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Anime Expo

Attention anime lovers...

I will be at Anime Expo on Saturday, July 2nd in Anaheim, California. I'll be on the New Generation Pictures panel at 1pm, where I'll largely be discussing 3X3 EYES. Other topics of discussion include NAZCA and NURSE NANAKO. (I'm not involved with the last one at all, so I hope I got the title right.) Stop by and say hi.

3X3 is a really fun series that I just finished voice directing into English. It stars Christian "Max Steel" Campbell and Brigitte "Angela" Bako, and features many former GARGOYLES actors including Goliath, Thailog, Morgan, Broadway, Hollywood, Lexington, Brentwood, Obsidiana, Coyote Trickster, Natsilane, Hudson, Jack Danforth and Burbank. It's the story of a three-eyed three hundred year old demon girl with multiple personality disorder and the teen-age zombie bodyguard who loves her.

Hope to see you there.


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More of the "Leader" memo...

Here we have Act Two from the Beat Sheet I gave Michael Reaves in my 7/94 memo on "Leader of the Pack":

ACT TWO
4. Hyena and Jackal are ready to kill Xanatos/Coyote for revenge. X/C puts them down hard. He reminds them that it was Fox who told them to go after him. She's out of the picture now. Besides, it was the gargoyles who really sent you down. They put him away once too. They've destroyed enough of his plans. He wants them bad. He's [sic] works the Pack up into a revenge-fest frenzy. They want the gargoyles. But how do they find them? As X/C puts on his helmet, he says, we let them find us.

5. Goliath, Broadway and Hudson arrive at the castle. Owen is there, but not Xanatos. Goliath is confrontational but cautious. Woen has the Pack's social calender and says they should be at PackMedia studios shortly. Goliath is immediately concerned about the others. They take off.

6. From a nearby shadowed rooftop, Brooklyn, Bronx and Lex watch the police (Elisa, Matt, maybe Morgan) check out the Studios. It gives Brooklyn time to talk to Lex. He knows how Lex feels. Everytime Demona's name get's [sic] mentioned Brooklyn feels the same way. But you can't let it take you over. You need to remember what's really important, etc. Lex isn't listening. The police leave. Lex insists on going in. Brook & Bronx follow.

7. Inside, the place is deserted -- UNTIL SUDDENLY the floor begins to open up beneath them. The PACK Assault vehicle, rises up from a secret entrance beneath. Brokklyn suggests retreat, at least until they can get reinforcements from Goliath, et al. Lex ignores him and wades right in. The battle is on. Lex (followed by Brooklyn) goes after the four pack members they recognize. Lex is a holy terror and they're doing all right, at first. His shocking ferocity making up for any deficiencies. Bronx for some reason beelines for Coyote. (Basically, he smells robot.) It's a good fight, but soon all three gargoyles are out cold and at the Pack's mercy.

ACT THREE
(To be completed next time... Finally.)


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More of the "Leader Memo"...

Sorry, everyone, I know this is going very slowly. But transcribing is really boring. So I can't stand to do too much at a time. Anyway, here's another chunk of my 7-2-94 memo to Michael Reaves regarding "Leader of the Pack":

Beat sheet:
ACT ONE
1. Sundown. Open w/prison break. Let's make it much more fast and furious. It can start quier, but almost immediately should go to explosions, alarms, etc. The guards become aware of the break IMMEDIATELY. A big action set-piece. No time for a lot of talk. Also, let's have Dingo bust out the boys, and Coyote bust out the girls. It's a more practical plan. They'll all meet up in the NEW all-terrain PACK ATTACK vehicle. (And no, Kenner isn't asking for this, I am. Xanatos has the resources. After he saw Macbeth's hover-thing, he'd start his people on R&D. This is the result. The Pack should not be hand-to-mouth. This thing should be a flying submarine multi-purpose thing. Real cool.)

2. Just after sundown at the clock tower, Elisa informs the argoyles that there's a prison break and the Pack's involved. Lex goes bananas. WE'VE GOT TO BRING THEM DOWN. Goliath agrees with the sentiment, if not he intensity. Manhattan is their castle to protect. But Broadway wants to know, how do they find the Pack? Lex is sure they'll return to Packmedia Studios. Elisa disagrees, that's the first place the cops are going to look. Lex is positive. They're like animals. They'll eventually return to their cave to hide. He's going there to wait and watch. Goliath figures on being more pro-active. He knows Xanatos is behind the Pack from Elisa's talk with Fox in "Brother's Keeper". He's going to the castle. Broadway & Hudson are going with him. Brooklyn is concerned about Lex. He insists on going with Lex to the studio. He also insists on taking Bronx.

3. Aboard the Pack's vehicle, Coyote and Wolf fight for the right to lead. (Let Wolf make the first challenge, so that we aren't forced to make Hyena politely step aside.) Coyote wins, but Hyena and Jackal insist on seeing his face. Coyote vouluntarily removes his helmet, revealing that he is "Xanatos".

ACT TWO
(to be continued...)


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Me and my daughter Erin

My daughter Erin is here with me, and together we will answer some ASK GREG questions for you.


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More of the "Leader of the Pack" memo...

This continues my transcription of the memo I wrote to Michael Reaves on 7-2-94 regarding Steve Perry's original outline on "Leader of the Pack"...

Specific Notes & Questions...
Some of these will be rendered moot by other changes, but for future reference...

--No YoYo's for Brooklyn. He's too old to be playing with that. (Not that I don't enjoy a well-balanced yo-yo myself, but it's embematic [sic] of being really young. Like having him play jacks. Remember, this is a guy who likes motorcycles.)

--I liked the Hudson game show scenelet. Maybe slip that in right before Elisa tells the gargs about the prison break. If it no longer fits, save it for another episode.

--I think Wolf is a descendant of Hakon's. [It's interesting to me now that I put this comment in this memo. It's absolutely apropos of nothing. I must have just wanted to write it down somewhere so that I'd remember. Greg 2000]

--The gargoyles exo-sheathe remnants don't dissolve into vapor.

--Is a smoking jacket really Xanatos' style?

--Suddenly, on the bottom of page 3, Goliath has spider-sense. Maybe not.

--Goliath seems to be brooding about things he's already come to terms with. "...enemy one day, friend the next." He learned that lesson from the Captain in episodes 1 & 2.

Beat sheet:
ACT ONE
(to be continued soon...)


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SEASON TWO

Well, my plan had been to finished transcribing the "Leader of the Pack" outline memo. Then start on my new ramble on seeing the episode last week. However, I'm at home today and the only copy of the memo is still at the office. So I'll finish the memo soon. Meantime, here's a ramble that "Leader" inspired with a little background info on the transition to Season Two...

So the second season begins. And we had a new system in place. Tiers and tentpoles. As you may recall from a previous ramble we had run into huge scheduling difficulties with "Enter Macbeth". The animation had come back very problematic and the nature of the story was such that we couldn't air it out of order. I received a mandate to make sure in Season Two's fifty-two episode killer schedule that we do everything possible not to run into that kind of problem again.

Trouble was, I liked the sequential nature of the series. If all the episodes could air in any order with no effect on each other then how could the characters grow, evolve, change? How could the situations?

My solution was tiers and tentpoles. We would create tiers of episodes that could air in any order as long as they aired BETWEEN their tentpole multi-parters. We'd pay special attention to the Tentpole episodes to make sure THEY didn't get into production trouble that would derail the entire airing schedule. But if an individual episode within a tier ran late, we could skootch another one forward without causing any harm.

Tentpole One was retroactively set as the "Awakening" five-parter. Tier One was retroactively everything between that and "Reawakening", which became Tentpole Two by default. (Now obviously the Season One airing order was very important, but they had aired already, so I didn't have to worry about them anymore.)

Tentpole Three would be the "City of Stone" four parter. Tier Two would include eight episodes: "Leader of the Pack", "Metamorphosis", "Legion", "A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time", "The Silver Falcon", "The Mirror", "Eye of the Beholder" and "Vows". In theory, I was supposed to make sure that these eight could air in any given order.

In practice, it never turned out to be that simple. For example, how could I air "Vows", the episode where Xanatos & Fox wed before "Eye of the Beholder" the episode where they get engaged? I wound up having a strong order preference for ALL 65 episodes. Tiers and Tentpoles be damned. But the truth is, the system served us well. It did tend to keep us on track. Creatively, it allowed us to build to strong multi-parters. And we rarely ever HAD to air episodes out of my preferred order. We only screwed up twice. "The Price" aired too soon. "Kingdom" aired too late. But only someone paying VERY careful attention would notice that. (Of course, anyone fanatical enough to be reading this was probably one of those people paying VERY careful attention.)

So anyway, "Leader" was my choice to open the new season. Lots of action. Some really great twists and turns. Some great character moments. It all seemed like a great way to intro potential new viewers to the series. BTWE, is there anyone out there for whom "Leader" was their first GARGOYLES episode? I'd love to hear from you here at ASK GREG.

We made other changes off the first season, as well. We had rebuilt the opening titles sequence to include some new footage. Keith David/Goliath's narration was added as well. This was written by Gary Sperling and myself. And hotly debated around our offices. Hotly debated inside my own brain as well. Frank Paur and I both felt that the titles were more powerful, more dramatic WITHOUT the narration. But we wanted to make sure that the series was still accessible to new viewers. The narration would serve the same function as the GILLIGAN'S ISLAND theme song. If you missed our pilot, you could still get the set up. Frank & I could see the wisdom of both positions. Even our boss, Gary Krisel, could. He left it up to me. I finally decided to err (and air) on the side of caution. I needn't have worried about "drama". Keith's voice, as usual, was so dramatic, that the opening narration became a classic -- reprinted on nearly every garg website I've ever seen. My kids love to shout out "WE LIVE AGAIN!" in chorus with Keith.

Another thing we did was to permanently install those "Previously on Gargoyles..." recaps at the head of EVERY episode. This was done for three reasons. One, see above, we wanted new viewers to have a chance to get what was going on without requiring them to see every episode that had come before. So the salient points could and would be summed up in those recaps. Two, since at some future time there was the possibility that the episodes WOULD air out of order, the recaps would help ground a viewer in when this particular episode was falling. And most important, three, it helped us in editing.

You see, footage would come back from overseas. And sometimes it would be great. And sometimes not. But no matter how good it was there wasn't a single episode that couldn't be improved by trimming a few frames here, a few frames there. No scenes were cut wholesale, but timing was improved and sped up. Mistakes were edited out. The recap gave us thirty extra seconds per episode of editing flexibility.

Now, on some level, the recaps may have backfired. Though they provided useful information, they may have given new viewers the IMPRESSION that there was too much to learn. I'm not sure it's true, but I've heard that argument. Also, I started hearing from the Disney Afternoon mailing list that everyone hated the recaps, because what they included tended to give away too much in the episode that was about to air. We fixed that problem midway through the season. Me, I still have no regrets. As I've mentioned before, HILL STREET BLUES was a major influence. The "Previously on..." format (which everyone uses today) came right out of Hill Street, so I was comfortable with it. And that 30 seconds of editing flexibility absolutely helped the shows play better.

NEXT TIME ON GREG'S RAMBLES...
More from my original memo to Michael Reaves and my specific responses to reviewing "Leader of the Pack"...


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I'm shocked...

There's nothing in the queue. I've got another hour and twenty minutes to kill and there's nothing left in the queue. ARGGGHHH!!!

Gore, Todd, help!!!!!


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Greg Weisman Update

As promised, here's a little update on what's been going on in my professional life...

The first season (all thirteen episodes) of MAX STEEL have been completed. I've lost track of how many have aired. I think they turned out pretty good. At any rate, the show is a success and will be back for a second season. Unfortunately, I won't be. The WB didn't invite me to produce/edit/write season two. So you can forget about any long term plans/arcs I had for the series. Still, I wish the show well. (After all, it'll still carry my "Developed By" credit.)

In other news, today I finished recording all of the two volume (seven episode) video anime series 3X3 EYES. I think we assembled a terrific cast for the English dub. Here's a complete list:

LEADS
Christian Cambell* as Yakumo Fujii
Brigitte Bako^ as Pai/Sanjiyan/Pabo Ayanokoji/Parvati/Howasho

SUPPORTING
Thom Adcox^* as Monkey
Edward Asner^* as Grandpa Ayanokoji
Earl Boen as Benares
Leslie Boone as Ken-Ken
Susan Chesler as Lee Ling-Ling
Bill Faggerbakke^ as Steve Long
Elisa Gabrielli^ as the Doll Demon
Jean Gilpin* as Mrs. Wong/Xunquai
Taliesin Jaffe as the Frog Demon and Feihong
William Katt as Tinzin
Mia Korf* as Natsuko
Ralph Lister as Choukai
Erin Matthews as Mei-Shin Long
Yuji Okumoto* as Chou and Naparva
Gregg Rainwater^* as Jake MacDonald
Dina Sherman as Dawn and Ran-Pao-Pao
Rick Simone as Tatsuya
Keith Szaribajka* as Professor Fujii and Ryouko
Rosie Taravella as Grandma Ayanokoji
Greg Weisman^ as Hide

and Keith David^ in a roll so rocking, I can't reveal it here. :)

* indicates a Voice Actor I worked with on MAX STEEL.
^ indicates a Voice Actor I worked with on GARGOYLES.

Anyway, the voices are all recorded. I've got three mix sessions left to do. I should be done in a week or so, at which point -- I'm unemployed.

Or nearly. I'm still teaching the animation writing course through UCLA extension. That's been a lot of fun and it keeps me pretty busy. Plus I'm working on writing a spec screenplay with my brother. And I go on the occasional job interview.

All this means is that it looks like I'll soon have plenty of time to dive back into ASK GREG. At one point we were closing in on completely catching up. Now we're over three months behind. But I'll try to make some fast progress. We've now got Todd Jensen helping Gorebash out to keep the site current, so that should help us avoid the "Nothing in queue" problems that were slowing us up before.

And I hope to see most of you at Gathering 2000 this August. It should be a GREAT con this year. I'll be there with Thom Adcox plus my wife and kids. We'll have new and special treats from Gargoyles, 3x3 Eyes and another EXCLUSIVE radio play event -- something that I guarantee you won't want to miss. Plus Disneyworld is a shuttle ride away. Make your reservations now.


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"Leader of the Pack" Background memo...

ASK GREG is back up and running. (Thank you, Gorebash.)

Unfortunately, Murphy's Law in in effect, and I'm now swamped with work. (More on that tomorrow.) I'll try to get to your questions and comments A.S.A.P. In the meantime, I've watched another episode "Leader of the Pack". I've taken notes to write a ramble but I don't have time to compose it tonight. But I also wanted to post my July, '94 memo to Michael Reaves regarding his first draft outline on this episode. (Like the one I posted for "Reawakening".) I have a hard copy of this memo, but unfortunately -- there's that Murphy's Law again -- I don't seem to have a computer file for it. (Which, frankly, is truly bizarre.) Still, retyping this is faster than composing something original. But I don't know if I'll have time to retype the entire five page memo tonight. So bear with me. This could take a while... (I'll try to keep all the typos intact. And I'll add a few new comments in [brackets].)

Greg Weisman 7-2-94

NOTES ON OUTLINE for "Leader of the Pack"
Michael, I think we can focus the story a little more. And I think there's quite a bit of padding that we can trim down, but on the whole, a good start.

General Notes...

--Let's focus this by making it Lexington's story. A real companion piece to "Thrill of the Hunt". In that story, Lex was too trusting. In this he'll be hell-bent on REVENGE. That's today's theme. And today's lesson is about setting priorities -- and how revenge ain't a great one. Lex comes close to letting his lust for revenge take priority over his concern for his life and his friends. Same with the Pack. They break prison; they could head for Rio. But they want revenge on the gargoyles more. It gets them in trouble. Ironically, only Xanatos has his priorities straight. He didn't give a damn about revenge on the gargoyles. He just cared about his "friend" Fox and getting her released from her unfortunate incarceration. [A DESIGNING WOMEN reference -- Greg 2000]

--Given the above. Let's see Lex as the true monster he can be. As frightening as possible, as often as possible.

--The stuff w/Dingo's change of heart was nice. It gave me a great idea for a story about him trying to go straight, set in Australia during the WORLD TOUR. But I think it's out of place here. It's distracting to the main story. I don't want Dingo to start to turn yet. He didn't have to come back from Europe to help the others. Let's keep him gung-ho for now. (When we do the Pack Upgrade Story, in which Wolf will submit to Doc Sevarius' genetic treatment ala Talon, and Hyena and Jackal will undergo cyborgizing ala Coldstone, we'll plant the seed there that Dingo thinks things are getting carried away. He'll choose removable robot-armor, and we'll play some of these beats then.) [When you're working on 65 episodes you try not to waste anything. And the characters begin to define their own destinies. But you need to pace them. -- Greg 2000]

--Coyote's abilities need some clarification. Let's start by thinking this is a stranger wearing some kind of power-armor. Jet black, anubis-headed armor. We'll modify or harmonize Jonathan's voice. Then when he removes the dog-faced armored head, we reveal that it's Xanatos inside the armor. The audience will buy this because of "The Edge" story. When COYOTE has the "helmet" off, we'll use Jonathan's voice un-harmonized. But obviously for battle scenes he'll put the helmet back on. A slight clue that Coyote isn't the real Xanatos will be that Coyote seems more determined to get revenge than we'd normally expect from the rational Xanatos we've come to know and love. Then at the end, we'll reveal the robot beneath the Xanatos face. We also need to make a bigger deal of this reveal. I think it would be cool, if after the body is damaged beyond repair, the semi-damaged head, takes off, shooting into the sky like a comet, abandoning the Pack. At any rate, we can now have Coyote be very powerful throughout the episode, without our audience suspecting the truth. What can the Coyote "armor" (i.e. the Coyote/Xanaots robot) do? Does it have built-in jet-boots and weapons systems? Let's make it real tough and cool.

--In general, we need to be really careful not to let the Pack seem weak or incompetent. I doubt Elisa can outshoot them. They've been defeated twice already. If we don't up the ante, we've lost these characters as effective adversaries.

--The huge emphasis on updrafts can be dumped. We've already shown the gargoyles glide to and from Liberty Island in "The Edge". How far out in the water is this tanker? Better not to go into too much detail.

--Same with the Pack's search for the gargoyles. Why raise the issue about how easy it is to find the gargoyles? Besides, the method used here could take weeks, if not months. Let the gargoyles find the Pack. We can dump the CD-ROM disk.

--The mirrored shields was a good idea. But it pre-supposes a Lexington who is rational enough to use his head and come up with it. Not this story. But remember it for later use. [O.K. I guess some things did get wasted. --Greg 2000]

--We definitely don't need or want Derek in this story. If it comes before "Metamorphosis" than we don't want to mess with his loyalty to Xanatos. If it comes after, then obviously he's not Derek anymore, but Talon. Anyway, we won't need him. The way I figure it, Elisa's role in this story is fairly minimal. I didn't like her as victim/hostage, so I largely dumped her. So we can leave Derek out, as well.

--Fox should protect he guard first, then refuse to go. When she refuses Hyena's inclined to kill her too. Coyote prevents it by indicating there's no time. Also, I've cut the middle Fox scene 14. Better that the audience forget about her until the end.

Specific Notes & Questions....
[to follow tomorrow, hopefully...]


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Reprinting a ramble...

Just reprinting my response to an AIRWALKER post in the comment room. (Like to save this stuff for posterity. I don't mean to pick on Airwalker.)

AIRWALKER - I don't know if you're already en route to Israel (have fun by the way) and I hate to defend my own stuff (after all if it doesn't speak for itself then I'm doomed anyway). But I have to heartily disagree with the following statement you made:

(I know the reasons that were given by Greg as to why this edited version was used for the video release but
still it stands out as a not particularly good edit. There were so many other, better ways to do an editing - the
version that is usually shown on Halloween on UPN is a hundred times better than the AWAKENINGS that's
out on video, mainly because they spliced the episodes together while leaving in as much material as possible...)

To the contrary, AIRWALKER, I believe the version that wound up on video is a VERY GOOD EDIT. If what we're talking about is the edit itself. You don't like it because so much was cut. You prefer the episodes -- and so do I -- because they are more complete. You even prefer the version BVTV edited together without any input from the producers (me & Frank). Also because it's more complete. But I'd argue that's an objectively WORSE edit. If what we mean is the editing itself. I wouldn't go so far as to call it sloppy, but it is choppy. This is mostly a lesson in semantics. You like to have more material. So do I. The five parter is 110 minutes long (total give-or-take). The recut movie version is 90+ minutes long (give-or-take) enough to fill a two hour tv timeslot. The version we did for the Orlando Big Screen premiere screening (which wound up -- against my advice -- going on the home video) is under 80 minutes. That's all the time we were allowed. Plus we were given an absolute mandate that the thing stand alone. The egg references, for example, HAD TO GO. That wasn't a choice, that was an order. Given those parameters, I think we did the best possible job we could. And I think the work that the editor did is terrific.

Basically, all I'm saying is that you shouldn't confuse the editing with the assignment the editor was given. Feel free to have a preference in terms of which cut you like. But if you're going to criticize the editing itself... Look very carefully at that work, before you disparage...


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Batman vs. Gargoyles...

As I believe I've mentioned before, there was once some fear at Buena Vista (our distribution arm) that GARGOYLES would be perceived as a rip off of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. Now, that seems all but laughable, but then it was a sincere concern at BVTV. (The fact that we had Frank & Michael on our show, both of them major contributors to B:TAS, probably didn't help.) So they asked me to write up a memo showing the differences. That memo follows, unedited. Note the date.

(6-14-94)

Random thoughts on the differences between Gargoyles and Batman:

--Batman was traumatized as a child, by witnessing the death of his parents, which left him totally alone and psychologically scarred for life.
--Goliath had a major tragedy occur in his life, but it happened when he was an adult. He was not left totally alone. He is mature enough to realize that bad things can happen to good gargoyles and he is creating a positive life for himself and his clan.

--Batman fights criminals because of a deep-psychological need to stop their evil.
--Goliath and the gargoyles protect the innocent because they are protective by nature. It is a very primal instinct to them. They are not taking eternal vengeance.

--Batman is one man in a suit. (Two men if you count Robin.) He wears a mask to protect his secret identity.
--There are six gargoyles, each with unique personalities. And they are a different species -- monsters. Nothing put on. No secret identies. No posing as normal. Very little technology.

--Gotham City is New York at it's worst. Dark, ugly, cynical.
--Goliath's Manhattan is a dangerous but beautiful place, w/a rich colorful palate. A place of Hope.

--Batman faces a colorful array of villains, all with their own separate backstories.
--The Gargoyles face a colorful array of villains, whose backstories intertwine with the gargoyle's own rich history in ancient Scotland and modern Manhattan.

--Batman is reality based w/a few exaggerations and sci-fi elements thrown in.
--Gargoyles is more fantastic. Magic is quantifiable, but it exists. Immortals and sorcerers walk the earth.

--Batman is a man for his time.
--The gargoyles are creatures who are displaced in time trying to adjust to the modern world.

--Batman has no regular female character (unless you count villains like Poison Ivy or the occasional use of Batgirl.)
--The gargoyles are supported by Elisa Maza, a strong, capable but tender, female New York Police detective.

--Batman wears a cape.
--The gargoyles have wings which can fold over like a cape, but can also be used to glide through the air, simulating true flight.

--Batman wears a utility belt with gadgets included.
--Gargoyles don't. Hudson wears a sword though.

--Batman wears boots.
--Gargoyles are barefoot.

--Batman doesn't have super-human strength or powerful claws or a tail.
--The gargoyles do.

--Batman doesn't turn to stone every morning and then explode out of stone every night.
--Gargoyles do.

--Batman doesn't have a dog.
--Gargoyles have Bronx.

--Bruce Wayne has nearly unlimited wealth to subsidize his heroics with technology.
--Xanatos has nearly unlimited wealth to subsidize his villainy with technology. The gargoyles have a medium-sized t.v. set and a used barca-lounger.

--The Batcave is a high-tech top secret location located underneath stately Wayne Manor.
--The clock tower is a low-tech place to hide above the police precint in Manhattan.

--Batman has a butler.
--The gargoyles don't.

I hope this is helpful. Though I don't know why it would be.

As you can see, I didn't take the assignment too seriously. The only real key point for me is the first one. The differences between the tragedies and the heroes' reactions to those tragedies. Also that Xanatos is the anti-Bruce Wayne. But c'mon... "Batman has a butler. The Gargoyles don't". Was I stretching or what?


