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Chapter L: "The New Olympians"

Time to ramble...

Chapter L: "The New Olympians"
Story Editor: Gary Sperling
Writer: Adam Gilad
Director: Bob Kline

Well, the Greek Myths of course. But that's not really what I'm talking about. As many of you know, The New Olympians was a concept -- originally created by Bob Kline -- that we began developing at Disney TV Animation even BEFORE Gargoyles. It was definitely a concept that evolved, but it was also a concept that we felt fit nicely into the Gargoyles Universe. So this episode was created as a backdoor pilot. At the time we had big plans for the Gargoyles Universe. Hopes that it would eventually evolve into Disney's equivalent of the Marvel or DC Universe. The World Tour expanded our Universe in many ways -- mostly for the sake of the Gargoyles series itself. But also to demonstrate that our universe had the "chops" to go the distance.

So the New Olympians were imported whole, like Athena from Zeus' head -- into the gargverse. The development for "The New Olympians" series focused on four major characters: Terry, Sphinx, Talos and Taurus. Terry and Sphinx were kept out of this episode on purpose -- so that we'd have fresh faces for the series if it went. Talos has a very minor role. But Taurus took a lead here. Other characters, such as Kiron, Ekidna, Helios, Boreas and, of course, Proteus were also part of the N.O. development. Though again, we left out a bunch of other characters: Xetes, Kalais, Medusa, Jove and Xanatos (yes, Xanatos) so that the whole series didn't become old news, should it get going.

The basic concept of the series, familiar to anyone who's attended a Gathering and seen the original pitch, was Romeo & Juliet. Terry is a human. Sphinx is a New Olympian. They are in love. But their "families" aren't making that love easy. This episode, would in essence be a PREQUEL to that series. Terry hasn't arrived yet. Elisa will help pave the way for Boreas' decision to finally reveal the New Olympians to the human world.

But another important inspiration was the work of Jack Kirby. In my recent ramble on "Eye of the Storm", I commented on how we strove to avoid a Kirbyesque Odin -- and didn't entirely succeed. Here, Kirby was a clear influence. I hope The New Olympians weren't a rip-off, but I can't deny that his Inhumans, his Eternals and his New Gods influenced us -- or me, at least -- when we were creating both New Olympus and our cast of characters.

Creating the cast was also interesting. We basically compiled a list of Greek & Roman myth-figures. Gods. Monsters. Titans. Etc. Then we tried to think about their descendants... Tried to think about which would be the most visually interesting. (A lot of the gods, for example, just look like glorified humans, so we tended to ignore them.) Originally, Kiron had the Taurus role and Medusa had the Sphinx role. But after talking with the artists, we made the double switch, because it was felt that having to animate a centaur and a woman with snaky hair on a regular basis was just inviting difficulties. As with many of these pragmatic decisions, I eventually fell in love with the new version -- and wouldn't want to go back, even if I could be assured of the highest possible animation quality.

In order to import this diverse group into the Gargverse, I posited that these were the descendents of mortals who mated with the Children of Oberon (or Mab). They therefore have incredible abilities and amazing appearances, but they are mortal. Some may have extremely long lives, but they do age. Still, before they left the human world behind, many of the original Olympians were treated as Gods. But some were treated as Monsters. As in Gargoyles, PREJUDICE would be a major theme of the series. In fact, if you look at the PREVIOUSLY of this episode, you'll see that it's fully thematic. All stuff about humans being prejudiced about Gargoyles. That's because we had nothing content-wise that we needed to set up. But if we set-up human prejudice, than it helped forge the twist of prejudice against humans, which Elisa would face in the episode. (I do wish we had thought to include Goliath's line: "Humans fear what they do not understand...")

So the New Olympians fled the Human World. They established a secret island and developed astounding technology... including a cloaking device. (I was always a touch disappointed with all the fog and mist in the opening scene. I wanted the skiff to suddenly be on the open sea, with nothing around for miles. The fog allowed for the notion that something might be hiding BEHIND it. I didn't want that. Still, I think the idea gets across. And the shimmer effect is nice. Plus, I like how Goliath abruptly spreads his wings when he enters it. When my daughter Erin saw the city finally materialize, she said: "Wow!")

Were we just out of dialogue ideas, or were we trying to make a point or an inside joke or something. I'll let you decide...
Goliath: "We cannot wage war against an entire city."
Elisa: "You'll have to do better than that."

Michael Dorn wound up playing Taurus and the late Roddy McDowell as Proteus. Dorian Harewood, who was originally cast as Boreas, also wound up playing Talos. But none of these three were our original choices for those rolls. Instead we cast three people who I thought would be perfect for their parts. But none hit it. It was one of our rare recordings that DIDN'T work. So we fell back on Michael to play the very Worf-like Taurus. (This sometimes bothers me as the voice is exactly the same as Coldstone's. But ultimately you go with the best hand you have at the time.) Dorian ended up doing double duty as Talos and was terrific. And of course, Roddy was just brilliant as Proteus.

What's interesting is that Proteus himself is not the greatest actor. Erin noticed... "There's something different in his voice." Of course, it's Keith David PLAYING Proteus playing Goliath. (Which is always fun.) And Keith hits the mark with precision. As does Salli & Michael when they're playing Proteus playing Elisa & Taurus. Sure Proteus always LOOKS the part -- thanks to his shape-shifting abilities. And I suppose he's less of a ham than Sevarius. But he never quite takes the time to truly "inhabit" his roles. Certainly, while playing Elisa and then Goliath, there are a number of small tip-offs in his choice of words that are just wrong. Like can you really imagine Goliath saying: "Who's that guy?" One assumes that his performance as Taurus' dad is equally off the mark.

The walla in the Senate House when Elisa is on trial isn't my favorite. We just didn't get enough coverage, so it repeats and repeats.

All of the New Olympians we see are prejudiced. Every one. Some are worse than others. Boreas is well-meaning, but wrong. Taurus is narrow-minded. Talos is, at best, only pragmatic -- not morally outraged by Elisa's treatment. Most of the others are just flat out racists. "New Olympians fear what they don't understand." I'm sure somewhere on the island there were some more enlightened individuals, but we made a point of NOT showing them.

I wanted to do a few things with that theme. (1) Show that prejudice breeds prejudice. The New Olympians have some legitimate grievances against the human race, but they've learned the wrong lessons from their ancient persecution. (2) Of course, we wanted to play the irony of the monsters being afraid of the "Humans of Legend". Elisa tells the Gargoyles to hide when they first land on the island. And she's the one that the New Olympians fear. They have "no quarrel" with the Gargoyles. And the best solution that even Boreas and Taurus can come up with is to "Quarantine" our girl. (3) There was a three. I had it in my head a minute ago. Now, for the life of me, I can't remember what it was.

Maybe it had something to do with Prejudice only truly being able to be attacked one person at a time. I went to an all boys high school. We were all so deathly afraid of being called homosexuals that a culture of homophobia was ingrained into all of us. It wasn't like I was going around gay-bashing. I like to think that even then, I had the sense and the control to stifle my prejudices. But I can't deny I had them -- probably still have them to some extent, unfortunately. Anyway, then I went to college. Acted in a couple plays with a guy I really admired -- both as an actor and as a human being. Became good friends with this guy (who had the amazing name Steve Wraith). THEN I discovered he was gay. By that time, I didn't care. He had personally won me over -- in a slightly less dramatic fashion then how Homer Simpson learned to accept gays after John Waters saved his life. Steve never saved my life, but I'm afraid the metaphor is VERY apt. I haven't seen Steve in twenty years, but I owe him a lot. A few years later my cousin came out. After that, many if not most of my friends came out. My sister. Etc. Steve paved the way to make me a better person. Conceptually, we can all talk about dismissing prejudice, but I have this sneaking suspicion that the only way we really learn is one human being at a time. That's why Goliath vouching for Elisa was ineffective. People are doomed to HAVE to figure things out for themselves. And unfortunately, some never do.

And so we put Taurus through that process. He meets a human. His distaste is palpable. He knows the story of the Minotaur, his ancestor. [Now Theseus is one of my all time favorite characters from Myth. But I couldn't resist flipping the tale of the Labyrinth and telling it, if just for a few seconds, from the Minotaur's point of view.] But Taurus will learn to respect humans - one human at at time. Elisa and Taurus actually have a lot in common. Both are cops. Both have/had fathers who are/were cops. But as Elisa says, he's "got some funny ideas about justice."

Elisa is clearly more enlightened. In part, that may come from her own history. She grew up as a person of color in a largely white society. She's no stranger to prejudice. Being both African-American and Native American, it's possible that she has even faced some rejection from African-Americans and Native Americans as well. Clearly, based on her openness with regards to Goliath and the Gargoyles, she learned her lessons long before we met her. Pretty much from the moment she realized that Goliath could talk -- and was therefore sentient by human standards, she treated him as an equal. I always admired her for that. Unlike the New Olympians, she didn't let the prejudice she faced turn her into a bigot.

Taurus will eventually get the message. His prejudices don't just vanish. But he's learned something.

I like the sequence where Goliath comes to break Elisa out, and Proteus takes advantage of the situation by first turning into Elisa and then Goliath. (When Erin first saw him as Elisa, she said, "Uh oh." which is pretty much exactly what he was going for.

I like how Taurus threatens to fire Helios.

