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X-MEN

I saw the X-Men movie last Saturday night. Thought I'd indulge a ramble.

SPOILERS. RUTHLESS SPOILERS.

But first, I think anyone who critiques this movie should open by acknowledging potential biases. Here are mine:

For starters, when someone says "X-Men", here's the team I IMMEDIATELY think of: Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Iceman and Marvel Girl. (Yeah, you heard me, Marvel Girl. Calling her Jean Gray in the context of codenames is very strange to me.) I guess that shows my age.

So when I first heard about this movie, I was sure it would suck, because I was sure it would include characters like Wolverine, Gambit, Rogue, etc. That is, characters that came MUCH LATER in the contintuity. I was sure they'd attempt, as the T.V. animated series attempted (as most tv animated series based on comic books attempt) to have it both ways. To attempt to intro a series as a new concept and yet simultaneously try to slather decades worth of continuity at the audience. The pilot to the X-Men animated series did this. And I thought it was god awful. Later episodes were much better, and for a while I was really enjoying the show. Then it began to suffer from all the things that had made me STOP reading the comic book. So I dropped it.

Contrast that with the Batman animated series. Batman, a single character with a MUCH cleaner, clearer origin, is introduced as a guy already on the job. (The folks at Warner Bros. had a HUGE, if flawed, movie to use as a jumping off point.) He exists. Joker exists. Most everyone else is introduced either through flashback or right there before our eyes. In essence, they started the continuity over -- nearly from scratch. And WHAT A DIFFERENCE that makes. TV, comics, movies. They're all different mediums. They have overlapping audiences, but not duplicate audiences. They also have differing strengths and weaknesses regarding how continuity is handled. Comics are largely a serialized medium. TV is largely episodic. Movies are single stand alone events. In a movie, you have one shot and only one shot to tell your story. Even if it becomes a franchise, all that means is that maybe, once a year or so, you get one MORE shot to tell one BIG story. You don't get to do change of pace "episodes" in movie series. Each one has to go great guns.

Mindsets need to alter when dealing with these different mediums, or the work will wind-up sub-par. The makers of Batman TAS realized this and capitalized on tv's unique strengths and needs. They created a viable and dynamic interpretation of the Batman Universe that wasn't dependent on continuity, but utilized the best of what that continuity had to offer. [They did the same thing when creating MASK OF THE PHANTASM as a movie. Talented guys.] One might question individual choices made here and there, but overall, I thought it was a smashingly successful show creatively, and it was without doubt a smashing success series commercially.

But back to X-Men. Don't want to make it sound like I gave up the book when Lee and Kirby went their separate ways. In fact, I think I was reading X-Men in its real HEYDAY. Post Len Wein/Dave Cockrum: The Claremont/Byrne years, followed by the Claremont/HotArtist of the moment years. This was the days of Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Collosus and Nightcrawler. The death of Phoenix. The introduction of Sprite. VERY POWERFUL STUFF. That one time travel Sentinel story was chilling indeed. I thought the time travel theory presented in it was gobbledy-gook, but the story was so powerful, I didn't care. This was great comics. (And yes, I think "Future Tense" was influenced by that story.)

And then, I believe X-Men became a victim of its own success. Let's start with the multiple books. New Mutants, X-Factor, X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, X-Calibur, Generation X, X-Treme, X-Lax, whatever. It was impossible for me as a reader to keep it all straight. ME. The comic book geek who worked for DC Comics and got ALL his books -- back then -- for FREE. I've got the whole Gargoyle Universe more or less locked in my head, and I couldn't keep the X-portion of the Marvel Universe straight even with the books right in front of me. No Big surprise as the creators pretty much couldn't either.

But the number of books wasn't the only problem. The stories seemed out of control. What was legitimately a mutant power was stretched way beyond my ability to suspend belief. That future storyline that I praised so much above seemed to spawn an entire universe of alternate characters that rendered anything that followed moot. Jean Gray came back to life, undercutting her sacrifice and horrible death. Hell, everyone seemed to die at one point or another. Two characters I really hated were Rogue and Sabretooth.

Rogue is intro'd like Athena, fully grown. She's been a villain for years. Or so we're told. But in fact, her first appearance is in that awful comic when she permanently steals Ms. Marvel's powers. Ms. Marvel?! An admittedly mediocre character with vague mini-Supergirl abilities. Rogue now has these same vague but potent abilities. They have nothing to do with being a mutant. But they make her very powerful. And one story later, she's joined the X-Men. WHAT?! There's a convoluted backstory with Mystique, who's like a mother to her? But why? Why not do that with Nightcrawler? Well, because Mystique was an afterthought, relatively speaking. It was too late to do THAT story with the Mystique and Nightcrawler. So we get Rogue. I never got the appeal at all. Just maybe, she might have been great if it had been intro'd over time. Actually been a young villainess for a couple years. But instead it's force-fed to us like -- well -- like it's an animated series that has to forcefeed us continuity. And on top of all that she just seemed obnoxious to me, with her exagerated dialect.

Sabretooth just bugged me for a different reason. He seemed unstoppable and I could never understand why. Eventually, they seemed to be heading toward the notion that he was Logan's father. That seemed kinda interesting -- and it would explain a lot, but they never would get around to culminating all those heavy-handed hints. I gave up before ever finding out whether or not that was the case.

And that was often a problem. Like early seasons of X-Files, answers in X-Men never seemed forthcoming. EVER. Wolverine is a terrific character, and we kept learning more about his interum history without ever really answering any real questions about his origins. (Admittedly, I gave up reading the X-Books over a decade ago, years before I gave up comics cold turkey in 1996 -- so maybe some of my questions have been answered since. But not in the TEN YEARS I was reading the characters.)

And finally, I got tired of the basic X-Theme. As timeless and true as it was and is, one begins to ask how many times do these characters have to publicly SAVE the world before someone in the Marvel Universe would acknowledge that mutants didn't suck. I'm not talking about an end to prejudice, just an end to near-monolithic prejudice. Finally, when all was said and done, I got bored and I got exhausted. So I gave up. Gambit. Jubilee. I've heard of them, but I don't know who they are. Don't much care either.

And so the movie approaches. As I said above, I'm so sure I'm not gonna like it that I have ZERO intention of seeing it. That's not an idle statement either. Never saw Godzilla though I loved Godzilla movies as a kid. Never saw Phantom Empire, though I loved STAR WARS. Never saw Titanic. Never saw a lot of movies these days. And what I have seen, I've mostly disliked. The first Batman movie is horribly flawed but fun. Every Live Action Batman movie that follows is unwatchable. (Except possibly this last one with Clooney, which I didn't bother to see.) Loved Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back. But Return of the Jedi -- HATED IT. E.T. -- Hated it. Loved the original "CLOSE ENCOUNTERS". Hated Spielberg's Director's Cut. Independence Day - Hated it. Made me angry. Jurassic Park - Hated it. Made me VERY ANGRY. Lost World - Had to see it for work. Had very low expectations, which were basically met. I think it's awful, but at least it didn't make me angry. Gladiator - Was enjoying it as a kind of guilty pleasure - until the last ten minutes which were SO STUPID that they ruined the movie for me. TITAN A.E. really pissed me off, because it will indirectly have an adverse effect on my career.

Okay, I did enjoy Matrix. It was flawed. But I liked it. So I guess I don't hate everything.

So why would I go see X-Men? How could I possibly like it? Why should I torture myself. O.K., sure it's got Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart as Magneto and Professor X. They're both great, and that's perfect casting, but it's not like great people don't appear in bad movies. That's not enough of a reason. Okay, sure I liked USUAL SUSPECTS, so the director has ability. But I've seen bad movies by great directors before too. And yet... And yet...

I think the marketing was great. Not overwhelming. Smart. That helped. Pictures of the various characters in magazines helped too. Finally, however the general good buzz got to me. And when Kenneth Turan of the L.A. Times gave it a positive review (even if the review did read like he was slightly afraid to give it a negative review for fear that X-fans would attack him), I was hooked. Turan is pretty tough generally. I'd give it a try.

So I went with my wife. (Who has NO comic book or X-background of any kind.) We also went with another couple. The husband Mike is an ex-comic book geek like myself. The wife Rosie is like my wife.

And drum roll. I liked it. I feel like the guy in GREEN EGGS AND HAM, but I like it, Sam I Am. No, it's not perfect, but it avoided a TON of pitfalls. Low expectations may seem to be influencing my stance. But that's not really fair. I don't LIKE Lost World. I simply wasn't angered by it because I knew it would be awful in advance. I actually like X-MEN.

And the MAIN REASON without a doubt is that they started their continuity clean and from scratch. Yes, there's some backstory, but it's a VERY CLEAN backstory. And what mysteries do exist are clear. No, we don't know Wolverine's "origin". But at least we know what questions to ask. And what we do know TIES RIGHT IN with the theme of the movie. Ties in so well, in fact, that my wife thought, based on the comment that they couldn't assess Wolverine's true age, that perhaps the Nazis gave Logan his adamantium skeleton during WWII. (When I explained that in the comic it was <oh my> the Canadian Government, she was extremely non-plussed and I felt quite silly.)

Charles and Eric are old friends, now at odds. Charles has his school. And Cyclops, Jean and Storm are SOME of his first students. (I like to think Angel and Beast were a couple of the other guys in that first class. They graduated and unlike the other three, chose to move on. But time will or won't tell.) Now, I could see how this would immediately put some diehard X-fans on edge. It makes Scott, Jean and Ororo contemporaries. And all three much younger than their comic book counterparts. But this worked for me. Captured the spirit of the early Lee-Kirby stuff and the early Claremont stuff. And still allowed the film-makers to make the movie that the majority of their audience wanted to see. I.e. one with Wolverine in it. Face it, he's cooler than Angel and Iceman.

But the real cool thing is that when the movie begins, Scott, Ororo and Jean are not the X-Men yet. Not really. They don't have heavy combat experience. They've had some training. And maybe a skirmish or two. But this isn't a super-hero team -- except by necessity. And we're seeing that necessity here for the first time at the Statue of Liberty, by which time they're joined by Logan. Now for the first time, they aren't Scott, Ororo, Jean and Logan. They are truly Cyclops, Storm, "Jean Gray" and Wolverine.

[The only flaw in that thinking is that Scott and Ororo already have silly super-hero names when the movie begins. And Jean doesn't. Either they're prepared for the coming combat, in which case they should ALL have codenames (in order, I assume, to be able to communicate with each other quickly while still maintaining some ability not to blow their secret i.d.s.) or none of them should have it yet. The only in continuity excuse I can think of for Jean not having a codename is that Jean wasn't supposed to ever go out and do battle. That she was only at the school as a teacher and openly mutant mutant-expert. Jean only ends up going into battle because of what is legitimately a HUGE crisis. But I wish that idea had been spelled out a bit.]

{FYI - The codenames for Sabretooth, Toad and Mystique don't bother me at all. But -- in movie -- Magneto's does. What does he need a codename for? And such a silly one at that? And no, I NEVER found it silly in the comics, but that's a different medium. Not better or worse, just different. In live-action, Magneto is a silly enough name that when it's first mentioned in the movie you can hear the silly twitters from the non-initiated audience. And the resulting mass cringe from those of us "who know".}

Then there's the youngest generation. I got a kick out of Kitty Pride. A real kick out of Bobby/Iceman. I didn't mind at all, that just as Cyclops was youthified, so to was Bobby -- even more. Because Bobby was conceieved by Lee and Kirby as a kid. Placing him in that younger generation was true to his original dynamic. (I'm told Jubilee and Pyro were in there too. Of course, I don't know anything about Jubilee or Pyro. I guess Pyro was that guy who created the little fireball, but don't ask me who Jubilee was. Don't know. Don't much care.) And of course, Rogue. Now, as I mentioned above, I never much cared for Rogue, but the character became VERY compelling to me absent those dopey, dopey vague Ms. Marvel powers. And younger. Making her part of that younger generation was brilliant. Yes, it could be argued she was filling a Kitty Pride roll. But her power suited the roll better than Kitty's power. So to me, it seems like the best of both worlds. Hell, they even gave her that bit of gray hair at the end. Nice touch.

