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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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