I like how Goliath turns to stone in Proteus' cell.

I like how Elisa takes charge -- and basically FORCES Taurus to partner up with her. She has two tip offs that Proteus is posing as Goliath. First the fact that he didn't turn to stone and blames it on the cloaking device affecting the sun's rays. Of course, Elisa knows that it's not literally the sun that turns a gargoyle to stone. It's his or her biological clock, which is often triggered by sunrise. But the real clincher is Proteus' plan to blow up the Collonadium. Elisa knows Goliath would NEVER do that.

I like when Taurus tries to express his admiration -- and still can't do it without insulting her species. Elisa takes it in stride: "I'll choose to take that as a compliment." Progress is slow.

We end the episode with a pretty blatant pitch for giving the New Olympians their own show. It's certainly shameless. But I make no apologies. I still contend that THE NEW OLYMPIANS would make a GREAT t.v. series.

Anyway, that's my ramble. Where's yours?

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Chapter XLIX: "Eye of the Storm"

Time to ramble...

Chapter XLIX: "Eye of the Storm"
Story Editor: Cary Bates
Writer: Cary Bates
Director: Bob Kline

Goliath at the end of "Avalon, Part Three" (and in the PREVIOUSLY of this episode): "I am personally going to make sure that the Eye of Odin and the Phoenix Gate are never used again." Of course, he's thinking he won't let anyone else use them. But he neglects to protect them against himself. We've already seen him use the Phoenix Gate -- mostly to positive effect -- in M.I.A. Now, we'll see him don the Eye of Odin...

Elisa's cold. Cold enough to put her life in danger. Cold enough to force us to add a sweater and parka to her ensemble as the episode progresses. As Angela says, "It's enough to take your breath away." To which Elisa responds: "I can vouch for that."

(I do wonder what sport it was that Gunther was playing in the middle of winter that he did so well at.)

J.D. Daniels -- formerly Tom and Young Luach and Young Canmore -- is here playing Gunther Sturlusson. As I write this in 2004, J.D. would have to be in his late teens or early twenties. He was a great child actor -- which is rarer than you might think. I hope he's doing well.

Morgan Sheppard -- formerly Petros Xanatos -- also returns, as Odin. I would later cast Morgan in "Atlantis: Milo's Return" as a crazy guy who THOUGHT he was Odin. I love working with Morgan.

The name Sturlusson is a direct steal from Snorri Sturlusson (I hope I'm spelling this right), the author of the Eddas -- the more-or-less original source materials that we have as reference to the Norse Myths.

We tried to paint an Odin that would make Snorri proud, one "well-versed in myths and legends". Having him pose as an old man with a cloak of stars. That's out of the myths. Making him a storm god. That's right out of the myths. Giving him the ability to transform into animals (in this case a VERY cool one-eyed polar bear). Right out of the myths. The rainbow bridge at the end. Right out of the myths. Giving him a flying battle steed named Sleipnir is right out of the myths too, if you forgive the fact that Sleipner is supposed to have eight legs, but Bob and Frank balked at our ability to animate that decently. [Note: I do worry whether or not the final GOD-ODIN design was a bit too Marvel/Kirby influenced. Jack Kirby's seminal work is so all-pervasive in American visual vernacular, it's hard to avoid, even when you're consciously attempting to avoid it.]

And of course, there's the Eye itself. Traditionally, Odin traded his eye to the wise Jotun Mimir for wisdom and insight. Obviously, Mimir lost it at some point, perhaps after losing his own head (another story) and the Eye floated around for centuries before David found it and gave it to Fox who lost it to Goliath who had it stolen by the Weird Sisters who gave it the Archmage who lost it to Goliath again. Now Odin's claiming that HE directed Goliath's skiff to Norway. This time it isn't Avalon that's sent them here, but Odin who has waylaid them so that he can FINALLY get his darn eye back in its socket. I do regret that our "Eye-as-a-piece-of-Jewelry" design always looked more Egyptian than Nordic to me. The gang over at Disney Interactive who created the concept of the Eye for their game, had a much more runic/nordic/ravenesque design.

But I am curious -- how many of you were surprised to discover that the Eye of Odin was actually Odin's eye?

Odin also refers to Elisa as a Maiden. I wonder if he felt that she would have made a good Valkyrie?

{My ten-year-old daughter Erin asked: "Why doesn't [Goliath] give it to Odin. It's his eye. Of course, she's seen the episode before and knows what's coming vis-a-vis Goliath's behavior, but it's still interesting to me that she placed the burden for the misunderstanding on Goliath and not on Odin.}

Odin -- as Odin sees it -- is playing by the rules. He tries barter and then fair combat and then takes a hostage, which in ancient times did not have the same cowardly (if not downright terrorist) connotation that it carries today. All of which might have been avoided, if at the beginning he had just -- i don't know -- offered Elisa the cloak with no strings attached and sat down with Goliath to discuss the whole eye thing. Odds are, when he was not being confrontational, Bronx would have slid up to get his chin scratched. Angela would have said something like, "Well, Bronx likes him." And Goliath might have realized that giving the darn thing back to Odin was the safest possible outcome. BUT NO! Odin, as he admits, is not the most patient of gods and a bit rusty when it comes to the whole dealing directly with mortals thing.

So, instead, Odin comes on strong (rules or no rules) and Goliath is pushed into thinking that he has no choice but to use the Eye's power himself. (I think that was adequately motivated.) And thus Goliath and NOT Odin quickly becomes the VILLAIN of our piece. Which was interesting for us. We'd seen Zombie-Goliath in "Temptations". We'd seen Goliath's "evil twin" in "Double Jeopardy" and "Sanctuary". But we'd never seen Goliath himself go bad until now. He becomes more of who he is. A protector -- a tyrant -- a fascist. Someone who cannot brook disobedience. Someone unaccustomed to dealing with gods or being one. (A good line, I thought.)

His new attitude is, I think, embodied by the casualness and callousness of him saying: "We will pack them too." This in regards to moving Bronx and his DAUGHTER, currently frozen in stone.

At first, everything he says is pretty darn rational-sounding. But Elisa and Angela and Erik quickly develop their suspicions. They are just naturally slow to believe that their Goliath -- OUR Goliath -- could be the bad guy. Eye or no eye.

Goliath also succeeds in becoming an Avatar for Odin, much like Jackal and the Emir each became Avatars for Anubis. It's not quite as literal, but his wings take on Odin's starry pattern. His helmet is similar (although on my tape his horns are doing some FUNKY animation things). And everytime Odin uses one of his powers, Goliath acquires and mimics that power.

I'll admit that Goliath's turnaround at the end plays on screen a bit too quick for my tastes now. But ultimately, we were still counting on Goliath's protective nature, his basic decency. His love for his daughter. It's not as strong for me as, say, Renard's turnaround or the Captain's (from "Golem" and "Shadows of the Past" respectively), but I think it basically works.

OTHER NEAT LINES (all approximate)
Erik: "I am rich in sweaters."
Goliath: "Now that Elisa is safe, we can rest in peace." (Okay, this is more of an odd line than a neat one.)
Odin (understated): "This calls for a change in strategy."
Goliath (once they're all on to him): "Is there a problem."
Elisa: "The Eye! The Eye has gone to your head!"
Goliath: "That is all you need to know."
Odin: "I have more than gained in wisdom, what I have lost in strength."
Odin: "You're on my turf with my property."
Odin: "I am not the threat."
Goliath: "So close to Death and Rejuvenation at the same time."
Elisa: "You took a big chance. Wish I'd thought of it."
Odin: "Then we have both gained rare enlightenment. The Eye's standard gift." This last one was important to me. I wanted (from the moment we intro'd the eye into the series back in "The Edge" to play the Eye true to it's Eddaesque roots.

Goliath removes the Eye and speaks that word again. This caught me off guard last night, cuz I had thought Hudson's Pendragon Jalapeña was the last one until "The Journey". But I guess we squeezed one more in.

And Odin finally gets the Eye back. And ... and... NOTHING HAPPENS. He just sticks it back into his eye socket and it becomes... his eye. I LOVED the anti-climax of that. Generally -- not such a big fan of anti-climax, but the irony and the RIGHTNESS of it just thrilled me.

Anyway, that's my ramble. Where's yours?

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Chapter XLVIII: "Pendragon"

Time to ramble...

Chapter XLVIII: "Pendragon"
Story Editor: Brynne Chandler Reaves
Writer: Lydia Marano
Director: Dennis Woodyard

There's a wonderful children's book called "Something's Coming" about three stuffed animals and [SPOILERS] a sneeze. I hadn't read that book when we did this episode, but it was all I could think of reviewing the opening minutes now.

In fact, what's coming, according to Macbeth, is the "Harmonic Convergence". When I heard that, I immediately jumped to the conclusion that this was a Cary Bates episode. (Cary, at least for a time, was very into incorporating all sorts of New Agey schtick into his work [cf. his comic book series SILVERBLADE published in the late 80s by DC Comics].)

Of course, as noted above, this was a Brynne/Lydia/Greg collaboration. No Cary at all.

Arthur arrives in his "City of Wonders", i.e. modern day London. We throw in some beauty shots of the city from "M.I.A." here. It helped us trim a few bad seconds of animation later in the episode, and helped establish the mood a bit better.