Of course, it's an ensemble piece, so not every character has a lot of space or time to shine, but I think they did a good job of introducing THREE Major characters, EIGHT supporting characters, and a couple of nice cameos. So perhaps it might help if I went through it character by character:

THE LEADS
MAGNETO - NAME - Well, as I've mentioned, I don't think they did a very good job of integrating his name into the show. COSTUME - I think they did a great job of integrating the helmet however. I mean why would he wear that silly helmet? I thought that would be embarrassing. (And no, in comics, I never thought that great Kirby-designed helmet was silly. Again, different medium.) But hey, it protects him from Charles. Cool. I didn't miss the rest of his costume at all. INTERPRETATION - I thought the prologue was nice. Some critics have argued that using the Holocaust in a super-hero movie is insulting. But I think it went right to theme. Worked for me. CASTING - I thought McKellan was great. I loved his interaction with Patrick Stewart. Loved his mature villain read. It was refreshing to have someone older be this crucial to story. CONTINUITY - As to how true he was to the Magneto of the comics, well, sorry folks, but that's gonna depend on WHICH Magneto of the comics we're talking about. Magneto's been characterized so many different ways (just in the years I was reading alone) that choices for how to portray him run the gammut. So as choices go, I liked this. Smart. Semi-noble. But an ends justify the means kind of guy, who, as Logan points out, when push comes to shove isn't prepared to sacrifice himself over a young mutant girl that he theoretically should want to protect at all costs.

WOLVERINE - COSTUME Let's get this out of the way up front. I didn't miss the costume (and after all which costume) one bit. Don't give me Superman, Batman and Flash. Batman didn't even use the Batman costume. Not really. Just enough of it to make it recognizable. Flash's costume wasn't exactly the cojmic version either. Sure it was closer, but, frankly, it looked silly, icon or no icon -- I could have done without it. (Give me the lightning bolt emblem. That would have been enough.) Superman pulled it off. But that was mighty powerful ICONIC writing and directing in service of one of the most powerful icons in pop culture. So Wolverine's costume? Hey, from my point of view it WAS there. Because seriously, what you really remember about him ICONICALLY is the hair, the sideburns and the claws. And they nailed all three. I never thought that hair would work, but they pulled that off. NAME - The Wolverine name sort of worked. Mysterious dogtags with one word that he uses as a stage name for cagefighting. Hey, in this era of pro wrestling, I'll buy it. CASTING - Well, I thought Jackman was terrific. But I'll admit to being wistful about his height. Yes, I was glad he was still shorter than Cyclops and Jean. But one of the truly archetypal qualities that Len Wein built into Wolverine was his height -- or lack there of. It was so "kid-relatable" (a phrase I usually despise). The short guy (and almost all kids are short relative to someone) who when pushed, kicked ass better than anyone. So yeah, I missed that he was average height and not flat out short. But I've cast a fair amount of shows. Even in voice, when you don't have to worry about what the actor looks like, you still make compromises. So in live-action... Well, yes, if you search the globe I'm sure you can find some guy who looks EXACTLY like Wolverine. But what makes you think that guy can act? Jackman looked eighty plus percent of the part. And he could REALLY act. INTERPRETATION - I did miss the berserker rages a bit. I didn't mind that we were seeing the kinder gentler side of the Wolverine character. That was always there. It be idiotic not to feature it. And we saw the sly bastard who was also part of the package. And we saw the guy who nine times out of ten exercises strict control over himself -- cause if he doesn't watch out. But there's that one time out of ten left, when he should just go nuts. Animalistic with rage. We never saw that. And I missed that. Still overall, he's an incredibly engaging character here. No real complaints. CONTINUITY - Suitably clean. We know very little. But we know what we're missing. An event fifteen years ago where he was cut opened and rebuilt. Very cool.

ROGUE - COSTUME - This worked fine for me, I guess. NAME - A real stretch, but I guess you can buy this kid trying to sound tough and cool. If having a one-word name is really tough and cool? CONTINUITY & INTERPRETATION - See above. Since I wasn't a big fan of the comic character, I didn't mind any of the changes they made. So CASTING - She was great for the part she played.

SUPPORTING
PROFESSOR X - CASTING - O.K., Patrick Stewart has been playing Charles for years, even if he didn't know it. So you couldn't cast this one better, in my opinion. COSTUMING - Fine. Duh. NAME - Did anyone ever actually call him Professor X? If so, it was so casual and easy and natural that I didn't notice. Good. INTERPRETATION & CONTINUITY - This is the Prof. X I know.

CYCLOPS - NAME - See above. COSTUME - Okay, all those black battle suits were a little cheezy, but I can live with them. If the alternative was some (even non-spandex) version of one of the upteenth variations on their comic book costumes, I can live with what they did. Again, I didn't miss the blue and yellow thing at all. Frankly, I would have preferred no hokey costumes at all. CONTINUITY, CASTING & INTERPRETATION - Of all the characters, Cyclops (probably the one I know the best) was the most disappointing to me. I didn't mind his youth at all. That fit with their general reconfiguration of the continuity, which I admired. But I still don't think that that particular actor captured Cyclops enough. He was a bit callow for my tastes through most of the movie. He didn't seem quietly worthy of Jean's love. And I almost would have preferred a guy who was almost entirely HUMORLESS, except for the occasional very dry "Did Scott just actually tell a joke?" moments. Less of a pretty boy, I think. Still, by the time we got to the Statue of Liberty those things didn't bother me as much. Still, he was the weakest link for me in the entire movie. I've heard people speak badly of Storm, Rogue, even Wolverine. But I had no problem with them. But I would have liked a Cyclops who had that tragic, I MUST STAY IN CONTROL quality. That near military officer's edge. Less of a punk. I think that also would have boosted the Scott-Jean-Logan-Marie-Bobby love pentagon too.

JEAN - NAME & COSTUME - See above. CONTINUITY & INTERPRETATION - I liked the roll she had here. The public face. Perfect. CASTING - Famke didn't wow me. She never really has. But she was fine. No complaints, except maybe did I hear a slight touch of accent in there? (TRIVIA: Incidentally, Famke is currently renting Brigitte Bako's house while Brigitte is shooting a movie in Canada. And I once briefly met Famke in 1995. She was exiting Todd Garner's office as I was coming in. Todd was, at the time, the Touchstone executive in charge of -- among other things -- the Gargoyles Live Action Feature.)

STORM - NAME - See above. COSTUME - The cape seemed a little silly. I guess you could pretend to justify it based on the need to catch the wind or whatever, but.... CONTINUITY - See above. I had no problem with moving a fundamentally mature/responsible character like Storm into Cyclops & Jean's generation. CASTING & INTERPRETATION - Well, Storm was the hero who got the least screen time. (Unless you count Iceman.) That's inevitable with a cast this big. But I thought Halley Berry was fine playing a young, inexperienced but fundamentally mature/responsible Ororo. She isn't too great in battle at first, but when she cuts loose... Toads fly. All that worked for me. It was her first real fight.

MYSTIQUE - NAME - See above. "COSTUME" - we were supposed to think she was naked, right? CASTING - She looked great and kicked ass. Not much else for her to do AS Mystique. CONTINUITY AND INTERPRETAITON - We learn almost nothing about her. But I thought she was effective, and I think they left the door open for some interesting stuff. Nightcrawler for example could take the roll that Rogue had in the comics. (Since Rogue isn't using it.) It would suit both Mystique and Nightcrawler better. Cleaner, less confusing.

SABERTOOTH - NAME - See above. COSTUME - Yeah, whatever. CASTING - Great. Fine. CONTINUITY & INTERPRETATION - I think they made a clear connection between Logan and this guy. Not one that Logan remembers in this continuity. He clearly DID NOT remember Toothy, assuming they have ever met before. But the film-makers still made the connection. Start with the dog-tags. But even if you asssume that Tooth just took those as souvenirs or trophies, there's still another connection. Tooth was unstoppable. Wolverine kept stabbing him to ZERO effect. Wolverine stabbed himself and it hurt. Sabretooth never slowed down. That suggested to me a healing factor that creates another connection to Wolverine. As for Sabre's "death", c'mon. We never saw the body of either him or Toad. There's no reason to assume either is dead. In pop culture you must see the body, and even then....

TOAD - NAME - See above. COSTUME - Fine. CASTING - Good. Never saw Darth Maul, so any in-jokes there were lost on me. CONTINUITY & INTERPRETATION - Well, they certainly made him a more effective henchman. Maybe down the line there may be time to see the tortured side of him. No room for it here. But that didn't bother me.

SENATOR KELLY - All fine. I was a bit surprised they killed him off. But it all worked. And Mystique can do interesting things with Kelly if they chose to bring "him" back.

CAMEOS:
BOBBY - See above. This worked for me.

KITTY - Nice little touches with her.

GYRICH - Well, he's dead. I'm fine with that actually. But I can see both sides of this argument. If you're gonna kill off a minor character than why use someone you may have real use for later. OR We've got a minor character. Let's give him a name that will make the fans smile. (I fell into the latter category, I guess.)

PYRO & JUBILEE - See above. (Who are these two?)

STAN LEE - Him, I recognized immediately on the beach when mutant Kelly comes ashore. How could you miss him? (And yet, I never noticed he was a hot dog vendor. I just thought it was Stan Lee.) Was Claremont in there anywhere? Len Wein? Roz Kirby (in lieu of Jack)? Dave Cockrum? Byrne?

DIALOGUE: O.k. This wasn't stellar. A few nice touches, but it wasn't sharp, and Storm's line to Toad was pathetic. I'd have loved the dialogue to be sharper. But it served.

PLOT: Rogue as Magneto's true target was telegraphed a bit heavy-handedly for me. At one point Xavier even suggests that Logan might not be the target, yet doesn't make the obvious connection to Rogue that follows. Not until after it's too late. But overall, I was pleased. The story held up. It wasn't an "idiot plot". The motivations all made sense. In fact, they were compelling to me.

ACTION - Worked for me. I don't need to see the White House blown up in every movie. The action seemed appropriate to the story. Some of the choreography in the final battle (which may be editing as much as writing or directing) was problematic for me, but not very.

CHARACTER DYNAMICS - Largely great. Loved the interaction between Logan and just about everyone. Loved the interaction between Magneto and just about everyone. Loved the interaction between Xavier and just about everyone. Cyclops' overall weakness weakened his dynamics. And again, we didn't really get enough screen time with Storm to judge one way or the other, but overall I give high marks.

LENGTH - the movie was mercifully short. No one trying to squeeze three hours of angst and bad plotting and padding in. It moved at a nice tight pace. (And even then, the couple we saw it with thought it moved a bit slow.) Makes me nervous about a director's cut though. Sometimes those are great. (BLADE RUNNER.) Sometimes not. (CLOSE ENCOUNTERS).

So overall, and after all the above exercise in me being a wind-bag, I'd recommend it. It's not a great film. But it's a fun movie. And I had fun rambling about it.

In my next ramble, I'll talk a bit about the Gargoyle's Live Action movie in light of X-Men.


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GREG GULER to appear!!

Great news about the Gathering 2000.

Sara and I have managed to add TWO more terrific guests (in addition to myself and Thom Adcox). One, who I
first mentioned last week, is Brad Rader, a Disney and Gargoyles Storyboard Artist. The other is GREG
GULER, a former comic book artist (DC's HAWK & DOVE), who is now a character designer for Disney. He
basically designed Goliath, Demona and Elisa when we were in development on the show. And he was the lead
character designer for the entire second season.

