstone, who seems to betray it. Othello trusts Iago instead of Desdemona and Goliath. Iago puts his trust in Xanatos. Etc. Etc. Etc. Just at the point where you've put the trust brick through the plate glass window of our audience's attention is the point where we've hit the mark. Anything short of that is liable to get lost in the shuffle of such a complex story. Playing this theme in action and dialogue will help keep us focused.
Goliath's goal is to restore Coldstone to the clan. Goliath misses his rookery brother. Remember, there are so few gargoyles left, that Goliath would value every one.
THE POLICE TICKING CLOCK
Rather than create a whole new character in charge of the police probe robot, I'd like to use Matt Bluestone. It's a bit of a stretch, I know, but there've been episodes of Hill Street where normal everyday cops were given the opportunity to test and evaluate new hi-tech material to see how it performed in real life situations. I think we can buy into it here as well. Particularly given Matt's personality. He's the kind of guy who would study the manuals and learn how to use this stuff. He's seen Goliath and Coldstone battle in Times Square. And he's an odd combination of compassionate idealist and minor paranoid. He might feel that it's better to know how this stuff works than be at the mercy of it. He could get into it.
And once the VR hook-up was "borrowed", he'd be pretty intent on finding out what was going on. He knows weird shit has been happening in Manhattan, but we've kept him an outsider to the world of the gargoyles. Though he's a decent guy, his ignorance makes him a viable threat to our heroes.
SCIENCE, SORCERY & CYBERSCAPE
In the beat sheet that follows, I've tracked the story in the most basic terms. [The science mostly.] But as you noted in your outline, Coldstone was created from both science and sorcery. So feel free to embellish the basics which I describe here. Particularly in the cyberscape scenes. Here, I've laid out only the bare bones to make sure the story tracks. The cyberspace reality should be fluid and changing, easily influenced by the thoughts, emotions and memories of the players involved. (Particularly Othello, but also Desdemona, Iago and even Xanatos and Goliath if appropriate.)
ACT ONE - (The idea in this act is to depict Coldstone under the control of each of his four masters (Xanatos, Othello, Desdemona and Iago) in turn, without revealing to the audience or our characters what exactly is happening.)
1. The George Washington Bridge, just before sunset. Coldstone's red robotic eye burns awake in the muck beneath the bridge. Automatic repair work begins. (Remember, the last time we saw him, Demona blew him away with a cannon.)
Intercut between these repairs and brief flashbacks to 10th century Scotland. Fleeting images of Othello and Desdemona in love. Of Iago sewing seeds of jealousy in Othello while Desdemona confides with Goliath. Of Othello attacking Goliath. Of Desdemona coming between them.
Then repairs complete, Coldstone rockets into the night sky. The creature speaks with Coldstone's voice (Michael Dorn) but in a modulated automaton-like fashion. "Repairs complete. New programming downloaded. Initiating Prime Directives."
[Basically Xanatos has broadcast a new binary code and reactivated the creature. It is Xanatos' computer programming which is now in control. Othello is still dormant.]
2. Goldencup Bakery Building, dusk. (Since this is a fictionalized location anyway, let's relocate it to Manhattan, so that we can pretend that it is located within Elisa and Goliath's "beat".) Coldstone [still under complete computer control] raids the government installation. His approach is anything but subtle. Alarms sound.
3. Clock Tower, just after sunset. Elisa's tosses Lex a headset receiver/transmitter. She tells him that she and Matt had been put on alert and now they got the call. Something's going down and they're going to test "the thing". It's clear from dialogue that they've discussed this already, as Lex is very excited to see how and if "the thing" works. Goliath is curious. What are they talking about? A new police robot probe for dealing with high-risk situations. The cops control it by using a virtual reality hook-up. Goliath: "Virtual... Reality?" This he has to see. He and Lex will follow her by air. They promise to stay out of sight.
4. Back at Goldencup, Coldstone moves like a juggernaut towards the computer room. He does not fight against the building's security forces, he simply ignores all opposition. Finally, he plugs into the computer. Suddenly Coldstone seems to have no idea where he is, what he was up to or why everyone is shooting at him.