With Arthur arriving at what must have been his final destination from Avalon's point of view (minus a quick Stone of Destiny hop to NYC's Guggenheim Museum), his skiff sinks down into the water. I always imagined that the skiff resurfaced back on Avalon. Having shown this here, I didn't feel bad about NOT showing the sinking skiff in "Gathering, One" when our quartet returned to Manhattan. Allowed us to keep some surprise at their arrival at the Clock Tower.

Arthur makes a point of using a mace, since his quest is to find EXCALIBUR and we didn't want to confuse the issue by having him simply exchange one decent sword for the subtlety of a better sword. Or at least not until the end of the ep.

We also made a point of him missing Merlin, which was a bit of foreshadowing to the proposed Pendragon spin-off, where Arthur and Griff's first order of business would be a Quest for Merlin.

Speaking of Griff, his silhouette is a bit too distinctive here for my tastes. I wish it hadn't quite given away his indentity so soon. His design is somewhat inconsistent in this episode. As I mentioned during my "M.I.A." episode, Frank, Greg Guler and I were never 100% satisfied with the design. In this episode, in particular, he has some real Foghorn Leghorn moments.

The first real stop on Arthur's tour is Westminster Abbey. The door is locked, which makes sense in the Twentieth Century but not to a guy from the Sixth Century. And it perhaps makes even less sense to us in the 21st-Century. Is that all the security that exists there: a locked door? And of course, GARGOYLES continues its traditions of wantonly damaging historical sites, when Arthur uses his mace to enter.

Inside we find the Stone of Destiny in it's 1990s home beneath the throne. Shortly thereafter, the Stone would be moved to Edinburgh Castle. As for the Stone, I perpetrated one of my favorite mythological devices, which is conflating various similar concepts... so the Stone of Destiny (i.e. Jacob's pillow) also becomes the Stone from the Sword in the Stone, i.e. the stone from which Arthur drew Excalibur. And the thing talks!! What's interesting to me now, is that Arthur doesn't seem surprised by the fact that it talks. Legends state that an inscription revealed that "Whosoever pulleth this sword from this stone [and anvil] will become King of Britain." But perhaps there was no inscription, and the stone talked from day one. One question: Is the Stone itself one of Oberon's Children (in stone form) or is it magically enchanted? (I lean toward the latter, but it's interesting to ponder the former.)

Arthur, without Excalibur, had hoped that the sword would have returned to the stone. He's frustrated when he finds it hasn't. But he doesn't doubt his "ownership" of it, until much later in the episode. The Powers That Be are much less sure of Arthur's claim on it. They are constantly reminding him that at best, all he has is a shot at it: "It belongs to the True King. Are you still he?"

I also love how Arthur says that he hates riddles. It just feels so right for my interpretation of Arthur as a man who LEARNED to be a thinker, but to whom it didn't necessarily come naturally. Said interpretation of course heavily influenced by the works of T.H. White. Anyway, that poem/riddle which Griff recites (an unknowing trust past down across generations of the London Clan) was written, as I recall, by Lydia. It was hearing this poem that reminded me that she had written this episode and not Cary.

Note that everytime he sees a gargoyle, Arthur asks if he's "of Goliath's Clan".

Once again, we abandon our travelers to focus on life on the homefront with the Trio & Hudson. We will, once they've met up with Griff & Arthur, get a bit of an update on how updated our left-behinders are. They've heard from Halcyon Renard that he spotted Goliath, Elisa & Bronx in Prague. They've heard from Diane Maza that she spotted them in Nigeria. [I have to assume that all communications were channelled, per Elisa's suggestion, through Matt.] Now they learn about the travelers stop-overs in London (from Griff) and Avalon (from Arthur). [All of this was a bit of a risk, as we couldn't guarantee the airing order of the World Tour episodes. But I guess we felt it was a risk worth taking in order to give us a bit of legitimate continuity. Fortunately, it all worked out.] I'm curious if Angela was mentioned by either Renard or Diane (or Griff or Arthur after the adventure was over), and if so how prominently. Also, Griff demonstrably proves that other Gargoyles still exist in the world. Though the ramifications of that and of Angela clearly don't sink in with Hudson and the others until "The Gathering, Part One".

You'll see flashes of Brooklyn taking charge in this episode. With no one (including him) questioning it or even making an issue of it. I guess the lessons of "Kingdom" stuck.

You'll also see Broadway destroying one of Macbeth's lightning guns. But in contrast, Griff -- a man of HIS era, i.e. the forties -- comandeers the other one and makes it a part of his arsenal. I liked that, even -- or especially -- with the spin-off series in mind.

I've since revealed here at ASK GREG, that the Will of the Whisp (introduced here by Macbeth, who uses both science and sorcery to control and utilize it) is the primitive magical entity that Oberon's Children evolved from. Sort of the Homo Erectus of the magical set. (Or maybe something even more primitive like a lemur or lungfish.)

The Lady of the Lake surfaces (literally). I like Lexington's "And she was right in our own lake.." for its understated humor. Also, this gives Hudson an excuse to say "Jalapeña", thus fulfilling another of the verbal challenges that Voice Director Jamie Thomason set for me -- and thus further pissing off the contingent of artists who truly HATED that expression. I think this may be one of the last times, until "The Journey", that we used it.

Anyway, we constantly raise the question of why the sword and the Lady associated with it were now in New York and not in Britain. Of course, the short answer was that we wanted to involve Hudson & the Trio without sending them on their own World Tour. But in fact, we did have a larger purpose. We wanted Arthur to become a player on the World Stage. A larger stage, as the Lady says.

I wasn't wild about that Water Djinn sequence. We wanted Arthur to solve the problem through leadership. But having him order Griff to use the Lightning weapon seems a fairly feeble solution to me (even though I endorsed it at the time). Wouldn't Arthur simply be electrocuted?

It's a goofy joke, but I still chuckle at Lex saying "Brooklyn" and Brooklyn answering.

I also am amused by the fact that it's Banquo in his slow pondering way that gives Macbeth the idea -- if not the ambition -- to take Excalibur for his own: "Hey Boss, you're a king. And you've been alive a long time..." Mac, an established Arthurphile, may seem an unlikely person to try to supplant his own hero. But it perfectly suits my interpretation of the character. Our Macbeth may not have the ambition of Shakespeare's Macbeth. But he's always been a man to sieze an appropriate opportunity. And he's always been a man in search of his own purpose. Perhaps this business of being a "Timeless King" and everything else that Excalibur represents in the past and future provides the reason for why he's lived for a largely tormented nine hundred years. Of course, Mac is also a man of honor. He vies for the sword. But when it becomes clear at the VERY end that Arthur is indeed its true master, he swears fealty to the (Whitean) Once and Future King. The thought DID cross my mind to add Macbeth to the cast of regulars in my PENDRAGON development. To give Arthur, in essence, two knights: Griff & Macbeth. But the dilemma comes in the fact that any spin-off has to stand on its own two feet. Characters can have backstories, but you can't assume that the audience has seen x amount of episodes of Gargoyles. I felt that telling Arthur's GARGOYLES-related backstory was going to be difficult enough. Throw in Griff's complicated story and you've set yourself a real challenge. Throw in Macbeth and that boat is just going to sink under two much backstory-weight. Much better to use him as guest star. Then if it seemed to work, over time he might spend MORE time in Pendragon. You never know. [NOTE: I was considerably less worried about adding Blanchfleur, Merlin and Duval to the cast, as we would be introducing them IN Pendragon.] So in the end, Mac accepts a more separate but equal arrangement. This was still cool to me. It reminded me of Arthur's relationship with King Pellinore. King Pellinore was also a King, but he was a wandering King. He didn't always sit at the Round Table, but he always came to Arthur's side, when Arthur needed him. They maintained a certain equality between them, and yet unspoken was the acknowledgement that Arthur was the one true king.

Speaking of Banquo... note his "Popeye" expression throughout most of the episode. This is a result of his model sheet, which showed him squinting through one eye. That was just supposed to be a single expression, but many of the overseas artists naturally assumed that it was a permanent condition -- because of course, we didn't have another model sheet with a different expression. Also, what did you think of Banquo & Fleance's power armor. I'm not sure it really came across as power armor. It was supposed to make them tougher and stronger. But I think it just looked like a flight suit for their sky-cycles. [But I did love those sky-cycles, especially the way Lex used them as a staircase for the Gargoyles to get some air. That was really cool and clever, I think.]

Random fact: My ten-year-old daughter Erin was fascinated with the topiary monkey.

An episode called Pendragon needed... a Dragon. I think this one is positively glorious. I love those steam vents. And the stone flight. And the fire. GREAT FIRE. But before it wakes up, I like how in essence this stone statue becomes the NEW Stone of Destiny. Macbeth draws the (faux) Excalibur from the dragon's stone grip and declares: "Macbeth, son of Findlaech, is the one true king." Arthur for a minute seems a sore loser. But his better nature wins out, after Macbeth points out that he's being a jerk. [Macbeth is great about being right when he's wrong.] When, as a youngster, Arthur drew the sword, many opposed his rule. It's a lesson that he's learned from. Griff resists, but Arthur kneels. He will not be an obstructionist if Macbeth is the new true king. Erin also felt that Arthur was being a sore loser. But Benny, my seven-year-old, disagreed, calling Arthur "the World's best fighter" and therefore the guy who deserved the sword. What's interesting, is that was NEVER my intent. I don't think of Arthur as the world's best FIGHTER. Even in his own legends, there were many knights who could outfight him. Arthur was a decent fighter, but his greatest strength was as a LEADER of men. That's what we tried to get across, both here and in "Avalon, Part Three".