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Scientific Addendum to Wind Ceremony

Even in peaceful times, Gargoyles -- even very old gargoyles -- all but never died in their sleep. Sleep for gargoyles is borderline suspended animation. If an old, weary Gargoyle actually made it to daylight and stone, that bit of sleep would tend to freeze the aging process, the deterioration if you will. Rejuvenate the gargoyle even just a little bit. They'd be much more likely to die after the sun went down, after transforming back into flesh. Even before the iron age, when Gargoyles had little to fear from most any species, when turning to stone was an excellent daytime defense and not a liability, most ancient Gargoyles died just before sunrise, after an exhausting night, rather than after the sun had risen.

So again, the disturbing notion of surviving gargoyle mourners having to pulverize a perfectly preserved stone corpse is a veritable non-issue. The practice of reducing stone remains to dust was a result of gargoyles having to come to terms with stone-sleep having become a vulnerability. If you're loved one is already rubble, there isn't much reason to keep the rubble intact. That doesn't mean the process isn't emotionally painful. But not much more painful, I would think, then cremating a corpse of flesh. (Though of course it's more immediate. You are doing the damage, not the Fire.) At any rate, that was the custom that evolved.


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The Wind Ceremony

When a gargoyle dies, the disposition of his or her body depends only slightly on whether the gargoyle died during the day or at night.

If at night, the corpse is cremated.

If during the day, the rubble is pulverized.

(The notion of pulverizing the undamaged stone corpse of a gargoyle who has died peacefully in his sleep is disturbing. But in fact, gargoyles so rarely die peacefully in their sleep as to make this a non-issue.)

In either case, the cremated or pulverized remains are taken by the gargoyle mourners to the highest point on the local map. A memorial is held. Everyone who wishes to speak of the departed, may. No one, not even the departed's enemies, may be denied a voice. In the end, the mourners spread the remains upon the wind, saying, "Ashes to ashes OR dust to dust. All is one with the wind." (Over time, humans began to use a variation of the same at their funerals.)

The gargoyles then spread their wings, soaring amid the ashes or dust in the hope that part of the departed will stay with them forever.

[Note: There was no one to perform the wind ceremony for Coldstone, Coldfire or Coldsteel. That, and the location's ambient magicks coupled with the trio's own passions, may explain their accessability to Demona's ressurection spell.]


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Chapter XIII: "Reawakening" (The new ramble...)

As promised, I'll now attempt to recreate the lost ramble on this episode, which I recently watched again with my family.

For those of you who haven't seen it, I refer you to my recently posted "Memo" on this episode dated back in April of 1994. One thing you might have noticed was that the title of the episode was "The Awakening". In the memo, I suggested what I thought was the more appropriate title "Reawakening". Michael liked that idea but had a suggestion that did it one better. He suggested renaming our pilot five-parter "Awakening". I jumped at the idea. At the time, the five-parter was simply titled "Gargoyles, Part One", "Gargoyles, Part Two", etc. I've never liked that sort of cop out where the pilot's title is simply the series' title. Among other things, it lacks imagination. And it's dishonest. By that standard, "The Journey"'s real title should have been "Gargoyles, Part Sixty-Six". So giving our pilot its own title seemed like a very good idea to me.

But there was another reason why I liked Michael's plan. We were working on our last episode of the first season. It was April of 1994, nearly a year before that episode would air. And a good six months before our premiere. There was no way of knowing whether or not there would ever be a SECOND season. And so to protect myself (emotionally) I had to operate on the assumption that their might not be. Obviously, I wasn't going to do anything apocalyptic. I wanted there to be a second season, so I wanted to leave the doorway open for it. So Michael, Frank, Brynne and I discussed the idea of open-ended closure. If there never was a second season, we'd go out with a bang. We'd give some small amount of closure to our characters. Let them reach a turning point. If this was to be it, we'd have created a little 13 episode novel that brought the Gargoyles from the past to the present and renewed (reawakened) their sense of purpose.

Nice. We'd done the open-ended closure thing (to a lesser degree) at the end of what would eventually be called "Awakening, Part Five" and we'd eventually do it again at the end of "Hunter's Moon, Part Three". And I'd do it for myself in my script for "The Journey".

But there are tricks to achieving a sense of closure. And one of the tricks is to create parallels with the episodes that launched your story.

So by retro-titling our pilot "Awakening" and naming our last ep "RE-Awakening" you can see how we gave ourselves a headstart.

But there were other parallels. The flashback to the past, (which we intentionally built so that it could theoretically be edited into the pilot if necessary) included the Magus at his most pre-Avalon obnoxious. Obviously, that flashback also intro'd pre-Coldstone, but it served the purpose of calling those first couple of flashback episodes clearly into the viewers' minds. (The only problem with that scene, is that Hudson has his sword in a couple of the shots. This is a mistake, as any good Garg fan knows that Hudson first acquired his sword in the battle with the Vikings that took place the following night.)

We also did the big event VILLAIN TEAM-UP thing, bringing Xanatos and Demona back together for the first time since "Awakening, Part Five". (I love the exquisite tension that plays between them. They are both SO using each other. When Demona tells Coldstone that X is her servant, you know that she's partly doing that to circumvent Coldstone's questions, but that she also partly believes that it's true.)

We also used Morgan in Times Square in a very similar way to how he was used in "Awakening, Part One" (reiterated in "Awakening, Part Two").

And then there's that moment near the end where Elisa asks Goliath if there's anything he needs. He answers "A Detective" verbally echoing a key moment from their first meeting in "Awakening, Part Three". That still tickles me.

HOMAGE

Obviously, Frank and I both worked overtime to pay homage to the classic Universal "FRANKENSTEIN" movie. I can say "pay homage" with a straight face (as opposed to rip off) because we so clearly acknowledged the source. Frank's art direction of the lab. X's line: "It's alive! Alive!" (Wonderfully undercut by Jonathan Frakes' reading of the follow-up "I've always wanted to say that.") And the whole idea behind Coldstone. (More on this when I eventually ramble on "Legion".)

Coldstone would be our Frankenstein's monster. Pieced together. Gargoyle & Machine. Reanimated (reawakened). I even love the Coldstone name. And wasn't Michael Dorn's sepulchral tones just perfect for the role?

And Goliath's reaction is so multi-faceted, so Dr. Frankenstein... [You know Goliath's response to his brother here, would be echoed later in his response to his "son" Thailog in "Double Jeopardy". Initially, Goliath's simply repulsed by what he sees, calling Coldstone "an abomination". But given a bit of time, Goliath quickly sees past appearances and attempts whole-heartedly to save his brother. He'll go through the same changes with Thailog. Well... at least we (and Goliath) were consistent.]

CONTINUITY

Snow. It started snowing in "Her Brother's Keeper" and now the city is blanketed in the stuff. (And doesn't Elisa look cute in her scarf and gloves.)

Brooklyn's still pissed off at Demona, specifically and sarcastically asking if she has anymore "spells to save you now". In fact, we wanted to make clear that the spell used to resurrect (reawaken) Coldstone was one of the spells she tore out of the Grimorum in "Temptation". Instead, we cheated a bit. By having her tell Xanatos that the "Cantrips have already been spoken" it saved us the trouble of getting another spell translated into Latin. We were either lazy or short on time or -- most likely -- both.

Following out of "The Edge", and until the helmet comes off at the bridge, the gargs assume that Xanatos in his armor is simply another Steel Clan Robot. The next upgrade. The red model. They have no idea it's actually Xanatos himself in armor.

Small observation: Mirrors don't fare too well in the Gargoyles Universe.

Emotionally, I think the story is very successful at taking the audience through Goliath's spiritual reawakening. I love how he starts out pensive and brooding, listening to that great exchange between the trio and Hudson, realizing that all of them have lost track of their true purpose. Hudson recites the Gargoyle credo merely as an excuse not to go out in the cold. (And I love Thom's reading on Lex's "We don't even live in a castle anymore" response.) The trio are clearly missing the point, but methodical thinker Goliath isn't sure he remembers what the point is either.

And that dovetails SO nicely with Elisa revealing the Police motto "Protect and Serve". The police motto/gargoyle credo connection is so perfect, it struck me even at the time as further proof that we were tapping into something very true in our little fictions. (And don't cops -- for better and sometimes for worse -- act just like a clan?)

From there, Goliath moves past the notion of simply being a reactive character, struggling only to SURVIVE one crisis after another. Now he will strive to be proactive. To rededicate (reawaken) the clan toward their original life purpose. Extending the term "castle" to Manhattan island was always our plan. Even that was intentionally primitive in our view. Goliath doesn't protect New York City. Not all five burroughs anyway. That's beyond his medieval scope at this still-early stage. He can get his head around protecting an island surrounded by water. Not the whole world. But eventually, the plan would include expanding the clan's definition until Castle Earth was the only thing that made sense. Of course, that might not have been fully realized until 2158. But we'd have gotten there. And the World Tour was part of that process too.

PROBLEMS
(Besides Hudson's sword...)

--One line in the ep. that for some reason still makes me cringe is Elisa's "My car's big." It just seems awkward to me. Not sure why.

X & D watch Coldstone's progress from the castle. Almost instantaneously they're at Times Square. We always knew we were just skating by on that.

Goliath & Coldstone go into the water at the bridge TWICE within the span of a couple of minutes or so. The first time, Goliath nearly drowns. The second time he's completely uneffected (physically) by the experience. We get away with it because the second time he's diving in on purpose. But just the fact that we had to dunk them both twice is an awkward construction (and my fault). At least, Goliath looks good with wet hair.

Some really graceful animation here. Goliath has some great moves, and I love that moment when Matt and especially Elisa are diving into the snow, out of the way of the car that Coldstone has just thrown... And speaking of that scene...

TIMES SQUARE SEQUENCE

There's some very interesting, fun stuff here besides what I've already mentioned about it above. A sampling:

Explosions in Bambi. :)

Demona's Clan: Herself, Coldstone, a Steel Clan Robot and Xanatos in Gargoyle Battle Armor. It's so twisted. I love it.

Goliath's very smart here. He doesn't want the fight to take place in public and basically convinces Xanatos to take his side on the issue by flattering him. Goliath refers to Manhattan as "your city" (i.e. Xanatos' city), this despite the obvious fact that Goliath does NOT regard Manhattan as Xanatos' personal property. And Xanatos, usually immune to such stuff, falls for it -- maybe BECAUSE it comes from the ultra-sincere Goliath.

I also am very fond of the Mr. Jaffe book-ends. I think they're a lot of fun. And I love how Matt talks about Mr. Jaffe. It gives us insight into Matt's character, his background, his youth. His empathy for Jaffe really helps humanize him. Matt was always eminently human.

Signing off now...

"Because six monsters just told me to..."


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Chapter XIII: "Reawakening" (background rambling)

I'm trying something different with this ramble. And because of recent difficulties, I'm going to break the Ramble into two parts. My thoughts on reviewing the episode last Friday night will need to be recreated from scratch. And I'll get to that as soon as I can.

But first I thought you guys might appreciate a little background. What follows is a long memo that I wrote to Story Editor Michael Reaves after receiving the first draft of writer Brynne Chandler Reaves' outline on our thirteenth and final episode of the first season. Pay careful attention to the date of the memo and the title of the episode. I'll comment on both sometime in the next few days...

THE MEMO (unedited):

To: Michael Reaves Date: 4-10-94

From: Greg Weisman Ext: 7436

Re: Notes on "The Awakening" / Outline for 4319-013 of GARGOYLES

GENERAL NOTES
This is a tough one, because in this episode, we have a very specific mission, which is to remind Goliath of his. In order to accomplish this, I'd like to focus both our efforts and Goliath's soul-searching. These aren't simple concepts but I'm gonna try and go through them in baby steps. This is less for our benefit than for the benefit of our audience & Goliath. (Remember, Goliath is a determined thinker if not a quick one.)

Goliath spends the episode searching for the true meaning behind the gargoyle motto, "A gargoyle can no more stop protecting the castle than breathing the air."

We begin by defining our terms. Goliath first needs to understand the following equation: "Castle = Home = Family = Community". He more or less learned the Castle through Family section in "ENTER MACBETH", but we'll need to reiterate the lesson in some way for our audience. Then we need to take him the final step from Family to Community.

After that (or perhaps simultaneously), he needs to decide on what is meant by "protect". Protect what? The physical structure he lives in? No. Again, Home leads into Family which leads into Community.

Protect why? To survive in a hostile environment? Ultimately and by the end of the episode Goliath decides/remembers that to survive is not enough. Coldstone and Demona provide cautionary proof; both of them are abominations of a sort, created in the name of "Survival". Survival ("breathing the air") is important, but clearly survival isn't enough. Goliath and his clan need purpose. They need to return to the mission: Protect the castle (i.e. protect the community).

This dovetails nicely w/Elisa's mission as a cop: "To protect and serve." And leaves us, at the end of our first season, with a more pro-active group of heroes.

SPECIFIC NOTES
Just a few specifics that aren't covered in the beat outline that follows.

Page 1.
--The trio saw snow last episode. Let's make the winter weather the backdrop to the action. Not part of the story.
--I don't think we want to light any fires in the clock tower.

Page 2.
--We no longer need Madame Serena in this story. Plus she adds another new element to a pretty full plate.
--Remember this is one of the spells that Demona ripped from the Grimorum back in "Temptation".

Page 3.
--Coldstone wouldn't name himself. It's not gargoylean thing to do. And he hasn't been awake long enough to know he needs a name. Let Demona do it.

Page 7
--I think we can fit the action of this story into one night, so this is kind of a moot point, but I don't think Demona would risk sleeping as stone in Xanatos' castle. She doesn't trust anyone that much.
--Let's not overplay Matt's conspiracy fettish. It's o.k., but we don't want him to come off as a "babbling".

Page 11
--Remember, unless we're getting biblical here, Gargoyles weren't "created". They have very strong territorial and protective instincts. These instincts are as strong as their survival instinct. But I want to make sure we don't imply that they were magically created by someone or something who gave them a mission.

Finally, if I could recommend a title change... how about "Re-Awakening" instead of "The Awakening". I think it's a bit more appropriate all the way around.

ACT ONE
1. Prologue #1 - Present Day Manhattan - All-Nite Grocery - Winter Night
--It's snowing in Manhattan and will continue to snow until the last scene.
--A lone thief holds up the owner of a small and otherwise empty All-Nite grocery store.
--Thief tells the owner: "I guess we just live in dangerous times.

2. Prologue#2 - Flashback to 994 A.D. Scotland - Castle Wyvern - Night
(Note this scene happened off-camera during part one of the five-parter, somewhere around page 24 of script #4319-001.)
--Goliath informs Hudson that they must leave to harry the vikings far away.
--He'll need Hudson's tracking skills.
--Demona and "pre-Coldstone" gargoyle (Goliath's rookery brother) are also present.
--Magus comes thru and says or does something obnoxious.
--Demona, secretly desperate for Goliath to bring them all along, asks why they bother protecting the human's castle at all?
--Pre-Coldstone agrees: "Let them keep the castle, we can survive anywhere."
--(We see he is of a semi-simlar mind-set to Demona, which explains why she uses him 1000 years later for Coldstone.)
--Hudson firmly states the gargoyle mission statement: "A gargoyle can no more stop protecting the castle than breathing the air..."
--Goliath instructs his rookery brother to stay w/Demona and protect.

3. Present Day - Winter - Clock Tower - Night
--Goliath's been daydreaming (at night) about old memories.
--Trio are going to a movie; they invite Hudson along.
--Hudson's a couch potato. He'll wait to see it on cable. Besides he's got to guard their home.
--Trio: We live over a police station. What could happen? We don't have to guard the place every night.
--Hudson tosses off gargoyle truism: "A gargoyle can no more stop protecting the castle than breathing the air..." (But that's just an excuse to be left alone.)
--Goliath reacts silently, realizing their mission has lost meaning for the gargoyles, even Hudson. Maybe even himself.
--Trio leaves ("We don't even live in a castle anymore...")
--As Elisa enters.
--She wants to know how gargoyles are "surviving" the cold weather.
--G says they're fairly immune... to the elements.
--Elisa starts to leave for her shift w/offhand remark: "Time to do a little of the old 'Protect and Serve'."
--G stops her to find out what she means.
--Police motto.
--But what does it mean? Protect who?
--(Maybe Elisa can get us from Castle to Family here.)
--Goliath decides to accompany Elisa on the night shift.
--Which is a bit problematic now that she has a partner.

4. Castle
--Demona has talked a reluctant Xanatos into another attempt to destroy Goliath.
--Xanatos & Demona use science & sorcery to revive creature made from cybernetics and mismatched gargoyle parts. (The head is that of Goliath's rookery brother, our pre-Coldstone, augmented by cybernetic-eye & etc.)
--Demona names him Coldstone.
(--Perhaps she represents Xanatos as her servant. Perhaps he allows it.)
(--Note: in this episode, I think we want to sense a tension between X & D, but I don't think we want to bust them up here. It's distracting and we have enough to deal with.)
--Coldstone's confused. Last thing he remembers is Goliath & Hudson leaving the castle. Then came sunrise and oblivion.
--Demona: "Goliath abandoned us to the mercy of humans."
--He has been seduced by their beliefs.
--It is because of him that you look like this....
--It's mirror time.
--Does audience see him or do we save that revelation?

5. Manhattan Streets / All-Nite Grocery / Rooftop across the street.
--Elisa & Matt are driving in her car.
--Goliath is following them from above. (She's given him a walkie-talkie or headset or something. She's basically wearing a wire so that he can be on her shift with her.)
--They investigate All-Nite grocery store robbery from scene 1. (Not a crime in progress. Remember, they are detectives, not beat cops.)
--While Matt questions the owner...
--Goliath, watching from above, is able to talk quietly w/Elisa.
--We get from Family to Community.
--Elisa: No one wants to live a prisoner of their own castle anymore. We live in a community. The whole community needs to work together...
--G: "To survive." (He still hasn't gotten it yet.)
--Radio call: "All available units."

6. Times Square.
--That tortured soul, Coldstone, is going bonkers.
--(He hated "Cats". No, wait... he hates humans.)
--(Physical strength only. No robotic weaponry yet.)
--Morgan and other cops are just securing the perimeter, keeping people clear.
--From a distance, Goliath surmises another Xanatos robot ploy. (He sees the occasional metallic glint. The rest is in shadow.) He won't be dragged into another of Xanatos' schemes.
--Elisa & Matt don't have that luxury. They approach the thing. Tell it to cease and desist, etc.
--Coldstone prepares to throw a small car at them or something.
--As Goliath reacts, we fade out.

ACT TWO
7. Times Square.
--With Elisa endangered, Goliath doesn't hesitate to intervene and save her and a flabergasted Matt.
--Now Coldstone really goes ballistic. Literally. Barrel rises from robotic arm and fires.
--Goliath dodges or maybe he is hit, but Coldstone is too shocked to notice. --He didn't know he could do that.
--(Xanatos had a pre-programmed battle mode built-into his circuitry.)
--While C is figuring this out, Goliath comes in and smashes him.
--It's only in close that Goliath realizes he's not fighting a robot.
--(Is this the audience's first full look at Coldstone too??)
--And it's only now that Coldstone recognizes G.
--But all this convinces Coldstone that Demona was telling the truth.
--Goliath is attacking his own rookery brother to defend a human.
--But Goliath is out-matched, and soon losing.

8. Inside Orpheum Theatre (Times Square).
--Trio are watching movie from balcony.
--(As Broadway did in "Deadly Force").
-- "There sure are an awful lot of explosions in this movie."
--But are those explosions coming from outside?
--Suddenly movie stops. House lights come up.
--On ground level, Morgan is ushering people out the back entrance, calmly and for their own safety.
--Trio exit to see what's going on.

9. Times Square.
--Trio arrive in time to save Goliath from Coldstone.
--Coldstone surrounded by all four gargoyles.
--Looks like the tide of battle might have shifted.
--We see gargoyles thru Coldstone's robot POV.

10. Castle.
--Matchcut to Xanatos office monitor.
--Seems he gets a direct feed on whatever Coldstone sees or hears.
--X to D: Looks like sonny-boy's having trouble making friends.
--(No indication that they're going to help yet.)

11. Times Square.
--Goliath does not attack; he's still trying to put everything together.
--Could this abomination really be his rookery brother?
--At first, Goliath doesn't talk to Coldstone, rather he speaks about "it".
--Which of course doesn't endear him to Coldy one bit.
--G tries a kinder, gentler approach.
--Might even be starting to reach him.
--G: What happened to you, pal?
--From off-screen Demona says: "We did."
--Goliath, trio and Coldstone turn to see Demona, Xanatos in Gargoyle armor and a Steel Clan Robot. Fade to black.

ACT THREE
12. Times Square.
--Stand-off.
--Demona: If you're going to bring your whole clan, you can't expect me not to bring mine.
--G: You call that a clan?
--Coldstone is torn, confused. What should he do?
--Demona: "Destroy Goliath. Destroy him, and we survive."
--Coldstone looks down at his cobbled-together form: "Is this survival?"
--Demona tells him not to be fooled by appearance.
--Goliath and the others have been corrupted by humans.
--"We are the only real gargoyles left."
--Travis Marshall pulls up in newsvan.
--While cameraman is setting up, Elisa uses "wire" to warn Goliath.
--Goliath appeals to Xanatos
--(Probably doesn't yet know that Xanatos IS one of the robots.)
--(G thinks he's talking by radio-link via the robots.)
--G: It's your city, X, shouldn't we reconvene someplace less fragile.
--Demona doesn't like the idea, but Xanatos insists.
--(She's not ready to sever their partnership yet).
--Xanatos quietly names a spot that only Goliath (and Elisa via their wire) can hear.
--The eight combatants fly off, severally.
--Marshall only gets the tail end on camera.

13. Clock Tower.
--Hudson sees Marshall's report on t.v.
--Discusses dilemma (theoretically w/Bronx, but he's really talking to himself).
--Goliath told them to stay and guard the tower.
--What should he do?

14. George Washington Bridge.
(Or whatever bridge is closest to Times Square.)
--Your basic battle royale...on the bridge, in the air. Among other things...
--Brooklyn goes after Demona.
--He's still mad at her from "Temptation."
--Which allows Goliath and Coldstone to continue their face-off.
--The Steel Clan robot is destroyed.
--Xanatos is forced to unmask.
--But generally, the bad guys are winning, if barely.
--Coldstone & Goliath plunge into the icy river.

15. The River.
--Coldstone's got a built-in breathing apparatus that extends over his mouth and nose automatically.
--As they struggle underwater, Goliath's losing air and consciousness.
--G. hears Hudson's voice: "A gargoyle can no more stop protecting the castle than breathing the air."
--Suddenly, Goliath is pulled out of the water... by Coldstone.

16. An Ice flow.
--As G. gasps for breath he sees that a battered Demona and Xan have the drop on an even more battered Trio. The fight is over; the good guys lost.
--Demona's glad Coldstone saved G. for her to finish off.
--But Coldstone wants some answers first.
--Coldstone: "You said if Goliath dies. We would survive."
--Again, he indicates himself: "Is that all there is... surviving?"
--Demona's almost tender with him, but what she says is something like: "That's all that counts."
--But Goliath has finally figured it out. Surviving is not enough. To merely survive at all costs is not the gargoyle way. Gargoyles protect the way gargoyles breathe. To forget that leads to true corruption. Not the corruption of humans, or even Coldstone's metallic corruption. But the bitter fanaticism of Demona's corrupt soul. Or something like that.
--Of course, Demona's not just gonna sit there and let Goliath speechify forever.
--She takes aim.
--Coldstone leaps between them, takes the blast and is blown off the ice into the water. He does not resurface.
--Goliath immediately dives in after his brother.
--Demona fires into the water at both of them.
--She is furious at Coldstone's betrayal.
--Trio try to take some advantage of situation, but Xanatos won't allow it.
--Suddenly, the ice seems to be hit from above by a cannonball that sends everyone reeling.
--That was no cannonball that was Bronx. Hudson dropped him from on high.
--Again, the tide has turned. And it's all Xanatos can do to grab Demona and rocket her out of there.
--Goliath comes up for air. There's no sign of Coldstone.
--Goliath has lost his only surviving brother.

17. Epilogue #1 - Bridge.
--The six gargoyles are climbing back up the bridge. (They'll need some height to glide home.)
--Hudson apologizes for abandoning their home, the clock tower.
--Goliath points toward Manhattan and says something like: "The clock tower is where we sleep. But our home is that island. Our castle is Manhattan. And gargoyles always protect their castle... and anyone, human or gargoyle who resides within."
--Elisa pulls up in her car. It took her awhile to get clear of Matt.
--Are they o.k.? Do they need anything?
--Goliath: "I need a detective."