Both Brad & Greg will be participating in Q&A's, judging art and costume contests and leading art seminars.
Now with a writer (me), an actor (Thom) and two artists (Brad & Greg), the Gathering really does cover all
your Gargoyle bases. Don't miss it!


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Another "Mirror" Memo...

Though I think it's one of our most rewarding episodes, it was a tough one to make come together. So after I received the first draft script on "The Mirror", I sent a second memo to Brynne. Here it is, UNEDITED:

WEISMAN 11-13-94

Notes on "The Mirror" Script...

O.k. The problems here seems to be mostly my fault. I haven't been able to make clear to you guys how I want our characters to react when they've been changed. It's been clear in my head. And for me the logic flows backwards from a scene I want to see where an average-human-pedestrian-who-has-been-turned-into-a-gargoyle sees one of our transformed-into-human-heroes and screams: "Look at that monster!! It's like some kind of horrible... HUMAN!!" The key is that the bystander actually uses the word "HUMAN", and that he says it with the same kind of fear and revulsion that we would normally hear (in a more typical episode) being used for the word "GARGOYLE".

In order to get both the revulsion into the word "Human" and a strongly negative reaction to our heroes' new human appearance, the bystander needs to believe that being a gargoyle is the way it's supposed to be. Therefore when the bystander's appearance was changed his mind-set must have been changed as well.

Working backwards from that goal, how would our main characters react to being changed?

THEIR MINDSET WOULD CHANGE SIMULTANEOUSLY WITH THEIR APPEARANCE:
Elisa is the first to be transformed. Thus, ELISA'S REACTION to being changed into A GARGOYLE is the surprising statement:

"Goliath, You've been changed into a gargoyle!"

Reasoning: Goliath &co. were always "the other" to Elisa. But when she was transformed, her mindset changed with her appearance. So she now believes that being a gargoyle is normal. Since, Goliath &co. now look "normal" to her, she figures that they must have been magically changed from being "the other" into being "normal"--i.e. they have been transformed into gargoyles.

[I realize this seems byzantine, but ultimately it'll be the most straightforward reaction on screen, short of having everyone entirely self-aware from the moment they change, (which just isn't as much fun to me). See how it plays out in beat #11. (Also #9, 13, 14 and 21.) If you're still not clear, please don't hesitate to call me.]

TENSION
Despite absurdist moments in this story, we must keep the tension and suspense running high, throughout.
--Don't reveal Elisa's presence at the museum until last possible second. Same with Goliath.
--Don't let Gargoyle's lose track of their objective for more than a line of dialogue here or there.
--Don't let the battle meander from place to place. Keep battle and chase scenes focused and specific.

WHAT THEY'VE BEEN WISHING FOR:
DEMONA'S WISHES
1. Get rid of humans, particularly Elisa.
2. Get rid of Goliath and Co.
3. Stop turning to stone during the day.

GOLIATH & ELISA'S WISH - To be together. (Elisa is slightly more self-aware than Goliath, but neither should specifically wish in dialogue to become the race of the other. It's too on the head.)

TRIO'S WISH - To assimilate.

CLARITY IN SCRIPT
O.K. TO USE: ELISA/GARGOYLE
HUMAN/"GARGOYLES"
GOLIATH/HUMAN
HUDSON/HUMAN
BROOKLYN/HUMAN
BROADWAY/HUMAN
LEXINGTON/HUMAN
OUR HEROES

DON'T USE: HUMAN/GARGOYLES
GARGOYLES/HUMANS
TRIO/HUMANS
Even for me, these were too confusing.

In group scenes, LIST ALL CHARACTERS IF NECESSARY.

BEAT SHEET
ACT ONE
1. Museum.
--Establish two security guards - but don't reveal that one of them is Elisa (or that Goliath is there).
--Demona breaks in and takes out the first guard.
--Second guard turns out to be Elisa, ready and waiting w/Goliath.
--Establish how much Demona hates humans in general, and Elisa specifically.
--Demona never gets as far as laser-grid around mirror.

2. Chase.
--Demona Escapes.
--And while Goliath and Elisa are chasing her...
Maybe inter-cut w/...

3. Museum.
--Thieves get past laser-grid to steal mirror.

4. Ext. Demona's house.
--The two thieves deliver mirror.

5. Int. Demona's house.
--Demona summons Puck.

6. Clock tower.
--Elisa arrives. They were duped. Mirror was stolen.
--Elisa's: So how bad is this? What can D do with that mirror?
--No one knows for sure, but it leads to the discussion of Oberon's Children.
--Refer here to Midsummer Night's Dream.
--Scotsmen called them "Fair Folk".
--Vikings called them "Dark Elves".
--Shape-shifters.
--Trio: Imagine what it would be like to shape-change. Fit in anywhere.
--Hint subtly at Elisa and Goliath's desires.

7. Demona's house.
--Make sure we know Puck's name here.
--Our Demona and Puck wish scene.
--Puck uses a rhyming spell.
--Puck's arms are pinned by chains, so magic energy comes out of his eyes.

8. Clock Tower.
--Elisa: All we can do is wait til Demona makes her move.
--Elisa transforms into a gargoyle.

ACT TWO
9. Clock Tower.
--Everyone including Bronx is pretty stunned by Elisa's change.
--She seems happy though.
-- Elisa: "This is wonderful. Goliath, you've been transformed into a gargoyle!"
--Goliath: "What?!"

10. Demona's House.
--Puck tells her the deed is done.
--Demona wants to escalate. Every human in Manhattan.
--Puck again stresses difficulty of "big wishes".
--Demona yanks chain: "Answer truthfully. Can it be done?"
--Puck: Yes, but not from here.

11. Clock Tower.
--Bronx sniffs at Elisa.
--Goliath: "We've always been gargoyles. You're the one who's been changed."
--Elisa: "I've always been a gargoyle. I think I'd know it if I wasn't."
--Goliath: "How did we first meet?"
--Elisa: "I fell off a skyscraper; you glided down and caught me."
--Goliath: "If you always had wings, why would you need me to catch you."
--Elisa: "I can't glide with these."
--Goliath: "Yes, you can."
--AND OFF THEY GO.
--Hudson and Trio stare at each other for a beat and then follow.
--Bronx is left behind.

12. WORLD TRADE CENTER
--Puck and Demona materialize w/mirror.
--P: This is gonna take a while.
--He begins visually gathering magical energy. Just a little at first.

13. Flight over the city.
--Goliath NEVER LETS GO OF HER HAND, even after it's clear that she's gliding under her own "power", because she's afraid. She doesn't want to lose that contact.
--Goliath can't help staring at her: "I never realized when you were human just how beautiful you are."
--Elisa: "You mean you used to think I was ugly?"
--He doesn't have a good answer to this.
--Fortunately for him, she segues to: "This is so confusing. Have I always been able to glide like this?"
--[She's still hasn't quite grasped the situation.]
--Goliath: "No. No. Try to understand. You've been changed into a gargoyle. Follow me, I'll show you."
--They glides in low over the streets. Elisa sees the humans and freaks!! (Her freaking needs to be ambiguous. Goliath thinks she understands now. She doesn't really.)
--Goliath: "Maybe we should land somewhere and talk."

14. Rooftop.
--Goliath, Elisa, Hudson and Trio come in for a landing.
--(Establish clothes line. Someone has left their laundry, including bedsheets, to dry in the warm night air.)
--Elisa: "Did you see? Everyone in Manhattan's been turned into a HUMAN?!!!"
--G: "...no, no, no..."
--HUDSON: "LOOK!"
--He points at light show that seems to be gathering around one of the towers of the WTC.

15. World Trade Center.
--BIG LIGHT SHOW as Puck glows with magical energy.
--P: "This is really going to wear me out."
--D: "Quit complaining and do it already."
--Puck casts rhyming spell.
--Magical energy shoots from entire body to hit mirror.
--Spell reflects off mirror and hits giant hyperbolic sattelite dish. --Sattelite dish fires magic off across the whole city.
--Puck collapses.

16. Rooftop.
--Goliath & Co. have seen light show from WTC, (but not result).
--Goliath &Co. leave Elisa on the roof and head toward WTC.
--Elisa's not happy about it, but they don't give her a choice.
--And she's still phobic about flying alone, so she can't follow.

17. WTC
--Now that the light show has subsided, Demona wants to see her "empty city", but Puck is out of it.
--Goliath and co. attack. She's forced to flee with Puck, but without mirror.
--(Somewhere in here, Demona has to mention Puck's name.)
--To save herself, she tosses it. Hudson saves it.
--Goliath and Trio pursue Demona.

18. Downtown streets/subway/ whatever
--Even though she's being chased and is hampered by the unconscious Puck, Demona still comes in for a landing to see the results of her wish.
--She's furious as she sees the human/"gargoyles" going about their business.
--Use this chase (and this scene) to reveal the extent and absurdity of the change that hasn't really changed anything but the appearance of the people. Take us down into the subway, maybe.
--Demona ultimately uses the situation to get lost in a crowd.
--For the pursuers, Goliath and trio, it's like finding a needle in a haystack.
--Throughout scene, Trio may get wistful and a little distracted about being able to fit in.
--There are female "Gargoyles" walking by, catching trio's eyes.
--They have to remind themselves that this is wrong. And they're not entirely convinced that it is.
--But other "gargoyles" still shy away from trio because of how they are dressed. (Or how little they are dressed.)
--At any rate, the trio don't totally lose track of their objective: Demona.
--But Demona's gone.
--Goliath: Let's go get Elisa and plan our next move.

19. A deserted alley.
--Demona confronts a very worn-out Puck.
--D: I wanted you to destroy the humans, not give them the gift of being a gargoyle!!
--D: "Change the gargoyles back to humans."
--Puck: "O.K., o.k., give me a chance to catch my breath."
--He leans to look at his reflection in the side-view mirror of a car.
--The image in the mirror wavers.

20. Rooftop.
--Goliath, Hudson, Trio and Elisa confer.
--They have the mirror.
--That was definitely one of Oberon's Children with Demona.
--Demona called him Puck.
--Elisa: In Shakespeare, Puck was a harmless trickster.
--Goliath: What's happened below isn't harmless. Come, we must continue to search for Demona and Puck.
--Elisa: "I'll never get the hang of leaping off rooftops."
--Goliath: "I will always be there to catch you."
--She hesitates. He takes off to set an example.
--A bolt of Magic shoots out of the mirror catching Goliath, Hudson and the trio.
--Goliath changes to human and falls.

ACT THREE
21. Rooftop.
--Elisa dives and catches Goliath. Overcoming her fear without thinking about it.
--Meanwhile, Hudson grabs a sheet off the clothesline and covers the mirror: "Don't want anything else jumping out at us from this thing!"
--Goliath doesn't understand why he fell.
--Suddenly he stares at her: "Elisa...You've changed back to normal!!"
--E: No. I haven't changed. You have. You're a human. You fell because, you don't have wings.
--Brooklyn: "We've always been humans."
--Hudson: "And we've never needed wings to glide before."
--Lex (the engineer of the group): "Wait a minute, we must have used wings. How else could we do it?"
--Goliath, sinking in: "Elisa's right. We're supposed to be gargoyles. And we're not. Everyone else should be human. But thanks to Demona and Puck, they're not."

22. Alley & Street.
--Puck is very weary.
--Demona asks if it's done.
--Puck says yes.
--Demona and Puck cautiously exit alley.
--Obviously, all the humans are still "Gargoyles".
--Demona turns on Puck. I told you to turn the gargoyles to humans.
--Puck: "Oh, you meant these gargoyles! I thought you meant Goliath and the gang. My mistake. Sorry."
--Demona: "You turned Goliath into a human?!!"
--She's ready to murdilate Puck. She pulls the chain tighter, crushing him.
--Puck: "Hey, hey, hey, You're missing the big picture, here. This is your big chance to get rid of Goliath. Now, while he's weak as any human."
--She stops, smiles.
--Dissolve.