It's also a cool play on words, I think, that this time the phrase "Sword IN the Stone" needs to be taken literally. The dragon statue surrounds the true sword inside it. I love the steps Arthur goes through to figure this out, primarily that moment when he recovers the faux Excalibur and can instantly sense that it isn't the genuine article. That was us trying to DEMONSTRATE with clarity that Excalibur wasn't just any sword, but rather something special. But what exactly was it? That, to be honest, we still needed to figure out. But we were hoping we'd have an entire spin-off to explore that question.

Fleance: "No free rides, Bat-boy."

Broadway: "Now you stay put." And Banquo: "No problem."

Lex: "Take the stairs."

Arthur: "Arise... SIR Griff."

Plus a bunch of great British Griffisms:
"In for a penny, in for a pound."
"Well, that just about tears it."
"You are the Once and Future King."
"Right with you, Your Majesty"
"That's the stuff!"

Anyway, that's my ramble. Where's yours?

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And here are my notes on the second draft outline... note we were approaching ever closer to the correct big cat.

WEISMAN 3-12-95

Notes on "Leopard Queen" Outline...

Hi, Brynne. Well, I'm at it again. Basically, I didn't feel we were there with the last draft of the outline, and given how far behind things are, I felt that it was necessary to beat it out here. My main problem was a lack of true jeopardy. The poachers were never any real threat to our gargoyles. In the end, neither were Tea or Fara Maku. The traps in the lost city had no effect on either Tea or the Poachers, so it was hard to believe that they would give Goliath and Co. a hard time. I just felt we really needed to escalate the situation, so I've added in the only character from African Mythology that I know anything about: Anansi the Spider. (And of course, I have no idea if Anansi is part of Nigerian myth, and unfortunately no time to check.) And just so you know, I wasn't secretly hoping you'd add Anansi. But he was the only thing in my head that felt authentic when I addressed the Jeopardy problem myself. Giant Spider. Worked for me. I tried to preserve what I felt was best from all the various versions we've had of this story. In reworking the legend of Kara Digi to include Anansi, I went for an animal folk tale feeling, instead of a curse, since you told me that African Myth tended in that direction. As usual, if you have problems with all or part of this thing, just call me.


II. On landing safely, no one is completely sure where they are.

A. Africa maybe, ELISA thinks, but she's not sure. She and her brother and sister came here as a child with their parents. Her mother's side of the family is from Nigeria.

B. ANGELA makes some semi-bitter comment about how she wishes her father would talk to her about her roots. GOLIATH gives the gargoyle company line in response. But it's clear that Angela wants something more personal from G.

C. Suddenly they spot something horrifying. We don't see what it is, but we can tell from their faces that it is something disgusting. Goliath is appalled. He cannot understand why any hunter would skin, defang and declaw an animal, only to leave the meat behind. Elisa explains that these jungle cats weren't hunted; they were obviously poached. An illegal practice, that's destroying the wild. Goliath thinks that may be the reason Avalon sent them here. To stop the poaching. They move off into the jungle. We do not follow them. We cut away.

III. Tribal clearing. A woman (DIANE) is telling a story to a bunch of native children. A few adults are gathered too (including FARA MAKU who has a claw mark tatoo or scar on his shoulder). In a cage nearby, a black leopard paces back and forth. We segue into her folk tale, told in arealistic "primitive" animation.

A. The Leopard Queen was the most beautiful creature in the
1. Beautiful black fur. Razor Sharp Claws. Huge white
B. But she was also very vain.
1. She mocked the Hippo.
2. She mocked the Crocodile.
3. Then she made the mistake of mocking Anansi the
C. Anansi weaved a magic spell in his web that transformed
the Leopard Queen into the first human.
1. No beautiful fur. No sharp claws. Puny little teeth.
D. The Leopard Queen begged Anansi to return her to her proper
1. He promised he would on one condition.
2. That she build him a great city shaped like a giant
3. She agreed.
E. But she could not do it alone. So she gave birth to the
human race to help her build the city of Kara Digi.
1. They followed Anansi's plans to the letter.
2. Anansi was very pleased.
F. When the city was built, Anansi kept his promise and
weaved a spell that returned the leopard Queen to her
true form.
1. With the beautiful fur, sharp claws and big teeth.
(Keep emphasizing these three elements.)
G. But Anansi had tricked the Queen. For now she was lonely
for her children.
1. She asked Anansi to turn her children into leopards.
2. He refused, because they tended his city.
3. But he told the Queen that if she hunted for him and
brought him food, she could choose one of her
children by marking him, and Anansi would turn
that child into a leopard.
H. So the Leopard Queen hunted for Anansi and brought him
1. Anansi got fat and happy. He promised to grant her
2. The Leopard Queen made her mark on her oldest son,
who was the wisest, bravest and most handsome
man of the tribe.
3. Anansi didn't want to let this great man leave his
city, but he had given his word.
I. Anansi called the Prince to him and told him of his promise.
1. The Prince did not want to become a leopard.
a. He had been born a human and wanted to stay
that way.
2. He asked Anansi if there was any way to escape this
3. Anansi told the Prince that if he killed the Leopard
Queen, Anansi would no longer be obligated to her.
J. So the Prince hunted the Queen.
1. But when he found her, he saw the beauty of her fur,
the sharpness of her claws and the hugeness? of
her teeth.
2. And he realized that she had chosen him out of love.
3. He decided not to kill her.
4. And so Anansi was forced to transform the Prince into
a Black Leopard.
K. Anansi was so furious, he banished all of the humans from
Kara Digi.
1. But that was foolish, because now he had no one to
tend his needs.
2. And so the spider went hungry.

V. As the tale ends, we see that Goliath, Elisa, Angela and Bronx have been listening from just beyond the clearing. They are enraptured by the story.
A. We get Angela's line about: Who is that woman? Magus?
1. Elisa responds definitively: "No, that's my mother."
2. Probably at some point someone should remark on the
coincidence of her mother being there when our
travellers arrive, and someone else should point
out that with Avalon it is no coincidence, it is fate.
Maybe not here, but somewhere.
B. When the story's over, the adults (except for Fara Maku and
Diane) lead the children from the clearing for the
festival meal in the nearby Hauka village. We find
out that after the feast, the Black Panther will be set
free to honor the Leopard Queen.
C. Once the clearing is empty, Diane asks Fara with some
trepidation whether she told the story well. She'd been
studying to do this for months.
1. Fara praises her.
2. And Elisa steps into the clearing to tell her mother
she did a great job for someone born and raised in
New York.
D. That smart-ass remark is followed by a tremendous hug
between Elisa and Diane. Diane is very releaved Elisa is
all right.
1. But now that she knows that Elisa is all right, Diane
is furious that Elisa just vanished the way she did.
a. Elisa is surprised that she didn't get the
message from Matt.
b. But Diane can't believe that Elisa didn't call
home herself.
i. And Elisa's excuse that there hasn't been
time, doesn't cut a lot of mustard here.
2. Diane was so worried she nearly didn't come to
Nigeria for the Leopard festival, even though she
had been preparing to participate for a year. Peter
had to practically force her to get on the plane.
And he had to skip the festival, in case any word
came about Elisa back home.
3. So what is Elisa doing in Africa?
a. Elisa fumfers a lame excuse.
b. Diane recognizes it as lame, and is more pissed.
c. From the clearing, ANGELA doesn't understand
why Elisa doesn't tell her mother the truth.
d. Goliath explains that Elisa has some problems
sharing her secret with people. Though he
agrees that she SHOULD be able to tell her
e. Angela remarks pointedly that Goliath's right.
Parents and children should be able to talk
about anything. Goliath burns but says
E. Suddenly, Poacher's attack led by TEA. (Please find a
different last name for her than MAKA, it's just too close
to Fara's MAKU. We're asking for confusion problems.)
Tea and the poachers want to kill the ceremonial leopard.
(Though for very different reasons.) And we may notice
that Tea also has what we might take as a claw mark
tatoo or scar on her shoulder.
1. Angela is prepared to jump in right then. But the
Poachers have guns which can fire faster than even
the gargoyles can move. Goliath wants to give
Elisa a chance to try to diffuse the situation.
2. Elisa, Fara Maku and Diane obviously have no intention
of letting Tea and her men kill the leopard. Fara
seems to know Tea. He can't believe she's working
with Poachers. This is what comes of leaving the
tribe for the big city. (Doesn't have to be America,
in fact it probably shouldn't. It's a bit distracting.
What's the biggest city in Nigeria or near Nigeria?)
We see Fara's getting very upset by all this.
3. Tea doesn't want to hurt Fara, but he doesn't know
what happened to her when she went to the big city.
And one way or the other that Leopard is going to
die. If necessary, every leopard in the jungle.
4. An increasingly agitated Fara places himself in front
of the leopard. The poachers are getting angry.
Let's just get rid of them all. We don't want
witnesses anyway. Things are reaching a boiling
point, and left with no choice, Goliath is just about
to go in.
5. When Fara Maku transforms into a HUGE black leopard
-- at any rate, considerably bigger than the
ceremonial leopard in the cage.