18. Epilogue #2 - All-Nite Grocery - Dawn.
--The thief from scene 1 comes in again.
--The owner is scared at first but the thief is very contrite.
--He gives back all the money and asks the owner to call the police so that he can turn himself in.
--When the flabbergasted owner asks why, the frightened thief replies: "Six monsters and a cop told me to."

19. Rooftop across the street from the All-Nite Grocery - Morning.
--In the cold early morning wind amid hazy sunlight, Elisa stands on the roof across the street from the grocery store amid six horrific stone gargoyles.
--Elisa watches, as Morgan (at the end of his shift) takes the thief away in his squad car.
--Elisa: "Well, it's a start. Xanatos, Demona, you two are next."
--The sun breaks through the clouds, shining brightly on a beautiful winter's day in Manhattan.
--E: "You know, guys, the city feels safer already."
--She leaves them there to sleep and heads home after a long night.
--FADE.

End of memo. My real Ramble should come soon.


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Now my own test...

Unfortunately, just about the time the server crashed, I had just finished posting a mega-ramble, now lost, on "Reawakening". (The thought of trying to recreate it is fairly intimidating.) Also lost was the answer to a Todd Jensen question about iron. (Sorry, Todd you'll have to repost.) Since then I haven't been able to post anything. Hopefully, things are working today. (But the queue is empty again.)


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Test

Simple test ramble. Appears that things aren't working.

*sigh*

-Eric


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Bad news...

Because of the server crash the SUPER-LONG ramble on "Reawakening" which I posted last night was lost. The thought of recreating it is miserable and intimidating. But I'll get to it eventually. Maybe tomorrow.

Also lost was an answer to a Todd Jensen question about iron. Sorry Todd, but you'll have to repost the question.

ANd meanwhile, the queue is once again empty, which may also be a result of the crash or may be because Gore doesn't have time to fill it up right now.


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More Max

For some reason the WB chose to air a Max Steel rerun last week instead of the already completed episode 7. This week (i.e. Saturday 4/21) they're skipping 7 again to air episode 10 (I think).

Episode 10 was written by former Garg writer/story editor Gary Sperling. Its title is "Sphinxes".


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Max Update...

Queue is still empty...

Meanwhile, Max Steel episode #7 airs this Saturday. It's called "Snow-Blind" and was written by Mike Ryan. This continues Sony/WB's current tradition of airing the durn things in REVERSE order.

For those keeping track, the following episodes have aired in the following bizarre order:

#1 - "Strangers"
#3 - "Shadows"
#2 - "Sacrifices"
#4 - "Sportsmen"
#9 - "Sabres"
#8 - "Sharks"
#7 - "Snow-Blind"

#10 should follow shortly. It features the villain Dragonelle. After that #5 will air, which INTRODUCES Dragonelle.

This is how my life is running these days.

Maybe someday the WB will air them all in order.

But I wouldn't count on it.


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3x3 Update

Hello gang,

Well, my queue is still empty and I haven't watched Re-Awakening yet, so I thought I'd give you guys a 3X3 EYES update...

Today, we finished recording all the actors for the first volume. Here's the current cast list (and you can expect more familiar names in Volume Two).

Again, our two leads are...

Brigitte "Angela" Bako as Pai/Sanjiyan &
Christian "Max Steel" Campbell as Yakumo Fujii

Other Volume One cast members include...

Thom Adcox
Earl Boen
Susan Chesler
Mitch Cohen
Keith David
Bill Faggerbakke
Scott Forno
Jean Gilpin
Taliesin Jaffe
Jonathan Klein
Mia Korf
Erin Matthews
Yuji Okumoto
Rick Simone
Keith Szaribajka
Greg Weisman
Kelly Wilson

Of course, I worked with Brigitte, Thom, Keith D. and Bill on GARGOYLES.

And Christian, Thom, Jean, Mia, Yuji and Keith S. on MAX STEEL.

And I worked with Earl way back on BONKERS.

It's really a terrific cast. We've mixed 3/4 of the volume and it should be available from Pioneer this summer. (We'll be previewing it, or so I'm told, at Anime Expo in early July.)

Questions welcome...


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Poor Gorebash...

He's working so hard -- probably much harder than me these days -- and I just keep answering ASK GREG questions.

The Queue is empty again...


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Thank you Blaise

Blaise wrote:

In the end, two things above all others IMHO should be remembered in ANY debate of Goliath vs. Brooklyn:
1) Brooklyn admires and looks up to Goliath, despite any disagreements.
2) Goliath made Brooklyn Second-in-command because he felt Brooklyn was best suited for the job.
To put down one is actually indirectly putting down the other.

That bears repeating:

TO PUT DOWN ONE IS ACTUALLY INDIRECTLY PUTTING DOWN THE OTHER.

You guys can do what you want, of course.

And I certainly don't mind in depth discussions of either character. I thought Toku Kaioto's essay on Brooklyn was fantastic.

And I don't mind a fun poll like: "Ladies, which garg-hunk do you prefer?"

But I don't really see what you get by putting the characters' natures in opposition debate, as if they were or are in some competition with each other.

Now I promise, that was my last word on the subject.


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Pet Peeves

More a rant, than a ramble...

One thing I'm less than fond of is people who seem to think that the only way to praise someone or something is to attack someone or something else in order to make the quote-unquote praiseworthy object more praiseworthy by comparison.

Look, if a thing is worth praising, then praise it. It doesn't matter how good, better or awful something else is.

I hear this all the time with movies and tv shows, music, etc.

Worse, in the business I'm in, I hear it all the time with people.

And I've heard my share of it regarding the characters of Gargoyles.

FOR EXAMPLE:
Someone's a huge Brooklyn fan. Can't figure out why Angela chose Broadway or whey "the clan puts up with Goliath". It's not enough to praise Brooklyn, the Brook-fan feels the need to attack BW or Goliath -- slinging mud on them so that Brooklyn's light shines brighter.

Or the reverse. People determined to defend Goliath or. Outraged by the tactic outlined above, praise Goliath not with actual praise for Goliath, but by attacking Brooklyn, i.e. by utilizing the same tactic. It just makes me nuts.

Now, I'm not saying that you have to like every character equally. (I pretty much do, but I'm daddy.) You're all welcome to have your favorites. And it's even fine with me if there are some characters you just HATE. Either because you think they're ill-conceived, or because you think they're unpleasant or whatever.

But what's the fortune in comparisons? It's all subjective anyway. In High School, in my AP English class (days of yore) I remember a long debate about Othello vs. Iago. Most of the class seemed determined to prove that Iago was a great villain by arguing that Othello was a feeble hero. But I didn't buy it. (Well, I did for about five minutes, but the mind rebelled.) If Othello is feeble, than Iago's villainy achieved nothing. A triumph over a feeble leader. Big Deal.

End of rant.


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Theseus Addendum

One more thing, Aris,

About the Helen thing. I'm not trying to defend it, but I think the motivation wasn't any desire to possess a barely-pubescent Helen. I can't believe a guy who loved Antiope, wanting that. I think he was trying to stick it to all those young heroes of the new generation. I don't approve of his methods, and he wasn't able to pull it off even. But it was an act of rebellion. An act of societal perversion (as opposed to sexual perversion).

Anyway, that's my take.


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Belated warning...

For those of you following MAX STEEL on the WB...

This past Saturday, episode nine "Sabres" aired. (This is the one largely set on a space station.) It was written by Cary Bates.

And yes, it was supposed to be the ninth episode. But instead it aired fifth.

So far we've aired...

#1 "Strangers"
#3 "Shadows"
#2 "Sacrifices"
#4 "Sportsmen"
#9 "Sabres"

And, yes.... ARGGHHHHH!!!!

Anyway, next up this coming Saturday (4/8) is episode #8, "Sharks", written by Katherine Fugate.


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Me and Erin

I'm here with my daughter, Erin, and we're gonna answer a few questions together.

Enjoy.


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A NEW CONTEST

Ladies & Gentlemen, I invite you all to enter our latest ASK GREG contest:

Why is that Villainess Smiling?

At the end of "Her Brother's Keeper", Elisa has a gun on Hyena, forcing the Packmember to surrender. Cut to a close-up of Hyena... who SMILES!!

In one hundred words or less, tell me why she's smiling.

RULES:
--All answers must begin with the following heading:

"THE HYENA CONTEST"

--ANSWERS MUST BE THOROUGHLY PROOFREAD! Spelling and punctuation count! Remember I'm a former and current teacher.

--Answers that run longer than 100 words will be disqualified.

--Answers without the correct heading will be disqualified.

--Answers must be posted to ASK GREG by the end of April. Answers posted in May will be disqualified.

Once I've read all the April answers (hopefully in May) I will choose a winner based entirely on my own subjective preferences. That winner will receive a prize of zero actual value but hopefully of some real fan interest.

Good luck.


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Chapter XII: "Her Brother's Keeper"

I think Michael Reaves came up with this title. I wanted to shorten it to "Brother's Keeper" so that it would implicitly include the Trio, Goliath and his late rookery-brothers, Jackal & Hyena. But Michael talked me out of it. He was right.

This was the second out of three episodes where we attempted to do Kenner a solid by inserting a toy into the series. The Helicopter was a much more awkward fit than Brooklyn's motorcycle had been. But we all agreed to make it work. Originally, Lex was going to repair Derek's police chopper, but someone suggested using the Pack 'copter instead. So we tried to make it all play as organic as possible. Lex and the Simulator, to set up his ability to pilot the thing. Broadway bringing up the obvious question as to why winged gargs would need a chopper, so that the audience didn't think we were ignoring those points. Etc. And in the end, it still plays artificial. But fortunately it's in an episode that is othewise filled with tremendous emotional honesty. So maybe it all balances out.

Of course, the irony was that Kenner never made a gargoyle helicopter. Without telling us, they switched to a sky sled sorta thing, because they couldn't figure out how to do a helicopter that successfully interacted with the garg-toys' wings. No good deed goes unpunished.

Broadway: "If cops were meant to fly they'd have wings." I love that line.

Derek - This was part of our plan to turn Derek into Catscan. Of course, the Catscan name was eventually dropped for Talon. The original plan for Catscan had him being a scientist that worked for and was duped by Xanatos. Picture us trying to combine Derek and Anton. (I know it's a mind-bender. It was more like Derek's personality and Anton's expertise.) But the Garg Universe told me otherwise once we created Derek for "Deadly Force". He'd be the cursed one. And this was just step one. Step only, if we never got a second season. So we left it open ended. And I think it's a pretty stunning bittersweat ending. The snow starts to fall (all very symbolic) and we don't know if Derek will listen to Elisa's tape of Fox or not. And we leave Elisa, standing, wondering, thinking, as the snow falls. It's not your typical Saturday morning cartoon conclusion -- not even for a drama. What did you all think at the end of that after your first viewing?

The snow became a very important visual metaphor for me. I exchanged a few faxes with Japan to make sure (that contrary to the script) there was NO SNOW on the ground at Xanadu, no snow at all, until it starts falling during Elisa's last conversation with Derek.

CONTINUITY:

Sure, Jackal and Hyena were at large, but we establish here that Wolf and Fox are in prison. Anyone looking back at "Thrill" would know that this makes sense. Lex and Goliath take Dingo, J & H out on the roof. No human witnesses to their evil. And they didn't do anything against anyone but the gargs. But Wolf and Fox were photographed taking human (well, fashion model) hostages. So they go to prison. Dingo goes to Europe. J&H are still around to do mischief. But meanwhile, most normal humans still regard them as celebrities, until Hyena pulls a knife. (We had planned once-upon-a-time to make knives a bigger element/part of their arsenal. But it was a bit problematic S&P-wise, and it became moot after "Upgrade".)

Broadway, ever Elisa's biggest fan, thinks Derek should just trust her.

Brooklyn, still scarred from trusting Demona, points out that trust doesn't mean much without honesty.

Lex, still pissed at the Pack, just wants to catch them.

And it's nice to see Morgan and Matt again. If you like guys in towels.

Xanatos, as usual, is so cool.

"Never a gargoyle around when you need one."

"Detective. Always a pleasure."

"My life is anything but dull."

And that's just his dialogue. His plan is audacious. He has Owen call the Police, counts on Elisa and the gargs to rescue him from Jackal & Hyena. (We loved playing that irony.) And instructs Fox to tell Elisa everything. He's so confident, he even has no qualms about leaving Elisa and Derek alone to talk at the end.

And you gotta love a guy named Xanatos naming his retreat Xanadu.

I love the Hannibal Lechter inspired scene between Elisa & Fox. This of course was the moment when we all figured out what the garg universe already knew: "My god, Fox is in love with Xanatos." I hadn't known that back when Fox was created in the development days of yore. Hadn't known it when we did "Thrill". Hadn't known it until we were way into script on this. But there it was. And nothing would ever be the same. (Did you guys realize it there? And how far did you think we'd take it?)

Suddenly, the events of "Leader of the Pack", "Eye of the Beholder" and "Vows" seemed to spread out before me. And Alexander became a glimmer in my eye (if not Xanatos').

Elisa acts true to form here. What we'd spell out later in "Revelations" is already implied here. Elisa is extremely (if subconsciously) reluctant to share her gargoyles secret with anyone. Three times Goliath tells her to share her secret with her brother. Three times she finds an excuse not to. (Frank Paur found this repetitive. He tried to take one of the scenes and make it play more subjective. Like Elisa imagining a conversation with Goliath, while the actual Goliath was sleeping in stone. It was a sweet idea, but it didn't make any logical sense in terms of story flow and forced us to make storyboard changes and call retakes in order to get the version we've all seen.)

We loved playing irony. Elisa and Peter are right about Xanatos, but dead wrong about the way they're trying to control Derek's life. Diane and Derek are absolutely right about Derek needing to control his own destiny, but make the tragic choice of trusting that destiny to Xanatos. Those two scenes are terrific. (Helped immensely by vocal performances. And I also love Nichelle Nichols as the diamond exchange saleslady.)

Derek thinks Elisa thinks Xanatos is the "Prince of Darkness". "He practically is!" she responds. <SIGH> Tricksters are always being confused with Satan.

But that was more irony. It's not the demonic-looking gargoyles who are being compared to Satan. It's the handsome, rich Bruce Wayne-esque playboy. I guess the goatee helps.

My daughter's reactions:

As you may have gathered, it's become fascinating to me to see how Erin is reacting differently seeing all these episodes for the second time at age 5 1/2.

She was stunned at the end of Act One and following when Derek told Elisa that he was accepting Xanatos' offer. "That's not supposed to happen," she kept saying.

And all the trio stuff made her laugh. She especially liked Goliath's admonitions to the Trio: "Try to get along."

Brooklyn sure knows his pop-culture: Star Wars and Star Trek references within a few minutes of each other.

It was important to us to show that even guys as close as the Trio could get tired of each other. Sure they're all Rookery brothers and best friends. But if they had stayed at Wyvern (i.e. if there had been no massacre) they wouldn't have had to spend ALL their time together. At the very least, females would have provided a distraction. But here in the 20th century they're all they've got. So of course, there'd be good days and bad days. Like any siblings.

And of course, the sibling theme was central to the episode, including the Jackal & Hyena's relationship. The irony there being that they were getting along better than the Trio or the Mazas.

I loved Goliath's outrage at the lack of appreciation that the Mazas and Trio have for their siblings. It's very moving to me. (And helps us set up Coldstone for next episode.)

When Lex comments that if Broadway had his way, the garg-copter would be covered with food, I knew that we were pushing Broadway's eating habits into the dull one-joke tired category. I hate that line. And we tried to back off the eating jokes after that.

Anyone notice our tribute to Launchpad McQuack when Lex says "Any landing you can walk away from..."

Some gorgeous animation in this one. I loved what they did with the lighting when Lex gets Jackal and Hyena in the chopper's spot.

S&P

--The trio toss Jackal & Hyena out of their chopper. It's o.k. They're wearing parachutes. But did the Trio know that? Maybe with Jackal, since Hyena's chute had already opened. But was Hyena tossed to her presumptive death.

Yes. After all they're still thinking (first season) like tenth century warriors, not like twentieth century super-heros.

--One of the advantages to Syndication over Network is a more liberal S&P. We could show Broadway's fist heading into camera. We couldn't actually show him punching Jackal in the head, but we could show Jackal's POV of that fist heading toward him. A couple frames of black, and then we cut wide to Jackal on the ground, and we know what happened. But on Network, in "The Journey" or, say, "Max Steel", we are NEVER allowed to even imply a head blow. And we can't show a fist or gun or whatever pointed directly at camera (i.e. at the audience). Too disturbing, I'm told.

And finally, at the end, when Elisa arrests Hyena, I've got to ask, what do you think Hyena's smiling about?

Maybe that's the next contest...

Hmmm....


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ATTENTION ANIMATION WRITERS-IN-TRAINING

Writer-Producer Kevin Hopps and I will be teaching a class through UCLA EXTENSION at Universal CityWalk
starting next week. There are still seven spaces available for "From Script to Cel: A Complete Writer's Guide to the
World of Television Animation" The class meets Wednesday nights, through early September (with a few weeks off in
the middle). In addition to Kevin and myself, we'll be having numerous guest speakers from every discipline of
producing an Animated series. And students will come out of the course with a completed spec script. I'd recommend this
class to anyone living in the Greater Los Angeles area who is truly interested in writing for TV Animation. If you're
interested contact Brandon Gannon or Kathy Pomerantz at UCLA Extension's Writer's Program. 310-206-1542.


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Queue is empty again.

Sorry. I've informed Gorebash.


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Nothing is in the queue...

I've passed Gore again.


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Chapter XI: "Long Way To Morning"

"Long Way To Morning" This was my title, based on an idea I'd had from way early in the development of the series. It was always obvious to me that the fact that the gargs turned to vulnerable stone at sunrise, gave the series a built-in ticking clock that added tension. But given the gargoyles' healing factor (to borrow a Wolverine term) it occured to me early on that there might come a time when sunrise couldn't come fast enough. That was the origin of this episode and the title. (I think I may have even mentioned the scenario in the Series' Writers' Bible.)

The other obvious purpose of the episode was to give Hudson a showcase episode to equal the Trio tryptich. As I've mentioned before, Gargoyles was originally developed as a comic series, and one of the funny little gargoyles in that show was "Ralph", a very domestic couch potato Gargoyle who loved to stay at home and watch T.V. Hudson developed out of Ralph, but he spent much of the first few episodes "Guarding the castle" (or the clock tower). We'd given him some great action in AWAKENING. But we still felt a major need to UN-RALPH him.

I wanted to deal with his age as realistically as possible. To have him doubt himself, maybe even be aware of his limitations, but then have him prove to himself that he still had something to contribute. I think we basically succeed in that here.

But this ep afforded us other opportunities as well. Opportunities to explore Wyvern backstory in our parallel flashback story:

--We find out definitively that Hudson WAS the leader of the clan and that Goliath was his second. We also get to see the baton get passed.

--We learn how Hudson was blinded in one eye.

--We meet Prince Malcolm and get a sense of how Princess Katharine became the bitch she was at the start of "Awakening". I think this was very important in paving the way for her role in the "Avalon" tryptich. By the end of "Awakening", she's remorseful and has seen the error of her ways, but it doesn't change how badly she acted. But this episode reveals how and why her antipathy toward Gargoyles was created. It doesn't excuse her behaviour, but it helps to explain it enough so that we can buy her as a heroine when we next see her. Malcolm doesn't come off as well. I wanted to present how easily casual thoughtless words could be hurtful, and even lead to tragic consequences. My daughter Erin (age 5 1/2) had seen this episode at least once before. But this time, that aspect of Malcolm's inadvertent damage and Katharine's mistaken blame really grabbed her attention. The injustice of it really troubled her. Which is exactly the response I was looking for. (My kids are so cool. She also noticed Hudson's eye getting injured, and commented on how smart Hudson was to jump off into the waterfall.)

--I love the subtle changes that Jeff, Keith and Marina made in their voices when playing the young Magus, Goliath and Demona. It's interesting to see Demona's progression in hindsight from "Vows" to "Long Way" to "Awakening, Part One" to "City of Stone" to the present day. She really is a fascinating character, if I do say so myself. Here, you see her ambition. But no villainy. Of course, it made for a nice counterpoint with her vicious murderous tendencies in the present day story.

--Throughout production of this episode, I had to keep pointing out to the artists, etc., that the flashbacks all had a point of view, i.e. Hudson's. That Demona and Goliath's "private conversations" could NOT be as private as they thought. Hudson had to know what they were saying about him. Both because it further eroded his confidence in both the past and present (the true demon he had to overcome) and because if he didn't hear those conversations it would be cheating to include them in HIS dreams and flashbacks.

--We also intro'd the ARCHMAGE. A one-shot villain if I ever saw one, except that David Warner was so amazing, I knew I had to bring the character back. When he falls into the chasm, you can just here the Phoenix Gate exploding open down there. (Of course, to some people that sounded like him hitting bottom. Their mistake.)

Continuity:

Brooklyn still has it in for D. Broadway is now Ultra-Protective of Elisa. Hudson has superior tracking skills in the past and the present.

And Demona has clearly focused her hatred on Elisa. (Who, by the way, loses her second gun of the series.) It was important for these early episodes that we fool Demona into thinking that Elisa was dead. Otherwise, how else do we explain why she doesn't just kill her.

Demona at the end, uses her cannon as a club. This was designed to be ambiguous. Did Hudson's sword damage the weapon? Or was Demona just so furious that she wanted the satisfaction of cudgeling the old guy to death? Yeah, it was designed to be ambiguous, but no one ever EVER thought that the gun was damaged. They all assumed Demona just lost it. Which is probably true.

Speaking of that Waterfall thing, that image was important retro-pipe for Hunter's Moon, Part Three. (More on that in 54 chapters.)

Animation-wise, I just wish Demona hadn't come off as such a lousy shot.

I love Hudson and Goliath's last exchange. Goliath assures Hudson that he still has "Years of fighting left". Hudson, glad to be of use, is still less than thrilled at the prospect. It's a great wry beat, but it was also important to me to point out that no rational person would wish to fight like that forever. The gargs, including Hudson, fight the good fight because they have to, because it is their duty, part of their natural protective instincts. But none of them WANT to fight.

As usual, I'd like to encourage responses to this episode here at ASK GREG, particularly how you responded to viewing this for the first time.


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MAX STEEL 104: "Sportsmen"

The fourth episode of Max Steel airs tomorrow morning on the WB (in order for a rare change).

It's called "Sportsmen" and was written by Jon Weisman.

It features a few guest voice actors that might be familiar to you guys.

Cam Clark for starters, the voice of Erik Sturluson and Young Gillecomgain.

And oh, yeah, a couple of guys named Adcox and Bennett. (Tried to get Faggerbakke, but he was unavailable.)


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January RIP

God, I thought January would kill me. But it bit the dust.

February's next.

But I gotta recuperate.


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MY LATEST PROJECT: 3X3 EYES

I think it's now safe to announce my latest project.

I'm voice directing the English dub of a two volume direct-to-video Japanese Anime series for New Generation Pictures and Pioneer. It's called 3X3 EYES, and it's the story, more-or-less, of a 3-eyed girl with multiple personality disorder and her teen-age zombie bodyguard. :)

The project isn't completely cast, but it stars

Christian "Max Steel" Campbell as Yakumo Fujii

and

Brigitte "Angela" Bako as Pai/Sanjiyan

There are a few other familiar names among the cast (many from either GARGOYLES or MAX STEEL or NAZCA).

So far the cast includes...
Thom "Lexington" Adcox
Keith "Goliath/Thailog" David
Bill "Broadway" Faggerbakke
Scott Forno
Jean "Yevshenko/Keita" Gilpin
Taliesin Jaffe
Erin Matthews
Yuji "Chang" Okumoto
Rick "Dan" Simone
Keith "Psycho/Mairot" Szaribajka
Greg "Nice Mask" Weisman
Kelly Wilson

I'm having a great time. I'll keep you posted on our progress.


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Chapter X: "The Edge"

By the end of this episode, everyone is happy.

Both Goliath and Xanatos are afraid they've lost their edge. Both are convinced by the end that they've regained it. Both are at least partially deceiving themselves. [One of the little ambiguities that I love about the Xanatos tags is that one way to interpret them is that David is just full of it. He loses, but claims victory anyway.]

But David is just so lovable in this episode. You gotta love the villain who does NOT penalize his subordinate for beating him in a judo match. And he has such great audacious dialogue (kudos to Michael Reaves and Jonathan Frakes). A few approximate samples:
--"I'm the best friend you have."
--"If you're going to be picky, we won't get anywhere."
--"You're taking this much too personally."
And those were all in one scene. A scene where he's just standing out there awaiting their arrival. I mean, a guy as busy as he is... Is that confidence/arrogance or what?

