A Station Eight Fan Web Site
ASK GREG isn't exactly a BLOG. I'm not always sure what's appropriate to put here...
For example, I had a weird thought last night. It occured to me that I'm old enough (based on my sexual history) to have a 22-year-old child. (My actual kids are 9 and 6.) That freaked me out. But I'm not sure it's appropriate for this forum. Still -- I guess it doesn't hurt to be advocating protected sex over unprotected sex, right?
(I know that's gonna come back and bite me on the ass. I just know it.)
Saw RETURN OF THE KING. And I really, really liked it, although I didn't really, really like the first hour. Overall, I enjoyed the first two movies more, but don't get me wrong. I'm not comparing this to the awful Return of the Jedi, at all. I still loved it, and I can't wait to see the extended version.
I do wish there had been some mention of what the dwarves were up to. And some indication of where the elves went who fought at Helm's Deep. How come they didn't lend a hand in Gondor? Even a line of dialogue would have been helpful to me.
The movie that actually caught me by surprise was PETER PAN. I really liked it a lot. It's so melancholy and bittersweet. Peter looked terrific (and was about 50/50 on the acting). Some things may have been a bit on the head, but it's Neverland, not Subtletyland. Just to be clear, I'm not saying it's a better movie than LOTR, but I thought the reviews of Pan were way harsh.
HATED CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN. But there was one VERY FUNNY scene in it when the twins confessed. Otherwise, as a dad, I thought the message it sent was EXTREMELY dubious -- and extremely unrealistic.
Had a great vacation. Hope you all are having a happy new year.
Random ramblings before I go on vacation...
*I am DYING to see "LORD OF THE RINGS: Return of the King". I can't believe how much I want to see this movie. It has been ages since my geeky self has been this desperate. I literally can't remember the last time I so NEEDED to see a movie.
*I bought both extended DVDs for the first two films. (The first one, a year ago of course.) Honestly, what I really can't wait for is the Extended version of Return of the King, but since that's a year off, I'll settle for seeing the "short" version on the big screen. All I can say is that I hope to hell that there's a movie theater on Marco Island, and if so it damn well better be playing ROTK. (And that's right. I'm cussing! Oh, don't look so shocked.)
*I'd like to see a music video featuring Demona to Dido's
*I'd like to see a music video from Goliath's POV -- but featuring Elisa -- of "Amazing". (I think that's the title. I'm not sure who the artist or band is.)
*I've seen an interview with Peter Jackson saying that originally -- a long time ago -- he wanted to make "The Hobbit" but found that the rights were a mess. He wanted to make "The Hobbit" to demonstrate that he could do "Lord of the Rings". But discovered that the rights to the latter were free and clear, so switched his ambitions to the LOTR, which he wanted to make as TWO films, as he felt he couldn't do justice to the story in one film. Thank God, he got to make three. And, yes, I'm desperately hoping that after "King Kong" (which I'll trust him on, since he's earned that trust, but if ever a movie did NOT require remaking...) he'll do "The Hobbit" as a prequel with the Ians and JR-D and Serkis.
*I can personally vouch for the rights to Hobbit being a mess. When I was a development exec at Disney -- and again, later, at DreamWorks -- we looked into acquiring the rights to do a new animated Hobbit Movie. The rights were hopelessly mired. I understand it isn't quite as bad now. But at the time, a huge number of people/groups had a claim (some more legitimate than others) to the thing. After looking into the situation, my boss wouldn't touch the thing with a ten foot pole.
*I'd really love to do a WWII Blackhawk movie someday.
*Last week, I saw a short film based on William Faulkner's short story, "Two Soldiers". This is my all time favorite short story EVER. I highly recommend it. HIGHLY. And the movie was pretty darn good too. The kid was amazing.
*Saw Clancy Brown again today at a recording session. He kicked ass, as usual. I'd love to tell you what he played, but I honestly don't know if it's confidential or not, and I don't want to get in trouble. Hopefully, I can talk about it soon. I'm not sure he remembered me though, which was a little depressing.
*Saw George Segal walking down the street in Beverly Hills. He didn't seem to remember me either. Of course, we've never met.
*Saw Diane Lane and Christopher Lambert tonight at my daughter's school "Winter Program". They're kid goes to the same school. I've never met them either, but I'd love to ask them what it was like working with Sir Laurence Olivier ("A Little Romance") and Sir Ralph Richardson ("Greystoke"). I wonder if it would bug them that the movies I'm MOST interested in are more or less the first one's each of them ever made.
*I realize I'm intentionally name-dropping. And I also realize it's kind of obnoxious. But, hey, I live in L.A. and I work in the biz, sort of. So I might as well go all out. I also met Steve Harris ("The Practice") and Ming Na ("e.r.") at the Recording session today. And I saw Rino Romano (Johnny Rico from "Roughnecks: Starship Troopers"). Rino, at least, remembered me, thank god.
*The funny thing about LOTR and my passion for the movies is that I'm not a massive Tolkien fan. I read the Hobbit and the Trilogy when I was in my early teens. And I liked them all right. But I wasn't rabid about it. And I could never get through the Silmarillion, though I tried at least three times. I reread the Hobbit to my kids about two years ago. And again, I liked it. But I TOTALLY LOVE THESE MOVIES. Totally obssessed!