VI. All hell breaks loose. Tea says something like "It was you!!". The poachers panic and start shooting at Fara, who attacks and is wounded. Goliath, Angela and Bronx wade into the battle. Short work is made of the poachers, but Fara/leopard flees into the jungle pursued by Tea. (We still think Tea is a villain at this point.)

Diane is stunned at all that's happened. And the appearance of the Gargoyles doesn't help. But the straw that breaks the camel's back is that Elisa clearly knows these monsters. Elisa is quickly able to convince her mom that Goliath and company are friendly, but that only raises more questions. How long have you known about this? Why didn't you tell me? Etc. Elisa doesn't want to deal with this, so she changes subject. What's the deal with Fara's transformation? Diane doesn't know. She thought the legend was just a legend. Goliath says that in his experience most legends have a seed of truth in them. At any rate, Fara's in obvious danger from that Tea-woman. They need to protect him. Elisa wants her mom to stay behind. Fat chance, young lady.

Just before they leave, they free the ceremonial panther and put the poachers in his cage.

VII. In the jungle, Tea hunts the Fara/leopard like a woman possessed. We get a sense that she and Fara once cared for each other and that for some reason she feels betrayed by him. She nearly kills him, but is prevented by Goliath and co. But when they try to apprehend her, she too transforms into a HUGE black leopard (though she seems to be trying to fight the transformation in a way that Fara didn't earlier.) Tea/leopard escapes, still pursuing the wounded Fara/leopard.

VIII. With Bronx's help, our intrepid band track Fara and Tea to the gates of legendary Kara Digi -- home of Anansi the Spider. Diane can't believe it's real, but then again, what isn't real these days? The city is layed out like a spider's web. Bronx seems confused. There are multiple cob-web filled pathways, and he seems conflicted between two of them. Angela realizes that Fara and Tea must have gone down separate paths. Angela, Elisa and Bronx will follow one path. Goliath and Diane will follow the other. (Elisa probably wants Goliath with Diane so that the big guy can keep mom safe.)

IX. The two teams split up. But both fall into death traps. Spider-themed death-traps ideally.

X. Both groups separately escape their respective death traps and continue pursuit.

XI. Along the way, Angela has a discussion with Elisa, that chastens Elisa. (Angela wishes that her father would talk to her the way Diane seems to want to talk to Elisa, or something like that). Diane has a conversation with Goliath that chastens him. (As you said, the difference between the human and gargoyle way; the unreasonableness of children, the fact that Goliath treating Angela like a daughter doesn't preclude him from loving his non-biological kids back on Avalon. Diane has three kids, and she loves them all, but that doesn't mean she can't try to be as close as possible to Elisa. You might even get in the fact that Elisa's always been Daddy's girl. In fact, maybe we should run this through Elisa and Diane's whole conflict. Or maybe not. I'll leave that up to you.)
Note: Both Elisa and Goliath should be chastened but unconvinced at this point. Also, plant little spiders throughout their treks through the city.

XII. Anyway, all paths lead to the heart of Kara Digi, the heart of the web. Everyone converges there. Fara arrives first and transforms back into a wounded human. Tea isn't far behind. She too transforms back, and pulls a primitive weapon off the wall to use on Fara. She's intercepted by the several arrivals of all our heroes. And finally we get some answers. Tea was attacked by a leopard just before she left for the big city. Now everytime she gets upset she transforms into a black leopard. Made life difficult in the big city. She knew the Tale of the Leopard Queen and figured that if she killed the Leopard who marked her, it would break the spell. So she teamed with the Poachers. They helped her kill the leopards to get the fur, claws and teeth. She still can't believe that it was Fara that marked her. She loved Fara. Fara protests that he loved her too. That is why he marked her, to force her to come back to the jungle and stay with him. That isn't love, Diane says, that's selfishness. Fara realizes that now, but he really does love Tea. (Man this jungle's just filled with lousy communication skills.) But Elisa doesn't understand. How did Fara get cursed himself. Fara's reluctant to answer....so Anansi answers for him. Anansi lowers himself on a web from the darkness of the ceiling. He is a GIANT INTELLIGENT SPIDER. Fara knew the legends and searched for the city. He found it and Anansi, who was just a hungry little thing. Fara made the old deal. He would hunt for Anansi and bring him food in exchange for the Leopard "curse". Anansi's pleased with the arrangement. He's obviously eaten well. Now Fara begs Anansi to remove the curse from Tea, even if Fara has to serve Anansi forever. Tea's touched, but Anansi figures if one hunter is good, seven might be better. Anansi knows from his little spider children (who "bugged" Elisa and Goliath's respective conversations with Angela and Diane) that each of them has a loved one here. He may send a few of them out at a time to hunt while the others serve him and act as hostages. Of course this doesn't sit well with anyone, so we have a fight. Fara transforms again, so we have gargoyles, Fara/leopard, Tea, Elisa and Diane against this giant spider, and frankly, it doesn't look good for our guys. Fara is still wounded, and Tea has to transform to a leopard to save him at some point. She still loves him. Anansi is ultimately destroyed in some cool way that ANGELA thinks of. But with Anansi gone, now there's no way to remove the curse from Fara and Tea.

XIII. Epilogue. A bandaged Fara and Tea are reconciled. Both have done bad things that they need to atone for. But they are together, and like the Leopard Queen and her son, they choose to stay together out of love. If that means occasionally turning into black leopards to protect their jungle. Well, so be it.

Goliath tells Angela that he is very proud of how his Daughter defeated Anansi. She gets the message and gives him a huge hug, as dawn breaks and they turn to stone in each other's arms.

Diane is once more, suitably impressed. She and Elisa share a nice quiet moment alone. When night falls again, Elisa plans on continuing the world tour with her gargoyle friends, but she promises to tell her Mom EVERYTHING about it when she gets home.


So that's that. I'm not sure about the break between the second and third act. You can move it if you want. And if this doesn't play for you, all or in part, give me a call and we'll talk.

Finally, this may be sticky from an S&P standpoint. I can't really justify the poachers having futuristic guns. Their rifles can be semi-hi-tech, but they can't be laser guns. Also, I want to deal as realistically as possible with Fara's wound. Both as a leopard and as a man. I'm going to copy Adrienne on this. After you've both read this, you might want to confab with her to discuss perimeters.

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Below are my notes on Brynne & Lydia's first outline for what would eventually become "Mark of the Panther". (Unfortunately, I no longer have copies of the actual outlines. Just my notes.)

WEISMAN 3-1-95

Notes on "Jaguar Queen" Outline...

"Emotional Distance" would be my best guess.
Goliath and Angela.
What is key issue/theme?
--He treated her more like a daughter before she knew he was her father.
--He is fighting a loving instinct inside himself.
--She doesn't grasp Gargoyle heritage on the subject.
--Distance? Coldness? Heritage? Self-control? Acknowledgement?

Diane and Elisa.
What is key issue?
--Distance? Coldness? Heritage? Self-control? Acknowledgement?
--Elisa is Daddy's girl.
--Is she distanced from her mom and/or her mom's heritage.
--Is mom shocked by Elisa's secret life with gargoyles?
--Is respect the issue?
--How does it relate to G&A arc?

Fara Maku and Tea.
What is key issue?
--Distance? Coldness? Heritage? Self-control? Acknowledgement?
--How does it relate to G&A and/or D&E?
--Do we need another set of parent & child?

Maybe we need to team Goliath and Diane?

--Got to get more happening in Act One.
--Act One currently feels like it's all prologue, except that emotional issues aren't introduced until Act Two.
--Act Two seems too late to bring up Angela's arc.
--And Goliath's side doesn't get any play.
--It seems tacked on, not a dynamic element in the story.
--Must intro emotional arcs by end of Act One.
--Definitively for Goliath, Angela, Elisa and Diane.
--At least hint at them for Tea and Fara Maku.
--By end of Act One we need a jaguar transformation.
--By end of Act Two we need to get to the city if we're going there at all.

--She's not personally from Nigeria. Her ancestors are from Nigeria.
--I frankly don't want to distance Diane & Elisa from the most negative side of the African-American Experience.
--Diane's been to Nigeria before, though.
--Searched out her ancestors.
--Studied there traditions.
--Has Elisa been here before? Probably.
--But how 'into it' is Elisa?
--Can she sense a monsoon coming?
--Much more of a Daddy's girl.
--Diane's an expert on "oral storytelling traditions"
--Not on all things Nigerian.
--Not on healing herbs for example.

--Elisa can't speak it.
--Maybe Angela can, but do we need it?
--Can't it all be in English?
--Ellipsis between 4 Heroes leaving the skiff and there arrival in village.
--We wipe from riverside to the village.
--Start hearing the story.
--Segue to depiction of story.
--When we return from 'telling', we see that the heroes are there and heard most of it.
--Elisa recognized her mom's voice right away, but doesn't tell the others right away.
--Stunned to see her there.
--Lost in the tale. etc.