[Although we shouldn't reveal what's going wrong yet, the computer virus has begun its attack on Coldstone's programming. It causes the creature to freeze up for a moment, and then Othello wakes up within his own body.]
Not knowing how he came into the windowless room, Coldstone doesn't even know the way out of the building. Well, he may not have the answers, but he can do something about his attackers. He begins to fight back. The humans are driven out.
5. Outside, Morgan tells Elisa & Matt that some kind of semi-robotic creature is pinned down inside. Matt is putting on the VR interface visor. Elisa asks him if he's sure he knows what he's doing. Matt says "Trust me, I didn't study all those manuals for nothing." The probe robot moves in. (Obviously, this thing shouldn't come close to being on a par with any of Xanatos' robots, but let's not make it a push-over either.) Lex and Goliath watch from building-tops, despite Elisa's warnings that they could be mistaken for the "creature". Lex is fascinated with the probe. Goliath is more interested in seeing what kind of creature the probe flushes out.
6. Meanwhile, Matt is getting the hang of the probe robot. At first it doesn't seem to be responding well. It freezes up by a computer bank and the visor goes dark for a few seconds, but then it kicks into gear. The robot approaches Coldstone. Matt tries to get Coldstone to surrender, via his connection to the Probe. But Coldstone's still a 10th century warrior at heart. He won't surrender to some Iron Tree stump (or whatever it looks like). So now it's Coldstone vs. the Probe. The Probe gets in a couple good shots, but soon it's on the ropes. Matt whips the visor off, just before the probe is destroyed. The feedback could be dangerous. (But note, the robot should not be blown to bits, just wrecked.) At any rate, the battle has led Coldstone to an exit (or at least to a small window, which he cannons into an exit). He takes off. Spotted by Lex and Goliath who pursue.
7. Goliath, Lex and Coldstone are reunited. (Maybe Coldstone is defensive and antagonistic until he gets a clear look.) They pause on a building top to talk. Goliath is thrilled that Coldstone is still alive. Coldstone is mightily relieved to see a friendly face. Lex is a bit dissatisfied with Coldstone's non-answers to his questions about what he was doing at Goldencup. But Goliath happily invites Coldstone to join the clan at their new home. They take off. Lex glides up close to Goliath and quietly questions the wisdom of taking a former enemy (and a guy who's acting pretty strange) into their home. But Goliath TRUSTS his rookery brother.
8. They arrive at the clock tower. Coldstone is especially thrilled to see his "Old Mentor", Hudson. Coldstone didn't see Hudson in "REAWAKENING" and is thrilled that Hudson survived the centuries. Nearly overcome with emotion Coldstone says there's only one other that he would be happier to see alive. And suddenly, he begins acting very odd. "Where am I? Goliath is that you? What's wrong with my voice?" That kind of stuff.
[The virus has had a systemic effect on Coldstone. It broke Xanatos' pre-programmed control, allowing Othello to regain control of his body. But as the system continues to break down, other voices are coming to the surface. You could call them ghosts, if you want. But they are the personas "haunting" the pieces of Coldstone that were neither Othello nor electronic. The first to surface is Desdemona, summoned to some degree by Othello's intense emotional memory of her. She has not been briefed on her circumstances and is legitimately confused.]
Somewhere in here, Coldstone catches sight of its own reflection, freaks out and takes off. Goliath and Hudson pursue. Brooklyn and Broadway are about to follow, when Lex stops them. Something's wrong inside Coldstone's head. And he thinks he knows how to find out what.
9. Goliath and Hudson catch up to Coldstone (after a chase?) at Ellis Island. As they approach, Coldstone stands very still, out of breath. Stunned by the huge city of Manhattan.
(Note: somewhere in here, Brooklyn glides toward them, spots them and then instead of landing, doubles back.)
Goliath asks "What's wrong?" Coldstone's whole demeanor changes: "What's wrong? Why, nothing. Nothing at all."
[The enormity of events has weakened Desdemona's hold over Coldstone. Iago has stepped in. The difference is that Iago arrives prepared. He has been briefed by the Xanatos programming. More on this later.]
Goliath hesitates for a moment, but in for a penny, in for a pound. He trusts Coldstone, approaches him openly. And Coldstone takes the opportunity to blow Goliath away.