*I ate way too much candy at the recording session today.
*It's been a long time since I really rambled on this site. It's been fun. Have a great holiday, guys.
Seasons Greetings everyone...
I'm heading out of town for awhile. I'll be back answering ASK GREG questions no later than January 5th.
Have a great holiday season.
For those of you who missed the controversy over the following set of questions... You're lucky.
These questions waited a long time in the queue, but were deleted...
What follows is a bit difficult to read, so here's a primer.
<Lynati lists topics -- or perhaps they are old questions -- inside these carrots.>
[She then quotes ASK GREG inside brackets.]
Then she asks new numbered and lettered questions inside parens, e.g. 1a).
MY NEW RESPONSES FOLLOW IN ALL-CAPS.
I'm in a Canmore mood this evening. Err, morning.
<Of Fiona's relationship to Robyn and her siblings, posted at two different times>
[Fiona is the twin sister of Jason, Robyn and Jon's grandfather. That is, she's their great aunt.]
DID YOU CUT AND PASTE THIS QUOTATION OR RETYPE IT YOURSELF? DID I REALLY MAKE THAT GLARING AN ERROR, SUBSTITUTING JASON FOR JACKSON.
[But I'm pretty sure that Jackson is Fiona's twin brother. That Jackson was the father of Aron who was the father of Charles
who was the father of Jason, Robyn & Jon. And I know Fiona's great-grandfather was Angus.]
This second list would make her their great-great-aunt. When you have a chance, will you look it up in your Canmore-bloodline list and clarify for us:
(1a)Is she Jackson's twin brother, or Aron's?
THE TWINS, JACKSON AND FIONA CANMORE WERE BORN IN 1888.
(1b)How many "great"'s properly belong in front of her name in relation to Robyn?
IN 1908, JACKSON'S SON ARON CANMORE WAS BORN. FIONA WAS HIS AUNT.
IN 1936, ARON'S SON CHARLES CANMORE WAS BORN. FIONA WAS HIS GREAT AUNT.
IN 1964, CHARLES' SON JASON CANMORE WAS BORN. FIONA WAS HIS GREAT-GREAT AUNT.
IN 1966, CHARLES' DAUGHTER ROBYN CANMORE WAS BORN. FIONA WAS HIS GREAT-GREAT AUNT.
IN 1972, CHARLES' SON JON CANMORE WAS BORN. FIONA WAS HIS GREAT-GREAT AUNT.
<At the time of 'Hunter's moon' were Jason, Jon and Robyn Canmore the only descendents of Canmore? Do they have any other family out there that they are unaware of?>
[There are probably a lot of Canmore descendants. They probably know some and don't know others, just like anyone. But they were the three who had carried on the tradition of the Hunter.]
(2a)Were Robyn and her siblings chosen to continue the Hunter tradition, or did they get a choice?
THEY WERE CHOSEN. AND THEY HAD A CHOICE IN THEORY, BUT GAUGE THAT RELATIVE TO WHAT YOU SAW IN "HUNTER'S MOON".
(2b)As they were trained by the "Canmore clan", does that mean that a large part of the family knows about "the Demon" and
the pledge to hunt her down, or is it kept a secret from anyone not pledged on the Hunter path?
IT DEPENDS ON HOW YOU DEFINE "CANMORE CLAN". IF YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT ANY AND ALL OF THE DESCENDANTS OF DUNCAN & CANMORE -- THAN NO, I DON'T THINK MOST STILL KNOW ABOUT DEMONA. BUT IF YOU'RE REFERRING TO THE BRANCH OF THE CLAN THAT RECREATED THE HUNTER TRADITION, THAN YES, MOST KNOW.
(2c)Were any of Robyn's cousins (and second cousins, etc.) offered the choice to become Hunters, and if not, did they receive similar training anyway?
I TEND TO THINK THAT THE MANTLE OF THE HUNTER FALLS ALONG A DIRECT LINE OF DESCENT AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE.
(2d)Was Fiona Robyn, Jason, and Jon's primary teacher and trainer?
NO. BUT SHE PARTICIPATED.
[But I've charted so many Canmores that I get confused sometimes, and I don't have that chart with me. I can't remember for
sure. Ask me again later. ]
[She [Demona] was hunted (a) because she was the only one left (as far as they knew) and (b) because of a little mishap with
Canmore and one of his sons that I haven't told you about yet.]
(3a)Will you tell us about all of the Canmore's you have charted at 2002 (or whichever con is "next" by the time this post gets
through), including the above-mentioned "incident" that you have not previously told us about?
(3b)If not, will you tell us about most of them?
Hmm...maybe you should just sell copies of the Canmore family list at the Gathering.
IT'S A THOUGHT.
<So what happened in Paris, 1920 that was so significant to the Atlantis and Gargoyles universes? >
[Come to G2002 and find out.]
<origination of the word "Gargoyle".>
[The etimology of the word gargoyle goes back a long way. It evolved at least in part from an Atlantean word. That's all I want
to say at this time. But hold tight. More will be revealed at the Gathering 2002 in Virginia Beach.]