THE CURSE - Simplify & Clarify
--Jaguar Queen's Logic seems confused.
--Curses conditions seem unclear and "Multiple"
--Why doesn't Tea turn into a jaguar?
--Was she turning into a jaguar in America?
--Does she want vengence on Fara Maku or does she want to kill the tribe's Jaguar?
--If she knows Maku is the jaguar that bit her, why try to kill the tribe's Jaguar?
--If she doesn't know, why does she want specific vengeance on him?
--What initiates Fara Maku's transformation into a Jaguar?
--Greed? Anger? How does it fit the curse we heard about?
--What initiates his transformation back at the end?
--How did he get cursed in first place?
--Do we want him to be the villain?
--Does their love story seems off point? Can we bring it on point?
--His motivation for cursing her seems pretty reprehensible.
--Tia's not bad for wanting to leave, per se.
--His vengeance being motivated by her greed, is fishy too.
--Why can't Tea end her curse by killing Fara Maku?
--How can she keep it from "being passed along"?
--Why do they reconcile?
--Who or what are we rooting for?

--When does Diane first see Elisa?
--How do gargoyles take out poachers without being seen?
--Why does Elisa feel it's necessary to reveal gargoyles at page 8?
--Beware set-ups that don't pay off.
--Straw man dangers.
--Spiked pit.
--Everyone notices and glides or "edges" around.
--Rope bridge - same deal. Whole set up feels artificial since Goliath could have glided over to rescue Tia in first place.
--Settled things that become unsettle.
--P.6 Tea's down, then is up again, with knife.
--Even gets her rifle back.

--Spear in Fara Maku's shoulder.
--Tea's rifle or shotgun at end of show.

--Also discovered too late to not feel tacked on.
--Why is city booby-trapped? What is it protecting?
--A city doesn't only have one way to proceed.

--Aren't poaching.
--So why were they helping Tea?
--Was Tea a poacher?
--Has she been killing Jaguars looking for the one that bit her?

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Chapter XLVII: "Mark of the Panther"

Time to ramble...

Chapter XLVII: "Mark of the Panther"
Story Editor: Brynne Chandler Reaves
Writer: Lydia Marano
Director: Dennis Woodyard

We reestablish Elisa's reluctance to share the Gargoyles even with people she trusts. And we reestablish Angela & Goliath's conflict over her parentage.

This one went through a number of permutations, as you'll see from the various drafts of outline that I'll try to remember to post tomorrow. We kept changing the title as we kept learning more about the myths of the area. Here was one time where our research helped to keep us honest. Since it's not a one-word title, it probably came from Brynne and/or Lydia.

We did Elisa falling and Goliath saving her so often -- even as we tried to avoid relegating Elisa to a mere damsel in distress -- that we always had to find variations on the theme. This time he catches her, but then gets slammed by Angela and they all fall into the water. Fortunately, he split the distance on the drop, so they're all okay. Compare this to Hunter's Moon III and... well, maybe I'll wait until I get to that ramble to elaborate...

I've always been interested in Tricksters. Tricksters and Bastards are my two favorite archetypes. So I'd already done a bit of reading on Anansi legends. This one isn't authentic. The words that Nichelle Nichols speaks in narration as Diane Maza were written by Lydia, but the story itself was mine... though I had made it more of a tribal creation myth. Anansi creates a human being by removing the things about the Panther Queen that were the root of her vanity: her pelt, teeth and claws. The Panther Queen then mothers (at least this segment of) the human race, the ancestors of Fara Maku and Tea. Brynne felt that might be disresepectful to the peoples of the area, so we modified things so that the Queen had her own individual children but was no longer mother to the ENTIRE tribe. (Although I like to think that Fara Maku, at least, was an ancestor of the Queen.) From the beginning, we kept the emphasis on the fur, teeth and claws. Even the poachers are the most interested in those three items.

And how about our little mini cartoon within a cartoon? I love it, myself. (He says without a hint of bias ;) I think Dennis and his team did an amazing job at designing an entirely different art style appropriate to the fable. And I think Nichelle's reading is amazing. She did that in two takes. The first half in one take, the second half in the second take.

But as good as I think it is, I think it's most amazing for its daring. We stopped our episode and ran another cartoon of a totally different style for minutes there. Imagine someone tuning in late to see Gargoyles and finding themselves in the midst of the Tale of The Panther Queen... That was one of the things that was just magic about working on Gargoyles. We took RISKS.

Some of our best stuff came out of conflict, I hate to admit. Like "The Mirror", this episode was one that Brynne and I fought over a lot. In general, I "won" those fights, because, after all, I was the boss -- and because, even if I had trouble at times articulating it, I had a clear vision (or would eventually find a clear vision) of what I was looking for. But Brynne (and everyone else) would influence me, temper me, moderate me. And the result was usually pretty darn cool. In the end, I think this was one of Brynne & Lydia's favorite episodes. They asked Nichelle to autograph their scripts -- and Nichelle asked THEM to autograph her script. I think she was quite taken with it as well.

The Panther Queen & her son. Goliath & Angela. Diane & Elisa. Obviously, the theme of parents and children ran throughout the episode. But because of that, we made a conscious decision to make Tea into Fara's lover, not his daughter. We didn't want things to seem TOO pat by having every observable relationship be a parent/child relationship. But Tea & Fara still provide a cautionary example of someone attempting to hold on too tight...

Diane: "That's not love, Fara, that's selfishness."

It applies to any relationship.

Still, we get some fun mother/daughter and father/daughter and mother/son stuff from the three parental relationships we did have in the episode.

As with Fox and Anastasia in "Walkabout" you get moments of the old dynamic emerging between Diane and Elisa. Elisa comes up with a lame excuse for being in Africa ("I'm on a case.") and Diane responds with the kind of "Oh, please," that you know she must have used a hundred times on the 16-year-old Elisa.

But Elisa is still impressed by her mom and proud of her. She listens in some reverence -- and without interrupting -- to her mother telling the tale of the Panther Queen. Angela, also impressed, asks if Diane is a queen or magus (trying to relate her own reverence to her experience). And Elisa responds simply, but eloquently: "Actually, that's my mother."

We also get to see how much ALIKE Diane and Elisa actually are. Both hate spiders. ("Spiders. Why did it have to be spiders?" is of course a riff from Raiders of the Lost Ark.) Both hate to be seen as weak or needy. (I love Goliath's intimidated reaction when Diane tells him: "I don't need watching over." I wonder if he's already regarding her as his mother-in-law?)

My kids listened to Elisa being pissed off at Diane in front of Angela. She seems to be making sense at first, but it soon becomes clear -- even to an embarrassed Elisa -- that she's being unreasonable. Angela does a very Goliath-esque reality check for her (remember when Goliath reprimanded Elisa & Derek in "Her Brother's Keeper"?), which also served to remind us that Angela is Goliath's daughter in more ways than one.

Erin said: "I don't always understand Elisa." Goliath gets her. She doesn't like to share her secrets. She doesn't seem to trust easily. But she also views knowledge as power, and she doesn't want to share that power. The "THAT" which makes her special.

We also get some nice Angela resolution here, as well. Goliath's obviously so concerned about Angela focusing on her biological parentage (because he fears what that means vis-a-vis Demona) that he's totally blind to his duties as her only present (if not surviving) rookery father. He's there. She needs him to act as a father to her, not just as a leader. He refuses. And then Diane sets him straight, simply and clearly. Later, when he says he's proud of her, it's a bit of a sappy moment, but I like to think we've earned it.

And I like to think we've earned the better executed moment at the end between Elisa and Diane. Diane knows that loving sometimes means letting go. (Fara helped remind her of that.) But Elisa now doesn't want her mother to let go so soon. While the gargs sleep she has a full day to tell her story. *You know... Chapters I - XLVI.

Diane's last line is cute: "There aren't any more spiders are there?" But I wish we had ended there or with Elisa's little chuckle. When Elisa ends by saying, "No." it flattens out the moment. Oh, well...

During the Tale of the Panther Queen, Anansi laughs when the Queen attacks him because "creatures such as he cannot die." This is a tip off -- along with the little tiny spider we see at episode's end -- that we weren't actually killing Anansi by having Goliath plunge that spear into him. As my son Benny asked: "Is that all magic that's coming out of him?" Yes, indeed. He's being bled, in essence, of some of his magical energy. He's weakened but not destroyed. And he escapes as a little spider, to reappear in cameo during the Gathering. This was ALSO designed as a hint that Banshee was still alive too. I'm not saying that Oberon's Children cannot be destroyed. I think they can. But it's tough. They have to be utterly wiped out. Otherwise, they are simply weakened. It's easy enough for them to flee to recharge later and fight or trick or whatever another day.

Anansi was played wonderfully by LeVar Burton. But Frank Paur felt that his voice wasn't threatening enough to play the giant spider. So he was enhanced by the good folk at Advantage Audio. (Love those guys.) I think they did a marvelous job of merging LeVar's voice with the effect. We lost none of the acting. But we gained a lot of presence. And Anansi has some great lines:
"I know. Company's coming"
"I'll spin you wishes!"

Benny noticed the mark on Tea's shoulder, indicating that she was a were-panther. He wondered if Tea and Fara were the actual Queen and Prince from the legends...

Erin noticed that when Goliath was gliding with Tea and she transforms, she seems to scratch Goliath with her claws. She wondered if that meant Goliath would become a panther-goyle? THAT thought never even occured to me before. Should have though. I'm contemplating adding that to the list of missed bets along with the Pack killing everyone in "Grief" and Cu Chullain's armor and bones being in the tomb in "The Hound of Ulster".