23. Rockefeller Center. Some time later.
--Bronx runs into shot. [He has not been transformed yet.]
--A human/ "gargoyle" pedestrian bends over to pet the nice doggie and then runs away screaming when he sees the doggie's masters.
--Our "human" heroes now fully clothed (and looking cool) walk with determination right up to the center of Rockefeller Center. Hudson still has the mirror, covered in the bed sheet.
--(Elisa is not in sight.)
--Everywhere, pedestrian/"gargoyles" run screaming: "Ahhh, humans!! Run!!" "Oh, they're so ugly." "Keep away, you...you monster human, you."
--Hudson to Goliath: Are you sure this is a good idea?
--G: Demona must have done all this for a purpose. What else could it be except to leave us vulnerable to her attack. So we'll let her come to us, but we'll pick the place of battle. Here on the ground and in the open where her wings won't help her much.
--They take their stand. Not all the pedestrians have run. Some stop and stare, but they all keep their distance from these human monsters.
--Goliath instructs Hudson to unwrap the mirror.
--The instant he does, Puck and Demona fly out of it.
--BATTLE ROYALE (Needs real choreography.)
--Demona's armed with her plasma rifle.
--Gargoyle's are armed with medieval weapons.
--Battle is largely land bound.
--Puck's having a good time and helps Demona.
--His stunts can be darkly funny, i.e. they can be absurd, as long as they increase the danger to our heroes.
--Puck turns Bronx into a Russian Wolf-hound, just for fun.
--Some brave bystanders see Demona being attacked by all these monsters and run in to help.
--Trio are forced to battle them.
--These human/ "gargoyles" don't know their own strength, so fighting them isn't easy.
--Obviously at some crucial moment, Elisa (their secret weapon) flies in and takes on D.
--Demona should not instantly recognize Elisa.
--But when Demona does, she goes nuts. Elisa's presence (both the fact that she is alive and a gargoyle) is a double-edged sword. The best (psychological) weapon the good guys have, it throws Demona into a rage, which makes her doubly dangerous, but careless.
--Goliath and Elisa stand together to defeat D.
--Trio take on and scare off the "gargoyle" good samaritans.
--With Bronx's help, Hudson bags Puck with metal-mesh trashcan.

24. WTC
--Goliath promises to free Puck if he changes things back to normal.
--Puck complies. He'll start with the biggest job -- getting all the humans back to normal. (Fortunately, changing something back to its normal state is easier for him than the reverse.)
--Using rhyming spell, mirror and sattelite dish, Puck lets the magic fly.
--Elisa is human again.
--Puck needs a moment to recover.
--Elisa and Goliath have a brief moment.
--Elisa (self-depricating): "Well, I guess I'm back to my old ugly human self."
--G: "Never, to these eyes. But I'm curious. Am I handsome to you like this?"
--E: "You've always been handsome to me."
--PUCK: "Allright, enough of the mushy stuff!"
--He zaps Goliath, Hud, Bronx and Trio back into Gargoyles. (Note: he doesn't need the mirror, since they're all standing right in front of him.)
--Goliath frees Puck.
--Puck takes off with Demona through Mirror, taking mirror with.

25. Demona's house.
--Puck's grateful for a good time, enjoyed by all.
--He'll grant Demona her original wish: She won't turn to stone during the day.
--She's suspicious, for obvious reasons.
--He must SPELL OUT that she will still be her normal GARGOYLE self at night. But during the day, she won't have to sleep as stone.
--One last little rhyme spell.
--And he disappears through mirror.

26. Clock Tower.
--Final scene with Bronx, Hud, Trio, Goliath and Elisa. (This was really nice, as written.)

27. Demona's House.
--The sun is rising.
--We can only see Demona in sillouette.
--Until she turns to look at herself in the mirror.
--Which she smashes.

PAGE NOTES
(The script I received had some odd page numbering. The title page was numbered as page one, some pages were skipped and had no numbers, and the last page was numbered 33. So I just renumbered it from the first page of script on through the last [39]. The following notes therefore refer to my numbers. Call me if you have any questions.)

P.2
If Demona never gets the opportunity to destroy or turn off the laser-grid around the mirror, than we can leave it for the thieves to deal with and ditch all this dialogue and action revolving around alarms. Demona's meant to be a diversion.

Please don't refer to the Security Guard as Sarge or Old Soldier. I know it's just character stuff, but we don't have the space to give it context. It winds up confusing us as to who the guard really is.

Remember: Male gargoyle eyes glow white. Only female gargoyle eyes glow red.

Throughout script we use both "rooklings" and "hatchlings". I prefer "hatchlings". That way audience members who have missed the one or two references to the rookery, will still understand.

P.5
Goliath's getting wounded is problematic. We don't deal with it in the story. It's quickly forgotten. We don't want to play fast and loose with something like that.

P.9
Don't forget to give us some description of Puck. (He definitely should have pointed ears, for example. I added pointed ears to the description of the Weird Sisters in their true form.)

P.10
I don't know that we want to refer to all of Oberon's Children as "real mean". Seems blatantly racist.

When Demona summoned Puck earlier, she did it in Latin. So please make sure we name him here in this scene.

P.12
DEMONA
If you cannot rid me of all humans,
then at least rid me of that human --
Elisa Maza!

We need the double entendre of Demona asking Puck to get rid of that
human-Elisa. ("Oh," Puck weasles to himself, "get rid of the human-Elisa. Make her a gargoyle-Elisa instead.")

P.21
Our Gargoyles shouldn't notice that anything has changed among the pedestrians below, until they get close enough to see. (From a practical standpoint, the idea of each person suddenly taking up more room, might be tough to get across in animation.)

Let's show at least one of the Human/"Gargoyles" looking at his or her reflection (in a store window or something) and preening. Totally unaware of the change.

Goliath says, "What sorcery is this?" twice in the episode. Let's skip both. He said this exact line in "Awakening".

P.23
Keep focus and imperative of THIS story. No one has time to stop for hot dogs or to deal with vandals. (So skip both incidents.)

P.25
Puck doesn't have to pretend that he did "exactly" as Demona commanded. He can have more attitude. "Hey, close enough." or "If you're going to split hairs..."

Again, let's not make Hudson an expert on Puck as an individual. We don't need him to identify Puck from tapestries. (And I doubt if his education has progressed to the point where he's read Shakespeare.) Plus, I'm not sure we have to label Puck as the "worst" of Oberon's children, either.

P.34
Gargoyles including Elisa/gargoyle CANNOT hover.

Also don't forget...
--Cast List.
--Latin version of Demona's spell from Grimorum. (It doesn't have to rhyme.)
--Rhyming spell in English for what Puck does to everyone. (Needs to be vague enough so that Demona isn't immediately tipped off.) Doesn't need to be same spell each time.
--Somewhere in here, we need to justify why none of the human/"gargoyle" crowd reacts to Puck. Do they see him as a gargoyle, ala the Weird Sisters? Or is he invisible to them? Or can we get away with them just walking by and ignoring him?
--Make sure final page count will be within our page range (pp. 35-39) after Denise has conformed it.

THANKS. DON'T HESITATE TO CALL WITH ANY QUESTIONS.


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"THE MIRROR" Outline memo...

Next up for my Ramblings is "The Mirror". What follows is the UNEDITED memo I sent to story editor Brynne Chandler Reaves regarding the first draft outline for that episode.

This is one I had very specific ideas on, so I may have been even tougher than usual. Oh, well...

WEISMAN 10-30-94

Notes on "The Mirror" Outline...
Brynne, I hope you consider this flattering: I'm gonna be very tough on you here, because I think you can handle it. It's not just because of this outline, but because in general, I want you to be handing me cleaner, more finished pieces. Although the story is full of great ideas, there are logical and structural problems here that need fixing. As I've discussed, I want to be less "hands-on" so that the schedule keeps flowing and we all stay sane, but that means I need you to catch much more of this sort of thing before I ever see it.

One particular concern of mine (and not so incidentally of Gary Krisel's) is padded first acts, where nothing of substance happens until the cliffhanger. Each story dictates its own structure, so I don't want to make any hard and fast rules, but this is one thing you should be thinking about on every episode you edit or write. We can have a prologue scene or two. But we don't want to turn the whole first act into a prologue to events that only begin seconds before the commercial break.

Scene One is a nice prologue. So is Two, if it's brief. Three, Four and Five are padding. Six is good prologue, but by this time it feels like padding. Seven is problematic from a character/logic standpoint. Finally, we get going at Eight.

And opening acts aside, we need to beware of scenes that serve no function in the structure of the story. A real good character moment is worth a detour on occasion. But our stories have to be coming out of character anyway, so nine times out of ten, the detour shouldn't be necessary.

Ever since "Reawakening" we've tried to make the Gargoyles much more pro-active. But even by first season "survival-mode" standards they seem downright slow to act here. In scene Three, they suspect magical bad news is on the way. In scene Six, they confirm Demona's involvement. Yet in scene Ten, they go to the play in the park like nothing was wrong. Worse, in scene Sixteen, when the humans are transformed, the younger gargoyles actually think that the transformation is part of the play? They're more sophisticated than that. And instead of reacting like it's a problem, they just want "contact with their kind". I wouldn't mind a wistful line that summoned up their feelings about how this reminds them of their old lives when there were many gargoyles and/or that it's nice to be able to walk out in the open without everyone running away screaming, but they have to realize that this transformation is bad news. Then in scene TWENTY-TWO (that's the beginning of ACT THREE and a full fourteen scenes after Goliath battled Demona in the museum) they "are certain now that Demona is behind this". Who did they think was behind it for the last act and a half? This is a good sign that we're either short on structure, heavy on padding or both.

THEME
We must have a clear theme that involves at least one of the "good" gargoyles in every episode. We shouldn't have to dig deep for it. It's what focuses the events that dictate our structure. Today's theme is "Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it." It applies to Demona, obviously. But it applies to subconscious desires on the part of Goliath. And wistful, but conscious desires on the part of Elisa. And even (to a small extent) the desire of our young trio to assimilate. Emphasize the theme as much as possible.

GARGOYLES AND MAGIC
Please remember that the gargoyles are largely ignorant of the workings of magic. They have an advantage over humans in that they know magic exists. That's about it. Demona and Macbeth have had centuries to study it. Guys like the Magus and the Archmage dedicated their lives to studying it. Brooklyn, on the other hand, is no expert. I doubt he can even read Latin. And the GRIMORUM is not a textbook that would provide easy answers even if he could read it. It is, in essence, a cookbook. If a recipe is torn out, there's no way to infer very much about it from the remaining pages. Remember, the Magus had the sleep spell he used on the gargoyles, and even with that and all his training, he couldn't wake them up without the specific page that held the counterspell. HOW could Brooklyn find a list (scene 5) that matches Demona's list? WHY would the Grimorum list the items for one specific spell twice? HOW could he know the name (Scene Eight) of the entity being summoned?

Could the Grimorum tell them that Puck's spells must be reversed before dawn? Or how Puck frees himself? Unlikely. (Would Julia Child's cookbook feature recipes by the Frugal Gourmet?) But (if we assume Goliath reads Latin, and could make heads or tails of the Grimorum, without having to sit down and spend an entire week reading the thing cover-to-cover to find a helpful passage in a book which, as you noted, has no index) -- it is possible. We always skate by a few things in every script. But the more we have to skate, the thinner the ice in general. Something that normally would fit neatly beneath our audiences suspension of disbelief, becomes one more contrivance in a story that's got a few too many.

DEMONA'S MOTIVATIONS
First off, she's not looking for an equal partner or ally. She's made that clear enough. That's exactly her problem with Xanatos. He always wants to know what's in it for him. He can't be easily controlled. He's fine if they have a mutual interest (resurrecting Goliath or Coldstone), fine if she can con him into helping her (as she does in "City of Stone"), but the latter isn't easy. Otherwise, they can't work together. They're goals are too diverse.