<Who created the Praying Gargoyle? >
[If you come to G2002, you'll find out.]
<How powerful is its magic?>
[Potentially, very powerful.]
(4a)So, was the Praying Gargoyle created on Atlantis?
IT WAS CREATED BY ATLANTEANS -- BUT I'M NOT SURE IF IT WAS LITERALLY CREATED IN ATLANTIS.
(4b)Did the first gargoyles develop on Atlantis?
NO. GARGOYLES PREDATE ATLANTIS. AS DO HUMANS.
(4c) What did you have for lunch today?
NOTHING. TOO BUSY ANSWERING QUESTIONS.
(4d)In 1920, were Fiona Canmore and Demona fighting over the possession of the Praying gargoyle?
NOT REALLY, THOUGH IT PLAYED A ROLE IN THEIR CONFLICT.
(4e)If yes, and the Praying Gargoyle was hidden this year, was there any particular reason that Demona had to wait 60
years to reclaim it, or did she just figure it was too good a hiding place to leave the statue in until she needed it?
THE PRAYING GARGOYLE WAS DESTROYED IN 1920. IT TOOK 60 YEARS TO REGENERATE.
And, while I'm here...
(5a)...Does Demona really "know every remaining gargoyle" as she claims in "the reckoning", or was this just another one of her "I am right about everything (and therefore there can be no more gargoyles than I know of)" delusions?
IT SEEMS CLEAR TO ME THAT SHE DOESN'T KNOW EVERY REMAINING GARGOYLE, AS SHE CLEARLY DOESN'T KNOW ABOUT AVALON.
(5b)Which clans is she actually aware of at the time she makes that proclamation?
I'M NOT GOING TO TIE MY HANDS BY LISTING THEM AT THIS TIME.
(5c)As Angela learned about Demona's immortality in "Sanctuary", why was she crying after Demona's "death" in the reckoning?
IT'S ONE THING TO KNOW SOMETHING INTELLECTUALLY, IT'S ANOTHER TO TRULY ABSORB IT. ALSO, AS I'VE STATED MANY, MANY TIMES BEFORE, THE MANHATTAN CLAN KNOWS THE BASIC RULES REGARDING DEMONA AND MACBETH, BUT THEY ARE NOT AS SURE AS I AM THAT DEMONA CAN NEVER BE KILLED EXCEPT UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES. THIS IS ALL NEW TO THEM.
(5d)Did Angela and Goliath honestly believe that Demona was permanently killed by the roller coster collapse/fire, even
knowing that Demona is only able to truly die at Macbeth's hands?
THEY JUST WEREN'T 100% SURE.
(5e) Was Angela not aware of that stipulation?
(5f)Since Goliath knew, did he deliberately keep the knowledge that Demona would survive from Angela?
(5g)Have I forgotten something that makes a flaw in my reasoning here?
ONLY THAT YOU ARE THINKING IN ABSOLUTES. MOST PEOPLE (AND GARGOYLES) GO THROUGH LIFE WITH SOME DOUBTS, INSECURITIES AND UNCERTAINTIES. EVEN IF THEY ARE TOLD SOMETHING, THERE'S ALWAYS ROOM TO QUESTION IT.
Yes, I plan to attend the Gathering in 2002.
The last question is, will you have read this post by then?
OBVIOUSLY, NOT. BUT AT LEAST I GOT TO IT BEFORE G2004.
Have a great holiday, everyone.
See you in December!
As many of you know, I stopped by the Station 8 Comment Room last week, asking the fans to list the top five reasons that they were drawn to the Gargoyles series. My post received 470 responses in one week: pretty good on short notice.
The responses can be viewed at http://s8.org/gargoyles/cmntarch2.php. They'll be on that site through this coming Sunday
(11/23/03), at which point the room clears.
I copied and pasted the entire room over to a Word Document and found it to be nearly three hundred pages long and full of very
gratifying bites about the series, but it's a lot to wade through, so I put the following statistics together. [Note: some people gave more than five reasons, and many reasons overlapped. I just tried to count everything. But this is far from scientific.]
"WHAT ARE THE TOP FIVE REASONS THAT YOU ARE DRAWN TO THE GARGOYLES SERIES?"
Out of 470 Total Responses…
#1 - Characters.
An amazing 437 people cited the Characters and the series' complex characterization as one of their top five reasons for being drawn to the series. They discussed, often in great detail, how real and believable the characters seem, how detailed their backstories were, how major and minor characters grew, changed and evolved, and how complex they were, reflecting shades of grey. They liked the relationships/bonds/dynamics between the characters, as well. They even liked their names. 35 respondents specifically noted and appreciated the diversity of our cast (multi-racial and multi-species, and all of very different body types). 16 respondents noted our depiction of strong and non-stereotyped female characters. Another 35 respondents listed our villains as their favorites. Many individual characters were listed simply as examples, but many were also singled out by the fans, voted as one of their top five reasons for liking the show: Demona (39), Brooklyn (30), Xanatos (29), Goliath (23), Puck/Owen (22), Elisa (17), Lexington (13), Macbeth (9), Broadway (9), Bronx (7), Hudson (5), Thailog (5), Fox (4), the Mutates (4), The Pack (3), Oberon (3), the Tricksters (3), the Hunters (3), Angela (2), the Illuminati (2), Jackal & Hyena (1), Desdemona (1), Titania (1), the Clones (1), Una (1), Fang (1) and Matt (1).