Goliath has his own version of the Weird Sisters: "All Things Are True" line when Diane expresses surprise that the legend she had just faithfully related might have had some basis in fact.

Bronx is a great old smell hound. (I miss Norman. After watching this episode, my kids went to bed... and then an hour later my daughter had another grief-attack over our late dog. I can't help thinking that subconsciously, Bronx reminded her of Norman in this episode. Not that Norman ever hunted down were-panthers for us, but you get the idea.)

There's also a wonderfully animated moment, where Bronx knocks Tea over, just as she's about to spear Fara. The way she stumbles before crumbling is just gorgeous.

Fara Maku echoes the Captain of the Guard when he says: "It wasn't supposed to be that way." One could argue that it's us just being unoriginal. Or self-indulgent. But I like to think we were creating thematic echoes that ran across the entire tapestry of our 66 episodes.

"Dream on, Spider-Man!"

Tea spends most of the episode trying to take revenge on Fara Maku. Then at the end they reconcile? I like to think that the events with Anansi really served to take the steam out of her need for vengeance. That seeing him threatened reawakened her feelings for him. And the fact that he admitted his mistake and apologized didn't hurt either. She makes a conscious decision to forgive him. But did that forgiveness come too cheap? Was it too pat? Maybe. I'm pretty confident about Renard's turnaround in "Golem" and the Captain's in "Shadows of the Past". We only had 22 minutes, and I think we planted all the necessary seeds to justify those last minute changes of heart. I'm less confident about this one. But I can live with it. And we created two more heroes for down the road...

Anyway, that's my ramble...

Where's yours?

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Chapter XLVI: "Walkabout"

Time to ramble...

Chapter XLVI: "Walkabout"
Story Editor: Michael Reaves
Story: Michael Reaves
Teleplay: Steve Perry
Director: Dennis Woodyard

Focus here was on Fox being in the family way and on Dingo. At this point, I often (almost) forget that Fox was ever in the Pack, she seems so beyond them now. But there are a couple of nice reminders throughout the episode, that as "Grief" dealt with Jackal, Hyena, Wolf and Coyote (i.e. the LEAST human members of the Pack), "Walkabout" reunites the MOST human (former) members.

"Walkabout," is one of my typical one-word titles. I kind of had an ambition to hit every inhabited continent at least once on our World Tour. Couldn't skip the land down under therefore, and couldn't go to Australia without Dingo, of course. But this was also our opportunity to present a demonstrably pregnant Fox and to introduce her mother Anastasia, voiced by the incomparable Kate Mulgrew -- whom I've loved since her amazing run as Mary Ryan on Ryan's Hope.

When the skiff first appears, my kids (Erin & Benny) attempted to guess the location: Asia, Africa. Then they see the kangaroo.

Then they see the advancing "Gray Goo". Or silver sheen. That was another concept that Michael and I wanted to cover: nanotechnology and the threat it presents, i.e. the Gray Goo Scenario that Anastasia describes later. Oh, and artificial intelligence. More on that down below...

Unfortunately, the Gray Goo as executed here never really worked for me visually in the episode. It gets the idea across, but it's never got the precision that I wanted. And it's terribly inconsistent for a mono-maniacal computer program. It's kind of all over the map.

He's seeking a clean slate, a fresh start. But it's not that easy. When Goliath spots him later, and Angela asks who he is, Elisa says: "He's not one of the Good Guys." Erin countered: "Trying to be."

Benny saw him activating his armor and immediately figured out what he was up to. How did he know? Because he's seen the concept more recently on the new "The Batman" series. Dingo's using Batwave!!!! (Dingowave?)

I love the visual of Dingo's armor opening up in back to let him step right in. Then closing up around him. There are some great armor moments in this episode.

[But some awkward movement throughout. There's a shot of Goliath falling to the ground and landing on his back, before rapidly flipping over onto his hands and knees to hold his head. It's very clumsy. And Fox runs very well for a pregnant woman, don't you think?]

Dingo also has some nice lines... (particularly: "Always did fancy a trip to Disneyland.") ...and Jim Cummings-provided Australian slang like "Ripper" and "Sheila" (referring to Elisa -- though Sheila is also my mother's name)

Erin wanted to know if we got sued for calling the computer program "The Matrix". I explained that this episode pre-dated the movie. So a couple of minutes later she asked why WE didn't sue the movie. (Where did she get so law-suit happy, huh?)

There are some great moments between Fox & Anastasia. Some moments where you can hear Fox practically reverting to her teen self with lines like "Mo-ther!" And I like when Anastasia plays on that by saying, "Humor your mother." Relationships trump science fiction.

When Fox says, "Your grandson just kicked me..." Erin said, "I'm her grandson," referring to the fact that Erin provided the voice of Alex Xanatos in "The Journey." But this was a bit of a reveal. In "Outfoxed", we revealed that Fox was pregnant. Now we reveal the baby's gender.

I also like Fox's "Where are my manners?" line.

And we get a bit more feeling for the Renard clan as Goliath realizes that Fox is Halcyon's daughter, and as Anastasia dismisses discussion of her "ex-husband."

I never knew what that "instrument" was called before working on this episode. Carl did a great job of providing some unique scoring to this episode (as he had with Hound of Ulster). The Theramin work. And the Didgeridoo (am I spelling that right?) Cool stuff. Both added greatly to the ambiance and helped compensate for some weakly executed gray goo.

Mr. One-Note, huh? You must use the Dream-Time. Find the Dream-Time. Enter the Dream-Time. Okay, okay. We get it.

There's potential in that character, which I wanted to explore in Bad Guys. But I don't think we found it here. Part of the problem is the accent. I don't know what I'm hearing exactly, but it doesn't sound like the accent of an Australian aborigine. I like James Avery's performance, and I'm not being critical of him, but he was hampered by our accentual ignorance and the one-note nature (as written) of the character. Still he has some decent moments, I suppose. At least enough that I wanted to make him Harry Monmouth's surrogate father in Bad Guys. I just wanted to get the accent right by that time.

And what is the Dreamtime, exactly? I'm not sure we got THAT right either, really. I think we just played it like the inside of Coldstone's head. That was probably my fault. Again, we just didn't always have the time to do all the research we would have loved to do.

I haven't watched "Walkabout" in a few years, but I see the Bad Guys Reel EVERY year at the Gathering. So I'm used to hearing Jeff Bennett as Matrix. But here we have Jim Cummings as Matrix, and it does sound very different, despite all the electronic filtering and futzing we did on both actors in the part. In the episode, we cast Jim as Matrix because he was already there as Dingo, so it saved us money.

But when we developed Bad Guys as its own series, I decided to recast Matrix. Not because Jim isn't great or because he couldn't handle doing two voices on a regular basis, but because we wanted to have the freedom to play with Matrix's voice a lot. And we didn't ever want him to sound like Dingo. So I brought in Jeff, because, well, I just love Jeff.

There's some interesting visuals in the Dreamtime. I liked how each of the combatants used what they know. Goliath uses a medieval shield and recreates the Trio & Hudson to fight with/for him. (It was also a conscious attempt on our part to get those four in the episode -- at least visually. We knew even then that we were short-changing them during the tour and that the audience would be missing them.) Dingo "upgrades" his armor again, saying with relish "I like it." _I_ like how he dived down into the "stuff of dreams" to revamp the armor. And Matrix uses waldo-like arms to fight and capture his opponents.

Of course, Dingo (and the writers including me) are grasping at straws with that whole "Law and Order" thing at the end. It's Artificial... but, hey, so is Matrix's Intelligence. As Dingo says as his armor tranforms yet again (looking positively gorillaish for a second or two), "Australia's got a new kind of hero, mates!" And I like how he revealed that he liked PLAYING the hero when he and Fox were on the Pack TV Show. You never know what you've got until it's gone, eh, Harry?

Of course, we were building up our international cast of heroes, but the idea behind Dingo & Matrix soon evolved into Bad Guys. And I think they work very well together and as part of the larger group in that piece.

Erin thought that the Shaman was the real hero of the episode. I like that she thinks that. Accent or no accent.

Anyway, that's my ramble...

Where's yours?

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These are the notes I gave to Michael Reaves based on his outline for the episode...

WEISMAN 3-21-95

Notes on "A Bronx Tail" Outline...

Play a lot of Bronx PoV throughout.

1. Night. Rory and SEANA (Finuala/Banshee) escape coppers. We see that she encourages him to delinquency. We hear about Hound. They split up. We hear Bronx howl. (Seana/Banshee hears it too?)

2. Night. Cut to Bronx howling by riverside. Banshee screech. Some sign of Banshee/Woman for Bronx to sniff.

3. Rory and Mom or Dad (not both). Day.

4. Switch with beat Five. Dungeon. Angela and Goliath wake up. Chained. (Combine Castle and Cairn) Gargs and Elisa in unbreakable chains.