And he's not afraid to get his hands dirty. Giving X the armor was essential. Up to this point, David had been only the brains. But to be a true reverse-hero, he had to be a warrior as well. Here we showed he had what it takes to mix it up. But always without being stupid. Question: How many of you knew the "red robot" was Xanatos in armor before the tag? Of course, now it seems obvious, but what about the first time you saw this ep?

And yet Elisa "Wouldn't want his karma." What goes around comes around. All that arrogance, had to receive some commeuppance. (Can anyone say Oberon?)

One thing that I thought was TOO OBVIOUS was the Steel Clan theft of the EYE OF ODIN. I would have preferred if that scene had been more ambiguous in Act One. Preferred that the audience maybe think that the Robot WAS Goliath, so that when Matt takes aim at the cliffhanger, we think he's going to shoot Goliath. The cliffhanger doesn't really play as is. Only Elisa is fooled, not the audience.

Everyone wonders why Xanatos donated the Eye to the Museum of MODERN Art. (Maybe because it had mediocre security, but adequate security cameras.) But what I want to know is whether or not Edvard Munch's "The Scream" is really at that museum?

Speaking of THE EYE, I may have mentioned that this was actually the idea of the Disney interactive video game people. We wanted to be synergistic, and I kinda liked the whole idea, so we put it into the show. It was another of our step-by-step additions to the continuity. Intro it as a minor maguffin. A dewdad for Xanatos. And build from there, with the eventual plan to actually make it Odin's eye. At some point in all this, we completely forgot that the idea came from the interactive people. We went back to see them months and months later and were reminded. Luckily the concepts hadn't gotten too far away from each other. But the design did. Unfortunately, our design wound up looking a bit Egyptian for my tastes. The Interactive design had a great Raven motif. (Oh, well.)

New characters (more or less):

A cameo by Derek.

The first mention of the Emir.

The first appearance of Travis Marshall. Michael and I worked this guy out together. He wouldn't be one of those fluff journalists. He'd be old school. He wouldn't whitewash David, just because the guy was a rich man. We always made sure to give Travis that edge. And still, I always felt we underused him. In this episode, Matt gives him a lift in Derek's chopper. Matt says, "You owe me one." Eventually, I'd like to see Matt collect on that favor in a story focusing on the two of them.

And speaking of Matt...

The first real appearance of Matt Bluestone. This guy was largely Michael Reaves' creation. (Although the "Bluestone" name was one of our earlier choices for Elisa's last name. After Chavez, Reed and Chavez, but before Maza.) At first, I admit I was dubious about him being a conspiracy nut. But it so worked. And this was the first time I ever worked with Tom Wilson. He's just so great. And so damn funny to have in the booth. (I love him in FREAKS & GEEKS.)

Matt & Elisa discuss the Illuminati, UFO's and Loch Ness. I love how dubious she is, with her inside joke: "Believe me, the world's strange enough as it is." Little does she know.

But my favorite thing about Matt is that ultimately he's a healthy influence on Elisa... "Maybe that's when you need one [a partner] the most." He's just a really good guy.

As usual, characters keep their promises. Matt vows to find out what those creatures (the gargs) are. And by God, eventually he does.

More on continuity...

Elisa's only JUST coming back to work. In cartoon terms, the fact that we waited this long after her gunshot wound, was a relative eternity. The height of cartoon realism. It doesn't seem like very long, but months passed between the original airings of DEADLY FORCE and THE EDGE.

And Chavez won't let her go back on the job without a partner. Michael conceptualized Matt -- after I mandated the creation of Elisa's partner. Cops have partners. It is one of the defining things about cops. When cop-shows show cops working solo, it always bugs me. I felt we got away with it for a bit. But it was time to make Elisa a more real cop. And that meant a partner. Not a bad guy. But someone who could potentially cause her trouble. And yet still really be her partner.

Broadway is still very solicitous toward Elisa. Taking the tv from her. It's sweet.

Random stuff:

The show is gorgeous to look at. (Thanks Roy, et al.)

I love Lexington's line when he regains consciousness: "We're still alive. How come?"

Watching the show this time, my daughter was very nervous that the Statue of Liberty would be damaged in the battle between our gargs and the Steel Clan. But when Broadway nailed one robot by impaling him with a metal claw from the other robot, Erin said, "Nice one."

Goliath is reading Dostoevsky. Are you?


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Max update

The "second" episode of Max Steel, "Sacrifices", should air this Saturday morning on the WB (check local listings).

For those hopeless few attempting to keep track continuity-wise, this one was designed to fit between the two you've already seen, i.e. after the pilot episode (set in Berlin) and before the origin/flashback episode (set largely in Paris).


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Chapter IX: "Enter Macbeth"

Another episode by episode ramble. Feedback encouraged.

So here's where all that great continuity got us in major trouble.

The episodes were all designed to play in a certain order. But I didn't tell my bosses that in advance. I know it sounds sneaky, but it wasn't really. We wrote the darn things and sent them off in order. It never occured to me they wouldn't be able to come back and air in order. I mean, how could a newer episode get the jump on an older one? How could an older episode not be ready before a newer one? Then the footage came back on "Enter Macbeth".

This was the first episode not animated in Japan. And immediately we knew we were in trouble. I'm not talking about the version you all have seen. The one that aired. I'm talking about stuff you never saw. Much of the original footage we got was unusable. This wasn't about just calling retakes. This wasn't about us bitching how "Thrill" wasn't as well animated as "Awakening". This was a major disaster. So my bosses said: "Air the next one." And I responded, "We can't."

And not just because they were all designed to air in order. It was a horrible coincidence, but this episode, this episode that was unairable, was a tentpole. Yeah, if Thrill or Temptation had been reordered it would have been sad. Same with "The Edge" and "Long Way To Morning". But big deal, right? Better to get a new episode out and not make the audience deal with repeats this early in the season. (Remember, we had aired our first five episodes in one week. This was only week five. In those days, week five was considered way too early in the year for reruns.)

But this was the follow-up to Elisa's injury. It was important to us that we continue our policy of "repercussions". We put her on crutches to show that a gunshot wasn't something that was solved in twenty-two minutes. This was an ongoing recovery. If you pulled the crutches out by airing Edge next, you blew out the sense of repercussions.

But that wasn't the clincher. Of course, the clincher was the Clock Tower. This was the episode where the Gargs were "banished" from the castle and moved to the Clock Tower. That was a major shift. If we cut straight to Edge, the audience would be lost. Fortunately, Gary was convinced. In a way, I was lucky that our first crisis of order came on such a pivotal "tentpole" episode. We couldn't reorder these. So we went with reruns. But it was a lesson learned. And it would effect the way we approached the second season.

But meanwhile, we had the problem at hand. We couldn't reanimate the entire show. So we picked shots to redo judiciously. There are still some awful looking scenes. When Goliath says, "How Dare You?!" to Elisa, he looks like an Animaniacs parody of Goliath. And that sarcophogus/iron maiden thing that Goliath follows Macbeth through looks like a prop out of CHIP N DALE'S RESCUE RANGERS. (Another perfectly good series, but with a slightly different art style, if you know what I mean.) Or how about the GIANT remote that Macbeth pulls from his duster in order to summon his ship? "Enter Macbeth" is still, as aired, the worst looking episode of the first season. And that really killed Frank and I, because we both really loved this story. We were sure that the bad animation would kill any interest in Macbeth. The fact that generally, the character did catch hold of fandom's collective imagination is a true testament to the work of Steve Perry, Michael Reaves, John Rhys-Davies and Jamie Thomason. And, oh, yes... William Shakespeare.

The weak picture forced us to use a lot of little tricks to get a final cut. One thing we did, which I regret, is reuse dialogue. Elisa says "You aren't safe here" like three times. And it isn't three different takes. It's just the exact same take reprinted and reused. Lex & Brooklyn also reuse lines to get Bronx to find Goliath. That sort of thing drives me nuts.

There is one really nice moment in the animation. When Macbeth chooses his sword off the wall, the reflection effect is quite sweet. And I also like the down shot of Bronx running right down the middle of Broadway (the street not the gargoyle). I also love how Goliath makes no attempt to hide. That really spoke to the Gargoyles attitude about living among humans. They wouldn't hold press conferences, but they would not cower.

Anyway, we ran reruns. Awakenings. And obviously all five episodes on five consecutive weeks. That might have been a good thing for people who had heard about the show by word of mouth in week two or later and needed to catch up. But for anyone who had been following the show from its premiere, it was a long time to wait for new episodes. By the time we came back, so much time had passed since "Deadly Force" that we felt the need to put a "Previously on Gargoyles" at the head of the episode. Another trick I cribbed from HILL STREET BLUES. Cartoons rarely did that sort of thing. Sure multi-parters had to. But single episodes... For some reason, it made me feel very grown up. (Which only proves how immature I really am.) The "Previously" also allowed us to cut 30 more seconds of bad looking footage out of the episode. That little bonus was something I'd remember for season two as well.

HOME

As we pushed guns in the previous episode, this one is laced with the imagery and language of home. What is it? What makes it? What price is one willing to pay to keep or secure it? There are four homes depicted. Well, really five. The Gargoyles' castle. Xanatos' prison. Macbeth's mansion. The Clock Tower. And the Castle again, once it is reclaimed by Xanatos and thus becomes a very, very different place.

I tried to make sure, as much as possible, that every episode had that kind of underlying theme. (I recently tried with very limited success to do the same thing in MAX STEEL. Someone asked me once, why the one-word S-Titles for all the Max Steel episodes. They were my attempt to make me and the writers focus on the theme of each story.)

And how do all these homes turn out? Macbeth is so obsessed that he loses his home to a fire. Xanatos finally gets out of prison. (Not on Halloween by the way, or that would make the dates depicted in Double Jeopardy innacurate. Obviously, Halloween was circled on his calendar because the guy just loves Halloween. And after all, Owen specifically says in a LATER scene that Xanatos has one week left before he gets out. The wall calendar had shown only a few days.) The Gargoyles lose the castle, gain the clock tower, but realize that home is literally where the heart is. And Xanatos... well all other concerns of Grimorum and gargoyle of destruction and competition pale next to the simple pleasure of being back home.

And how many of you were suprised that the Gargoyles lost the castle? That was supposed to be another pretty shocking development. I mean, sure, Batman might lose the Batcave for an episode, but for 56 episodes? When Goliath said "We'll be back to claim that which is ours" at the end, did most of you think he'd be back next week? Next month? By the time, the gang finally did return in chapter 65, did anyone still remember Goliath's vow?

MACBETH

I've discussed this before, but Macbeth's origins (at least in terms of our series) were (ironically) an early attempt to play the notion of THE HUNTER. I was looking for someone human who could physically take on the Gargoyles as prey. Someone smart, with an agenda. We actually started with the notion of trying to create our own KRAVEN THE HUNTER type character. But it quickly moved in its own direction. Frankly, away from Kraven and more toward BATMAN. In those days, we were constantly being told that we would be accused of ripping off Batman. So Frank, Michael and I decided to create a villain who, at least in M.O. would be our Batman.

I had a semi-separate idea to add a human to the cast who was from Goliath's time. Thus creating a good thematic nemesis or opposite for him. (The key to creating a good villain, in my opinion.) But this villain would have lived through the centuries. So that he was familiar with the very latest in technology. This dove-tailed with our anti-Batman, and was also exactly how we viewed Demona. So it soon became clear to Michael and I that the two characters must be connected in some way. That suggested that he shouldn't merely be 1000 years old. He should be Scottish as well. All that was left was a name. And given my love of Shakespeare, I'm surprised it took me so long to figure it out. Our nemesis was Macbeth himself. An immortal Scottish King. What Scottish King was more immortal than Macbeth? More mortal too for that matter.

This was the beginning of countless Shakespearian references that I would either slide (or force) into the show, or that the writers would stick in knowing I was a sucker for them. And I love the little exchange between Lex & Brooklyn...

[dialogue approximate]
LEX: "Wasn't "Macbeth" the name of that play by that new writer Shakespeare that Goliath was talking about?"

BROOKLYN: "Have you read it?"

LEX: "No. Have you?"

BROOKLYN: "No. But maybe we should."

This was my little way of trying to encourage our viewers to read or at least learn about the play. If they wanted to know who Macbeth was, it wouldn't hurt to go to the primary source.

And at the time, Shakespeare was my primary source for Macbeth. This was long before Tuppence Macintyre and Monique Beatty did all their research for me for "City of Stone". Back then, the only Macbeth I knew about was Shakespeare's.

We gave him a sense of honor, but a twisted one. And we gave him a very interesting motivation. I didn't yet know the particulars, but this guy was after Demona in a major way. He had stained glass windows in his home depicting the two of them. He was the man who named her. It was all pretty intriguing stuff to me. I love the exchange between him and Goliath. Goliath is a pawn. Mac wants the queen and believes that endangering Goliath is the surest way to ensnare Demona. And how does Goliath respond? By gum, if he doesn't laugh -- MANIACALLY!! And watch how the tables turn. Macbeth is not infallible and suddenly Goliath has him on the defensive. Goliath even uses a MACE!! Great stuff.

Incidentally, we had in the script described Macbeth as wearing a thin layer of exo-armor. And Goliath was supposed to dig his claws into it. Macbeth would escape by detaching from the armor. Instead, the artists did the bit with the duster coat. But I remembered the claws in armor thing and eventually found a place for it... in HUNTER'S MOON, PART THREE.

Finally, watching the episode tonight, my five year old daughter said she spotted the Mona Lisa on Macbeth's wall. I didn't see it. But I believe her. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if that was the original. Too bad about that fire.


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Chapter VIII: "Deadly Force"

Another ramble as I review the entire series. Comments welcome.

"Deadly Force". I have to admit. I never liked the title. It always sounded too generic to me. Michael Reaves pointed out how appropriate it was, but "Temptation" had already given me a taste for one word titles. I came to prefer those, unless I was given a damn good reason not to.

The third episode of our trio tryptich. Broadway. Broadway and Goliath. Broadway, Elisa and Goliath. But this episode represents so much more.

If you were watching the series in '94 during it's original run, and you didn't already think, "Hey, this is different." Then by the end of Act One of "Deadly Force" you knew. I don't know if there's ever been a cartoon like "Deadly Force". A mainstream media production. We had had up to that point a few fairly shocking cliffhangers, a few fairly shocking events, but what equals Broadway pulling that trigger, the suddenly "empty" kitchen and Elisa lying in a pool of her own blood as we fade to black and cut to a commercial?

Where do I start? With pride, I guess. I am extremely proud of this one.

Guns. My personal stance on gun control isn't an issue. Not in this episode. This is about something that I think every even vaguely intelligent person can agree on. Guns aren't toys. Guns aren't "cool", no matter how they're depicted in the media. Guns demand respect. Elisa is at fault. Broadway's massively at fault. Because neither held enough respect for the weapon. (Now one might argue that Elisa lived -- nominally -- alone. It didn't occur to her that she needed to be more careful with her weapon. But it should have. She's a cop. She should know better.) As I write this, as I watched the episode tonight, my head is of course filled with thoughts of the six year old boy who yesterday took his uncle's gun to school and shot a six year old girl, killing her. And I don't want to sound arrogant. But I am angry. And I feel like this episode could really help people. That parents should HAVE to watch this with their kids. Required viewing. And the fact that Toon Disney won't even air it...! I'm furious. Simply furious.

Guns are the least of it. We wanted to send a message about repercussions. Real world repercussions. I wanted our series to be ABOUT repercussions. Demona and the Captain betray Wyvern. There are repercussions. You can't fix things. You can't go back and change it. That's why time travel in the Gargoyles' Universe has such STRICT laws. Without those laws, you remove the dramatic law of repercussions. The real world law that actions have repercussions. This episode was our ode to repercussions. The guns were just our means to an end.

Still, guns would be our medium and the episode is laced with them. With gun imagery. With gun language (e.g. Chavez referring to Dracon's alibi: "He's bulletproof.", etc.). I don't think the episode is too pedantic. I hope it's honest. Probably the most dishonest thing in the story was that Elisa DIDN'T die. Forgive me for that. But I couldn't let her go just then. Still, I think we gave our audience a bigger scare in this one then in most of the other episodes combined. Maybe she would die. There's a sense of scary (again real world) vulnerability in this. And we tried to make her injuries and suffering as realistic as possible. We weren't doing E.R. (or St. Elsewhere, since E.R. didn't exist back then), but we did try to make the medical stuff play true.

All this makes me proud. Proud of what's on the screen.

But there's a whole other side to the making of this show that makes me proud. For what isn't visible on screen. For teamwork. This is a story that seemed to need to be told. Most of the springboards for the 66 chapters came from me, but this one was waiting for us. My bosses Gary Krisel and Bruce Cranston were behind the story from the start. Michael Reaves wrote an amazing script, and my God the thing is beautifully made. No one balked. Not our S&P executive. Not our bosses. No one. Think about how amazing that is? We had one of our young heroes pick up a very REAL gun and shoot our female lead in her own kitchen. That's pretty intense.

And fairly rewarding. Even our publicity department saw the value in this one. They got advance copies and sent them out. We had (always had) phenomenally good reviews. But this episode brought us praise from the kind of parents groups that most action cartoon shows usually fear. People got it. They got it. Dr. Madeline Levine wrote a book called "Viewing Violence". It's a fairly sobering study of the effect of modern media on impressionable minds. Disabused me of a few notions, I'll tell you. But she praises GARGOYLES, specifically this episode, in her book. People got it. But not TOON DISNEY people, I guess. They show a huge lack of respect for everyone who worked on that show. Everyone who did or might benefit from it.

(Re: The pool of blood. When it first came back from Japan, the pool of blood was much larger. We pulled it back by calling a retake. This wasn't cowardice on anyone's part. This was us trying to get our message across. We didn't want kids goofing on the pool of blood. Interested in the pool for the pool's sake, so to speak. We wanted enough blood there to make it real. To scare everyone. But we didn't want the pool to be distracting. And also we didn't want to imply that Elisa had already bled out.)

CHARACTERS

Broadway - First and foremost, this was still designed to showcase Broadway. All our nobler aspirations wouldn't matter if you walked out of this episode still thinking of the big guy as an eating machine and nothing else. So let's start by praising Bill Faggerbakke and voice director Jamie Thomason. Bill's performance is wonderfully poignant without falling into bathos.

And man, who is the scariest gargoyle when angered? Goliath? Demona? How about a vote for old Broadway? Guilt and anger tear him apart, and no one's safe. He PALMS Glasses for God's sake. He's young but maturing fast. I only had vague notions of Angela at this time. And I sure didn't know they were destined for each other. But I can see it here. The child who's done something so bad he's afraid to go home, ultimately taking responsibility for actions too horrible for most of us to face. Amazing strength of character.

Elisa - A secondary purpose (tertiary?) was to demonstrate that Elisa was a real human being, with real connections. A real life. She has a boss (introducing Maria Chavez), an apartment (introducing the loft), a cat (introducing Cagney). And she wasn't born a twenty-something police detective. She has a family. A father (introducing Sgt. Peter Maza), a mother (introducing Diane Maza), a brother (introducing Derek Maza) and a sister who's away at college (we even get a photo peak at Beth Maza). This wasn't some cypher who existed only to facilitate things for the Gargoyles. This was a woman whose life extended beyond their reach. A woman who now lived in TWO worlds. With two sets of hospital visitors.

Elisa's ethnic/racial make-up parallels actress Salli Richardson's, who has both African American and Native American ancestry. This is where serendipidy played a roll. We'd later get stories out of her multi-racial background. And it paralleled the inter-species romance we were preparing to build slowly. Sometimes, everything just goes your way.

Goliath - He says he'll find the man who shot Elisa and "Make him Pay". We didn't have to say "kill" there. Again, because this early in the series, we could all easily believe that Goliath could kill. And in fact, when Broadway tells Goliath that he "can't" kill Dracon, Goliath's response is: "You think not?" All the gargoyles had an edge of danger. We may have lost some of that along the way. It's natural. You get to know characters, you stop feeling tense around them. But here, both Goliath and Broadway go a little berserk. And we don't know how they'll act.

And Goliath already loves Elisa. It's so clear to me. The way he touches her hair. The way he reacts to her being shot. He loves her. He doesn't know it yet. But it is SO there. That moment when Goliath tells Broadway that they should go see Elisa, and Broadway is thrilled because he thinks that means that Elisa survived. And then Goliath stops. Because he realizes he isn't sure if Elisa is still alive. It slays me.

And meanwhile, Goliath is adapting fairly fast to the modern world. He clearly got his head around the idea that Xanatos was put away for possessing "stolen property", so he leaves the busted gun in Dracon's lap to make sure Dracon goes away too. He says as much. Not bad for a medieval gargoyle.

And this whole episode is a character-fest. Besides the above mentioned Family Maza, etc. We bring back Bruno, head of Xanatos' security. This was intentional. Establishing that the commandos from episode 2 were just Xanatos' security team being given an unusual assignment.

There's Dracon (pre-stripe) with Glasses and even Pal Joey. Rocky Caroll really brought Glasses to life. I like him. And Dracon, well, I just love his old-fashioned "noive". Calling Elisa "Honey" and "Sugar". Sending Glasses off to sell guns right in front of her. He's pretty fun in this episode.

Owen is incredibly cool. You can really see the Mr. Smithers influence in this one. Times ten. He fights, he negotiates. He manipulates. He's a phenomenal proxy for Xanatos. A true trickster with a low burning flame.

We also introduced Doctor Sato. I always planned on using him more. We just never found the story. Too bad. I liked him a lot.

And we cameo Matt. Originally, Chavez's driver was going to be Morgan. But we had already started work on "The Edge". We knew Matt was coming. So we decided to preview him here. Just a nice little touch for anyone paying attention.

MISCELLANEOUS STUFF

I'd love to know a little bit more about the movie "Showdown", a black and white western that was premiering in 1994. A score by Ennio Morricone (channeled through Carl Johnson -- a guy who doesn't get enough praise for the stunning work he did on the show). And the movie seemed to be a hit. Go figure.

And what about that movie theater. The balcony is closed. But they're storing bags of pre-popped popcorn. How old was that stuff?

Finally, Owen is very specific about the 37 missing weapons. Early on, I tried to keep count. To allow Broadway to eventually account for every one of those guns. But that was one detail that got away from me.


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Chapter VII: "Temptation"

[More rambles on individual episodes. As usual, I encourage you to post your responses here.]

Part two of our trio tryptich. Brooklyn looks pretty cool in this one. I have to admit, I didn't realize what a break-out star Brooklyn was back then. I mean I liked him, but I didn't yet realize how much he would really capture a huge chunk of fandom's imagination. (Of course, back then the show hadn't aired yet, so there wasn't any fandom.) But seeing this episode in hindsight, you can sure see how cool this guy was. Good-looking with the hair and the muscles and everything. Even the snout adds to the look.

And he's so sympathetic too. Yes, he gets "turned" by Demona. But he immediately realizes that what she's doing is wrong. He admits his mistake and tries to correct it. He's such a good guy. Later, of course, I'd recognize the star power and attempt to give him his own series: TIMEDANCER.

Back then, of course, I had really modeled the ensemble nature of the show on HILL STREET BLUES. Goliath was my Frank Furillo. Everyone would get their own stories, but Goliath carried the weight. So, although the tryptich was designed to deepen the characters of the trio, you can see that each episode also prominently features Goliath. THRILL: Lex & Goliath. TEMPTATION: Brooklyn & Goliath. DEADLY FORCE: Broadway & Goliath. (And later, LONG WAY TO MORNING: Hudson & Goliath.) Don't get me wrong, I don't regret this at all. I think those are all great stories, and without Goliath they would not have worked as written. But I think the design of them betrays a bit of insecurity. We weren't sure if the other characters could carry their own episodes alone. The nice thing about the tryptich (and LONG WAY) was that it proved to us what a strong ensemble of characters we had built.

Lex has some real attitude here: "You rode a horse once, does that mean you could build one from scratch."

The motorcycle is interesting. It was one of three toy driven elements we consciously put into the show. (The others were in "Her Brother's Keeper" and "Eye of the Storm".) It was a rare moment of Kenner and Disney being in semi-synch. And the toy actually looks like the motorcycle. But of course, what the hell were we going to do with a motorcycle? How could we make that an on-going element in the show. Sure Batman has a batmobile, but the garg-cycle just sounds silly. So we put it in, but Michael, Brynne, Frank and I are so subversive that we blow the thing up before the end of Act One. Kenner never said anything. I'm not sure if they ever saw the episode. (But we weren't being very good partners.) But what goes around comes around. I'll tell the flip side of this when I ramble on Keeper and Storm.