#2 - Plot Development.
228 respondents listed the series' ongoing saga, its story arcs, as one of their top five reasons for liking the series. They liked its dynamism and twists. How stories built on past stories and presaged stories yet to come: the tapestry of events that created the Gargoyles Universe. In fact, 23 people specifically listed the "Gargoyles Universe" as one of their top five draws. 88 people specifically referred to Gargoyles' Continuity as being a plus. They liked, in essence, that the show had a memory - it made events more real and seemed to reward the fans for both sticking around and paying attention. It also encouraged them to watch episodes over and over to pick up tidbits that they might have missed on a first viewing. 18 also liked how actions had repercussions and consequences. 3 people praised the series' "epic scope". 6 talked about how it seemed to be filled with possibilities for yet more stories.
#3 - Literary, Mythological, Historical & Biblical References.
201 people loved the integration of various characters and concepts from myth, history, literature and the Bible. A whopping (and gratifying) 104 specifically mentioned all the various Shakespeare references and characters as being a plus. Many felt the show was educational, inspiring them to read Shakespeare's plays or study Scottish History, etc.
#4 - Animation.
199 people loved the series' animation. Many consider it the best or among the best that American television animation has ever produced. Many people compared it favorably with Japanese anime and Batman: The Animated Series. Two people specifically praised the pacing.
#5 - The Voice Cast.
158 people listed the voice cast and voice acting in their top fives. 38 people specifically mentioned that the presence of so many Star Trek actors in Gargoyles was a major initial draw. As with the characters, many individual actors were singled out by the fans in their lists: Keith David/Goliath (32), Jonathan Frakes/Xanatos (19), Marina Sirtis/Demona (15), Salli Richardson/Elisa (4), Michael Dorn/Coldstone (3), Edward Asner/Hudson (2), Jeff Bennett/Brooklyn (2), Jim Cummings/Dingo (1), Tim Curry/Sevarius (1), Thom Adcox-Hernandez/Lexington (1), Frank Welker/Bronx (1). Three of our international fans even praised the foreign dubs.
That takes care of the top five, but this'll fill out the top twenty:
#6 - Series Intelligence.
140 people specifically stated how much they appreciated how "smart" the series was. They liked that it was written on multiple levels so that it could be appreciated by kids as well as by teens and adults. That's one of the reasons why they're still watching it ten years later. They liked how Gargoyles respected its audience and its audience's intelligence.
#7 - Design.
122 people cited the show's design work and art style as part of their top five. They liked the looks of the individual gargoyles and the other characters as well, with 12 people actually praising how "sexy" the characters were. They liked the backgrounds and the overall look of the show. 12 people specifically gave credit to the series' color palette.
#8 - Writing.
76 people cited the series' writing for praise (this is in addition to those listed above who liked the characters, overall story arcs, literary references, etc.). They praised the writing's attention to detail, its substance, layers and intensity. 32 people praised how "believable" and "realistic" the show seemed, despite its fantasy premise. 28 specifically noted the mystery and intrigue, liking the risk-taking twists and turns that kept the audience coming back for more. 27 praised the show's humor and comedy (and one person even liked all the in-jokes). 24 specifically praised the dialogue. 11 praised the emotional depth. 5 praised its timeless quality. 3 praised its scary sequences.
#9 - Issues/Values/Themes.
71 respondents were impressed by Gargoyles ability to introduce real world issues and teach values without preaching. They cited episodes that dealt with gun safety, illiteracy, environmental concerns, etc. 24 people also specifically cited the shows pro-social themes, again noting how the show got its messages across without hitting the viewer over the head with them. Specific themes were even listed on occasion. 10 people hailed the idea of our using monsters as heroes and exploring the theme of "not judging a book by its cover." Four liked the show's theme of hope. Another four liked its theme of protection. One person listed "the fish out of water" theme. Another listed the theme of Family as being important.
#10 - Romance.
67 people responded to the romance in the show. In particular, the slow-boiling Beauty and the Beast relationship between Goliath and Elisa.
#11 - Core Concept.
65 people listed the core concept as one of their reasons. They liked the whole idea of medieval Gargoyles waking up in the modern world. They liked how fully realized the Gargoyles species was, from how they looked to how they acted, their history, culture and behavior. An additional 30 people specifically cited the series' "Originality".
#12 - Music.
62 respondents listed Carl Johnson's music score and opening theme as one of their top five reasons for liking the show. (Though one person was happy that there was no singing.) Many of the fans spontaneously requested that Disney release the music on CD. [Of course, many, many others noted that they would like to see the whole show on DVD.] 7 additional people listed "Sound" in general, including music and sound effects.
#13 - Multi-Genre storytelling.
62 individuals liked how the series elegantly combined multiple genres, including fantasy, science fiction, comic book action hero, comedy, drama, horror, etc. They liked how science went hand-in-hand with sorcery. They liked the use of magic and technology, time travel, robots, gods, monsters, etc.
#14 - Episodic Stories.