ACT TWO - (In this act, Coldstone's deterioration continues. The personality shifts come quicker and ultimately don't wait for Othello to vacate control.)
10. Hudson moves quickly to Goliath's side. Good news. Coldstone used his concussion cannon, so Goliath is still alive. Of course, that could change. Goliath and Hudson barely avoid a blast from Coldstone's other cannon. The one that could kill them. Goliath can't understand what's going on, but Hudson points out that he's not going to have a chance to figure it out if they don't start fighting back. So it's a fight.
11. Meanwhile at Goldencup, Elisa and Matt are tying up loose ends. Lex arrives, and via his headset hook-up and her hidden microphone and ear piece, he tells her that the creature was Coldstone and that he's acting really weird. She's not surprised. Coldstone had plugged into a computer usually loaded with military defense secrets. But Goldencup had received a tip that there might be trouble. (That's why the Police had the Probe Robot ready.) But Goldencup took extra precautions, the defense computer was loaded with a new computer virus. It's probably destroying Coldstone's internal programming.
Lex takes this all in and then makes his request. He needs Matt's VR visor and the interface off the wrecked Probe Robot.
12. Back to Goliath and Hudson vs. Coldstone. Just as the tables might be turning, Coldstone's demeanor changes again. Why is Goliath attacking him?
[Iago was afraid of losing. During that moment of doubt, Othello regained control. As yet, Othello is unaware of the changes Coldstone's been going through.]
Now at this point, both Goliath and Coldstone [Othello] are pretty suspicious of each other. Goliath doesn't want to be fooled again. Coldstone says he blacked out at the clock tower. Now he's here and fighting with his rookery brother? He's confused and his head hurts....
And now Coldstone goes through some major mood swings.
[Rapid fire changes from Othello to Desdemona to Iago, etc.]
And now things get really strange. Coldstone can't seem to control some of his body parts. He's arguing with himself -- out loud. (Note: all these voices are still Michael Dorn.)
[Though Othello retains partial control, the other personas are bubbling to the surface as the whole system continues to break down. Now for the first time, Othello can hear the other voices, but it is a cacophony that is driving him nuts. I don't think he yet recognizes them specifically as Desdemona or Iago.]
Some of the voices tell him to trust Goliath. Some say destroy him. Some reiterate the events we saw in the flashback.
The "argument" gets more violent. Coldstone holds his head. He demands silence. He begins to fire blindly in all directions as if he could silence the voices that way. He's losing it. Goliath and Hudson dive for cover.
Suddenly Lex dive-bombs in, smashing into Coldstone and, not-so-incidentally, installing the VR interface hook-up. Coldstone collapses to his knees, begging for quiet.
Brooklyn and Broadway come in for a landing behind Lex. (While Lex was getting the equipment from Elisa, they had been scouting for Goliath, Hudson and Coldstone. When Brooklyn spotted them, he doubled back to tell Lex where to find them.)
Goliath tells them that Coldstone is being destroyed from the inside out.
Lex agrees and holds up the visor. If they want to save him, someone's going to have to go inside to do it.
13. Back at Goldencup, Matt tells Elisa that the VR visor and the hook-up have been stolen. Since secretly she took them and gave them to Lex, she shrugs and says they'll turn up. He's sure they will. This was expensive equipment with built-in homing beacons. He shows her a tracking device. They'll find them, all right. And when they do, he won't be half surprised if they find their creature as well.
14. Back on the Island, Lex is not at all thrilled about Goliath's decision to put on the visor himself. Lex feels that he's the best qualified to handle the technology, which is exactly why Goliath needs him on the outside in case something goes wrong. Goliath puts on the visor. An aura of Electricity and Magic surround him and Coldstone.
15. Goliath finds himself in cyber-sorcer-limbo-space . In front of him is a bridge leading over a swirling vortex [the virus] . There's nowhere to go but across. So he goes. There are already holes in the drawbridge. And the holes are getting bigger.
[The virus is now eating away at the VR interface.]
Goliath realizes that he's going to have to fix this problem, and get back across the bridge/interface before there's nothing left of it. On the other side of the bridge rising out of the cyber-mist is a dreamscape version of the 10th century Castle Wyvern. There are three gargoyles (Othello, Desdemona & Iago) frozen in cyber-stone. And half-hidden in the shadows is another familiar face -- Xanatos. He welcomes a shocked Goliath as we fade to black.