5. Swith with beat 4. Rory leaves home to meet Seana. Bronx pursues Rory. (Tracking scent of Seana/Banshee on Rory.)

6. Rory falls into quarry.

6.5. Unconscious Rory has Vision of Ulster past - still a bit confused. Bronx might still be threat or ally.

7. Banshee attacks G, A, E. in dungeon.

8. Bronx helps Rory out of Quarry.

9. Banshee ceases her assault on G,A, E. Senses that Rory is with Bronx. And/or she gets some info from G, A, E.

10. At bog. Bronx playing Lassie. Rory has a vision of Cairn/Castle.

11. Cut.

12. Seana appears. Bronx growls at her. Rory rejects Bronx for rejecting Seana. Bronx attacks. Rory cannot stop him. Seana/Banshee forced to reveal herself to protect herself. Bronx knocked out. Rory is shocked. Afraid of Banshee. Banshee does siren number on Rory. He leaves with her. How ominous.

13. Cut.

14. Cut.

15. Cut.

16. Late Morning, early afternoon. Rory awakens at home probably. Parent bitching, he's a bum who's out all night and sleeps all day. Previous night feels like a good/bad dream. Seana shows up. Doesn't know what he's talking about. But Place from his vision sounds like Cairn/Castle. He insists on going there. She's frightened but she loves him. She'll go with.

17. They arrive after dark. Banshee/Seana is prepared to kill him... She was hoping to keep him from realizing his potential. But if that's not going to work than the ancient battle begins again.
Bronx arrives nick-o-time. (G,E and A hear commotion but can't do anything to help.) Bronx saves Rory, who gets spear and transforms. They battle and ultimately defeat or destroy deathworm. They free G,E and A. Rory returns to normal, but Ireland has a New Hero.

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Chapter XLV: "The Hound of Ulster"

Time to ramble...

Chapter XLV: "The Hound of Ulster"
Story Editor: Michael Reaves
Story: Michael Reaves
Teleplay: Diane Duane & Peter Morwood
Director: Bob Kline

I think my original title for this episode was "A Bronx Tail" or "A Bronx Tale". They wound up using that title for an episode of Goliath Chronicles, I think.

Then I think I wanted to change the title to "The Barghest". But Michael and Peter & Diane protested that the Barghest was a Northern English legend, not an Irish one. They wanted "The Hero of Ulster". I changed it to "The Hound of Ulster," which was a compromise we could all live with.

But somewhere in here we confused the legend of Cu Chullain, with the legend of the Barghest/Great Beast (not to mention tossing in and combining the Banshee and Crom-Cruach).

I've since gathered fromt the fans that Cu Chullain himself was the Hound of Ulster, a title he won by having to act as a watchdog for another lord for a period of time.

Oh, well. I just wasn't that familiar with this legend at the time. And I didn't do or have time to do all the necessary research, I'm afraid.

I guess in the Gargoyles Universe, things might have been a bit different. Or maybe not. Actually, the on-going story of Rory & Molly a.k.a. Cu Chullain & the Banshee still fascinates me. Eventually, I'd love to be able to bring them back and have the excuse to really research the topic thoroughly.

Sometimes we struggled to fill out that 30 seconds of footage. This looked like one of those times. We emphasized Bronx moments and Avalon's past abandonment.

And then we're in Liscoo. Again, I like the relationship between Rory & Molly. Her manipulations are subtle... she encourages his delinquincy. Tries to convince him to leave town... to leave Ireland even, for America.

Rory believes he's nothing. He's a quitter... as his father later says, "Ah, Rory, you always gave up to easy." Rory's arc is to move from being a boy who's a quitter to a man who refuses to quit. Even in the face of inhuman opposition.

But there's a real economic undercurrent to all this. Rory's dad is explicitly on the Dole. Rory is shoplifting and has no trade. It's a relatively sophisticated, young adult dilemma he's facing.

I really like Rory's dad Mr. Dugan -- and Colm Meany, the actor who played him. Love the exchange between him and Molly...
Molly: "Hello, Mr. Dugan."
Dugan: "Hmph. Molly."
(So much ... unfondness... in so few words.)

Of course Molly IS a bad influence on Mr. Dugan's boy Rory. Cuz she's a Banshee trying to keep Rory from realizing who he really is. DUH!

Rory: "And dwarves made me shoes."
Elisa: "I don't know whether to expect vampires or Sherlock Holmes."
Banshee: "The time of the Gathering approaches." (That was a freebee.)

...lots of people have to work really hard to make it sound really cool. Start with Sheena Easton's vocals directed by Jamie Thomason. Throw in music effects by Carl Johnson, edited by Marc Perlman. Throw in Sound Effects by Paca Thomas, all mixed by the great crew at Advantage Audio. We have many great shows. And the Advantage guys, our composer and voice actors always did a great job on them. But the soundwork on this episode, is just STUNNING.

Elisa: "I don't think we're in Scotland. Or Kansas either."
Banshee: "But more than enough to deal with a noisy young hero -- and his little dog too!"
(Frankly, I don't think you can ever have too many Oz references. Erin, my ten-year-old daughter recognized the latter line as a reference to something, but couldn't immediately place what it was from. She guessed Scooby Doo episodes. Odds are that "little dog too" line has been used once or twice over the hundreds of adventures that Scooby has had. So she may not have been wrong. But when I mentioned Wizard, she immediately remembered.)

The site of one of my most annoying missed opportunities. When Elisa, Angela and Goliath wake up in Cu Chullain's tomb, his armor and bones should have been in there with them.

It's interesting to me that the Banshee gets so annoyed by their denials that she doesn't try to mesmerize the info that she thinks she needs from Elisa, Angela or Goliath. She says that her voice can mesmerize (a little forshadowing for what she's about to do to Rory) but instead she just tries to torture the travelers into telling her what she wants to know.

Elisa (sing-song): "We've got company."

Banshee: "You have recently been in Avalon -- the scent of its magic is all about you." (I love the idea that magic has a scent to the carefully trained nose.)

Banshee: "I like it here."

Rory: "About last night... you don't recall putting on a foot of height and a yard of hair--?"
Molly: "Huh! In your dreams..."
(If she can do anything to convince him it was all just a dream...)

Goliath: "A land with a hero soon finds other deeds for him to do." (Is this the old Batman argument that Batman's mere presence draws the Joker and his ilk to Gotham..?)

Rory comes to as Bronx licks him awake. There's a funny delayed reaction. And a real Elisa-in-Awakening moment, as Rory says: "This can't be happening."

In general, it's hard for someone of my generation to avoid making a Lassie comparison with Bronx here. Timmy may not be in the well, but Angela, Elisa & Goliath are stuck in the Cairn. And Bronx is finding the one person he believes can help get them out.

When Molly first turned into Banshee on screen, I'm curious what you guys thought. Did you think that Molly was Banshee or that just in THAT scene the Banshee had posed as Molly until Bronx figured out the truth?

(When Rory walks off with Banshee at the end of the act, Erin said: "Bad idea." And my seven-year-old son Benny said, "He's tranced. He can't do anything.")

We were trying to generally confuse you guys by having Rory leave with the Banshee and then wake up unharmed in his home. Molly shows up... is she to be trusted? Is this the real Molly? Is the real Molly a Banshee? Was the whole thing a dream?

The whole thing was actually pretty linear. But we wanted to keep Rory and the audience off balance.

In the end, I think we played pretty fair. Even Molly's initial reaction to hearing Bronx's howl in the opening minutes of the episode plays well I think, both as the kind of reaction a superstitious Molly would have AND as the reaction the Banshee would have to hearing the sound of a Gargoyle Beast for the first time in centuries.

The Cu Chullain design and concept we wound up with is a little too close to Marvel's THOR for my tastes. I'm not worried about the legalities, but I'd have liked to have come up with a better design for old Cu and a fresher idea than leaving Rory with a walking stick that transforms into the Spear of Light. We just didn't have the time to dance with it enough to come up with something better.

Actor Scott Cleverdon, who played Rory came up with Cu's battle cry at the end, insisting that it was authentic. Sounded cool. So we trusted him.

So if Rory is the reincarnation of the Hero of Ulster, does that make Bronx the reincarnation of (Buena Vista's Gargoyles') Hound of Ulster. Or is he just another Great Beast? We intentionally left that vague.

But we did want this story to BELONG to Bronx as much as possible. I had to kinda push to keep Goliath, Elisa and Angela from joining in the heroics, leaving the heavy lifting to Bronx and Rory.

The episode inevitably became Rory's story. But by removing our three regulars from the action, I felt that Bronx got more of a showcase than he would have.

I love the "smug" Bronx at the end.

Anyway, that's my ramble. Where's yours?

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Hey gang,

I got a job!!!!

I'll be producing the SECOND season of a series called W.I.T.C.H. for SIP Animation and ABC Family's Jetix block.

I had nothing to do with the FIRST season, but I'm rooting for its success... because frankly if it doesn't do well, then you'll never get to see the neatokeen stuff I'm planning for season two.

The first W.I.T.C.H. "minisode" premieres on Jetix on Saturday morning, October 30th. (Check your local listings.) Again, I had nothing to do with it, but I do think it's fun stuff. (And if you love me, you'll support it ;)

Oh, and while I'm at it, I think my first episode of THE BATMAN, "The Big Chill" featuring Mr. Freeze airs THIS Saturday, October 23rd on Kids WB. (Again, check your local listings.) It features the voice of Clancy Brown (Hakon, Wolf) as Freeze.

And also keep an eye out for the two episodes of SUPER ROBOT MONKEY TEAM HYPERFORCE GO! which I wrote for Jetix. I'm not sure exactly when they're airing, but I'll keep you posted.


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