60 respondents praised the storytelling of individual episodes. How each was able to stand alone, while still fitting into the larger tapestry of the series' arcs. 17 people praised the stories from the Avalon World Tour set of episodes. Many individual episodes were also cited in the fans' lists: "Deadly Force" (9), "The Mirror" (6), "Temptation" (2), "Future Tense" (1), "M.I.A." (1), "Awakening" (1), "City of Stone" (1), "Hunter's Moon" (1), "The Edge" (1), "The Hound of Ulster" (1). One person specifically stated that he liked how not a single episode was filler.
#15 - Setting.
46 people cited the setting, usually the combination of medieval gargoyles in modern New York City. They liked how we depicted the city, how we got it right. Many people also enjoyed the flashbacks to medieval Scotland, and the World Tour episodes that took our cast to locations across the globe.
#16 - Atmosphere.
34 respondents praised the series' gothic atmosphere, running through the writing, design and animation.
#17 - Action.
30 people liked the action. The pure excitement - without being gratuitous.
#18 - The Fandom.
29 people noted that they were either drawn to the show or have remained with it at least in part because of the loyal fandom. An additional 20 found the show inspirational for their own creativity. Another 18 listed the show and its characters as "Aspirational" (although most didn't use that word). 14 more cited personal reasons for why the show was important to them. And it seems that we have many couples who met through the fandom, including multiple married couples who credit the series with bringing them together. 17 people were specifically impressed by the passion and dedication of the Gargoyles cast and crew and their participation in the fandom.
#19 - New for Disney.
28 people were impressed with the show simply for being something new and different for Disney.
#20 - Original Publicity.
11 people cited the series' original publicity for getting their attention and getting them to sit in front of their televisions in the first place. 5 more cited the old syndicated "Disney Afternoon".
That's pretty much it. There were a few other random and/or hard to qualify answers, but the above 20 reasons pretty much cover why the fans still love the series. I know all this sounds incredibly immodest coming from me, but all it takes is a quick skim of the fans' actual responses to see that I'm not exaggerating at all.
Thanks to everyone who participated...
Growing up and living most of one's life in Southern California makes having a number of so-called "Brushes with Greatness" inevitable.
Sunday, I saw Tony Shaloub in Larchmont Village, but since I had recently seen him at Los Angeles International Airport AND spoken with him at Logan International Airport, I refrained from accosting him again, lest he think I was stalking him or something.
And just yesterday, I rode up an elevator with Florence Henderson, who looks great, by the way.
So the fact that I once met Art Carney is, in and of itself, not particularly remarkable. But his passing seems an appropriate time to relate this story.
In the mid-seventies, I was in Junior High. I read a LOT. I had somewhat eclectic, and geek-leaning tastes, but most of what I read were mystery novels, especially mystery novels that were part of on-going series. One such series was Harry Kemelman's Rabbi David Small mysteries. (This is a series that I highly recommend. The more recent books aren't quite as strong, but the original seven are terrific.) Each book's title began with the day of the week. And the first mystery was called, "Friday the Rabbi Slept Late."
One day, I came home from school and found that my street was, as they say, "bustling with activity". An army of humans and trailers and equipment had descended on Queen Florence Lane. In the seventies, in the San Fernando Valley, this was still something of a rarity. But in any event, I was fascinated. They were filming a movie in and around the house directly across the street from ours.
Soon, I discovered that the movie was a telefilm called, "Lanigan's Rabbi". It was an adaptation of "Friday the Rabbi Slept Late." I'm not sure how I managed this, other than persistance and the chutzpah that comes with not knowing anything at all, but I kept telling people that I had read the book that the movie was based on. At some point someone grabbed me and introduced me to the director. I have no idea if he was humoring me or truly interested, but he asked me a number of questions about the original novel, claiming that he -- and that in fact NO ONE on the set -- had actually read the thing. There were, I was told, certain things in the script that weren't tracking for him. So I answered his questions and told him how the mystery played out in the book. He took it all in and seemed grateful for the insight.
In any case, he then did something fairly astounding. He let me hang out. That's it. But I was allowed to watch filming. I was allowed to get food from the catering truck. I was allowed to sit with the actors and talk with them. Now, this couldn't have gone on for very long. It's not like I was employed by the movie company or anything. I didn't follow the shoot to its next location. But they spent at least three or four days in the cul-de-sac where I lived. They gave me a copy of the shooting script, which I then had autographed by the movie's two leads.
One of those leads was Stuart Margolin, who's probably most famous for playing "Angel" on THE ROCKFORD FILES. "Lanigan's Rabbi" wound up spinning off into an on-going series, and for some reason Margolin didn't end up playing Rabbi Small in the series. But he was terrific in the movie. And he was an extremely nice guy, who didn't seem to mind chatting with a thirteen-year-old, who was hanging around the set.
But the part of Police Chief Lanigan was played by Art Carney. Now Art Carney is a certified genius. Emmy winner. Oscar winner. Of course his performance as "Ed Norton" in THE HONEYMOONERS is nothing short of brilliant. His on-screen teaming with Jackie Gleason, a match-made in sitcom heaven. Among other things, Ed Norton was the clear inspiration for any number of cartoon characters, ESPECIALLY "Barney Rubble". People often forget, however, what a wonderful dramatic actor Carney was. How he brought a touch of humanity to every role he played. Rod Serling knew this. Art is unforgettable as a drunken department store Santa in "The Night of the Meek" episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE. A part that Serling wrote especially for Carney. He is also truly wonderful in a number of movies: "Harry & Tonto" and "The Late Show", among others.