S&P required that Brooklyn wear a helmet when riding. That was fine with me, but I wanted to make an effort to make it organic. Brooklyn puts it on because it's "All part of the look." Helmets make it cooler. Thus helmets are cool. Thus kids will wear their helmets. Aren't we sneaky?

Also, Brooklyn loses yet another pair of sunglasses.

Morgan's back. But he litters. That always bugged me. Talk about setting a bad example.

And is that Margot Yale's actress sister on the television sitcom saying, "Who do you think you are... Elvis?" [Add laugh track here.]

CONTINUITY

"Kindred Spirits" - Brooklyn quotes Lex from Thrill and attempts to make the same kind of connection with the bikers that Lex attempted with the Pack. With similar results. Later, Demona refers to Lex's little adventure with the Pack. This was the moment when Michael Reaves and I decided to attempt to treat the series as episodic but sequential. The order of the episodes would matter. Yes, you should be able to enjoy any individual story... but viewing is enhanced when you see the shows in order. This was not an obvious decision. Most shows REQUIRE that episodes are airable in ANY ORDER. We had that requirement too, up to a point. But we wanted to add something more. To play with continuity. With evolving lives. This wasn't an issue in the pilot five parter. Of course, that had to air in order. And then there was Thrill. Just the first one we made after Awakening. That aired next. But we didn't think about it. But here, we had to decide. So we opted for an episodic but sequential series. (My favorite kind.) We referred to previous conversations. (Elisa's still pestering Goliath about the Xanatos-ticking clock.) And we laid pipe for future episodes, by having Demona rip a few spells out of the Grimorum. (At the time, I didn't even know what those spells were for. But I knew she had them. I knew we'd use them.) We had Demona admit she had lied about how she had survived to the present. Etc. Anyway, all this continuity would later bite us on the ass a bit. (I'll talk more about this when we get to "ENTER MACBETH", which forced us to slightly change our M.O. for season two.) But again, I have no regrets; I think it's one of the things that makes the show special.

Meanwhile, how did Demona know about the Pack & Lex? Although the pact with Xanatos clearly hasn't been broken yet (not till CITY OF STONE, obviously), she also doesn't exactly have free run of the castle. She has Brooklyn steal the book. Of course, she wants Brooklyn complicit. And it's hard to sneak around the castle, when the Gargoyles (at least think that they) are the proprieters. I just always wondered whether Demona might not have been following Lex & Goliath around throughout that entire Pack battle. Or whether, Xanatos just phoned her and told her. Obviously, the former is much more interesting.

ANIMATION

Another great looking episode that we didn't fully appreciate at the time. Lots of great little touches. I love when Demona casts her spell, and then closes the Grimorum with one last flash of magic. So cool. And, as I said, Brooklyn really looks great throughout.

But there are a couple things...

The bikers approach Brooklyn. They get very close, and he's not in shadow. But they don't notice he's a "monster" until he takes off his helmet. What?! The snout didn't give it away?! That scene continues to drive me nuts. I just hate how it was staged.

And when Elisa's lecturing Goliath she is wagging her index finger in his face. That's annoying enough. But worse, the finger seems to get longer (like Pinocchio's nose) the more she wags (or nags). It's sorta mesmerizing. In that scene, I can't see anything else.

CHARACTER

I love how Marina Sirtis' voice bristles when Brooklyn mentions Elisa to Demona. Demona/Marina forces herself to say that the Detective may be "The exception [to human evil] that proves the rule." It seems sincere, but I really hear the hatred underneath.

Elisa tries to talk Goliath into leaving again. This time, she's got an idea where he can go. (So although that seems to be a repeat of their conversation from THRILL, we actually advanced that plot too. Weren't we smart?)

[And yes, I realize that all these rambles sound incredibly arrogant and immodest. I'm sitting here praising me and my team's own work. But what can I tell you? I do really like it. And I figure you guys might still be interested in my -- totally biased -- observations.]

Anyway, I love how what Elisa's saying to a very close-minded Goliath plays right into what Brooklyn heard from Demona. Brooklyn tries to argue Elisa's point. Putting Elisa and Demona, ironically, on the same side. Kudos to Brynne and Michael. It's a great little scene. Of course it ends with Brooklyn and Goliath turning to stone mid-argument. Just like Lex & Goliath did in the previous episode. Frank came to me and warned me not to do that again. Twice in two episodes was enough. At least for a while.

I also love Goliath's lines about "half-truths that [Demona] has thoroughly embraced."

LITTLE TOUCHES

Goliath just loves saying "Joy-Ride". It seems so pleasant.

Lex's double take reactions to finding out the motorcycle was blown up.

Elisa's "Thanks, I think." reaction to Brooklyn saying that he knew that she at least was a worthwhile member of the human race. Brooklyn still isn't quite free of prejudice. A work in progress.

The DEAD BODY. I held my breath on that one. We've got a chalk outline. And a corpse in a body bag. I was sure S&P would balk. But Adrienne was great. She saw that it was important to the story. And since we didn't dwell on it or explain it, she figured little kids wouldn't get it and/or be traumatized. As you can see we had a great working relationship with S&P. I mean, a DEAD BODY! It still shocks me.

Did Demona pay that family to perform their little scene for Brooklyn? I didn't think so at the time. But now I'm suspicious.

Brooklyn has a perfectly innocent line about the Cloisters being a place like the "world we came from" or something like that. Meaning of course, the medieval time that they came from. Once this aired, I immediately start seeing e-mails claiming this as evidence that Gargoyles are from another planet. This misapprehension may be one of the reasons I so quickly got involved with fandom.

Did we cheat? Elisa solves Goliath's slave-spell problem by using the spell to unhex him. I love that little bit. But Michael Reaves and I had a long back & forth discussion where we debated whether we were cheating the audience. (I seem to recall that at different times he and I both came down on both sides of the argument.) We finally decided to go for it. And again, no regrets. I do think it worked. And we sort of both promised each other that we wouldn't pull that kind of thing again. (Airwalker, I think there's a mention of this in the City of Stone memo I sent you.)


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A quick Max Steel update...

Last Friday and Saturday, the Max Steel pilot, episode #1: "Strangers" aired on the WB... twice.

Unfortunately, the rest won't be airing in order. For a change, this isn't being caused by some bizarre scheduling perversion. The truth is that episode #2 isn't ready yet. Almost. But not quite.

So instead, this coming Saturday (March 4) the WB will present episode #3: "Shadows", written by Lydia Marano.

As the writer of episode #1, I do want to point out that I do know that the Berlin Wall was torn down over a decade ago. After Max says, "I can see the Berlin Wall from here." He was supposed to listen to 'Berto and say, "Oh, right. Some other wall then." I haven't been participating in the post-production on this series, so I'm not entirely sure why the second line was cut. And normally, I wouldn't mention it. But I think it makes me look like an idiot. So I'm gonna be petty and set the record straight.

I will say that the "Developed by" credit I get on the opening titles is without a doubt the COOLEST-LOOKING credit I've ever had.


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CHAPTER VI: THE THRILL OF THE HUNT

More musings on individual GARGOYLES EPISODES. As usual I welcome reactions and responses posted here based on both your original impressions from when you first saw the episode and later thoughts from repeated or recent viewings.

After the semi-epic "Awakening" multi-parter, Michael Reaves and I consciously set about creating a tryptich to develop each member of the Trio. Lex up first.

In hindsight, we probably didn't do enough Lex episodes. (I think this is Thom Adcox's favorite. He said "Leader of the Pack" at the pro-chat the other day, but the more I think about it, the more I think he was describing "Thrill".) We tried to give each member of the Trio equal coverage, but down the road, Lex might have been cheated a bit. But not here.

I love the fact that Lex is RIGHT. Sure, he's wrong about the Pack, but he was so right about taking chances on people. And I love that as stubborn as Goliath is, he's capable of admitting his mistakes, giving Lex full credit for, uh, rightness. Practically quoting back to Lex everything Lex had said to him.

You may notice that starting with this episode and running through the end of the first season, the writer's got their credit at the beginning with the title of the episode. This was a function of the Disney Afternoon. Michael Reaves rightly objected to the "gang credits" at the end of the two hour block. It had never been an issue before, because annually each new series, i.e. the one with original episodes, had always aired last with its credits immediately following. But in Gargoyles' first season, we aired on Fridays at 4pm, a half-hour before the last show. That meant that the writers' credits didn't appear until a half hour after the show ended. Gary Krisel agreed to make an exception and display writer's credits at the head of the episode for that one season. I wish I had fought to make that rule permanent. I didn't. Mea culpa.

I think Thrill is important right off because it established a few things which today we take for granted, but which I think were, at the time, fairly unusual for a cartoon series.

CONTINUITY.
--Xanatos was still in prison. He hadn't just "somehow" gotten sprung between the end of Episode 5 and the beginning of 6.

REAL RAMIFICATIONS.
--The Gargoyles won the Awakening war. And the castle still wasn't theirs to keep. At every turn, Michael and I just tried to make things play in a slow, steady logical progression. I wasn't trying to change the world in every episode. Not because I'm against world changing, but because each new situation was fascinating to explore. But we wouldn't let the world stand still either.

Early on, you can still see signs that to the creators, the audience AND the other characters, the Gargoyles themselves were still a wonderfully alien species. (And I don't mean that literally. Geez.) We tried to maintain the perspective of creatures out of their time. Goliath is stubborn, even dense and condescending toward Elisa, when she tries to convince him to leave the castle. But I think from his POV, his responses were perfectly natural. Xanatos was banished. The castle was theirs. The concept of ownership was sketchy for the Gargoyles at best, but if they did understand it, they understood it in the "Possession = Ownership" sense. The notion that Xanatos could still "own" the castle after an embarrassing defeat was completely ALIEN to Goliath.

Likewise, look at Fox's actions at the end of the episode. Can you imagine Fox in any later episode crudely taking a hostage? It seems like she checked her brain at the door. But it works for me because at that time, she (and we) didn't truly know what an angry gargoyle was capable of. Maybe Goliath would dismember her. Our boys got so borderline cuddly as the series progressed that I had to remind everyone just how dangerous they could be in HUNTER'S MOON. But Hunter's Moon wouldn't have worked back in Season One. Because in Season One, no one would have been shocked by Goliath's desire for Demonaesque vengeance. Maintaining that edge was always very important.

But if Fox wasn't acting her brightest here, I think Wolf was. That scene with Susie and Billy, where he pretends the Gargoyles were monsters sent by the evil ninjas, is about as smart a move as we ever see Wolf make. When you think about it, it's pretty darn clever. For him anyway. In later episodes, I think I got too big a kick out of making him dumb. I could justify it after UPGRADE. But if I got back, I think I'd give him a bit more of a mental edge.

And speaking of Wolf and Fox, how about that Pack? Their first appearance. The thing I was most struck by in viewing it here is how great they were cast. Clancy Brown, Laura San Giacomo, Matt Frewer, Cree Summer and Jim Cummings. Man, what a great ensemble. Hats off to casting and voice director Jamie Thomason. Time and again, he assembled great, great people for us.

There are a lot of little touches that make me smile. Jim Cummings "narration" during the appearance at Madison Square Gardens is priceless. We were consciously trying to do a professional wrestling meets (the hated) Power Rangers thing, and it amuses me to no end. There's that very anime shot of the Pack standing absolutely still (a held cell) while spotlights pass over them. It's very cool.

I even like that we got the notion of the Daily Tattler into the episode. That was something I wanted to expand on more. The Gargoyles never made any real attempt to keep themselves very hidden. Oh sure, they weren't holding New Olympian style press conferences, but they didn't sweat it if they were spotted. But we figured that the more of an urban myth they became, the less the majority of the population would believe in them. And once stories about Gargoyles started regularly appearing in the Tattler, people would be sure the whole thing was faked. I'm not sure we mentioned the Tattler again until Hunter's Moon, which is too bad. Though it does show how consciously Michael and I were echoing first season concerns and contrasts in that final mini-series.

Fox and Lex. Their relationship is established in that one moment when she strokes him under his chin. Even I didn't know that down the road they'd become flat-out allies thanks to Alex. Hell, back then I didn't know Alex was on the way. Didn't even know that Fox and David were an item. The characters were just beginning to teach me who they were and what they wanted.

Action-wise this thing is taut. The Pack just keeps coming and coming. The Gargs never have a chance to catch their breath. And, then, suddenly, they do. And the tables turn fiercely. And the Point of View, as well. We are ALWAYS on the side of the hunted. When it's Goliath and Lex, we get very little of the Pack. Just snatches of them attacking. The gargs struggling to stay alive. But up on that roof, we abruptly switch POV. Suddenly, we're following the Pack. Even, dare I say, sympathising with them. Not that we want them to win. But we begin to identify with them as they battle these strange creatures. I love that.

It's hard to believe, but when Frank Paur and I first saw the animation on this episode we were crushed. I look at it now and think its gorgeous. But we were so spoiled by the Awakening animation, we thought this was a debacle. Later we'd get some truly mediocre animation and learn to appreciate the good stuff more. But back then... we were idiots.

Those tv lines were my idea. I love television. I mean I really, really love it. And I hate when people attack it. I think on a percentile basis, there's more good work being done in television than any other medium. Doesn't mean there isn't a lot of crap being done. But that's true in everything. But still it's fun to poke fun. To bite the hand that's feeding you every once in awhile. One of the trio says: "The Pack is just like us. They fight evil. And they do it on television." (I just saw the episode half an hour ago, and I can't be sure who said it. That's pathetic.) Of course, whoever said that didn't mean to say that the Gargoyles were also on television. That was an afterthought. But it's a bit of an in-joke for us and our audience, because the Gargoyles are just like the Pack. I just like to think they had a better show.

But my favorite is Hudson's line: "Maybe we shouldn't believe everything we see on the television..." A lesson we all should live by.

And finally, "Thrill" contained the first of what would soon be a Gargoyles Trademark. The Xanatos Tag. Our favorite manipulator snatching partial victory from seemingly overwhelming defeat. Again, something vaguely revolutionary for a cartoon. You gotta love the guy.


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Kiss 1999 good-bye...

Ladies & Gentlemen,

I have just completed the last of the 1999 ASK GREG backlog. <Woooh!>

I'll start on January, 2000 very soon. And hopefully, we'll soon get to a point where I'm answering questions within a week or so of when they're being asked.

Get a real dialogue going...


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More on the term paper...

Elizabeth Izzo wrote:
>
> Hey Greg,
>
> I was just wondering what you think I should do. I
> came to a part in my report where I was mentioning the
> cancelation of gargs and the attempt at TGC. I wrote
> up some stuff, but I felt that this was a touchy
> topic. I wanted to write it truthfully, and I know
> that meny ppl like to chalk it up to, "they trashed
> our show and then did a bad re-make". I know that a
> lot of things happened, ppl left, new ppl came in,
> mistakes were made here and there, and some things
> just couldnt be helped, ratings this and that. So I
> wanted to know how you think I should say this. The
> first part would be something like, "Sadly Gargs got
> cancelled for..(fill in various reasons) or should I
> just say It was canceled and leave it at that? To
> me..that seems to breif. Like I should explain what
> happened to the best of my ability. How do you think I
> should explain it?
>
> The other part would be something like, "and then soon
> after TGC arrived but.." Should I say that ABC just
> didnt have the same ppl, funding? Gargoyles just was
> lucky in that it had a bunch of wonderful ppl with a
> lot of the same ideas and TGC just didnt have that?
> Should I mention that you would have stayed but didnt
> like how they 'demoted' you? *shrugs* this to me is
> just..a touchy subject. I want to write it as
> truthfully as I can. I know I KNOW this is in Ask
> Greg!! I just wanted to know the best way (you think)
> to explain this.
>
> thanks;)
>
> Lexy

Saying GARGOYLES was cancelled and then GOLIATH CHRONICLES came after isn't accurate. GOLIATH CHRONICLES was made as the third season of GARGOYLES. It was just going to be on ABC instead of in syndication. Like how the show JAG switched from NBC to CBS (or was it the other way around?). We didn't even know they were changing the title until way into the process.

So you should start by saying that changes took place between the second and third season. (Changes also took place between the first and second season and during all seasons, but obviously there was a real sea change after season two.) Then enumerate in as much detail as you please. Obviously, you should try to be as accurate as possible. Try to check your facts. And keep in mind that largely, I'm not giving you facts, but rather my take on things. If you're being honest, you should try to interview other people and get their takes. At the very least, you should attribute information provided by me TO ME, so that your reader (i.e. your teacher) knows that YOU understand that this is one man's perspective.


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And now a word from...

Seth asked for more words from Benny. He's napping, but my five year old daughter Erin wanted a chance to communicate directly with all of you. Here she is...

"My best friend likes the gargoyles. In fact, I like them too. My name is Erin Weisman."

That's all she had to say right now. Maybe more later.


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AWAKENING: PART FIVE

More tidbits and observations...

The first appearance of the Steel Clan. It's a silly little thing, but at the time I was ridiculously pleased by the name "The Steel Clan". It just seemed so right. Cool sounding, tough. And yet original and appropriate to the series. It was one of those early moments that made me feel like I was really tapping into the Gargoyles Universe.

Also the first appearance of the Eyrie Building Lobby Security Guard. The one that Oberon will later do his Obi-wan number on. I never forget a minor character.

One reason some of the editing is different between the video version and the tv episodic version has to do with when the two separate products were due. (I'm not referring to the TV movie version that's been appearing recently. I have no idea who edited that one. Or when. Or why.) As I've mentioned before, the video version was not originally created for video. It was created for our world premiere on two big screens at the movie theater multiplex on Pleasure Island at Walt Disneyworld. That premiere was in September of 1994. But the series premiere was almost a full month later. While I was supervising the editing of the movie version, Frank was (relatively speaking) taking his time on the five episodes. In my editing bay, we didn't have the luxury of waiting for all the retakes to come back before we had to complete OUR edit and lock picture for sound design. In fact, sometimes we were editing to pencil test animation. That's animated pencils without background paintings or ink or paint. It can sometimes be very hard to read at all. But we had to make decisions based not soley on "ART" but also on what we likely thought we'd get back in time to get the two prints made for the Florida premiere. Sometimes we cut little pieces that wound up turning out fine and making it into the episode.

Generally, I think the animation in this episode is just stunning. A few examples.
--Hudson lifting Bronx off that train.
--The whole scene with Xanatos, Demona and Owen standing beside the Steel Clan robots while they are covered with sheets. Some incredible shadow work. And the character stuff is so sweet.
--Some gorgeous battle stuff with those robots.
--The castle tower blowing up, crashing and falling apart.
This and more can still take my breath away.

I love all the Demona-Goliath-Elisa triangle stuff. It's all spelled out in the confrontation when Goliath wants to go keep his appointment with Elisa, and Demona's trying to stop him. If Demona hadn't been so bloodthirsty aboard FORTRESS-1, would Goliath have even remembered his appointment with Elisa? Or would he be off cuddling with his long-lost love?

Anyway, that whole conversation is just full of delicious irony -- all working against Demona. Goliath says, "I cannot make war on an entire world," completely unaware that that's exactly what Demona wants to do. He says, "Doesn't Xanatos prove that some humans can be trusted?" But of course, Demona knows that Xanatos absolutely cannot be trusted. Every statement Goliath makes pushes Demona toward further extremism. And he isn't even trying. Finally, after Demona reminds him of the Wyvern betrayal and Massacre, he says that the ones responsible for that "have been dead for 1000 years." Now putting aside that the Captain and Hakon aren't quite as dead-dead as Goliath thinks, this has got to push Demona over the edge. Deep down she knows her own responsibility. Again Goliath is wrong, because the traitor is standing right in front of him. My hats off to Michael Reaves. What a great scene! "So be it." she says. Goliath won't know it until VOWS. But they are DONE. Right there.

Cultural Differences 101: Elisa is trying to convince Goliath not to trust Xanatos. I don't remember the exact line, but she says something with the word "three" in it. (Maybe refering to the three disks or the three Cyberbiotics installations...?) Anyway, to indicate three she holds up her index finger, her middle finger and ... her thumb. It still looks totally goofy to me. I don't know anyone who wouldn't use their ring finger with the other two, using the thumb to hold the pinky down. Does anyone know if in Japan the thumb is preferred?

When Demona's destroying FORTRESS-1, Goliath is standing around stunned. She tries to get him to leave, but he refuses. Finally, she pulls him out. What was supposed to happen was that the tilting ship was supposed to dump him out the hatch at the same time Demona was pulling. So that he was more unwilling to abandon the crew of the ship. But it never animated with the tilt going the right way.

In our original development we planned on making a lot bigger deal of all the various Xanatos Enterprises sub-divisions. You got a taste of that with PackMedia Studios and Gen-U-Tech (a.k.a. Gen-U-Tech Systems or G.U.T.S.). But we were also going to make a bigger deal of his robotics division, which was going to be called the Scarab Corporation. (Thus the scarab design that appears on the transmitter.) But Xanatos wound up being even more hands-on then I anticipated. Less Lex Luthor. More his own glorious self. So Scarab never got much of a spotlight because Xanatos handled those kinds of adventures himself and/or the robots handled things themselves (cf. Coyote in Leader of the Pack). For those of you who have been to one of the Gatherings and seen the original Gargoyles Pitch, you might recall a giant chrome cockroach climbing up the side of a building to attack Goliath. That was going to be a Scarab Corp. creation.

Isn't Xanatos just too cool:
"Let's let them play out there little drama, shall we?" He's so amused. He can't resist watching the confrontation. And for once I don't feel like it's cause he's a villain stupidly giving the hero time to turn the tables. He's sincerely entertained by the show.

"Without me you'd still be gathering moss." Nuff said.

There's another great little dialogue editing moment. Real subtle. When Demona says: "The plan was perfect." Goliath whispers "Plan?" She says something else and then he completes his thought "What Plan?" That little overlap wasn't scripted. It was another product of me having the luxury to really nurse those dialogue edits on those early scripts.

There is good and evil in all of us. Human and Gargoyle alike. Hey, Lexy, there's another major theme of the series. No one group has a monopoly on either attribute.

One thing that never quite worked for me, was the reveal of Demona's name. She makes such a big deal of it. But the name (at this point in the series) just doesn't have enough resonance for me yet. Later, sure. "Demona". We all sit up and take notice. But there. "Demona". Yeah, so? Did that moment play for you guys?

Goliath is about to toss Xanatos off the building. Elisa begs him not to. That'll make you just like Demona she says. Then Hudson pipes in and says, "She's right, lad. Is that what you want?" I intentionally instructed our voice director Jamie Thomason to direct Ed Asner to read that line with ambiguity. Hudson DOESN'T care whether Goliath tosses David or not. He simply wants Goliath to make an informed choice.

And yeah, yeah, David & Goliath. Perfect opposites.

Elisa: "Maybe, we'll catch a Giants' game."
Goliath: "Giants?"
Were any of you surprised when a Giant Oberon attacked the castle?

As usual, I encourage responses posted here, on either your original feelings when seeing the episode for the first time and/or newer more recent observations from repeat or recent viewings.


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Some vindication...

I have some good news to report.

As many of you know, a man has been suing Disney claiming he created Gargoyles and that we (myself and my bosses) stole it from him. It was infuriating. He claimed that another man he employed as an agent had shown the idea to one of us at Toy Fair in 1992. His own agent denies this, but the plaintiff believes his own agent is lying. When it was pointed out that we first began developing GARGOYLES in 1991, he turned around and claimed he had created his version in the late eighties and simply hadn't copywritten it until '91 or '92.

Needless to say, his claims are without any merit. My great fear was that Disney would regard it as a nuisance suit and pay him off with something, just to get rid of him, thus seemingly giving his claim some merit.

All this was tremendously frustrating and insulting to me personally. I realize that being on Disney's side hardly made me the underdog, but I felt something very medieval about this guy besmirching my honor, and attempting to take claim of something I was very proud of.

I had been deposed ages ago, and had heard nothing until today.

Today, I received a fax copy of U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein's Order and Opinion regarding the suit. On Valentine's Day, he granted Disney's motion for a summary judgment dismissing the complaint "with prejudice." He basically found that the plaintiff had never offered even a smidgen of proof that we had ever had any access to his ideas or designs.

I'd like to thank Alec Lipkind, Disney's council for his hard work in settling this case.

It may be petty on my part, but I do feel vindicated.


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IN SUPPORT OF EDUCATION

I don't normally approve of letting people take "cuts". Or of breaking rules I've set myself, like the one about separate topics requiring separate posts.

But Lexy is writing a paper on GARGOYLES for her HONOR'S ENGLISH CLASS, and she needed some questions answered. I'm a big fan or Honor's English classes, so I couldn't resist. But I figured you all might be interested in the answers as well. So with Lexy's permission, I'm answering them here.