As for Macbeth, don't even bring him up. This story airs before CITY OF STONE. She hasn't seen Macbeth for decades probably. And it's been centuries since they worked together on anything.

None of this changes the story, but it's important to get her mind-set clear. She isn't summoning Puck as an ally. But as a slave.

And what does she want her slave to do? Basically, this episode is going to underline Demona's truly short-term thinking. She knows she wants humanity eradicated. But not what she'd do if she ever accomplished that goal. She's closed her heart to anything that doesn't serve her immediate short-term plans. (She's really, really screwed up.) At one point, Puck should offer her Goliath. He can make Goliath love her again. But she's so distracted by her hatred for Elisa in particular and humans in general, that she can't keep a positive thought in her head. Her monolithic and myopic fanaticism allow Puck to make a primate out of her, literally and figuratively.

PUCK
First big note from Adrienne and ME: we cannot play this character like he's a demon. His summoning in particular came off as very satanic. Let's try to make it more fanciful and magical. One thing that would help avoid this problem, is to be clear about what Puck is. If we aren't clear, people might think demon or devil. If we are clear, they'll believe us. We've got to establish, not only Puck, but his entire magical race. They are the third sentient group that once populated our planet in addition to humans and gargoyles. We need a name for this race that we can be comfortable with. (We can say at some point that the Scots called them the Fair Folk; the Vikings called them Dark Elves. But neither name is great. There must be something that could work for us. "The Oberati" perhaps, after their king?)

Then we need to set some rules and limits. Particularly given what we know about the Weird Sisters (and about Puck's secret identity). Obviously, not all of these rules need to be spelled out in this script. But let's make sure we know them. Let's begin by saying that the Oberati can all shape-shift. But when they morph into a form, they're stuck with that form's limitations. No magic happening if they pose as human.

In their true forms, they have a lot of magic power, but a rule against the direct use of it in the world of man (witness the Weird Sisters more indirect manipulations). Maybe this is a command from Oberon which they are afraid, but not unable, to break.

An obvious exception to the rule occurs when they are enslaved by someone else who commands them to use their magic. They are off the hook responsibility-wise, so they can go to town. Thus, most cultures have wish-granting legends about Leprechauns or Djinn or whatever.

Conveniently, the Oberati are creatures of pure magical energy. When they cast a spell, the spell doesn't have the limitations imposed on the studied magic of human or gargoyle sorcerers. The subjects of their spells don't have to see and hear them to be affected. It's a more fluid, less structured form of magic. Magic to the Archmage is an art, craft or science to master. Magic to Puck is as natural (or super-natural) as breathing.

But even Puck must have his limits. Even magical energy should be finite. We MUST establish this fact, at least. If Demona asks to get rid of all the humans on the planet, Puck will have to admit that it's too much for him. Would she settle for all the humans on the island?

Did the Gargoyles meet or hear of Puck specifically, back in the tenth century? I doubt it. They lived fairly isolated lives out at Wyvern. And Puck didn't get famous until Shakespeare made him famous quite a few centuries later. Maybe they've heard stories about the Fair Folk, but again, let's resist the temptation to make Goliath or Brooklyn or Hudson experts on the subject. They seem pretty perplexed by the Weird Sisters in "City of Stone". That should define their reaction to Puck, whom they're meeting here prior to that story.

Why does Puck help Goliath turn stuff back to normal at the end? Well, for this episode's purposes, it'll probably work that Goliath holds the chain and issues a command. But Demona held the chain, and Puck always found a way to circumvent her commands. So why doesn't he do the same to Goliath? Two reasons, probably. First, it further annoys Demona, who he's peeved at for enslaving him in the first place. Second, once Puck is free, he can return to his secret identity, where he's been having such a good time. He wants things back to normal himself. Still in future appearances, we need to be sure that Puck doesn't turn into a personification of Deus ex machina.

Use it sparingly, but it's o.k. with me if Puck breaks the third wall and addresses the audience on occasion.

Finally, Puck's name. The Disney execs are of two minds on this. Bruce prefers Goodfellow. His main concern is the constant policing we'd have to do to make sure Puck doesn't ever come out Fuck. Ellen feels that Goodfellow has more association with Satan than Puck does and that Puck is safer on that level. I'm really torn. I tend to agree that Puck is a slightly more recognizable Shakespearean reference than Goodfellow, and thus stonger and safer. I also think the name suits the character. On the other hand, I think Goodfellow is an effectively ironic name for a character who is, for all intents and purposes, a villain. Part of me really wants to use both. Could the spell that enslaves Puck to Demona have something to do with her knowing his true name, Robin Goodfellow? Adrienne, I think, is on the fence with me. But I'm not sure. We should probably discuss this one last time before you go to script.

THE MIRROR
Think of the Wicked Queen's Magic Mirror times ten. It is a window, a doorway, a Peeping Tom.

HUMANS AS "GARGOYLES"
As we discussed, I don't think the humans notice they've been transformed. Some of the ridiculous fun of this episode should be to see them, walking around, going about their normal business, briefcases and subway tokens in hand, with no indication that anything is different. If they looked in a mirror, they'd preen as usual. They wouldn't freak out or recognize the change.

Although they have wings, I don't think it occurs to any of them to start gliding around the city. And if they see (the soon-to-be more self-aware) Elisa flying, it would be shocking: "Look, Mommy, that lady is flying!!" It's not that they'd see her suddenly as a gargoyle. (It'd be like seeing Superman. A normal enough looking person. He just happens to be leaping tall buildings with a single bound, which is, of course, unusual enough.)

When Goliath and clan walk among them as gargoyles, I don't think they see them as unusual. For once, looking like a gargoyle is normal. Like Halloween, in "Eye of the Beholder", it's another rare moment for our guys when they can be out in the open. (This may have been what you had in mind in scene 18. I wasn't clear.)

However, when Goliath and company enter their midst as "Humans", it should scare them. Once again, ugliness is in the eye of the beholder, and the "human" Goliath is still the monster. We should not skip this beat (as you planned to in scene 24). We should play it. It can be bitter, poignant and, yes, funny. (Appealing to Puck's dark sense of humor (and mine too, for that matter).)

ELISA AS A "GARGOYLE"
Like the other transformed humans, Elisa doesn't immediately realize she's been transformed. And looking in the mirror won't clue her in either. (And in any case, Elisa isn't the type to faint dead away.) In fact, she might turn to Goliath and suddenly ask, "Could you remind me why you guys are hiding up here in the clock tower?" Suddenly, they don't look so strange to her. Goliath is going to have to sit her down and talk her through the differences between humans and gargoyles. Her realization should play like a fog lifting.

And we probably should play out Goliath and Elisa both as gargoyles for an act. Maybe he teaches her how to fly. Maybe they're just about to get close enough to do the gargoyle equivalent of an embrace, when he's transformed to human. Get it so that we can all almost taste it. Then yank it away. (I know, I'm a cruel bastard.)

I also want to contrast Goliath's reaction to "gargoyle" Elisa with Elisa's reaction to "human" Goliath. He may say, "Elisa, I never realized how beautiful you are," because he always liked her for her inner beauty but, frankly, never found her physically attractive (no wings, no tail--shudder). And he's always made that mental distinction between the surface and what lies beneath.

Elisa never did. She recognized his inner beauty in episode three or four and ALWAYS thought he was handsome. Even before this episode, I think she's thought about the two of them and come to the inescapable conclusion that romance is impractical. Better keep it platonic. I think he's had those feelings, but has never connected to them mentally. (Look, no matter what the species, or how evolved the individual, he's still a guy. And guys are fundamentally stupid about this stuff.) Until this episode, it never crossed his mind that Elisa could replace Demona in his heart. The fact is she already has. But he never thought about it before now.

OUR GARGOYLES AS "HUMANS"
To be consistent, they shouldn't recognize the change until Elisa points it out to them. Maybe they were about to leap from the clock tower, and Elisa has to stop them and say: "Look, guys, you don't have wings anymore!"

But let's keep in mind that these guys are still heroes. NO WAY are they going to agree to step back because a gargoyle Demona is too tough for them now. Did Elisa ever step back when she was human? For that matter, there have been plenty of humans willing to go toe-to-toe with the gargoyles. Certainly Goliath is as brave as Macbeth or Wolf or Commando #3.

Also, I got confused in scene 29. Goliath has been transformed to human. That means human proportions. Sure, he'd be a big guy, but not as big as he was as a gargoyle. I don't know why armor would fit, say Broadway, and not him.

TONE
In contrast to our typical episodes, I think this one can have a more absurdist tone. Puck should both further the tone with his actions and undercut it with wry asides. Plus there'll be romantic stuff, also undercut, this time by Goliath's reaction to Elisa and the genuine frustration that comes from the situation's mutability.

GOLIATH BLAMES XANATOS...
For everything, it seems. In "Lighthouse" and to a lesser extent in "Leader", we've played the beat of Goliath mistakenly going to the castle to confront Xanatos for something that the latter had nothing to do with. I think by now, Goliath has learned his lesson. Particularly since the going's on here smack much more of Demona or Macbeth than Xanatos.

DEMONA'S HOME BASE
Let's get a clear sense of what this place is like. Particularly, how it is distinct from Macbeth's mansion: we've played his place like Wayne Manor. Dracon has the penthouse at the Park Manor Hotel. And Xanatos has this incredibly cool castle-on-a-skyscraper H.Q. Demona's home needs to be different from all of these and special in its own right. Also give us an at least approximate idea of where this thing is located. Gramercy Park, maybe?

SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK
This was a great way to ground our Puck in Shakespeare, as opposed to Satan. No doubt about it. And no fault of yours, but I want to save this setting for a story that Michael and I have discussed involving Macbeth and an adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Plus, in this story, I want to play with Manhattan life going on, business as usual, despite the fact that everyone's been turned into a gargoyle. We can't do that if we limit ourselves to the Park and the closed Museum. I want to get this story out in the open. Have the "gargoyle" humans reacting in panic to the "human" Goliath and clan, the way they'd normally react to them as gargoyles. That's an opportunity we won't get in another story. We must take advantage of it. But having taken the story out of the park, we should work other Midsummer references into the script. Name the mirror after Oberon or Titania, perhaps.

BEAT SHEET
ACT ONE
1. A warm Midsummer's Night. Demona arrives at the museum with grand theft in mind. She's come to steal the Mirror of Oberon (or whatever we ultimately call it) which has just arrived from Ireland (or Italy or wherever). The first museum security guard is no problem. But the second security guard turns out to be Elisa -- undercover, prepared and not without back-up, i.e. Goliath. They suspected that the mirror would be a prize too tempting for Demona to resist. Demona seems particularly furious over Goliath's continued "partnership" with Elisa. SHE HATES HUMANS AND SHE REALLY HATES ELISA!! (Demona knows how Goliath feels about Elisa, even if the big lug hasn't admitted it to himself yet.)

2. Anyway, we get a big action sequence in the museum which leads to a chase outside. Demona gets away from them, but without the mirror. And because our heroes are so thoroughly engaged in these activities...

3. ...They are absent when two high-tech but very human cat burglars show up at the museum, seconds later, to crate up and steal the mirror. (The real security guard is still unconscious and thus unable to do anything about them.)

4. The two thieves arrive at Demona's townhouse (or whatever) with the crated mirror. Otherwise, the scene plays pretty much as you had it with the delivery men.

5. Inside her home, Demona wraps thick iron chains across the glass of the stolen Mirror. She summons Puck. He comes flying out through the glass and thus winds up wrapped in the iron chains. He spends almost the entire episode with the chains pinning his arms across his chest.

6. Back at the clock tower, Goliath and Elisa are feeling like grade-A dorks. Elisa's just back from investigating the museum crime scene. It's now clear that Demona's job was to take out security and, if necessary, act as a diversion for the real thieves. Now the big questions are, what can she do with this mirror and how bad is this going to get? Perhaps this is a place to discuss the Oberati. Hudson tells what little he knows about them.