I knew almost none of this at the time. I didn't even know Ed Norton. In New York, the Honeymooners has probably NEVER been off the air, but Los Angeles was and is an I LOVE LUCY town. It would be nearly a decade before I would move to New York and learn to appreciate Ralph and Ed and Alice and Trixie.
What I knew at the time, all I knew at the time, was that this was a big time star -- in the middle of shooting a movie -- who spent time with me. Time by the catering truck. Time on the set. He explained how things worked. He explained why things were done the way they were done. He was just so damn nice -- nice enough that as ignorant as I was -- I didn't take it for granted. It impressed me even then.
A few days later, they were gone. Stuart, Art, all of them. The movie finished shooting in my neighborhood and moved on. Some time later, the movie went on the air. We didn't have a VCR back in those days, so I don't have a copy. I followed along on my shooting script and took note of all the little changes in it. It seemed to me (though I might have been seriously kidding myself) that the final version of the film leaned a bit closer to the original novel than the shooting script in my hand. I was certainly kidding myself when I took credit for that somewhat dubious conclusion. And without a doubt the coolest moment was watching Rabbi Small and Chief Lanigan (Stuart and Art, as I called them) walking down the hill of my street and turning a corner and suddenly being at the Rabbi's Temple. There was no temple around the corner from Queen Florence Lane, but the transition was so seamless, it seemed miraculous. A true bit of movie magic before I understood movie magic. Before I was even vaguely jaded.
I just now spent a half hour looking for that shooting script. I couldn't find it. I hope it turns up eventually. I'm sure I wouldn't have thrown it out, but there's a good chance it was in one of my boxes that was in my parents' basement, part of my past which was destroyed by a flood caused by the Northridge Earthquake. I hope not. I haven't thought about any of this in years, but now it's something I'd like to revisit in more detail.
I wrote about Bob Hope a couple of months ago, when he passed, and I suppose this is a very similar kind of tribute. Others will, I'm sure, write more important, more personal and more informed things about Art Carney in the next few days. But I wanted to add my bit.
Not just for the incredibly talented performer, a loss we should all feel, though not too intensely as he has achieved a meta-Xanatosian immortality through the many great performances we will always have to rewatch time and again. And not for the friend and/or family member, because he was none of these things to me, and I was none of these things to him.
But oddly, I wanted to write a tribute to the stranger. To the nice man, who was patient with a dopey know-it-all kid. He was warm and funny and made me feel welcome.
And for that I am truly grateful. Thanks, Chief.
Yesterday, I made the following request at Station 8's Gargoyles Comment Room:
I really need some help. Without going into details about the why, I'd love to get the answer to the following question:
"WHAT ARE THE TOP FIVE REASONS THAT YOU ARE DRAWN TO THE GARGOYLES SERIES?"
We don't need fancy answers -- and of course there's no right or wrong answers -- so don't feel like you need to compose elegant
responses. Just RESPOND, please.
Also, please, spread the word around and have as many fans as possible stop by THIS WEEK and give their answer right here at the S8 Comment Room. It would be much appreciated. Very much appreciated.
Thanks in advance,
The responses so far have been very gratifying. I'm particularly impressed with how many people have stopped by the Comment Room that usually don't.
But (with good reason) I'm greedy. I'd like to get even more people to stop by. So please SPREAD THE WORD. E-mail/telephone/snail mail anyone you know who was EVER a GARGOYLES fan and ask them to stop by the Comment room and post their own personal top fives. We really, really, really need something akin to 100% participation.
Here's the address:
I'll stop by the Station 8 CHAT ROOM this Friday, November 7th, 2003 at 4pm PST. (That's 7pm on the East Coast. The rest of you figure
out your own time zone.)
Please spread the word. (Nothing's more depressing than when the so-called "pro" stops by and there are no fans who want to chat.)
Maybe we can get a big crowd and hang for a bit.
Hope to see you there,
Time to ramble...
I watched "Grief" the other night with my wife Beth, my nine-year-old daughter Erin and my six-year-old son Benny.
This episode was directed by Kazuo Terada & Takamitsu Kawamura, story edited by Michael Reaves based on his story. The teleplay is by Michael and Brynne Chandler Reaves.
Though Brynne co-wrote the teleplay, this strikes me as a VERY Michael episode. I remember how excited he was to be using the Tanna Leaves and the Avatar, plus all those other references to Thoth, Osiris, Isis and Set. I think it was something he had wanted to do on a Batman episode, but it hadn't survived someone's interference (my memory is hazy). But these MUMMY trappings suited our purposes perfectly. The Tanna leaves even gave Hyena hay fever.
The one word title, as usual, was one of mine. I liked it because it had that double meaning, covering the Emir's grief over his son, and all the grief (trouble) that this was causing. I have a vague memory that Michael wasn't thrilled by the title, but, hey, I gave him his Tanna Leaves...