Dear Greg,

Thanks SO much for helping me with my paper. I hope
to do you,and the rest of the fandom,proud:) Here are
some questions I whipped up for an interview. But If
you have anything you think would be helpful to add or
to subtract from them, please feel free to do so.

1) What do you think are some reasons ppl find
mythological creatures, such as gargoyles, intriguing

GREG'S RESPONSE: I think people like to let their imaginations run. And why limit those imaginations to what we know exists. If a concept has its own internal logic, something real in its emotions and relationships for an audience to grab a solid hold too, then there's little limit to how far-fetched the fantasy can get.

2) What started your personal fascination with
Gargoyles?

GREG'S RESPONSE: A high school trip to Europe and hearing the tidbit that Gargoyles were placed on castles and cathedrals to scare away evil spirits. The notion that monsters were used against evil was very intriguing. And this was years before we developed the series.

3) Name some of your favorite books or stories you
enjoyed when growing up.

GREG'S RESPONSE: Wow. Um. How far back to you want to go? GO, DOG, GO was an early favorite. Later, I liked the Hobbit. I liked reading about myths of all kinds. I had the D'Aulaire's GREEK MYTHS and NORSE GODS & GIANTS books and I reread those over and over. I also was always a big fan of detective fiction. I liked Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Later, Conan Doyle, some Christie, but my favorites were Hammett, Chandler and ROSS MacDonald. I loved the LEW ARCHER novels. I liked Heinlein in Science Fiction. "Requiem" is a heartbreakingly beautiful little story. I liked Mary Stewart and especially Mary Renault. I read a lot. I liked a lot of diverse stuff. I could go on for hours.

4) Did anything in particular inspire you to create
'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: I've spoken to this before. Gummi Bears was an inspiration, as was Hill Street Blues (my all-time favorite tv show). My on-going fascination with stone gargoyles. And the pragmatic need to be constantly feeding the Dragon that was the Disney Afternoon.

5) Do you believe that gargoyles and other statuary
such as grotesques are rooted in evil traditions? Or
are they there for the common good through harsh
example? (explain)

GREG'S RESPONSE: Neither. I think they are symbolic (or rather emblematic) of something primitive and primal. They scare away evil. Not all monsters are against us. We need our dreams and nightmares.

6) (circa) When did you start work on the television
show 'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: 1991.

7) When and why (circa) were you (and others) forced
to cancel 'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: The question is phrased in such a way that it's difficult to answer directly. We never planned to do more than 65 episodes. That was a standard run for any show. Now in huge success, a show (like DuckTales for example) made additional episodes, and I won't deny I had hopes that we would to. But the answer came back no. Our ratings were strong. But we were a consistent second place to Power Rangers. So we weren't cancelled. But new episodes would not be made. Then ABC and Disney merged, and ABC wanted some Gargoyles. All my bosses at Disney had left and the new management wanted their own people on the show. So they made me an offer to continue that was designed to make me say no. In hindsight, I should have said yes anyway, but that's spilt milk. I left and they made additional episodes for ABC under the Goliath Chronicles banner. The ratings were not good. Neither, in my opinion, were the episodes. So it wasn't renewed.

8) What did the television show 'Gargoyles'mean to you
as it's creator?

GREG'S RESPONSE: It was and continues to be the highlight of my professional career. Nothing I've done, before or since, let me bring my vision so intact to the screen. It was very collaborative, not every idea was mine, but I still feel like that was the one show that achieved what I hoped it would achieved. I'm ridiculously proud of it, beyond all reason, really.

9) What was the central theme or message of the show ?

GREG'S RESPONSE: There wasn't just one. Among the messages was the obvious DON'T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER moral. Plus plenty about the preciousness of life and hope. Themes of redemption are very important to me. Guilt, fear, love, trust, loyalty. You name it, at some point we through it in. Often episode titles were designed to remind both audience and writer of what the major theme in that story was.

10) How many Gatherings have you attended?

GREG'S RESPONSE: All three. Two in NYC. One in Dallas. And I hope to continue to go as long as you folks want me.

11) What is your opinion of the Gatherings?

GREG'S RESPONSE: It is always one of the true highlights of my year. How could it not be? I'm basically treated like royalty for 72 straight hours. Since that doesn't happen to a guy like me much in real life, it's pretty damn cool.

12) What do you hope ppl who watch 'Gargoyles'will
come away with?

GREG'S RESPONSE: First and foremost, I hope they were entertained. Not a little, but a lot, and on multiple levels. I hope we got the adrenaline going. I hope we touched their hearts. I hope we gave them something to think about. I hope we educated them a bit, or more likely gave them reason to want to be educated about, say SHAKESPEARE or Scottish History or King Arthur or Native American customs or whatever. I'm greedy. I want all of this.

13) What did you like most about the show 'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: I'm not objective enough to answer this one.

14) What did you like most about working on the show
'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: Honestly, the autonomy. The freedom. I also had some incredibly talented collaborators and when we were in gear, we really hummed. But for sheer fun, it's hard to beat those voice recording sessions. That was the part of the job that generally was the least like work. It's where all the potentials of the show come to life and few of the problems are revealed. Just fun.

15) Why incorporate so many classic dramas and other
time honored themes within 'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: Purely for my own amusement. And with the hope that some people will either also be amused or will come to be amused as they discover these things. Plus it made my job easier. The story of Macbeth is so good, that adapting it practically wrote itself.

Thanks so much for all your help:)!

Lexy;)

GREG'S RESPONSE: You are welcome. Let me know if I can be of any more help.


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AWAKENING: PART FOUR

More random observations...

Jogger's first appearance.

Cyberbiotics first true appearance.

Bruno (aka the Commando Leader) gets a bit of character development. I remember when voice director Jamie Thomason asked Jeff Bennett to do that voice. Jeff asked what Jamie wanted and Jamie said something like: "Do a George C. Scott/Patton thing." I don't know if that's what I'm hearing, but I like the end result.

We see Vinnie for the second time. Of course, we still didn't know that was Vinnie yet. His nose is HUGE. He must have had a little work done between this show and Metamorphosis. (Not the smartest way to spend money when you're out of work.) One of my favorite bits in "Vendettas" is the reveal of how exactly Vinnie was knocked out by Goliath aboard the airship. In Awakening IV, Goliath lifts Vinnie out of the shot. We hear a loud <SMACK> and Vinnie falls unconscious. The implication being that G knocked him out. But in Vendettas, Cary and I showed what was previously off-screen. You see that the <SMACK> came from G hitting his fist against the wall. Vinnie wasn't knocked out. He fainted.

Elisa looks damn good with her jacket off. I wish we had had more opportunities for costume changes with her. They always work so well.

I always thought that the tranq the Commandos used on Goliath in parts III and IV was pretty unreliable. It seems to knock him down. Then he's up again. Then he's staggering. All very story convenient. You could look at it as a flaw in the episodes. Or you could justify it by saying that they had never had the opportunity to test the stuff on Gargoyles before. It had strange effects.

Owen has one line in the whole episode: A very effective clearing of his throat. You gotta love a character who can be so memorable with so little.

The Commandos seem to be pretty bad shots, until you realize in episode V that killing Goliath isn't really what they're after. In my head, they were told NOT to kill him if they could effectively put a scare into him. Elisa was probably much more expendable. Bruno's discretion.

This seemed like the first episode to use the "CLAW WIPES"... but I'm not sure. A Wipe is one means of moving from one scene to another. Other methods are straight CUTS or DISSOLVES, etc. But Japan started doing these very dramatic CLAW WIPES, where a Gargoyle hand seems to be tearing the old scene away with his or her claws. It wasn't called for in early scripts, but after we had seen it a few times, we started to call it out.

Elisa puts the transmitter on a dog she calls Rover, a dog that's scrounging through garbage in the park. In the very next scene, Hudson is watching TV and a dog that could easily have been Rover as a pup is seen starring in a dogfood commercial. How the mighty have fallen.

There's a few great moments with the trio in this show. Maybe not the obvious ones. I love their exchange of dialogue to Hudson when they come back from their night on the town. We had the opportunity to really edit the dialogue with multiple overlaps and rhythms before it went to Japan. The scene really snaps. In later episodes, we wouldn't always have that luxury.

The scenelet where they fly away from the castle on their way to the Cyberbiotics Tower is also very cool. A combination of animation, editing and sound, that really gives SNAP to their departure. I love it.

Of course, the naming scene is great. Names are so addictive.

And I still like the character development in our love triangle here. Goliath doesn't trust Elisa even yet. Hasn't told her about his daytime vulnerability. And he might not have, if he hadn't been caught outside. But her loyalty and steadfastness really impresses him. I feel the connection very strongly. And I think she does too, when she asks if she can see him again later tonight. It's not just curiosity about a new life-form.

And Demona. I love that wing hug when she and Goliath are reunited. But you have to wonder about that reunion from her point of view. Yes, she's scheming here. But she must be thrilled to see him and the other gargs awake and alive. THRILLED. All those years of lonliness and now her true love is awake. But she never hesitates to prioritize her scheming. All those years of bitterness have stunted her emotions even more.

Finally, lots of people keep telling me that Elisa says "Damn" in the boathouse in at least one version of this thing. But it's not true. We never even recorded her saying Damn. Why would I? No way it would get by S&P, so why bother. Didn't even occur to me. She does grunt right before she says "Empty". And I suppose that grunt might sound a bit like the word "Damn." I mean, I don't think so, but it's the only explanation for this myth that I can come up with.


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Sorry....

We've got that "Nothing in Queue" glitch again. (I just alerted Gore.) I had planned on answering a bunch of new questions, not just a few, and I would never have cleared the Latest Response Page, had I known.

But I'm sure we'll be up and running soon.


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AWAKENING, PART THREE

Watched this with the family half an hour ago...

More random observations...

RE: Our supporting cast...

Who knew that Brendan & Margot would wind up being so important? Credit Marina Sirtis, for making Margot so gloriously bitchy.

And then there's Vinnie's first appearance on that motorcycle. Of course, no one knew Vinnie existed back then, which is thoroughly appropriate to his character.

And credit Keith David with breathing real life into Morgan the cop. Morgan didn't even have a name then. He was just a place holder, someone for Elisa to respond to. But Keith made me interested in him.

Little things still bug me. Xanatos' floating ponytail in the scene where he and Elisa first meet.

In the Kitchen, the Freezer door was supposed to have one of those easy to open latches on the inside. The irony being that Broadway could easily extricate himself, if he just knew how to operate the latch (or even what it was). Something a kid could do, assuming the kid was born in the 20th century. But BW has to bust down the door.

In the original script and the recording of that script, it's Brooklyn who says "So many wonders..." and it's Broadway who says "Goliath said not to let anybody see us." But in those early days, lots of people in L.A. and in Tokyo kept confusing their names (and Bronx's) so the animation came back as you see it. And it was easier to re-record the voices then to reanimate. (Or am I getting all this totally backwards? I just saw the show again half an hour ago, and already, I'm confused.)

(CAVEAT: In all these little things, I'll probably be pointing out animation errors here and there. But please understand, I think most of the animation we got, particularly from Walt Disney TV Animation - Japan, was brilliant. I think those guys did a great job and don't get enough credit. But anecdotes generally come out of when things go wrong, not when they go right, so it may seem like I'm talking about mistakes more often than not. Sorry, in advance to Roy Sato or anyone else who might take offense.)

When Elisa is first being checked out by the Trio, there was a scene in the original animation where Brooklyn seems inordinantly interested in her behind. We had to call a retake, cuz the guy was practically drooling. I wonder if that's where I got the idea that Brooklyn would fall for anyone in a skirt (or with a tail).

Also, after Goliath saves Elisa from falling off the building we have a point of view shot from her. It begins at Goliath's feet and pans up to his face, as she takes him in. In the original animation, the pan started at his head and panned down. That seemed less effective, so we had our editors reverse the pan, without calling for a retake.

At the end of Act Two, the door slides open revealing Demona in silhouette, clearly plotting something with Xanatos. That always really bugged me. I didn't want to give away that she was alive in this episode. I didn't want to know who Xanatos was talking to. How did you guys react to this? Did that spill everything? Did any of you not know that Demona was alive? Did any of you, by this point, not know that she and Xanatos were the bad guys?

Elisa says something like "This is where Dracula shows up." when she's walking through the corridors of the castle. If you take that literally (and you might as well), then you gotta figure that someday, Dracula will be roaming that very hallway.

Elisa loses the first in her series of guns, when Goliath crushes it near the end of Act One.

Goliath tells a joke: "And please, don't fall off the building this time." Goliath tells a joke. Can you believe it? It wasn't bad either. We should have let him tell jokes more often.

Elisa's surprise that Goliath can talk is indicative of what I thought a 20th (or 21st) century initial response to the gargs would be. That's why Goliath Chronicles' trial episode bugged me so much. I don't think humans would take for granted sentience. And I think most humans, those less open than Elisa, wouldn't even buy talking as enough evidence that the gargs weren't just beasts. (Cf. Margot Yale.)

Goliath is a pretty begruding hero. That's somewhat unique for cartoons. Elisa asks if there are more gargs, and Goliath responds: "Barely." He cuts her very little slack. But already you can see their relationship developing. I still think Hudson's expression after Goliath sweeps Elisa up into his arms is just priceless.

In that same scene, Hudson gets named for the river. I love that scene, as I loved the scene where Tom, Brook and Lex are talking about names. Of course, the desire not to name most of the gargoyles until we got to NYC '94, was mostly pragmatic. It allowed us to use those fun, cool NY names for most of the characters. But once we came up with the rationale for it, and once I managed to explain it to everyone, I really fell in love with the concept. Hudson's lament, here, that humans don't think something is real until they've put there stamp on it, is, to me at least, so damn true. And Elisa's response is so feeble and circular. "Things need names." Pathetic. But I'm no different. <SIGH> I'm such a human. But I aspire to gargoylosity. Anyway, after Hudson points to the river, and Elisa basically tricks him into taking that name, she used to have a line, as I may have mentioned before, where she said (under her breath) "Good thing we weren't facing Queens" -- implication being that Hudson nearly ended up being called Queen, I guess. It was always funny, but S&P didn't care for it, and I couldn't really defend it. So out it went. We tried another version, where she just says, "Good thing we weren't facing East." But it didn't play. So out it went too.

The thing that struck me most, however, was the almost thorough lack of action in this episode. After all that Viking stuff in Part One, and Vikings and a full act of commandos in Part Two, Part Three is a mood and character piece. Sure Elisa falls off a building, but that was a problem easily solved. Until the commandos' Central Park attack in the last seconds of Act Three, nothing else happens that could genuinely qualify as action. That was mostly a result of what was once a four-parter being turned into a five-parter. The reason we made that change is because Michael Reaves wrote a brillaint four-part script. It was amazing. But it was WAY too long. I was faced with either having to make drastic cuts (as I would later have to do in Avalon and Hunter's Moon) or expand it. Fortunately, Gary Krisel and Bruce Cranston saw the wisdom of expansion. For one thing, it would save us money. But also, it made sense because we could run the five parts across a whole week of the Disney Afternoon like a mini-series special event. It wouldn't require us to re-program one day of that first week. So we were all agreed, the four parter would become a five parter.

But that meant adding act breaks, and redividing everything. The episode that most benefited was Part One. In the orignal version, Part One covered all of what is currently part one, plus the first act of what's currently part two, i.e. ALL the Scotland stuff. The episode ended with Goliath's "suicide". A great ending, but we would have obviously had to cut a TON out of the flashback. This way we were able to expand into part two and preserve almost all of the story.

So Part Three winds up being nearly action-free. And by the way, I love that. I still think the episode works great, and it proved to me that the charcters themselves could really hold the audience's attention. (I'm such a proud papa. Unashamedly so. It must be pretty obnoxious.) I wish we had always had the luxury to be so... well, luxurious. To expand and play character. But generally a half-hour format makes it tough. I'm very sick of writing half hours, actually. But the powers that be in Animation believe that kids can't or won't sit through an hour long show.

As usual, I welcome posts here responding to this episode. Both your original reaction to seeing it for the first time, and your current reaction if you've seen it again recently.


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AWAKENING, PART TWO

Watched the episode again last night.

Little things....

My two year old son is fascinated with Tom. And misses him in the second act after he's gone. Misses him in other episodes too. Kinda puts the lie to the strongly held belief I've always had that contrary to Network Executive Dogma, kids don't need animated shows to be about kids. Of course, my son is just two. My five year old has no problem with their being no "little girl" in the show.

Goliath says "What sorcery is this?" for the first time. We wound up using it over and over in the series, til it became something of an in-joke. But the truth is, we could never come up with a better line that said the same thing.

Goliath's "suicide" at the end of Act One, is still one of the most startling things I've ever seen in a cartoon. That was Gary Krisel's idea (my boss Bruce Cranston's boss). And I've always admired him for it. It's also the reminder I use to keep me humble when I'm listening to notes from the higher ups. Michael Reaves and I were just going to have the Magus offer to cast his spell on Goliath as something of a consolation prize. "Best I can do" kinda thing.

Love that Chernabog moment where Goliath says "I've been denied everything, even my revenge!" Man, Keith David is great.

The way it's edited you'd never know the problem the last fight in the Viking's camp caused me vis-a-vis Broadway. As you may recall from Part One, during the Viking's initial attack, Broadway stopped for a snack, and then opportunistically used the turkey leg to bonk a Viking. A nice little comedic beat. Well, in Part Two, we wanted to contrast that by having Broadway land in front of the roasting spit by the fire -- so that the audience again thinks he's just thinking about his stomach. But that after the massacre, the much more serious Broadway immediatlely starts using it as a weapon. That's pretty much what you see. But that's not what we received in Animation. What we got was a virtual replay of the scene from Part One. Broadway lands with a big grin and starts to eat. Then he gets attacked and uses the spit as a weapon. It took judicious editing to keep Broadway from feeling too one-dimensional. And even then as the series progressed, we started to downplay Broadway's appetite (another good Gary Krisel suggestion). We brought it up again in Hunter's Moon, Part Three to show how far the character had come. Yeah, great kitchen, but an even better library. That kind of thing.

We had a similar problem with Hudson's sword. We were supposed to make a big deal of him using it for the first time in the battle at the Viking camp. But some of the animation in both Parts One and Part Two showed him using the sword and/or having it by his side before that. That's what retakes are for, I guess.

Xanatos' first appearance... I'm really curious to know how many people, seeing this for the first time knew that Xanatos was the bad guy. I thought it was a little too obvious myself. There's a look he gives Goliath when he's taking the gargs' questions in the Great Hall that I thought absolutely tipped his hand to the audience. But we did try to create a guy who looked like he should be the hero of the show. Handsome athletic Bruce Wayne type up against scary monsters. And Jonathan Frakes is terrific.

(There was a while when Gary Krisel thought maybe we should have Xanatos -- or another rich guy, a pre-Renard if you will -- actually be the gargoyles modern benefactor. I'm glad that's one bit of advice I didn't take from Gary.)

We also get the first look at Owen. Jeff Bennett. Man. What a great cast we had. Wasn't Owen just fascinating from moment one? I didn't know he was Puck way back then, but I sure did know there was a story behind him.

Love that moment when they all Shatter out of stone near the top of Act Two. The sky spinning behind Goliath. The rotating camera for the others. Bronx leaning into the foreground. Still gives me a little thrill. Don't disappoint me Xanatos said. Well, it worked for me.

The first time we got the animation back on that sequence, their stone skins didn't really EXPLODE off them. In fact the first version of the footage had no stone at all. Those of you who have been to the GATHERING have seen that footage. We really had to push to make that concept of them exploding to life every night play visually.

There's an intentional this-ain't-Batman moment during the fight with the Commandos. Goliath gets tossed off the building. He's falling and he grabs for a flagpole, just like Batman would. But Goliath is so heavy, he rips the flagpole right off the building, and he has to use his claws to save himself. Back in those days, everyone was terrified that GARGOYLES was going to be perceived as a BATMAN rip-off. I actually had to write up a memo for the Marketing Department, listing all the significant ways the shows were different. This flagpole bit was our (me, Frank, Michael's) conscious reaction to the constant comparisons.

There's a moment during the fight where Goliath is facing a Commando, and from off-stage Xanatos rescues Goliath by firing his laser at the wall and dumping the masonry on the commando. But that scene gave us nightmares, because it looked like the laser beam was coming from Goliath's eyes. Like he was Cyclops of the X-Men. This made us nervous, because the concept was so new, we were afraid that the audience would think that maybe Gargoyles have all sorts of "cool" super-powers like that.

One line got cut from Part One that would have helped a bit in understanding Lex's character. In Part One, during the initial battle with the Vikings, we had Lex investigating a catapult, fascinated with how it works. That little scenelet got cut from the script for time. But I still miss it.

Anyway, please feel free to post your own responses here on the episode. Both how you felt when you first saw it, and what strikes you now looking at it again.


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More on Theseus...

Apropos of nothing, I've been thinking some more about Theseus. So you guys are the victims of this off-topic Ramble.

I really like the guy.

Here's a kid with a tough upbringing. He's a bastard, and a royal one to boot. That's always hard. Then he pulls his father's sword from UNDER the stone (sound familiar?) and sets off on a quest. Lots of adventure, dealing with bandits and rogue kings. Gets to Athens. And immediately has to deal with an assassination attempt perpetrated by his step-mother (the always interesting Medea). Then he promptly volunteers for hazardous duty and goes to Crete where he's a big hero (at least from the Athenian point of view -- obviously the Cretans and the Minotaur wouldn't agree.)

On the way home, he does abandon Ariadne, but I still think he had no choice because the lady had caught Dyonisus' eye.

He then screws up and is indirectly responsible for his father's suicide. Mary Renault tries to explain this in THE KING MUST DIE. Everyone can decide for themselves whether her explanation is convincing.

Anyway, I'm coming to what I think is the key to his character. The transition point that changed his life, largely for the worse -- ultimately.

He fell in love. With Antiope, Queen of the Amazons. (Hyppolyta's younger sister.) I think this was a great love. A love of equals, in battle, in governance, in life, in bed, etc. This was the love of his life.

And then she dies. It all might have turned out differently if she had lived. I think they were a good influence on each other. But she died in battle, saving his life. And nothing would ever be the same.

After that, he makes one bad decision after another. (Though he does manage to set up the first semi-constitutional monarchy, which is something of an achievement, even if his motivation was selfish -- he didn't want to be tied down to dealing with day-to-day governance.) But basically, he just can't deal. His marriage to Phaedra is clearly a political alliance. And that's a disaster, resulting in her vengeful suicide and the death of Hyppolytus, his son by Antiope. The fact that Theseus is largely to blame for Hyppolytus' death (as he was for his father Aegeus') I think drives him past caring about much of anything.

Now he's just looking for something to kill the pain. He kidnaps Helen, not cause he wants her but because she's a prize. He becomes buddy to that idiot Perithoos. He abandons Athens and winds up stuck in Hades for seven years. And finally, he's killed by a king who was trying (in a very old west fashion) to build his rep by being the man who killed Theseus. It's not a great Arthurian way to go, of course.

But it feels honest to me.

I'm not trying to excuse all of Theseus' mistakes (some of them were fairly horrendous). But I do think there's an explanation.

And if you look at Antiope as the fulcrum of his life. With the Teeter-Totter heading uphill until he met her, holding steady while they were together, but swinging sharply down after her death, I think it ranks up there as one of the great tragedies. And yet still very human.


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"Awakening, Part One"

My kids and I have started watching the 66 chapters of Gargoyles from start to finish, so I thought I'd give a shot at rambling on each episode as we view them.

So starting at the beginning...

Random thoughts:

In the original script, there was a bit that came right after Princess Katharine reprimands the Captain for inviting the Gargoyles into the Great Hall. She says something to the effect of: "To allow beasts in the dining hall..." Right then, we were supposed to cut to a shot of one of those hounds that you can see milling about in the initial establing shot. The hound was supposed to grab a chunk of meat off of one of the nobles' plates. This would further establish Katharine's hypocracy, but also embarrass her further, lending believability to the things she says and does thereafter. I recall that the scenelet got animated, but not well. Frank refused to include it in the final cut. He may have been right, given what we had to work with. But I still miss the moment I envisioned in my head.

Katharine and the Magus are so nasty in this episode. Boy, did they go through some changes.

I'm also struck by just how much the Trio grew from this first appearance. They're kinda medieval ninja turtles here. But they show potential. I still love their exchange with Tom as he tries to get names out of them and they are baffled as to why names would be important.