ACT THREE - (Revelation and conflict inside the deteriorating mind of Coldstone.)
16. The vortex is everywhere, and the castle is slowly sinking into it. Goliath demands an explanation from Xanatos, who steps out of the shadows and reveals that his body is full of cyber-holes, and is partially gone. Like the bridge, he is being eaten away by the virus. Xanatos explains that he is not in fact Xanatos, but a computer program with a primary objective to enslave Coldstone to Xanatos' grand design. Goliath is determined to stop him.
Suddenly the three gargoyles explode free of their stone shells. Othello again drops to his knees. Still traumatized. Desdemona runs to Goliath. (She was his rookery-sister, and he would remember her and greet her as such.) Now she fills in the blanks. Xanatos used more than one gargoyle to build his creature. They all live on inside it. But Iago is trying to wrest control of the creature from Othello. He's made some kind of deal with the human (i.e. Xanatos). But she won't let it happen. She loves Othello. Goliath must help her save him.
But meanwhile, Iago and Xanatos haven't been wasting any time. They whisper in Othello's ear. "See how Goliath steals your love away? It was the same 1000 years ago and now, once again, they have betrayed your trust."
Othello turns on Goliath. Knocks him back. Basically, tries to drop-kick him into the vortex.
17. On the outside, a catatonic Goliath and Coldstone seem to reel from the blows of invisible foes. Lex doesn't know what to make of the glowing aura that surrounds them. But Hudson recognizes sorcery when he sees it. Coldstone was created by science and sorcery. It was something Lex hadn't counted on. Then, via headset, Elisa alerts Lex that Matt is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery and that he and the authorities are closing in on them by SWAT helicopter and police boat. They better make tracks. Lex tries to take the visor off Goliath but the aura throws him back. It ain't gonna be that easy.
18. Inside, Desdemona tries to separate Goliath and Othello. Othello: "Again, you come to his defense." But she protests. He is forgetting what happened. 1000 years ago he was jealous of Goliath, but needlessly. Her love for him is eternal and true. And Goliath was not and is not his enemy but rather his brother and true friend. He has been tricked again by Iago. It's a crucial moment. Who will Othello trust? Desdemona & Goliath or Iago & the human Xanatos? Othello will trust his heart. He turns to face his true enemies.
But it's too late. The partial Xanatos is already merging with Iago. Together they are transformed into a Cyborg version of Iago, but giant-sized. The giant Cyborg-Iago smashes Goliath and Othello and prepares to throw them over the ramparts and into the vortex. With his other hand, Iago lifts Desdemona to eye level and invites her to merge with him as well. Then they can finally be together as Iago always knew they should be.
19. Outside, Lex stands watch over Coldstone and Goliath, while Hudson, Brooklyn and Broadway try to sabotage Matt's attack force without hurting anyone or being seen. They cut fuel lines on the choppers. Overturn the boats or whatever.
20. Inside, Desdemona tries to hand Cyborg-Iago his head. She's a warrior and will choose her own love. This gives Othello and Goliath the chance to recover. Now it's the three gargoyle heroes against the giant cyborg-monster. Maybe the castle landscape itself begins to change and mutate into a hollow vision of Coldstone. (They are battling for the soul of this creature-amalgam.) Ultimately, (surprise, surprise) it is the giant-cyborg-Iago that is tossed into the vortex.
But time is running out. Othello and Desdemona insist that Goliath return to his own body before the vortex swallows everything. But what about them? They are finally together. If they can halt the vortex, so be it. If they fall to it, so be that. At least they will be together. The bridge appears. Goliath crosses it, just as it collapses into the vortex.
21. Outside, the magical aura fades away just as Broadway, Brooklyn and Hudson return. Authorities are still coming. Couldn't do anymore without revealing themselves. Goliath removes the visor. Lex removes the interface from Coldstone. For the first time since scene one, Coldstone's red robotic eye dims and fades.
22. Matt and Elisa finally arrive on the island. Matt uses his tracking devise to lead them to the equipment. They find the visor and interface on the ground. The area is otherwise deserted. Not a creature in sight.