One of us had Wolf speak to the second meaning in the episode when he says he's tired of the Gargoyles giving the Pack grief. Just to give things a bit of clarity.
The new Coyote 3.0 surfaces, complete with a slightly new design and that now iconic Xanatos robot head (smashed in his last appearance) displayed on a video screen. (Goliath mentions seeing it, although in the ONLY scene where Goliath could have seen it, it's not visible. Arggh...)
The new Coyote design obeys Frank Paur's general rule of robots, which states that if you're not trying to fool anyone into thinking that the robot is actually a human being, then the design should clearly be inhuman enough so that you'd never think it could be a guy wearing an armored suit.
Coyote's an odd bird in many ways. So like Xanatos, but without his drive and with more of a vengeful nature. Programmed in, I believe, so that he doesn't let anyone or anything stand in the way of X's missions. He's got some fun lines ("Shoot first and ask questions later."), in particular his exchanges about the chain of command...
Coyote: "I'm not programmed to kill without orders.
Wolf: "I'm giving the order!"
Coyote: "You don't qualify."
Coyote: "Is that an order?"
Emir: "YES! Get rid of them!"
Hyena continues to be attracted to a Coyote that doesn't seem interested but also never closes the door on the possibility of hooking up with the cyborg. ("Wanna make sparks fly?" "Later, perhaps.") It's sick and twisted and hard to get your head around, but it sure is fun, culminating with her wonderful complaint to her brother after Jackal destroys Coyote: "Every time I meet a guy I like..." (I also like those buzzsaws on her arms.)
It's important to note that Dingo is already missing from the group. Clearly, during and after "Upgrade" he was rethinking his association with the other members. This doesn't bode well for the Pack as a unit. They're already talking about going their separate ways after the Emir's work is through and are only still together because they owe Xanatos for busting them out of jail. After this, Wolf will head to Scotland, answering the call of his ancestor Hakon. Jackal & Hyena will take a job with Cyberbiotics and head for Guatemala. Dingo will go to work for Fox in his native Australia. Coyote 4.0 will be rebuilt and head for Arizona with Xanatos.
So "Grief" is the Pack's swan song -- that is until a new Coyote forms the Ultra-Pack with Wolf, Jackal & Hyena and a new member... someday...
To be perfectly honest, the Emir entered the Gargoyles Universe as a throwaway line of dialogue to indicate how powerful Xanatos was in "The Edge". If he could keep an Emir waiting, X must be a real bigshot. But Michael and I remembered the line, and used the Emir again as a semi-throwaway in "Double Jeopardy". But by that time, I think we might have already known we'd be seeing him on the World Tour. It's just an example of how the Tapestry seemed to be working for us. Creating opportunities that were so right, it almost seemed as if we were truly tapping into the Gargoyles Universe. How many of you were surprised to see the Emir actually appear?
The Emir was a very successful and poignant character (at least in my opinion). I give most of the credit for that to actor Tony Shaloub and Voice Director Jamie Thomason. Not to knock our wonderful designers and animators who brought that voice to life. But let's face it, he's just a guy in a robe. Now over the course of the ENTIRE production of Gargoyles, I would say that I only missed two voice sessions EVER. But one of them was this pick-up session with Tony. NOW, of course, everyone knows that Tony is an Emmy-winning brilliant actor of movies and television. I just love MONK. But back then, the only thing that Tony was really known for was the Italian immigrant cab driver on WINGS. Pretty cool in and of itself, of course. But having missed the session, I was unprepared for just how wonderful he was as the Emir. Everything from the grief-stricken sighs to the bursts of anger are just wonderful.
And while we're on the subject of voice, how about that other Tony, Tony Jay, as Anubis. He's delicious in three different personae -- as the neutral and imperious Anubis, as the crazed Jackal/Anubis and as the exhausted Emir/Anubis. That vocal effect we did of having both actors (Tony & Tony or Tony & Matt Frewer) read the Avatar lines and blending them together was a bit of accidental brilliance, in my opinion. I'm also glad that they do NOT quite synch up. It's better. The lines basically fit, but they ebb and flow around each other like the magical melding it's supposed to be. It was a bit of a bitch to mix, but I love it.
But I digress. The Emir's heartbroken love for his son is, I think, one of the cleanest and most purest emotions (unencumbered by too much fantasy) that we ever presented. Something very real. When the Emir first pulled out the photo of his son, Erin said "Who is that? Is that his son?" She immediately knew the photo had meaning. (Again, Tony's big sigh really helped.)
And at the end, we (along with Goliath) really hope that after gaining true understanding upon becoming Anubis' Avatar, he is now at rest with his son.
Jackal also truly comes into his own in this episode. I love how he flat out has a thing for jackals. How he admires the Anubis hieroglyph and Anubis himself, calling him "The original model". It's cool and creepy. We also truly get to see Jackal as a sociopath here. I think I've mentioned before that I view Hyena as a psychopath and Jackal as a sociopath, i.e. someone with enough sense to know he's got to do his evil within a schema that allows him to get away with it. But what happens when you free the sociopath from all restrictions. What happens when you give him (Matt & Tony, remember) the powers of Death itself? Well, you see what happens. People die. Lots of them, in theory.