I do wish we could have seen more Gargoyles flying around. (It really would have been nice to catch a glimpse of the Coldtrio, but frankly, they hadn't been designed yet. We knew they were coming, but we didn't have time to design them before they were necessary.) But it would have been great to see more beasts, more females. More young and old. But I guess we did all right.

The cliffhangers are interesting too. In both, the threat is the Gargoyles themselves. Princess Katharine says something nasty about gargoyles, just as Goliath enters the Hall. He growls, clearly having heard her statement. And we go to commercial... I could never have gotten away with that by even episode 2. But this early on, we didn't know the gargs well enough to know how they'd react. Clearly they had our sympathy. But would Goliath go berserk? Obviously, not. But that was the tension in that beat. Same thing happens between Acts II & III. The threat seems to be from Brooklyn, Lex and Bronx. Of course, they're bluffing. Annoyed with the humans, they are simply trying to put a scare into them. But the audience doesn't know that yet, so I can get away with the second cliffhanger being a Garg threat as well. Of course, by the end of the episode, we know just how noble they are. And that's a great cliffhanger I think. Goliath roaring to the heavens filled with grief over the death of his "Angel of the Night". 'SCool. (But how many of you really thought she was dead?)

There are also moments that are fairly mundane to us now. Elisa pulling up in her car. Goliath first breaking out of stone. Demona stepping out of the shadows. I'd be curious how all those moments made you guys feel the very first time you saw them, particularly those of you for whom this was in fact the first episode you ever saw.

I invite you to post your comments here on Awakening, Part One.


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Congratulate me!

I got through all the October questions in one day. I'll leave them up for about a week and move on to November soon.


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"ALONE": The Demona Contest Results

First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who entered: Shauntell, Airwalker, Derek!, Aris Katsaris, Jon and Bud-Clare. I'd like to state for the record that none of you gave a "wrong" answer. But this was, of course, a contest, and I had to choose a winner. My choice is quite subjective, but the winner by a hair is Airwalker with the following entry:

"ALONE: The Demona Contest Answer"

Demona consciously chose the word ALONE for a password because in her perspective she is alone. Only she seems to see that humanity is a threat and that what she is doing has to be done. Her birth clan remains blind to that fact. Only she alone can see it.

Subconsciously Demona chose ALONE as a password because inside Demona lurks Angel, the sane innocent she once was. Angel is alone, trapped inside a villain, unable to stop being alone until Demona can accept a millennia of guilt, forgive herself, and allow Angel to be free once more.

A close runner-up was Derek! who gave another very interesting answer:

ALONE: The Demona Contest

A city of humans had been turned to stone and their only hope was about to be eliminated. And Demona had done it alone. She alone had survived while others didn't and she alone had eluded the Hunters for centuries. But why would the word ALONE suddenly enter her mind?

Subconsciously, the word had been with her since she kissed Goliath on the forehead in 994 AD. She covered up her pain with the mask of a mightly warrior. She made a mistake 1000 years ago and couldn't deal with the consequences, which caused her to forever be alone.

These are both great entries. I particularly liked Derek!'s first paragraph and Airwalker's second. Which is not to say I didn't like the reverse.

Anyway, Airwalker, I'm not at my office right now, so I haven't yet chosen the prize, but I will contact you via e-mail early next week and arrange its delivery to you. As stated, it will be worthless, but it should hopefully be of interest.

Congratulations and thanks for playing.


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The nominees are in...

Praise the Dragon,

I finally got through all the September posts.

That means the next entry you see will be a Ramble that declares a winner to "ALONE: THE DEMONA CONTEST ANSWER".

Sometime next week.

Then, I'm taking on October.


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caveat

I feel like a came down to hard on Alaxk, and I didn't mean to. Again, I have no trouble with people not liking aspects of the show (or the entire show for that matter). And I think this (ASK GREG) is a legitimate forum to express those opinions. I welcome, even encourage criticism. I'm happy to respond.

The only thing that sorta bugged me about Alaxk's approach was that he didn't state his opinions as his own. He put them in the form of questions meant to imply that by now I must realize what a mistake I had made. Since I don't feel that way, it procluded any clear discussion of ideas. It felt a bit precious to me, and I'll admit, it bugged me a bit.

But that's not to say that Alaxk isn't 100% entitled to his opinions about the World Tour -- or anything. And those opinions are perfectly legitimate. Next time just state them.

Sure we're called "ASK GREG" but this isn't JEOPARDY, and your posts don't HAVE to be in the form of a question.


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Sorry...

This hasn't been a great batch of answers so far. I suppose I might be in a mood, but the questions haven't been too helpful. I'll try to do better later in the week.


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More Theseus...

Hey Aris,

Stopped by the comment room and saw some of your comments on Theseus.

I have a slightly different take on the guy. I do think he's heavily flawed, but I think (or like to think) that some of the stories about him reflect bias. He's still more of a hero to me than a villain. (By the way, have you read the Mary Renault books THE KING MUST DIE and THE BULL FROM THE SEA. I'd recommend them.)

For example, in the Persephone story, I've always gone with the version that Theseus swore an oath of loyalty to Perithoos. Perithoos then insisted on going to Hades to take Persephone. Theseus is then stuck. He either has to break his oath to his friend or go to hell, so to speak. He tries to talk Perithoos out of this fool's gambit, but the guy won't listen. (And I wonder if Perithoos hadn't pissed off Eros and gotten shafted.) So Theseus goes. And is severly punished. Thus Athens is abandoned by him for years, and they don't forgive him. Thus you get some bias...

As for his history with women...

Ariadne - I always read that Theseus was FORCED to abandon her by Dionysus, who had taken a shine to the lady. (And this fits with Renault's more realistic interpretation too.)

ANTIOPE - I always thought that Theseus only ever really fell in love once. With Antiope the Amazon. (Sister to Hyppolyta, though Renault and others often confuse her with Hyppolyta herself. It may be that Hyppolyta was more of a title than a name. When Herakles' Hypolyta was killed, her sister Antiope ascended to the throne and took the name/title Hypolyta. That might explain the confusion.) When Antiope died, I think it killed something inside him.

I don't want to whitewash the guy, and maybe my problem is that too many of my early exposures to the character did just that. I do think he's a Bastard. With all that that implies. But I like to think there's more good in him than evil.

I could go on -- and some day I probably will -- but that should do for now.


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Shameless self-praise...

One thing (one of many things) I admire about Joss Whedon's tv version of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and his ANGEL is his fearlessness as a creator. His willingness to let things evolve, change.

Characters find out the truth about other characters. They fall in and out of love. Things aren't drawn out forever and ever. He's unafraid to GO for it.

And frankly, I think that's one of the things I'm proudest of about GARGOYLES.

Not everyone loved the World Tour, but how many of you ever thought we'd have the guts to do it. To take our two leads and send them away from their "franchise" location not just for an episode or two but for what amounted to a season's worth of episodes?

And, honestly, how many of you thought -- even at the very end of "Hunter's Moon, Part Two" -- that we'd REALLY blow up the clock tower? Did you anticipate that the Gargs would wind up back at the castle with Xanatos or was that a surprise? For that matter, in season one, how many of you would have thought we'd have moved them out of the castle in the first place? "Enter Macbeth" represented a defeat of sort for our heroes. Did you see that coming?

(NOTE: These are not rhetorical questions. I'd really like to know the answers, so don't hesitate to let me know with a post here.)

Anyway, if these things were shocking, I think it's because they were somewhat brave. A risk. But not a risk for the sake of risk, but a risk in the name of being true to the characters. We made the various franchise shifts because nothing else made sense. I think it paid off for us, at the very least in loyalty from all of you. What do you think?


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Miscellaneous...

My DC Comics editor finally sent me a few copies of that Justice League comic with the Captain Atom/Gargoyles story. I had forgotten just how many Gargoyle in-jokes I put in that story. There's much more there for a Gargoyle fan then for a Captain Atom fan. Though I think the scenes of Cap kissing Bette (and the mention of Las Vegas) would make a couple people (Simon Del Monte, Melissa Page, for example) a bit nostalgic. I think the story turned out pretty well. Anyway, I'm happy. My editor made a couple small changes. He removed the two references to the year the story took place (1991). And he changed the title. It was called something like: "An Exercise in Self-Indulgence". Now it's called "The Flashback of Notre Dame". Both are accurate, but his is much more clever.

Lately, I've been giving away a lot of ASK GREG tidbits for some reason. Not sure why. I'm just in the mood, I guess. But it suddenly occured to me to register this caveat.

There's canon and there's canon.

As far as I'm concerned the only true canon is the 66 episodes of the series running from "Awakening, Part One" through "The Journey". As many of you know, I don't like to consider the other twelve episodes of Goliath Chronicles to be canon, let alone whatever other stories got published by Marvel or Disney Adventures Digest or whatever.

But to be honest, even some of my ASK GREG answers cannot truly be considered canon. They're closer. But I won't be held to them in any absolute sense. Part of the wonder of producing the first two seasons of Gargoyles involved things discovered along the way. I won't etch things in stone (pun intended) just for the sake of making these ramblings and off-the-cuff answers sacrosanct. If I got the chance to produce the show (or one of its spin-offs) again, I'd ABSOLUTELY incorporate much of what's here. But I'd be a fool not to hold everything up to a microscope and decide with consideration what would and wouldn't be best for the new series.

Having said that, I've been giving some particular thought to G2158 recently, studying timelines for example. And I've changed a few things in my head. Nothing major. But certain things have changed that would in turn effect things in TimeDancer and present-day Gargoyles. Maybe even New Olympians and Pendragon. (So far nothing that would alter Bad Guys or Dark Ages.)

The good news is that none of these changes effect our three current contests. (Wouldn't that be an ASK GREG disaster?)

And all this thought has gotten me thinking about how I might handle a couple of thorny problems in any revival of the original series, specifically the time gap between 1996 and whenever the new show hit the air, and/or the existence of those 12 non-canon Chronicle episodes.

And frankly, I think the internet is the answer.

Goliath Chronicles exists. I can't change that. But I think I can ignore it. For example, if I wanted to do my version of the trial of Goliath -- the one where the question before the court is his very sentience -- couldn't I just do it?

New fans wouldn't know about the Chronicles trial and thus wouldn't be upset about it. Old fans could check here and find out why it was being ignored.

That only leaves a small percentage of people, who, for example, see the Chronicles episode on Toon Disney and wonder about it, but don't have the resources or whatever to find a site like this and learn the rationale. Would they be very put off? Is that too selfish an approach for me to take?

Likewise, the time gap. What if in the fist season, I did that Halloween story I've mentioned before. I wouldn't mention what year it was. For a new audience, they'd just assume that the story took place in say, October 2002. No harm done. But I could post here and tell people it took place in 1996. Then, by the end of the first season, I could have the series caught up to 2002, but still have gotten to do the stories that would have depended (continuity-wise) on proximity to the events in Hunter's Moon and The Journey.

What about that?

I'm very interested in all of your opinions on these notions. Please post them here.


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Technical difficulties...

My ASK GREG answering/rambling system is telling me that there are no more questions in the Queue. We all know that's not the case, but I can't answer anymore questions until Gore finds the problem. Bare with us...


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Thailog, you Bastard.

Yeah, Todd, the archetype of the Bastard (particularly the more villainous Edmund version) was definitely running around my head when Cary and I created Thailog.

I recall that Cary was thinking of Thailog in more evil twin mode. As Goliath's brother (after a fashion). This was a legitimate approach, but I guided him toward making Goliath and Thailog into father/son figures. And by throwing in Xanatos and Sevarius as father-figures as well, I was hitting the Bastard idea head on.

After all, who is Theseus' father? Aegeus or Poseidon? Both had "intercourse" with Theseus' mother. Both claimed Theseus as his son. And Theseus was smart enough not to disagree with either.

(Though in his heart, I think Theseus' true "father-figure" was his maternal Grandfather.)


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Jonathan Frakes

Last night, my wife and I went to the WB's fifth anniversary party.

I talked with Alan Burnette and Rich Fogel. Two guys who I used to work with at Disney, but who are now on BATMAN BEYOND.

I also saw a number of celebs, including the actors who play the title roles in ANGEL and FELICITY. Plus Diedrich Bader, (Oswald on DREW CAREY and Jason Canmore of "Hunter's Moon"). I also literally bumped into Shiri Appleby who's "Liz" the female lead on ROSWELL. And she was very nice about me being a clutz.

And, best of all, I ran into Jonathan Frakes, who's an exec producer on ROSWELL. He was terrifically charming as always to both myself and Beth. (Beth and Jonathan's wife Genie Francis were once in MOMMY & ME classes together after we both had our respective first kids.)

Without any prompting from me, he bemoaned the fact that Disney stopped making GARGOYLES. He's still a big fan of the show. We started to talk some more but he was approached by Ray Wise, the actor who played Laura Palmer's father on TWIN PEAKS. I left them to talk, and we didn't get to hook up again before Beth and I had to leave. (Babysitters, school nights, plus as glamorous as it may sound, I feel very out of place at this kind of party. Very uncomfortable.)

Anyway, I realize it's not much of an anectdote, but I thought you'd like to know.


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Shakespeare ramblings...

Seeing TITUS and having some professional free time to dedicate to a more long term project finds me re-emersing myself in the Works of Will (WoW). At least, after a fashion.

Since this ramble will knock my comments on TITUS off the "LATEST RESPONSES" page, so may want to check those comments out by visiting the "Shakespeare" section of the ASK GREG archive.

But recently, I've also been reading Harold Bloom's book, "Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human". It's really an amazing work. I've been reading it while viewing various takes on ROMEO AND JULIET and HAMLET. It's really helped me to appreciate HAMLET more. In the past, I've always admired the play, but it never reached me as deeply as LEAR or R&J or MIDSUMMER or MUCH ADO or WINTER'S TALE, etc. I'm gaining a new, deeper understanding and appreciation of HAMLET now. In part from Bloom's book.

And in part, from Kenneth Brannaugh's four hour movie version, which I saw and liked in the movie theater a few years ago. Still, I'm gaining a new appreciation for it on video. So many little things to love. Such a scope. And I think I'm finally "getting" Hamlet himself.

But frankly, one of the big helps has been revisiting a film that Brannaugh directed (but did not star in) just before he took on HAMLET. In America, it's called "A MIDWINTER'S TALE". (Elsewhere, I think it's known as "IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER".) It's a little black & white film about a company of seven actors (and two support people) who put together a local production of HAMLET in order to raise money to save the church they're performining in. This is another movie I saw and liked in the theater. But seeing it again on video has been wonderful. Ophelia's song of madness has never been more poignant, then in the "rehersal" scene in this film. I can't help feeling, that this little movie was an important act of mental preparation before Brannaugh took on his big HAMLET film. Among other points of interest, the actors who play Hamlet, Claudius and Laertes in A MIDWINTER'S TALE, went on to play Laertes, Polonius and Horatio (respectively) in HAMLET.

I've also been revisiting ROMEO & JULIET. Bloom's book has some really interesting stuff about that play as well. (Though I'm convinced he gets one thing dead wrong. It's trivial, but he takes for granted that Susan is Juliet's late twin sister. His brain must be short-circuiting there. It seems beyond obvious to me that Susan was the Nurse's daughter. Born at the same time as Juliet, an infant who died shortly thereafter, making the Nurse a good candidate to be Juliet's wetnurse -- and surrogate mother.)

I've also watched the video of Baz Luhrman's version of R&J, starring Leonardo & Claire. I like it. This one suffers a bit off the big screen, but it has some great moments.

SPOILER WARNING

Romeo actually getting to see Juliet come back to life just AFTER he's taken the poison for example.

Next up, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE on video and then the ZEFIRELLI R&J. The movie that first opened the door to Shakespeare to me. (I'm still in love with Olivia Hussey.)

BTW, I realize that a lot of Gargoyles fans won't really know what I'm talking about here. ("Who the heck is Susan?") But, you are an exceedingly bright group. Maybe all this cryptic rambling will get you to check all of this stuff out. I recommend it.


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Progress

Well, I just answered the last question from August. September, you are next. I'm determined to catch up so that questions are answered within a week of being asked.


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TITUS

I saw TITUS on Saturday with my wife Beth and three people who worked on GARGOYLES.

1. Fred Schaefer, who was a development associate who helped develop the show. (I think it's safe to say that Talon was sort of Fred's idea in a very early pre-Derek form. We called the character Catscan then.) Fred is currently a producer/executive/story editor at Porchlight Entertainment.

2. Monique Beatty was my assistant during the Gargoyles years. She did a lot of research for me. She's now a producer at Kinofilms.

3. Tuppence Macintyre is an old friend of mine. She also did a lot of Scotish research for Gargoyles, just as a personal favor and because it interested her. She's a Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles.

Anyway, the five of us went to see TITUS in Santa Monica. The film is based on one of Shakespeare's early tragedies, TITUS ANDRONICUS. It was adapted and directed by Julie Taymor, who adapted and directed THE LION KING for the Broadway stage. So it's not surprise that the film is visually stunning. Monique didn't like the anachronistic style of the film (depicting chariots and motorcycles side-by-side for example), but it's not the first time I've seen that kind of interpretation, so it didn't bother me.

And the acting is fantastic. Anthony Hopkins (who I've loved forever -- does anyone remember the movie MAGIC?) plays Titus. He's brilliant. His lament to the stones is heartbreaking. Jessica Lange is good as "Tamara, Queen of the Goths" (now tell me that isn't a Gargoyles' character in the making). And Alan Cumming (who voiced John Castaway in "The Journey") is a nice, twisted villain as Saturninus, the Roman Emperor. But the revelation is Harry Lennix as Aaron the Moor. Amazing.

The story of Titus is not for the squeemish or for children. It's a real pot-boiler. Something just this side of a horror movie with a hard R rating for violence and nudity, though thankfully a minimum of on-screen gore.

The play was a big hit for Shakespeare in his day. But it's been dismissed as a critical flop. And I can see why. I've read it a couple times and thought it awful. Which coming from a bardolitor like myself is pretty harsh. It seemed like none of the characters were sympathetic or interesting.

But I'd never seen it performed, so I was looking forward to the movie. As usual, Shakespeare plays tens times better than he reads. In the movie, I had -- at moments -- plenty of sympathy for nearly all the characters. And the wonderful thing is that my sympathies are constantly shifting. No one is without sin. All share the blame except for Aaron's son. And Aaron himself is amazing.

Although, I can't help agreeing that Shakespeare wrote TITUS at least in part as parody of the tragic genre -- the way SCREAM was designed to be both parody and exemplar of the horror film -- I can also see flashes of KING LEAR, HAMLET and CORIOLANUS in Titus' character.

But Aaron prefigures Othello, Iago, Edmund and Shylock at least. He's a remarkably progressive character for the time. A villain, who is the only character to succeed in preserving a sliver of innocence within the world of the play.

Anyway, I really enjoyed it. And I recommend it to any Gargoyle Fan over the age of 17.


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Galaxy Quest

I saw Galaxy Quest this past Saturday. Not a perfect film by any means, but I enjoyed it.

But mostly it got me thinking. The Star Trek parallels were obvious, and it's hard to apply the same kind of scenario to, say, a Gathering.

But I wondered how I'd respond this summer in Orlando if Thom Adcox and I (for example) were confronted by a woman who looked sort of like Salli Richardson but with blue jeans, black shirt and a red jacket. She tells us she really's Elisa Maza and she need our help.

I wound up coming up with this whole scenario in my head about Alexander accidentally using his magic to send Elisa, Fox and Lexington to our universe. I finally find out definitively what I've suspected all along, which is that I'm not inventing these stories, I'm simply tapping into another universe. Turns out I got a lot right and a little bit wrong here and there. (See previous comments about how I missed beats on "Hero of Ulster" and "Grief" as examples.)

Trapped in our universe, the unlikely trio happen to see an episode of the show. They get on the net and find out about me. And with no other idea how to get home they track me down at the Gathering, hoping I'd know how they are SUPPOSED TO GET HOME.

Then I got stuck. The whole idea got very messy. (This story is really up Cary Bates' alley. I still have that old issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE where Cary travels to EARTH-TWO, turns evil and tricks the JLA into killing the JSA. In that story, the Spectre personally intercedes with God to fix things.)

Anyway, I think this is what Todd calls a 'creativity demon'. I've been trying to "crack" open this story since Saturday night, with little success. But I'll keep working on it, and if I come up with anything good, I'll ramble further.


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ANOTHER UPDATE

Well, there's a good chunk of August done.

See you guys after the new year. Have a safe and great holiday.

Greg


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Only Five Months Behind...

July is done. Finally. Watch your back, August.


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I'm back...

And July is going down today!


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Progress

I was hoping I'd get through July today. But man, no dice. I'll try again tomorrow.


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UPDATE

Hi Gang,

I'm back. And determined to pour through these questions. I can't believe I'm still backlogged until JULY!!!

But first, let me give you a quick update on what I've been up to recently.

STARSHIP TROOPERS
Post-Production has been completed on my first arc of stories. They are all set on the jungle moon TESCA NEMEROSA. I think they turned out wonderfully. I'm still very proud of the writing, but I'm wildly impressed with the CGI. (And yes, there are a few small things that bother me, but...) Overall, I think it's a very powerful set of stories.

MAX STEEL
We've completed writing and recording all 13 episodes for the first season. Post-production should begin after the first of the year. The CGI series should premeire in February on the WB's Saturday Morning. And now that the heavy lifting is done, I'm all but unemployed, which means I should have plenty of time for ASK GREG.

NAZCA
A good friend of mine did the English dub for this Japanese Anime series. Thom Adcox does the voice for one of the leads, and I do a few incidental voices here and there. (Yes, the man who brought you "Nice Mask!" and "Father, the rockets aren't working!" is back behind the microphone. God help us all.) It's available on home video in stores starting mid-January.

JUSTICE LEAGUE GIANT
As many of you already know, I did a CAPTAIN ATOM/JLE/GARGOYLES parody team-up for this comic book. I wrote it a year ago and I still haven't seen the final result, but I'm told it turned out all right. And every copy you buy puts about a tenth of a penny into my pocket... Seriously, it wouldn't hurt if this issue sold out and was followed by a letter writing campaign asking DC to do an actual Gargoyles comic. Don't know if it would work, but it wouldn't hurt.

UCLA EXTENSION
For those of you living in the L.A. Area, Kevin Hopps and I are teaching a twenty week course on writing for Television Animation through UCLA Extension's Writer's Program at Universal CityWalk starting this Spring and running through the Summer. Hope to see some of you there.

Now, back to your questions...


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Captain Atom & the Gargoyles

Reprinting (for posterity) what I just posted in the comment room:

Just a quick response/explanation to Alex (aka Simon).

I couldn't really do a full-on Captain Atom story. I was limited to 10 pages (and it takes a lot of time to write that short) and it was a JLA GIANT, so I was obligated to include the JLE from that era. Those were my marching orders.

So Dan Raspler (my editor) and I decided to do something fun. Something with Captain Atom elements, but something more in the tone of the JLE of that era -- admittedly, a sillier mag than the CAPTAIN ATOM book I used to write back then. But even in those days, when I put the JLE into Cap's book, I tried to split the difference on the tone, so that the transition wasn't too jarring.

I suggested making it a real exercise in self-indulgence by including a bit of a GARGOYLES parody. He went for it.

Now, in my first draft, I did open the story by showing the Funeral-At-Sea of Heinrich Megala. But my editor felt that it was too serious. That it clashed with the tone of the rest of the story. I didn't disagree. (I just didn't care.) But he didn't like it. So we went with what you saw.

Or so I assume. I haven't seen it yet. I called Dan yesterday, and he promised to send me a copy. Originally, Pat Broderick was supposed to do the pencilling -- a reunion of sorts. I don't know exactly what happened, but Pat didn't end up doing the story. So I can't even imagine what it looks like. And I don't know how much or how little I was edited. I hope it plays.

And I hope that clears things up.

By the way, I'm almost done with the writing and editing of Max Steel. I promise that after the first of the year, I'm going to try to MUSCLE through the backlog here at ASK GREG.

Sorry for the delays.


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Where have I been...

I can't believe I'm still answering questions from back in July.

Please have patience with me. I have been completely swamped working on a new series for SONY (makers of MIB & Starship Troopers) and the WB (the network of BATMAN BEYOND). It's called "MX1: MAX STEEL", and if I survive the production process it should be a pretty cool show.

Here's a little info:

I'm the story editor and one of the producers.

It's not the same job/responsibility/freedom that I had on Gargoyles, but it is the closest I've come to it since way back then.

The Executive Producers are Richard Raynis and Jeff Kline.

The other Producer (on the art side) is Bob Richardson.

Sue Blue is our voice director.

We've got an order for 13 episodes. Each stands alone, hopefully, but as usual with my stuff they'll play better in sequence. I hope they air in order someday.