23. At Xanatos' castle, Xanatos asks Owen if there were any problems. Besides the minor setback of losing Coldstone, no. Xanatos' Scarab Corp. Robotics Division confiscated the remains of the Probe Robot (including the interface and visor) which they had supplied to the police in the first place. Coldstone was the perfect cover for the Probe Robot to get what Xanatos really wanted: the virus. Forget defense secrets, the virus is the deadliest weapon he knows of. It even defeated the mighty Coldstone.
24. Inside the clock tower, Goliath has installed the dormant Coldstone in the corner. Someday, he trusts, his rookery brother and sister may fight their way to the surface. He wants them among friends when they do.
I was really hoping to kill off March tonight. But it's 3:11 am and I'm just beat. I'm close too. On March 29th. But I have no idea if that means there are a handful of questions left or a ton.
Well, at least we've made some progress.
STORY EDITOR: Michael Reaves
WRITERS: Brynne Chandler Reaves & Lydia Marano
The first appearance of Anton Sevarius and the MUTATES: Maggie the Cat, Fang and Claw. Derek had appeared before, but this was TALON's "first appearance" as well.
In our original development, the Talon character was called CATSCAN. He wasn't Elisa's brother. In fact, he was sorta Sevarius. That is, he was the scientist who created the mutagenic formula. At first he works for Xavier (Xanatos), but later -- when he realizes that Xavier was responsible for the "accident" that turned him into Catscan -- he tries to hunt Xanatos down, forcing Goliath to actually protect Xanatos in order to save Catscan's soul. This version of Catscan was basically the inspiration of my good friend Fred Schaefer, who was a Disney Development Associate at the time. Part of the team. Oh, and Catscan was a solo act, there were no other Mutates. And he didn't have wings either. He fired some kind of radiation bolt from his eyes.
Later, we began to prep Derek for the Catscan/Talon role. I don't remember if we knew Derek's fate way back in "Deadly Force", when he was introduced, but we definitely knew by "Her Brother's Keeper". One of the reasons we made him a pilot was to give him some flight background to justify how quickly we needed him to learn to fly. This was emphasized HERE by putting him in a glider.
Anton Sevarius became a separate character obviously. Michael Reaves, I believe, came up with his name. At first, I didn't like it. I thought it was too cartoony. Now I think it suits him.
Rereading my memo, it seems I was thinking of Brent Spiner to play Sevarius. I hadn't remembered that. Of course, no one else could be Sevarius except Tim Curry. And Brent was a perfect Puck for us too. So all's well that ends well. (But can you imagine if somehow the rolls had been switched?) Tim has some great lines here: "...Or has that changed?" is one of my favorites. He's so hungry.
FYI - That's Jonathan Frakes voicing Fang's one-liner in this episode. We couldn't afford to hire a separate actor for one line. So Jonathan stepped in. Of course, later Fang was taken over by Jim Belushi. But I don't think anyone noticed.
Gotta love the Snidely Whiplash reference.
As I mentioned in my last Ramble on "Leader", Xanatos' plans were getting more and more sophisticated. Here we had two humdingers in a row. The one in "Leader" is just a lot of fun. This one is cruel. Throughout the story, we (I think) tend to believe in Xanatos' mea culpa and his outrage regarding the Mutates ("They'll crucify you. And if they don't, I WILL!!"). Why? Because he's so darn likable we want to think well of him. (Who was fooled? I'd like to know.) Also his story rings true. When he tells Sevarius, "I've been in prison before." We know he has. We believe he could take it again. It's that touch of truth amid the lies that makes him so sharp.
And Owen was complicit. On one level, that shouldn't be surprising, yet there's something of the Mr. Spock about Owen. As faithful as you know he is, you don't actually expect him to lie.
And frankly, the plan is SO complex. I hope it's believable when all is said and done. We made a real effort to make sure that it could have worked, that if it hadn't gone EXACTLY as depicted it would feel like there would have been alternative scenarios that would have generated the same result. Of course the master-stroke is Sevarius' death. Our S&P executive raised an eyebrow over that, as she finished reading Act Two. Fortunately, she was the type who finished the script before knee-jerking us with an objection. We got away with depicting a violent death on-screen -- because it was fake. (But who was fooled?)