Getting away with that was interesting. I think maybe in Adrienne Bello's mind, everything was set right. Or the fact that we see that Egyptian town age into a ruin didn't count because we weren't seeing ANY human beings die. But we had much more trouble getting those two skeletonized crocs past her than the implied death of an entire town. Misdirection. Or she was just being cool. Or both, i.e. she thought the misdirection was sufficient that she COULD be cool.
I love when Jackal/Anubis says: "Life and Death at my command. I LIKE it!" I also like that he's smart enough and sociopathic enough to co-opt the most dangerous guy in the room: The Emir. The Emir? you ask. Well, yes, it's the Emir who does in fact end up defeating him by rereading the scroll. And Jackal keeps the Emir in his place by holding out the hope to him that he will restore his son.
Seriously, how could we not go to Egypt on the World Tour. How could we skip visiting what Angela refers to as the World's Biggest Gargoyle. So we stuck a fictional temple inside it -- and then trashed it. I think dedicated archaeologists must hate our show, because we're constantly trashing these amazing hidden chambers of antiquity. Maybe I'm getting older or something, but I find myself wincing everytime Goliath and Wolf bust a sacarphogus during a fight, everytime a pillar cracks or the roof falls in. I'm just glad we didn't destroy the Sphinx itself.
Goliath's entrance into the temple isn't one of our most brilliant animated moments. For starters, when Coyote is touching the hieroglyphs, he seems to miss every one. Goliath than claims to be repeating the sequence, but it looks nothing like what Coyote did. Yet it works for both of them. Maybe getting into that temple isn't as hard as it looks.
I love how the power of death flows from Jackal/Anubis and then through the Sphinx's own eyes before striking out at Egypt at large. Almost makes the Sphinx seem to come to life in those shots.
And I do love that shot at the end where the gargs are in stone in front of the stone Sphinx.
Love Wolf's reaction: "Shave my head and call me baldy." (Or something like that, all ramble quotations are approximate.)
The animation effects on this episode are all fantastic, particularly the lighting during tranformations (very reminiscent of "Shadows of the Past"). Gorgeous. Another reason for me to be bummed that Disney closed its Tokyo studio.
I like how Anubis has no real mouth. Certainly no synch to his dialogue. My kids both commented on it. It fascinated them. But I also think it puts him on another level. His speech is that of a god. He requires nothing as mundane as a mouth movement to get his meaning across. (That's why it's so disconcerting in "THE GATHERING, PART ONE" when his mouth opens to laugh. He seems above something as petty as laughter, non?)
And how about Tony Jay and those great lines of godlike neutrality: "I grant but one boon." "Death is always pointless. That is the point." "All are equal in death." "You would not like to see the Jackal God play favorites." Etc.
All right, once again, let me acknowledge my screw up. I should have let Coyote shoot Elisa, Goliath, Bronx and Angela dead. And have nothing happen. At that moment in the ep, no one can die. Emir and Anubis are just covering that in dialogue. Instead, Elisa pulls off a fairly elegant move that allows them to escape. But how much cooler if the distraction were the mere fact that they survived the Pack's barage unscathed? I blew it.
Otherwise, there is some pretty cool action.
Coyote advises Elisa to take her best shot. She does and it's kinda cool. But less cool because she then comments on it.
Coyote's limp afterwards is a nice touch, I think.
When Elisa and the gargs wake up in chains, Erin says: "They all wake up at the same time suddenly." Leave it to a nine-year-old to point out an obvious cheat.
Erin said, "Yuck, disgusting." when Jackal first transformed.
Benny: "He wants to be the strongest, I'm guessing."
Benny didn't quite get why the Gargs were turning old. (Designing a demonstably old Bronx was NOT easy, by the way.) Or for that matter why Hyena and Wolf turned into Cyber-baby and wolf-cub. (Though both kids thought they were cute.) So the exchanging of energies lacked a bit of clarity for our younger audience, perhaps. Still any excuse to give Keith David an opportunity to do a variation on a theme is fun. Like hearing Keith play Thailog, it was also cool to hear him play a very old Goliath. The guy's a maestro of his own voice.
I do remember arguing with Reaves about the Baby and puppy moment. I thought (a) that it was funny and (b) that it was necessary to illustrate Jackal/Anubis' power. Michael simply thought it was too silly in tone. Now, I'm very glad I held firm. I think it's a great moment. And a little in-context humor really helps any episode. (I also love Jackal's "Baby sister" line that prefaces the change.)
I think in hindsight, Goliath's explanation that the gargs aged at half-speed and Jackal didn't know it, is a cheat. They are visibly very old. Internally, they'd be no less old. It's not like Jackal was thinking, "Hmmm, if I age them fifty years that should be enough." He just kept aging them until they were old and feeble. It's also not like biologically a gargoyle's exterior ages faster than his or her interior.
Ironically, commenting on that was not necessary for the purpose of explaining the action. If there had been no explanation and Goliath had used sheer will power to drag himself up for one last feeble attack, I don't think anyone in the audience would have balked. Rather, I think that dialogue was put in by me to definitively establish the fact that Gargs age at half speed. Oh, well...
Anyway, that's my ramble. Where's yours?