7. Our Demona and Puck scene. If he ever wants his freedom he must serve her. He tries to discourage her: he'd make a lousy servant. She doesn't buy that. Puck works for "him". He can work for her, etc. (That whole exchange.) O.K., okay, what does she want? Freedom from her one great vulnerability -- turning to stone during the day. What good is that, he wonders. You think you're gonna be able to walk down 5th Avenue in broad daylight? I can if you obliterate all humans, everywhere. What am I, the Genie of the lamp? There are limits, kiddo. C'mon, what do you really want? She pauses, and an image appears in the mirror. It is Goliath (in the clock tower, but we're tight on him, so we aren't tipping the location). Puck: "How quaint, after all these centuries, you're still carrying a torch. Well, if that's what you want, I can make him love you again. Although it will be really hard, because you're not exactly Miss Lovable." And then, in the mirror, Elisa steps into the shot, and puts a hand on Goliath's shoulder. Demona goes ballistic. She knows her heart's true desire. Get rid of the human -- Elisa Maza. Puck: "That I can do." He fires a magical bolt into the mirror at the image of Elisa.

8. Back at the tower, Elisa has a hand on Goliath's shoulder, reassuring him that they'll stop Demona's scheme, whatever it is. Suddenly, she is surrounded by a magical energy that rips her away from Goliath. The gargoyles try to help her, but they can't get close. We should think for a moment that this is the end of Rico... uh, Elisa. And then there is a blinding flash of light that whites out the whole screen. Followed by pitch black darkness. Elisa is still there. We see her silhouette as our eyes adjust and the light returns slowly to normal. She says she's o.k. And then she steps into the light. Transformed into a gargoyle version of herself.

END OF ACT ONE

Now I have to apologize. I know I promised you this for Monday. It's two a.m. Sunday and this is as far as I got. There's a reason (an excuse). Monday is Corporate Seminar. And my last act as an executive (before becoming a full-time producer on Tuesday) is to pitch all our new development to Michael Eisner and Rich Frank. This is a twice yearly event that requires a lot of preparation, and I just ran out of time to get these notes done. Normally, I'd pull an all-nighter, but I need some sleep to face these guys tomorrow.

You gotta admit, that was a pretty good excuse.

So I have to leave this to you. You're mission, if you chose to accept it, (AND YOU REALLY HAVE NO CHOICE IF YOU EVER WANT TO GET TO SCRIPT) is to write up a quick beat outline of acts two and three for me based on the sketchy notes below. It doesn't have to be long. Two to four pages is fine. The amount of detail that I gave you for Act One is all I'm looking for.

Act Two should have Goliath filling Elisa in about the change she's undergone. Maybe take her flying. Maybe this is where we get the line about him never realizing how beautiful she was.

Demona should be temporarily fooled into thinking Elisa's dead, and flushed with success, she asks Puck to rid all of Manhattan of its humans. Bing, bang, boom. Everyone's a gargoyle. People on the subway in from Queens, change into gargoyles as soon as the E-train hits the first Manhattan stop. "Gargoyles" on the way home to Jersey change back to human as they cross the bridge in their cars. NO ONE NOTICES AT ALL.

But Demona doesn't know any of this yet. She wants a tour of what she expects to be an empty city. Puck is secretly eager to see his handiwork, so they step into the mirror, which transports them to the heart of the city. Times Square, maybe? 5th Avenue?

Meanwhile, Hudson, Goliath, Elisa and the trio are all hunting for Demona. They quickly notice the change in the populace. (Maybe the shock of this wide-spread change interrupts what might have been the only chance Elisa and Goliath had for a same-species clinch.) They all know it's bad news, but the trio can't help enjoying the ability to walk among gargoyles again. Even if they are gargoyles in business suits: New Yorkers who still won't give them the time of day. Still, would it be so bad if this didn't get fixed? Yeah. Probably.

When Demona figures out she's been duped, she demands that the gargoyles be changed back to humans. Bing Bang Boom. Goliath, Hudson and the Trio are human. (I'm torn about Bronx. I guess the big dog is o.k. It just seems outside the terms of Demona's request, even by Puck's loose standards.)

Was Goliath flying at the time or is this another interrupted clinch between him and Elisa?

Act Three opens with Elisa saving Goliath from plummeting to his death perhaps. Then she has to make him understand that he has been transformed as well.

We wind up with a very public battle featuring Elisa and our Newly Human heroes against Demona and Puck. It's complicated by the fact that the general populace (who are all now Gargoyles) perceive the human Goliath, Hudson and Trio (and Bronx?) as monsters attacking what to them seems to be a very normal-looking Demona.

Still in the end, good triumphs. Puck makes everything right at Goliath's command, (but let's make it clear that at least in part, he's doing this to spite Demona and/or to suit his own agenda). Elisa is changed to human, before Goliath is changed back, and we have another near-clinch, that Puck interrupts with good-humored spite by changing Goliath back into a gargoyle.

Goliath frees Puck and he vanishes with Demona, rescuing her from Goliath.

Turns out Puck had more fun than he thought he would so he feels like he owes Demona a favor. He'll give her her original wish. No turning to stone during the day. (BUT WE NEED TO MAKE IT PAINFULLY CLEAR THAT SHE WILL STILL BE HER NORMAL GARGOYLE SELF AT NIGHT.) He takes his leave via the mirror.

Cut back to Elisa and Goliath for emotional wrap up. Just before the sunrise which, as usual, separates them.

And back to Demona. Silhouetted against the rising sun. It's up, and she's not stone. Puck kept his word, she can't believe it. Then she sees her human self in the mirror, which she smashes, yelling NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! And fade to black.


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IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT!!

I have some really GREAT NEWS! Please help me spread the word! Brad Rader, one of Disney's best storyboard artists will be attending the Gathering in Orlando next month along with Thom "Voice of Lexington" Adcox and myself.

Brad worked on multiple episodes of GARGOYLES, including:
"Legion"
"The Mirror"
"City of Stone, Part One"
"City of Stone, Part Four"
"Revelations"
"Upgrade"
"Protection"
"Kingdom"
"Monsters"
"The Hound of Ulster"
"The New Olympians"
"The Gathering, Part One"
"The Gathering, Part Two"
"Hunter's Moon, Part Two"

Now GATHERING 2000 is truly a can't miss event. Hope to see you there.


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ComicCon & Shakespeare

Looks like I'll be going down to San Diego for the ComicCon. I'll be appearing Sunday Morning the 23rd of July at a Starship Troopers panel, along with a lot of other people who worked on the show, particularly Producer Audu Paden and the voice of Johnny Rico, Rino Romano.

I'm also thinking about attending the performance of HENRY V at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre on Saturday night the 22nd.

If you see me at either event, say hi.


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Chapter XVII: "A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time"

Written by Brynne Chandler Reaves & Lydia C. Marano
Story Edited by Michael Reaves

Well, I watched "Lighthouse" again last night with my family. First thing I noticed was the bad "Previously" recap. This is all my fault. The recap features Macbeth, because I wanted to make sure the audience knew who he was. But that blows out the first act surprise reveal that he's behind it all. Up to that point in the story, you'd be thinking Xanatos. But because of the dopey recap, you know it MUST be Mac. Later in the season, after I got hammered over these recaps by the folks on the Disney Afternoon e-Mailing list, I learned never to put anything into the recap that wasn't revealed in the first five minutes of the show to follow. But here's a perfect example of me screwing up my own mystery.

We introduce archeologists Lydia Duane and Arthur Morwood-Smythe. Dr. Duane was named after writers Lydia Marano and Diane Duane. Professor Morwood-Smythe was named after writers Arthur Byron Cover and Peter Morwood. Arthur is Lydia's husband. Peter is Diane's husband. I don't know anyone named Smythe.

Macbeth episodes, at least up to this point, seem to be cursed with mediocre animation. (Of course, everything's relative. Mediocre on Gargs was still better than most series got. But relative to our expectations, this ep is pretty weak.) I bet Elisa would have really looked cute in that red baseball hat if the animation had been even slightly better.

I don't know how clear it is in the prologue. The idea there, was that the wind was blowing through the lyre. The haunting sound drew the archeologists further into the cave. They read the warning which indicates that the seeker of knowledge has nothing to fear, the destroyer everything. They are supposed to hesitate, look at each other, decide that they are seekers not destroyers and then open the chest. Merlin's clearly put a safety spell of some kind on the chest. An image of the old man appears and basically checks to confirm whether the archeologists are in fact seekers or destroyers. Satisfied, the spell disipates. But you can imagine what would have happened if a Hakon type had stumbled in.

Anyway, it never felt like all that came across. Did it?

Brooklyn (re: Broadway): "Ignorance is bliss." In High School, I had a classmate named Howard Bliss. We had chemistry together with Mr. Miller. Mr. Miller once asked the class a question that we all should have known. No one knew the answer, and our own idiocy generated laughter among Miller's students. He just shook his head and said: "Ignorance is bliss." He forgot that he had a student named Bliss. It generated more laughter. I don't know why I told you that. But it's what I thought about when Brooklyn read that line.

There's a semi-heavy-handed "Read More About It" feel to the clock tower conversation regarding Merlin. Goliath practically quotes those public service announcements, saying there are many books about him in the library. I don't mind. I had wanted to cite a few actual books -- like Mary Stewart's THE CRYSTAL CAVE -- but our legal department wouldn't give us clearance for that. Very short-sighted.

A connection is made between Merlin and the Magus. This was not an accident, as at that time, I had planned to have the Magus journey with Arthur on his Pendragon quests to find Excalibur and Merlin. I later changed my mind. But the Magus does at least play a Merlin-esque roll in the Avalon three parter.

I always wonder who was playing in "Celebrity Hockey" that night.

Macbeth's standard Electro-Magnetic weapon was my idea. I didn't design it exactly, but I did make crude little drawings of something that looked vaguely like a staple gun, with two electrodes that generated the charge. I was always proud of that weapon. It was uniquely Macbeth's (and Banquo and Fleances'). Set him apart from all the concussion, laser and particle beam weapons we used elsewhere. (I did the same kind of thing on the Quarymen's hammers.)

It's fun to listen to B.J. Ward voice both sides of the confrontation between Fleance and Duane.

Banquo's model sheet showed him squinting out of one eye. Some episodes, not so much this one, but some took that to mean he only had one eye. So he walks around looking like Popeye for the entire episode. (His big lantern jaw helps accentuate that.) There are a couple of Popeye moments in this ep. But more in his next appearance I think.

It was my idea to just have Mac's mansion rebuilt without explanation. I don't exactly regret it, but it's kinda cheap. We burned it way down. He has it rebuilt. It makes sense. But we usually dealt with consequences more than that.

When he rebuilds it, he installs those cannons. They were supposed to be giant-sized versions of the hand-held E-M guns. But they don't come off that way. Instead they fire at the gargoyles. And mostly seem to destroy the various turrets of Macbeth's own place. Ugghh.

As in "Leader" we get another scene of Goliath and friends confronting Owen at the castle. Looking for Xanatos, when in fact Xanatos isn't the threat. It made sense in both episodes. And it's always nice to showcase Owen a bit. But after two of those in four episodes, I wasn't gonna do that again. (At least not until KINGDOM.)

I love the "Macbeth Theme" that Carl Johnson created for the villain, which is featured at the end of ACT ONE.

Macbeth opens the "second scroll" and starts to read Merlin's seal. This caused tons of fan confusion, as he read "Sealed by my own [i.e. Merlin's] hand". No one seemed to get that he was reading that. They thought Mac was saying that he [i.e. Macbeth] had sealed the scroll. Of course that notion renders the whole thing confusing as hell. But it never occured to us that anyone would take it that way.