We tried to play fair with a number of clues throughout. We used Xanatos' own security team as the "hired mercenaries" that Sevarius was using. Only Xanatos checks Sevarius' pulse. When Matt and Elisa are later investigating the scene, there's no body and NO CHALK OUTLINE either. They have no idea that anyone even theoretically was supposed to have DIED there. And Sevarius is SO OVER THE TOP. That should have been a stylistic clue. It was way fun to do -- and it took great acting on Tim's part to act that badly and still make it play.
For once the script came in a tad short. So the board artist added the bit where the gargoyles break out of stone and we see the debris rain down on the people below. Pigeons fly off into the night. (Just a little touch of realism.) Very nice.
I was never too fond of Elisa's Zen Master joke. Still, in the comic book story I wrote before the Marvel comic book was cancelled, I created a Zen Master character. (Just compulsive I guess.)
My original plan for Gen-U-Tech was to abreviate its name as G.U.T.S. As in the company that twists yours up. (The full name is Genetic Undiscovered Technical Systems.) Instead it became Gen-U-Tech, which is probably better. But I can't remember who made the change. The script has plenty of GUTS references in the descriptions. But it may have escaped my notice that it has none in the dialogue. And the logos designed all read Gen-U-Tech, not guts. I wonder if Frank & Michael were slyly protecting me from a mis-step?
I like the conflict between Brooklyn & Broadway here. All the interplay with the trio is very well handled, I think. Were people really rooting for Brooklyn & Maggie to wind up together?
Not our best animated episode. Both the modeling and the animation leave a bit to be desired. Derek's ears look mid-transformation long before he's hit with that dart. Makes me cringe, but I guess if the audience isn't expecting him to get changed, they don't notice the subtle pointyness to the ears, until after the contents of the dart are revealed. But on a second viewing...?
Maggie Reed: "I'm from Ohio." As if that should explain EVERYTHING. I love that line.
"Morgan Reed", by the way, was one of our may early names for what eventually became Elisa Chavez, Elisa Bluestone and finally Elisa Maza. (I never waste anything.)
Observations from my daughter Erin:
1. "I like the click of their boots." [Erin complimenting the foley during the recapture of Maggie in the alley.]
2. "His hands ARE tied!" [My clever Erin catching the irony. Elisa says "My hands are tied." Brooklyn responds, "Well mine aren't." But then he turns to stone, prompting Erin's observation.]
3. "Hudson and Bronx always stay home." [Erin commenting on our proclivity for leaving Hudson & Bronx behind at the castle or clock tower when Goliath and the Trio go off. It is kind of a rip.]
Another great series of endings and false endings.
Xanatos tells Owen to bring him the "best geneticist on the planet."
The gargs arrive and fight the Mutates. Elisa arrives. Xanatos asks her to "stop this senseless violence". [Ahh, what a lovely bastard he is.]
Maggie makes the accurate observation that Brooklyn wants her to stay a monster. And yet despite that incite, she clearly still believes that both she and Brooklyn ARE monsters. She's as bound up in appearances as he is.
Talon names himself. It's kinda odd. But I think it works.
Elisa declares war on Xanatos. And for a split-second it registers on his face. Something has actually given him pause.
And then Owen brings in the best geneticist. I still wonder if it's immediately clear that this "new guy" IS Sevarius. He looks SO different. And Tim wasn't using the hoky accent anymore. Was anyone else confused, even momentarily? But anyway, it's another stunner Xanatos Tag. Did your eyes bug out? Or did you know by this time?
And finally, back to the Tower. Brooklyn is in a funk. But Elisa...
This entire episode is obviously a direct sequel to "Brother's Keeper". Right down to the end. In the end of that one, Elisa can do nothing but stare sadly out at the snow. But we're past that now. Now she cries. Xanatos doesn't wind up with the Mutates, though he correctly predicts there eventual return, but this is his clearest victory yet. The Mutates blame the gargs. Talon still believes X is his best chance at a cure. And he has an emotional and physical weapon against Elisa and the gargs. I was proud of us for ending a "cartoon" on such a relatively down note. Can't always have happy endings. How many people were surprised we ended it that way?
That's it. Comments welcome...