We also introduce Jeffrey Robbins and Gilly in this episode. Gilly is of course short for Gilgamesh, one of the legendary characters that Robbins once wrote about. It's just a bit odd, because Gilly is a female.

Robbins is a very cool character. Wish we had had the opportunity to use him more.

I like how when Robbins and Hudson are introducing themselves, Robbins gives his first and last name. Hudson says, I'm Hudson, "like the river". An echo of how he got the name. And a reminder that names aren't natural to him. Even if they are addictive.

John Rhys-Davies is just fantastic as Macbeth. I love his speech to Broadway. It accomplishes everything we needed it too. That line about the "human heart" by the way is a reference to the Arthur/Lance/Gwen triangle.

I also love his line: "I'm Old, but not THAT Old." This was a little hint to what we'd reveal in CITY OF STONE. Sure Macbeth's from the eleventh century, but not the fifth or sixth. It's like someone saying to someone my age, "So what did you do during World War II?"

Lennox Macduff. That was a cool touch. Also a hint as to how Macbeth feels about Shakespeare.

I like the Phone Book scene too. Hudson says "Hmm. Magic Book." Robbins replies: "Aren't they all." Great stuff.

By the way, as Robbins goes through the phone book, scanning names, he passes "Macduff, Cameron". One of my college roommates was Cameron Douglas, who was really interested in his Scotish heritage. That was a mini-tribute to him.

My daughter Erin reacts to the fact that Macbeth threatens to use Merlin's spells on Broadway. She points out that Macbeth had promised to let Broadway go after he had the scrolls. She's surprised he hasn't kept his word. My wife at that point reminds Erin that Macbeth is the villain. Erin gets that. But you can tell it isn't quite sitting right with her.

Later when Macbeth DOES let everyone go without a struggle, Erin is clearly not sure what to make of him.

And on one level, that's exactly as we wanted it. Macbeth is a troubled guy -- a hero who's devolved into a villain. A suicidal villain on top of that, though we hadn't revealed that yet. But he is a villain. Later, it's debatable, but here he's taken to being an ends-justify-the-means kinda guy. And even his ends are hazy at best.

I love Broadway's "precious magic" speech. It's so wierd hearing poetry from the big galoot. But that's so Broadway. The soul of a poet. Bill Faggerbakke was a huge help.

And I love Robbins "They are lighthouses in the dark sea of time..." speech. I love that it's not exactly the title. Brynne and Lydia did fine work on this one.

I wonder what happened to that lyre?


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"A WINTER'S TALE" this summer...

Keith David, the voice of "Goliath", is currently appearing at the Delacourt Theatre in Manhattan's Central Park (the one right below Belvedere Castle) in William Shakespeare's A WINTER'S TALE. He's playing the lead Male role of LEONTES, the jealous king. It's a great part. A great play. A great theater. And a great actor. Plus it's FREE. I wish I could get to NYC and see it. PLEASE, someone go see the show, and report back how it was. PLEASE. This really is a DON'T MISS Opportunity.


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Lighthouse Outline Memo

I haven't re-watched "A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time" yet. But we all know that's next, so I thought I'd go ahead and post the memo I sent to Michael Reaves, Brynne Chandler Reaves and Lydia C. Marano, based on the first draft outline they gave me on this story. Here it is, unedited:

WEISMAN 9-15-94

Notes on "A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time" Outline...
O.K. I'm gonna suggest some major changes here, though not without purpose. Brynne, they come right out of the phone conversation that led us to trade Xanatos & Demona for Macbeth. I don't think we've adjusted enough from the premise to meet our objectives.

THE MAIN OBJECTIVE
Remember, our primary objective is NOT to teach Hudson and Broadway to read. It is to ENGAGE them in the wonder of reading, to convince them it is a worthwhile, rewarding and magical endeavor. To make them WANT to learn how to read.

We discussed that Hudson and Broadway had two very different reasons for not wanting to learn. Broadway thinks it's a waste of time. He's got television, video, movies and a very exciting life. (The latter is the most important. I'm not going to preach the evils of the visual media, which are other legitimate windows into "other worlds", but which cannot and should not substitute for reading.) At any rate, Broadway doesn't see the relevance of reading to his life. This is a major cause of illiteracy among teen-agers.

Hudson doesn't learn for a very different reason. He's ashamed that he hasn't learned already. This is the main cause of continued illiteracy among adults.

I'm not getting a clear distinction between the two characters -- partially, because we're not getting much screen time for Broadway at all. We've got a lot to fit in here, but we still need to have enough time to explore both Hudson and Broadway's very different arcs. I think there's a relatively simple solution. Cut Elisa from the story, (at least for the most part). She's a great character, but she doesn't have a lot to learn from this adventure. We're wasting screen time on her. Make Broadway the V.T.O.L. stow-away instead of Elisa.

ROBBINS
We also discussed toning Robbins' role down. I know some of that has been done, but the guy is still coming across as St. Jeffrey to me. He's an integral, not incidental part of the plot. Now normally, I'd cheer about this, but here it's not convincing. Hudson happens to be injured near the house of the one author that Goliath loves and Elisa mentioned, who also happens to be an Arthurian expert, who if not for his blindness, would be the only person who Macbeth could get to translate the scrolls. It's just too much.

I do not believe that after nine centuries, Macbeth needs any mere mortal to translate a book for him. It's not like he has only just now started searching for magic books. If he needed to know a language he didn't know, he has had plenty of time to learn it. If no one could translate the spells, that would be another thing. But the notion that some mortal knows a Celtic language that's a mystery to the immortal Celtic Macbeth doesn't play for me.

Again, I think the solution here is simple. Macbeth doesn't get the scrolls until near the end of the play. After Macbeth's men steal the scrolls, we have Hudson and Broadway steal them back before Macbeth can get his hands on them. Hudson's injured and washes up and into Robbins' lap. Mac's men return without Hudson's scrolls. Mac and his men have to go after them. They track Hudson to Robbins' nest. Now with this change, we don't need Robbins to be the only guy who can translate these spells. He doesn't have to be the foremost authority on all things Arthurian.

In fact, he doesn't have to be the foremost anything. Frankly, he doesn't even have to be Goliath's favorite author. He doesn't have to be famous or collectable. In a way, I think it works against us if he is. What if he's just a relatively average guy. He writes novels that take myth, legend and/or history and try to render them believable and "true". Think Mary Stewart or Mary Renault. He's had some success. Enough to make him comfortable. But he's no Stephen King. He's just a writer operating in relative obscurity. (We can all relate.) I feel strongly that this makes him a better messenger for our purposes. The guy just loves his job. It hasn't made him rich or famous, but he loves it. He gets to do all this research, all this reading, on the period he's going to write on. He writes. (He loves words, and his dialogue should show it -- no easy task, because simply giving him a big, latinate vocabulary won't cut it.) And then he gets a tremendous kick out of knowing that people read what he wrote. It's immortality. And a better kind of immortality than Macbeth's. (I mean, hell, that's why I'm in the business -- fame and wealth would be nice, but what I really need is to live forever.) Maybe he's never even written about Merlin or Arthur before. Maybe this adventure inspires him to. It would be a lot less contrived if all this were true.

THE VILLAGE
Another thing that I think we should cut is Macbeth's little village. I don't know why it's been created. It seems to thematically fit our idea of visiting other places and times through books, but in fact it works against that theme. (As Broadway would say, "Why do I need to read about this stuff, when I can spend an hour at this glorified museum and see it? Not that I like museums.")

PHONE BOOKS, ETC.
Unfortunately, some of my changes are going to force adjustments to all the truly wonderful incidental references and uses that we put "reading" to in this outline, but we need to make sure the tail doesn't wag the dog. Let's get the structure squared away, and then work to fit as many of these as possible back into the show. Or come up with new ones. (Sure, easy for me to say.)

THE SCROLLS OF MERLIN
Let's refer to them as the SCROLLS OF MERLIN, not MERLIN'S JOURNALS. The former is neutral. The latter implies that they are exactly what they turn out to be: a narrative. We want everyone thinking that this is a book of spells. And that's everyone, not just Macbeth. We're tipping our hand otherwise. The treasure is the narrative, but it's a secret treasure. The notion of our gargoyles and all of New York getting hyped for narrative early on, makes the revelation less special. Plus, I don't want to be flagging to our audience from moment one that this is an episode about "LITERACY". Let the audience believe what Macbeth believes: we're hunting a magical macguffin. We'll sneak up on them with our true purpose (and Lord knows we're not being that subtle, so there won't be any doubt about it by the end). That way when Hudson meets Robbins, our audience won't say, "How convenient? Story about reading, and Hudson meets a writer!" They won't know the story's about reading when this happens.

FADS
With all of the above in mind, I think we need to be careful about dressing Elisa like Guinevere. It comes across as a fad here, and she doesn't seem the type to go in for a fad. It's not like this is gonna suddenly become standard attire in NYC. Let's not oversell our point, or I'm afraid we won't make the sale at all.

MORGAN THE DOG
Sorry. We already have Morgan the Cop. You need a new name. (Again, I wouldn't chose an Arthurian reference. Let this episode pique Robbin's interest in Arthurana. Up to now he's been writing novels about Beowulf or Gilgamesh.)

MACBETH'S MEN
Instead of making them mercenaries, let's just give him two specific henchman. Tough and very well-trained. Maybe not geniuses, but definitely not stupid. (Why do intelligent villains always employ such dumb henchmen?) Maybe their real names are Mel and Steve, but Macbeth calls them BANQUO and FLEANCE. A private joke that maybe they don't even get. (When I got to page 10 of the outline I was gonna suggest Banquo and Macduff, until I saw the Lennox Macduff thing on page 11. So I switched Macduff to Fleance. We can still use the Lennox Macduff alias.)

MACBETH'S CODE
Macbeth has a code of honor. It's flexible, but it exists. He's clearly willing to take prisoners. Hostages and ransom were an established and legitimate part of medieval warfare. But I don't know if he'd hold a knife to someone's head to facilitate his own escape. This isn't a hard and firm note, just keep it in mind. Also, I don't think his men have made a habit of stealing statues for him. After 900+ years, I doubt he'd be that much into material possessions. That's more Xanatos' gig. Macbeth keeps a fine house, but it's easier to buy than steal, and he's very wealthy.

MATT'S INJURY
Don't really see any purpose to it anymore.

BEAT SHEET
ACT ONE
1. Open with a prologue that shows us the British archeologists discovering the two large scrolls. More exciting than watching a report about it on television. Maybe the underground chamber was sealed magically. (A red herring to get us thinking spell book, instead of narrative.)

2. But now we segue to the clock tower. Lex is reading a newspaper article about the scrolls out loud to the rest of the gang. It seems the Scrolls are coming to NYC for authentification or whatever. Elisa says she and Matt volunteered to guard the shipment of the scrolls, and they got the nod. She admits that it's silly for her to be so excited, after all, she won't get to read them, but the whole thing really intrigues her.

Brooklyn wants to know more about Merlin. He had heard of him even back in the 10th century. He knows Merlin was some kind of 5th century magician, but that's about it. Goliath recommends some books.

(Adrienne, can we recommend a real book? Mary Stewart's THE CRYSTAL CAVE is a wonderful novel about Merlin. I read it for the first time in eighth grade. I'm rereading it now to Erin. I know we usually don't want to appear to be endorsing anything, but given this episode's subject matter, shouldn't we make an exception? Wouldn't this be a public service? We could slip in the titles of a number of good books throughout this episode. They do it on CBS with those "Read More About It" segments. Anyway, let me know.)

Broadway doesn't get it. He doesn't know how to read, and he doesn't see why he should bother to learn. Let's rent the video. They argue a bit. Hudson pointedly refuses to give his opinion, but we don't reveal his illiteracy here. (Let's make a small point of showing Hudson's rapport with Bronx here though.)

Goliath wants to know what the scrolls contain? Elisa says the seals won't be broken until they are authenticated, but the rumor is they might be Merlin's magic spells. Goliath looks concerned.

3. Dark, stormy night. Low visibility. Harbor attack by two VTOLs. Elisa and Matt are guarding the two scroll containers. But Banquo and Fleance outgun them by a mile. They each take one container into their VTOLs. Thank goodness the gargoyles were gliding nearby. (Goliath was worried that the magic scrolls might be a prime target for Demona or Xanatos.) The gargoyles attack the VTOL's. (Maybe Broadway makes a crack: "When your life is this exciting, who needs books?")

In the confusion, Hudson manages to rip open the hatch of Banquo's VTOL. He grabs the container from the shocked Banquo, but Banquo manages to get off a concussion blast that severly wounds Hudson. He's blown out of the VTOL and into the bay, still clutching the water-proof container. None of the other gargoyles see this happen.

Fleance and Banquo hit their turbo buttons and go shooting off into the night. Goliath, Lex and Brooklyn can't keep up, but a flash of lightning reveals that Broadway has managed to dig in and hitch a ride on the underside of Fleance's VTOL. They don't see Hudson, but they assume/hope that maybe he's done the same. They retreat as police helicopters approach the scene.

But Hudson (still clutching the container) is in the water, maybe going down for the last time.

4. Banquo & Fleance land their VTOL's at their boss's compound. (It might as well be Macbeth' mansion from episode -008, rebuilt since the fire.) Banq tells Fleance that he lost his container. "WHAT?! The boss is gonna kill us!" Well, big shot, where's yours? Safe in the hold of my VTOL where it belongs. Well, one scroll is better than none. Let's bring it to him. They go to get it, but the hull's been torn open and the scroll is missing.

5. Down by the docks, Elisa confers quietly with Goliath, Lex and Brooklyn. They are all worried about Broadway and Hudson. Plus this whole theft smells like Xanatos to Elisa. But no proof. So no warrant. Goliath doesn't have that problem.

6. Still raining. Hudson sees the sillouettes of a bunch of gargoyles and heads for them. He just barely makes it to shore. He's hurting bad, and is wildly disappointed when he realizes that the sillouette's weren't Goliath and the trio, but "phonies". He collapses.

7. Goliath, Brooklyn and Lex arrive at Xanatos' castle. Owen's there alone. Goliath insists on searching the place... top to bottom. (At this point in story, we should not feel that Goliath is wasting time. Owen should be ambiguous enough so that the audience WILL think that this is a Xanatos plan.)

8. Back at the Compound's hangar, we find Broadway in hiding, clutching the second container. (And feeling like this "old book" definitely isn't worth it.) Well, Banquo and Fleance are going nuts looking for the stupid thing. Now seems like a good time to bolt for the exit. He goes for it. Catches B&F off-guard and bulls his way past them. Only to be taken down by... the boss. Macbeth.

ACT TWO
9. Broadway recovers and attacks. But Macbeth makes short work of him. By now B&F have him totally covered (by high-tech futuristic non-imitatable weapons of course). Macbeth opens the container and carefully removes the scroll. He examines the seal and confirms that the scroll is authentic Merlin and that it is the second of the two scrolls. He doesn't break the seal, because he believes the scrolls contain magic. It's dangerous to get things out of order. Where's the first scroll?

10. Still raining. Robbins and his dog find Hudson, who. is regaining consciousness. Robbins surmises that Hudson was mugged, and Hudson lets him think so. The dog likes Hudson. Hudson says he's good with animals. Robbins appreciates that and is solicitous. Hudson sees that Robbins is blind. He gets an idea. He just needs a safe place to rest 'til morning. Then he'll cease to be any trouble. Robbins invites him inside, offers to help. But Hudson won't let him get too close. They go in.

11. Mac, Fleance and Banquo are in a VTOL, heading back to the harbor. Broadway is there too, in VERY heavy chains. Macbeth's keeping him around until he gets hold of the other scroll. Banquo protests: he blew that old gargoyle away, the other scroll is probably lying on the floor of the bay. Macbeth says it better not be, or Banquo will join it.

12. It's still storming outside. Breathing heavily, Hudson lowers himself into an easy chair and looks around Robbins' home. It's wall-to-wall bookshelves. Hudson doesn't like being here, but he's a bit of a captive audience. There's an uncomfortable silence. On a table near his chair, Hudson picks a medal off a display case. Also on the display case, is a plaque of some kind that clearly reads something like: "ROBBINS RECEIVES PURPLE HEART", but Hudson still asks what it is. Eventually, we get the idea that Robbins lost his sight in the war. (Vietnam? Korea? How old do we want Robbins to be? If we want him to be the same (biological) age as Hudson, we should go with Korea.) Hudson points to his one blind eye, which was also injured in battle. (Against the Archmage in episode #11, but Hudson won't go into details.) The two old warriors have made a connection. Now they can become friends. Robbins asks Hudson what he does. Hudson says he's...still a soldier. Robbins is a novelist. Or he used to be, before he ran out of ideas. He did have a few minor successes. Maybe Hudson's heard of them. Hudson doesn't read much, but he's shocked that the blind Robbins can read and write. Robbins is borderline insulted. Hasn't Hudson heard of braille? Hudson hasn't. Robbins is surprised. He hands Hudson a braille book (one that he wrote). Hudson runs his fingers over the bumps. Robbins then hands him the same book in standard English. Hudson lets slip that the bumps mean as much to him as the chicken scrawl. Robbins puts two and two together. And we find out that Hudson can't read.

13. In the harbor, near dawn, The VTOL searches for some clue. Broadway asks Macbeth what all the fuss is about. Who was this Merlin guy? Just another stupid magician. Macbeth tells him who Merlin was. Tells him about what he, Arthur and Guinevere created. Maybe he quotes Tennyson or Muir. But he's eloquent and evocative, and Broadway listens with rapt attention, perhaps (do we dare?) even visualizing Macbeth's words with hazy images. When Macbeth finishes Broadway says with awe: "You describe it like you were there..." Macbeth tosses off his reply (he doesn't realize the effect he's had on Broadway): "I'm old, but not THAT old. Obviously, I read about it in books." But Broadway can't help repeating to himself: "But you describe it like you were there..."

14. Back at the castle, Goliath and co. have obviously, found nothing of value. It won't be long til sunrise and they dare not stay much longer. Owen enters with the early morning edition under his arm. He's deduced what they're after from the news story. Suggests that the VTOL described in the article has more in common with the kind of vehicle that Macbeth is wont to drive. (Goliath feels like big dumb jerk. But there's no time to fight about it.) Goliath, Brook and Lex leave.

15. Hudson: "I'm too old to learn to read now." Robbins: It's never too late. I had to learn to read all over again, learn to read braille after I was blinded. Hudson: Who would teach me? He's ashamed to tell his friends he doesn't know how. Robbins offers to teach him, but makes the point that Hudson should only be ashamed to continue his illiteracy. There's no shame in learning -- ever. Hudson doesn't respond.

The storm is breaking and dawn approaches. Hudson, still hurt, gets up to leave. Robbins is afraid he's gotten too preachy. But Hudson insists he must go. He goes to the terrace. Takes his place among the gargoyles. Turns to stone, still clutching the scroll container. The dog barks. Robbins calls out to his new friend. But there's no sound, no movement. He doesn't know how Hudson got away so fast, but he did.

16. On the VTOL, Broadway, still in chains, has turned to stone. Macbeth spots the gargoyles of Robbins' terrace. He orders Banquo to head that way.

ACT III
17. Robbins and his dog hear a noise on the terrace. He calls out "Hudson?", but the dog is growling and he knows Hudson isn't there. It's a man named Lennox Macduff, who claims to be a friend of Hudson's; he's looking for him. Robbins is suspicious. But Macduff is very polite and leaves without incident. What Robbins doesn't see is that Macduff slips the container out of Hudson's stone hand.

Dissolve to:

18. Sunset. Hudson bursts free. But the scroll container is gone. The noise has again brought Robbins to his terrace. Hudson claims that when he left in such a hurry this morning, he must have left something here accidentally. Has Robbins "seen" it? No, but you're friend Lennox Macduff was here, maybe he took it. Hudson knows no Macduff. Robbins isn't too surprised. He thought the name was odd. The two characters who found the dead king in Shakespeare's MACBETH. Hudson: "Macbeth?!!"

And maybe here is where we get the looking up of "Lennox Macduff's" address in the phone book. (Hudson never saw Macbeth's mansion in Episode 8. Goliath, Brook and Lex did.)

19. Inside Macbeth's compound Macbeth is preparing for some magic ceremony thing. There's a flame pit and other magical acoutrements. Broadway's flesh again, but still bound by heavy chains now anchored to the floors. He'll be Macbeth's guinea pig for trying out Merlin's spells. He starts to open the first scroll.

20. Outside the compound, Hudson is reunited with Goliath, Brook and Lex. They briefly exchange info. Then they attack. But Banquo and Fleance are ready. They're on turret mounted laser cannons that turn and twist like the ones on the Milennium Falcon (or something like that).

21. Macbeth tries to open the first scroll. It has been magically sealed, but a simple spell can break it open.

22. Goliath, Hudson, Brooklyn and Lex defeat Banquo and Fleance. They head inside.

23. Macbeth begins to read aloud from the first scroll. (I'm tempted to say he translates from Latin, but I don't know if that serves our aim. We could ignore the translation question. He reads it to us in English. Which may mean he's translating it for us automatically without bothering to mention that fact. Or we just do what we always have in this series which is ignore the differences between Old, Middle and Modern English, extending it to whatever Celtic dialect Merlin might have written in.) As he reads aloud, it soon becomes clear that it is not a spellbook but an autobiography, a narrative. A history. You get the idea. He's furious. All that trouble for a stupid book.

Hudson, Goliath, Brook and Lex storm in. Macbeth is unprepared, so he flips a release on Broadway's floor chains, but then uses him as a hostage for his escape. (Now I know I said to watch out for this. And we still need to. Macbeth needs to rationalize this. Probably outloud.) Goliath threatens to drop the scrolls into the fire if Macbeth doesn't release Broadway unharmed. (Goliath still believes that this is a book of magic, i.e. a dangerous human weapon.) Macbeth is about to laugh at this threat, when Broadway protests. "Goliath, you can't." Broadway now believes that the scrolls are infinitely precious. Goliath is surprised to hear this from Broadway. Where'd he get this from? From Macbeth. Those scrolls are magic. They can transport us back...all that good stuff. Even Macbeth is impressed. Cautiously, he releases Broadway. He tells the gargoyles they are tresspassing on his property. Take the scrolls and go.

24. The gargoyles wing their way back towards the clock tower. They plan on giving the scrolls back to Elisa, so that she can return them to the museum. Goliath's sure that after the museum has authenticated them, they will be transcribed and published. But if the others want, he can read the scrolls aloud to them, before he gives them to Elisa. But Hudson says no. For a moment, everyone is a bit taken aback. Then Hudson says that he wants to read them himself. As soon as his friends help teach him how. They glide off across the city.

25. Dissolve to Robbins at his house with his dog. He's reading a braille newspaper about the recovery of the Scrolls of Merlin. "Hmmm.... Scrolls of Merlin.... I think I've found my next novel."

And we get our Tuchman quote, probably read by Robbins (Ray Charles?).

O.K. That's it. Let me know if you have any questions or problems.


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The typical and the SHOCKING!!!

Again, I gave myself hours to try and get through April. And I failed. Now, I'm beat. I'll try and finish off that month soon.

And now the big SHOCKING announcement. I've been giving a lot of thought lately to GARGOYLES 2158. And I may be doing a significant reworking of the idea. For starters, I'm no longer sure I want to set the events I have in mind for the series in 2158. So the first thing that may change is the title. More info to come, once I nail some thoughts down. (And since I don't have any kind of deadline, it could take me a while.)



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