As of today, the writing breaks down as follows:

1. "Strangers" by Greg Weisman.
2. "Sacrifices" by Greg Weisman.
3. "Shadows" by Lydia Marano.
4. "Sportsmen" by Jon Weisman.
5. "Seraphim" by Michael Reaves.
6. "Spear-Carriers" by Kevin Hopps.
7. "Snow-Blind" by Mike Ryan.
8. "Sharks" by Katherine Fugate.
9. "Sabres" by Cary Bates.
10. "Sphinxes" by Gary Sperling.
11. "Swashbucklers" by Jon Weisman.
12. "Scions" by Cary Bates.
13. "Shattered" by Kevin Hopps.

The voice cast is pretty impressive to, with quite a few names familiar to Gargoyles fandom...

Our five regulars...
Christian Campbell
Jacob Vargas
Shannon Kenny
Chi McBride
Lauren Tom

Recurring & Guest Cast includes (in order of appearance):
John de Lancie
Keith Szarabajka
Jean Gilpin
Martin Jarvis
Thomas Wilson (aka Matt Bluestone)
Edward Asner (aka Hudson)
Jason Marsden
Jeff Bennett (aka Brooklyn, Owen, etc.)
Julia Kato
Obba Babbatunde
Cam Clarke (aka Young Gillecomgain & Eric Sturlesson)
Thom Adcox Hernandez (aka Lexington)
Greg Rainwater (aka Natsilane & Coyote Trickster)
August Paro
Robert Cait

And that's just after having recorded five episodes.

The show is 100% CGI. We have high hopes.

In other news, I just attended what could be called my first GARGOYLE wedding. Marc Perlman (our music editor) and Laurel Whitcomb (our publicist) met at the Gargoyle Premiere Party in 1994. They've been an item ever since, and finally made it official yesterday. The wedding was great fun, and I was singled out as being responsible for bringing them together.

Geez, talk about pressure.

I loved it.

I will get back to answering questions as soon as I can. Hope this little update tides you over a bit.


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CORRECTION

I can't believe I said I "wrote" ten episodes of Starship Troopers. That's flat out untrue.

I meant to say I story edited ten episodes of Starship Troopers:

16 - "No Substitute" by Jon Weisman
17 - "And Then There Were Two..." by Cary Bates
18 - "Marauder" by Michael Reaves
19 - "Liquid Dreams" by Greg Weisman
20 - "Heart" by Lydia Marano

36 - "Funeral for a Friend" by Greg Weisman
37 - "Spirits of the Departed" by Jon Weisman
38 - "Gates of Hell" by Lydia Marano
39 - "Circle of the Damned" by Cary Bates
40 - "Final Inferno" by Michael Reaves

As you can see I wrote two episodes and story edited ten. My apologies to Cary, Michael, Lydia and Jon.

Episodes 37 - 40 were the ones yanked out of production. And of course, the numbers listed above reflect their ideal airing order. There's little chance that they'll actually air in that order. At least not the first time through. And of course, SONY doesn't show the titles on SCREEN. So the best you can do is look out for the above five writers names. These are all scripts I'm VERY proud of. Hopefully, the episodes will turn out as good.

Greg

P.S. Now, watch -- I've probably made some new dopey error.


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Where's Greg....?

Greg is up to his neck in work right now. Sorry.

Here's what's been going on.

As many of you know, I wrote ten episodes of the forty episode order of STARSHIP TROOPERS (now dubbed ROUGHNECKS: THE STARSHIP TROOPERS CHRONICLES (or something like that)).

My episodes were orignally slated to be #16-20 and #36-40.

My first arc (16-20) were set on a jungle planet. My last arc was set on Earth (36 in Colorado & 37-40 on Hawaii specifically).

Then all hell broke loose.

Two CGI companies were originally doing the CGI for the show. One of these companies bailed -- as I understand it they declared bankruptcy -- still holding onto five episodes worth of SONY's money. But Sony still had to deliver 40 episodes. And they didn't want to pay for 45. So now they've added three clip shows. And taken a couple of single episodes and made them two-parters. In the process they chose (at least for now) not to make my Hawaii episodes. Hopefully, they'll be made later for Home Video or a second season or something.

I've been watching the shows on my local channel. Missed the premiere episode. Then saw the next five. The first one I saw, (the second to air in syndication) was an episode from the third week arc (had to be 16, 17 or 18 in the original airing order) set on the planet Tophet. They followed that with the first four episodes set on Pluto in order. Then yesterday they aired the first episode for at least the second time in two weeks.

Obviously, we're having some delivery problems.

And all of the above, completely out of my control.

The good news is that the five episodes I saw kicked some major ass visually. And the stories were pretty great too. (And I had nothing to do with them.) Maybe that bodes well for the six episodes of mine that should get made soon.

Meanwhile, I've been swamped working on a CGI show for Sony that should air on the WB in January. It's on an inhuman schedule that's literally killing me, but hopefully you'll like the finished product.

Sorry if I haven't had much time for ASK GREG recently. But I love doing it, so I will get back to it as soon as I can.

I swear.

Greg


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My son Ben wanted to ramble. He's two years old.

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ben

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]


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ALONE: The Demona Contest.

It's a great dramatic moment. The Weird Sisters, Macbeth and Goliath have successfully (if temporarily) BROKEN Demona.

She gives them the code word: "ALONE".

Perfect.

But why would Demona choose that as a code word in the first place.

Here's the latest contest. (And this one will definitely have a winner.)

Write two paragraphs. Each one no more than fifty words.

In the first paragraph, explain the reason Demona consciously gave herself for choosing that word.

In the second paragraph, explain how that conscious decision interacted with her subconscious mind.

PROOFREAD. Grammar, spelling, even punctuation counts. Please remember that I'm a former Composition teacher and current editor. Nothing annoys me more than sloppy work.

You have the entire month of September to enter your two paragraphs at ASK GREG.

It may take me a while to get around to reading them all, but I will eventually choose the entry that I SUBJECTIVELY JUDGE to be the best. That winner will get some kind of prize. It won't actually be worth anything, but hopefully he or she will think it's cool.

All entries should begin with:

"ALONE: The Demona Contest Answer"

If not, they will be disqualified. I'm prepared to be merciless.

Good Luck.


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I'm so dedicated...

I'm on vacation in Nantucket at my in-laws.

They have Web-TV, and I am struggling with it at 2:45am because I love you people. Actually, I'm done struggling with it for the night/morning. But I'll try to log on a couple more times and answer a few more times and answer a few more questions here and there.


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NEW RULES

WELCOME BACK TO ASK GREG,

Thanks Gore for getting us back up and running.

Unfortunately, as some of you know, I'm leaving today on vacation, and I don't know if I'll have net access while I'm gone.

So we'll try to get the ball rolling for real in late August.

But I will try to answer a couple questions today.

HOWEVER....

I'm now going to get TOUGH with you guys.

Although I welcome you to post as often as you like, PLEASE remember to only ask one, two or three questions PER POST. Multiple questions are only acceptable if they are on the exact same topic as the first question.

From here on out, if I receive a post with multiple questions, I will answer the first one and then only answer the following questions if they are on the same topic. Otherwise, I will advise the poster to try again.

O.K.?

(Better be okay, grumble, grumble.)

Greg


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ARRGGGHHH...

Update: Answered Questions aren't posting at all.

My rambles are posting both to the "Greg's Latest Responses" page and to the "Ramblings" library. But the last two rambles did not post to the "Behind the Scenes" library that I also assigned it to. So we've got a major library problem going on now.

Sorry.


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Auditions addendum

The posting answers function is still not working. So I'm still rambling.

Today, we held auditions for five smaller parts in this new show. Frankly I was surprised my bosses insisted on auditioning these rolls. Normally, we'd just cast them. We had no pre-written audition sides prepared. So we just lifted some dialogue from an old draft of the pilot. Three of the characters only have three lines each in the pilot, and one of those three characters had the following three lines:

"He has failed."

"Yes."

"Yes, Sir."

So we just had people auditioning for this character read another character's lines while using the mindset that we described for the guy he was auditioning for.

Needless to say, it was messy. Not the way I like to work.

But the day actually went fairly well. We got a bunch of good people. There were four male parts and one female. And unlike the leads, there was the potential for doubling up rolls among these guys. So a lot of guys came in and read for multiple parts.

I saw Morgan "Petros/Kenneth" Sheppard and Victor "Rabbi Loew" Brandt today. Victor put that Hebrew incantation on his clip reel. Which was nice. Also Emma "Gruoch" Samms and Sara "Una" Douglas each sent in tapes all the way from Europe to audition for one of the two lead female rolls we read for last week. That was nice too.

I met Rene Auberjonous and John de Lancie and Jeffrey Jones. All very nice guys.

Like I said... fun.


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What I've been up to recently...

Well, as of right now, the Rambles work, but I can't seem to answer any questions.

So I'll ramble.

Last week, we held auditions for a new series I'm working on as Story Editor/Writer/Producer at Sony for the WB and Mattel.

It's too early to give you any details on the show, but I think I can talk about the audition process in general terms.

Auditions took place under the watchful eye of our voice director Sue Blue and her engineer Pat Torres. Sue's directed a ton of shows, including MEN IN BLACK and the upcoming STARSHIP TROOPERS. I was there for most of the auditions, and Sue, Pat and I had a really great time.

We had five lead rolls to cast (three male, two female), and the nature of the rolls were such that we largely had five distinct groups of people coming in to read for each part. But all mixed up and in no particular order.

The actors had each received audition "sides". These were monologues that I had written up for each character that would demonstrate the characters personality and range. Give the actor the opportunity to prove (or fail to prove) that he or she was right for the part. The side I wrote for the lead character was just too darn long. So we cut that one down, which threw off a couple of actors at first, but in the long run made it easier on them -- and us.

The actors would wait in the waiting room (hence the name) and we would take them into the booth one at a time. We three jokers were out in the control room, so they couldn't hear us unless we wanted them to or unless we forgot and left the button on. (No major faux pas this time, but over the years, I've had a few embarrassing moments with that button.)

We'd usually ask the actor if he or she had any questions about the character. We'd do our best to answer them, and then let the actor read the side through once without much input from us. Then we'd generally do a second or third pass, where we gave them direction. Sometimes people who did lousy first reads, did great with direction. That's a good sign. Sometimes people who did decent first reads, didn't improve much with direction. That's not as good a sign. Sometimes people were so good, we wouldn't do a second take. Maybe just pick up a single line or two that we felt could be improved on. Sometimes people were so obviously wrong for the part, we wouldn't do a second take, and just pick up a line to be polite -- or deceitful, it depends on your point of view.

Basically, you're looking for good acting instincts. Do they notice and pick up the various acting beats? After you point them out, do they hit them nicely or force them? Etc.

And just as important, you're listening simply for vocal quality. Do they sound like the character you have in your head? Sometimes they don't, but you like it anyway. They redefine what the character SHOULD sound like. Keith David was like that for Goliath. So was Thom Adcox Hernandez and Bill Faggerbakke.

At these auditions, at most auditions I've ever been to, the actor has no way of knowning how well he or she did. Cause we're equally polite to everyone. It's selfish, basically. Ever try rejecting ten or so people per hour? It's tough on each of them of course, but they only have to go through it once. It would be brutal on us. And everyone reacts differently. Some rejectees would get pissed. Others would beg for another chance, etc. Nightmare. So we smile and tell everyone they did great. It sucks, but I can't fathom an alternative.

Even if we like someone, we don't want to be too effusive, because, we don't know who we still have left to see. We might like the next guy even better, and so you don't want to make promises.

LESSON: Don't become an actor unless there's just nothing else you can see yourself doing. BRUTAL PROFESSION. Writing's not much kinder, by the way.

Anyhow, we lucked out this time. Saw a ton of great people. Now, unlike Gargoyles, I'm not the top dog on this show. I'm a Producer -- the guy on the line, but Sony has two Executive Producers on the show, who are my bosses. Plus Sony has a development executive assigned to the show. And the WB and Mattel have (at least) veto power over the final casting choices.

So what Sue and I did (with help from Pat and Cynthia, Sue's assistant) was put together a voice CD, with about seven actors per character on it. We eliminated all the people we hated, and by consensus put our best choices on the CD. I felt very good about the CD. I liked most everyone on it, and feel confident we'll have a GREAT voice cast, even if my personal first choices aren't chosen.

I did rank my picks (on a separate memo) for the Exec Producers. We'll just have to see how it all turns out.

A side benefit of all this is that I got to see a bunch of people that I hadn't seen for awhile.

Thom Adcox Hernandez auditioned. Of course, I have seen him recently, at the Gathering and at a few movies that we attended together with our respective mates, (RUN LOLA RUN and AN IDEAL HUSBAND). But it's always great to see Thom.

Marina Sirtis, Brigitte Bako and Sheena Easton all gave great audtions, and it was terrific to see them again. (Of course, it doesn't hurt that they're all knock-outs.) They all have fond memories of Gargoyles. Marina said that at Star Trek conventions, she signs more Demona dolls than Troi dolls everytime.

I also saw Gregg Rainwater (Coyote Trickster, Natsilane/Nick, Young Peter Maza). James Avery (Shaman). And a few others too. (I'm blanking out. It's late.) They were all terrific. I wish we could cast them all.

Unfortunately, I couldn't be there for every audition (seven hours a day for four days), so I missed seeing Kath Soucie, Tress MacNeil and Rocky Carroll. Bummer.

But I did get to meet Ben Vereen, Lauren Tom, Rosalyn Chao, James Marsters (who plays Spike on Buffy) and a bunch of other people that I really admire.

Frankly, the voice stuff is the most fun part of my job.

7-21-99


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Just a test.

Sorry, but for the second time since this latest server crisis began, an answer I took some time on didn't post and was lost. Before I go in and start answering questions again, I'm just going to see if things are posting properly with this latest test ramble.

7-21-99


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Gathering Diary, Part Last

SUNDAY (or what was left of it)

Got up. Showered. I was major damaged goods by this time, but I had had such fun. Went downstairs. Said some goodbyes. Dominick interviewed me for his German magazine. Had an interesting conversation with Steve Jackson and Christine Morgan. Talked with the G2000 folk some more. Said good-bye to Thom. He told me about his and Jen's plan to tattoo themselves. I told them both if you don't have the guts to get a tatto in your hometown, you're better off skipping it.

(Side note -- Saw Thom today [7/12]. He showed me his new tattoo. Sorry, Jen, looks like he stood you up.)

Jen cabbed me to the airport and kept me company until my plane left, which was incredibly nice.

Flew home. Got home. Hugged my kids and wife. Told them what an amazing time I had, and suggested that next year may be the perfect time for them to come along.

And that's it.

But again, thanks everyone. I had an amazing time.

You guys are the best.


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Gathering Diary, Part III

SATURDAY - (a.k.a. THE BIG ONE)

Well...

I dragged myself out of bed just in time for the room service I dopily ordered the night before. The food was fine, but now I was running late. Showered, etc. And ran downstairs.

Took us a little while to get our acts together, but finally Thom, Jen and I sat down to hold auditions. I gave everyone the same shpiel. LOUDER AND SLOWER.

All of you who auditioned were great. I hope the experience, whether or not you got a part, was fun (and maybe educational). We had a huge turn-out and auditions ran at least an hour longer than we had anticipated. (Causing a cascade of lateness that continued throughout the day.)

When we were finally done, we set about casting over KFC brought to us by Van & Sara. Just for the record, the cast was:

Chris Marti
Jade Griffin
Thom Adcox
Stephen Sobotka
Regina McClendon
Lanny Fields
Sara Hutchinson
Robby Bevard
Loren McLaughlin
Don Martinez
Kara Metzger
Aaron Wheeler
Charles E. Calvert
Jennifer Anderson
Kythera Arevern
Dominick Fahrni
Anthony Zucconi
Matt Cooper
Stephen Zeber
Jimi Robinson
Heather Rice
Vanessa Wright
Abby Johnson

Thanks, gang. And thanks to everyone who auditioned.

Lanny & Sara are becoming regulars at this. ("The Greg Weisman Players" Hmmm. I like the sound of that.)

We took a quick break and then went almost immediately into rehearsal. Suddenly people who had given very loud auditions were whispering. It made me a bit nervous. Mr. Punctual, Thom Adcox, locked himself out of his room, and was late to the rehearsal. Which gave me a lot of opportunities to rag on him. Thankfully, he's a good sport.

We finished up and then brought people in for the performance. I can't say much about the show, but it's a pilot that I wrote for a new series. My pilot was rejected, and they hired a new writer to do the version that will air in the fall. It was a messy business with both sides hiring lawyers, and though I still feel ripped off, it's over. But I'm glad someone at least got to see the version I did.

I think the performance went pretty well. My cast was great. I'm not sure the script was as much of a crowd pleaser as ROTG was last year, but I have no complaints. When it was over, I answered a few quick questions for people who couldn't be at the dinner, then I went upstairs to make a phone call and relax for a bit while Dinner was being set up. (That actually took quite a while. So again, I wound up bouncing upstairs and downstairs a few times.)

Finally, we went in. Dinner was very good. And it helped being the guest of honor as I got my food first. We (the guests) all ate while everyone else got their food, and then I moderated the Q&A while the audience ate. The Q&A was the most fun of all. Some really good questions, and I admit that I really got on a roll there with my answers. People tried to stump me, but I was just unstumpable that night. Very fun.

After dinner, Thom and I went back to my room to chill out a bit. He and I really had a great time. Didn't realize how much I missed the guy.

We came back downstairs for the costume parade. Becca and Jack as Lex and Goliath stole the show, but there were a bunch of great costumes. Was that AJaye as Angela? And that Graeme guy? (Whoever graeme is.) Wow. Anthony shaved off his beard between the radio play performance and the ball to play Tony Dracon. (Shows almost as much dedication as Aaron.) Skippy the Klingon won Ms. Congeniality. Vannessa as Lady of the Lake and Sara as Hyena, plus Jen as Saloon Girl Demona. Bluebonnet, Lexy... The list goes on. Again, wow.

Thom and I needed ice cream and some air, so it was back to 7-11. Thom revealed that during his AM/PM commercial he had to consume 100 bigsticks. He can't go near them anymore.

We returned to the ball. Vanessa dragged me onto the dance floor. I attempted some swing moves that must have seemed so convincing that I was later complimented for my line dancing ability. (Go figure.) Anyway, it was very fun.

Tim Morgan had missed the Starship video friday night, and Thom wanted to show us his reel, so we started off on a VCR hunt. We wound up in the Morgan's room watching Battle of the Gargantua. Then made our way up to the con suite. About 20 of us at first, watching tapes and talking. As the hours past (and as I got punchier) the numbers dwindled. Thom called it a night around 3am. But I stayed up until 7am with Christine, Tim, Stephen, Flint, Heather, Jen and... ARGGGH... Who am I forgetting? So sorry.

Anyway, I think I was literally drunk on the adulation you all fed me all week end. I started pontificating to poor Stephen. In my memory, it was all very pompous, though both Stephen and Christine have been very gracious about how helpful I was.

Anyway, I was just having a fantastic time. Too great to go to bed. And no, I'm not going to discuss "the game" in print. You nuts?

Finally, at seven I made myself stand up. Flint had snuck away and Stephen was asleep on the couch. It was time to try and sneak a few hours of sleep.

But I was too wired. I rested in bed. That's the best I could do. I think I finally dozed off around 10am but Thom called me at 10:30 to see if I wanted to grab some coffee. Thom's dead now. (Just kidding...)

Anyway, that was Saturday (with a good chunk of Sunday). Part IV of the diary will be pretty pathetic but I'll get to it eventually.


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A clarification...

I DO NOT mind tons and tons of questions. I love that.

I do mind tons and tons of questions within the same post. That makes it difficult for me to fit in a quick answer between doing other things. It bogs down the process.

I know it's a bit of a pain, but please ask multiple questions (particularly questions on different topics) in multiple separate posts.

Thanks.


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I'm already reeling...

I know we're all excited to have ASK GREG back.

But those of you posing multiple, multiple questions in one post are killing me and not getting your money's worth. I can't just sit down and answer them quickly. So I wind up giving very brief responses (or non-responses) to most or all of the questions that come packaged together in mega-posts.

I understand that if you're asking multiple questions on the same very specific topic why you'd want them all together. So I'm not going to set any absolute rules. But use common sense. I know it's slightly more time consuming to have to submit individual questions one (or say two) at a time. But I promise you, you'll tend (more often then not) to get more worthwhile answers for your trouble.


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Gathering Diary, Part II

FRIDAY

As I said, I went to bed way too late, so I got up very late too.

I was wearing my grey gargoyles t-shirt, so even people who didn't recognize me personally knew I was there for the con. Lots of people said hi. A Fan, who I've met three years running, complimented me on the shirt like three times.

Found Jen, met Stephen in there somewhere, and Ogre, got my box of radio-play scripts which I had shipped ahead to Thomas.

I had missed breakfast, and things were just getting organized, so I decided to walk to Taco Bell for some lunch. It was raining as I walked along the expressway, and all I'm thinking is that I'm gonna get Stephen Kinged for a Taco. But I make it back without dying. (Last time I was in Dallas I was in a very bad car accident, so I have a reason to feel paranoid.)

My cousin Debbie picked me up at the hotel. She doesn't know anything about Gargoyles beyond the fact that I worked on the show. When I came downstairs, the first thing she said to me was that there was a guy flashing a huge gargoyle that was tatooed on his chest. I got to see it much later. (Aaron that was you, right?) But I thought it was hilarious that he was flashing Demona to perfect strangers.

Debbie gave me a quick driving tour of Dallas. Then we stopped by her house in "The Bubble", which isn't too far from the hotel. Then it was back to the hotel to change and get ready for the opening ceremonies. Things were running a bit behind schedule, so I kept bopping up and down from my room to the con. Saw Pogo, Kanthara, Lanny. (It's so great to see people who have been to all three cons. And I'm finally learning the names. Though I mispronounced Lanny for like the eighteenth time. Sorry.) Then we got going. Thomas got us started. Everyone seemed very happy to be there. I know I was.

I got up and started my presentation. I showed the same old stuff again. Told the same old anecdotes. (Only slightly abbreviated.) The original Garg pitch. The original Garg promo. The New Olympians Pitch. The Bad Guys Reel. Also added the Dark Ages pitch to my repetoir and showed a promo for Starship Troopers. It all seemed to go over very well.

Then I took off to have dinner with Debbie and her husband Larry... But...

When I got to my room to drop off the tapes, I had phone messages from Thom Adcox (calling from Dallas-Fort Worth) and Frank Paur (calling from LAX). They couldn't reach Jen of Thomas and so were leaving messages for me. I had to keep going downstairs and interrupt the Clan Feud game to talk to Jen and then race back upstairs to talk to the guys. But we finally told Thom to get in a cab and Frank to take a later flight. (Neither thing happened.)

I went out to Dinner with Debbie and Larry, then back to their house to look at some pictures of their kids (who were away at summer camp, so I didn't get to see them). Then back to the hotel. By this time Thom Adcox had arrived. (He and Thomas eventually found each other.) So we hooked up. Took a quick trip to the con suite, but we had already missed the G2000 party. And Thom was hungry. So we hooked up with Sara, Vanessa and Garfield (the guy with many names) and went on a hike across Dallas. Burger King and Taco Bell were drive through only. So we headed for 7-11. Next door was a pizza place. And while we were waiting for the pie, Vanessa and I went next door to get root beer float fixings. Believe it or not 7-11 had NO root beer at all. So I went back to the pizza place to get the root beer there, leaving Vanessa alone in the less than safe 7-11. (It's not that I'm unchivalrous, it's just that I'm an idiot.) I went back to get Vanessa and the ice cream. Then we all returned to the hotel to eat in the lobby. Met Wanderer. By this time, we were beat, so we called it a night.

Went back to the room. Watched CRUEL INTENTIONS which was o.k. And eventually went to bed.

To be continued...

(And as usual, if I've forgotten anyone or anything, forgive me...)


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The Clan Contest...

Contest #2 (This one's all but impossible)....

At the time of "The Journey" there were ten clans extant in the Gargoyles Universe. Some were flourishing, some barely surviving.

By the year 2158, all ten would be in much better shape and two more clans would have already have been launched.

In the century that followed, two more, for a total of FOURTEEN clans, would also be launched.

Name the location of all 14 clans.

Same rules apply as in the Arthurian contest. Name all 14 correctly if you want a response. No hints for partial or partially correct answers. Guess as often as you like, but always on a separate "question" post to ASK GREG.

There will be a prize of some kind.

Good luck...


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The Arthurian Contest...

Officially restarting the contest...

In the Gargoyles Universe, there are eight survivors from the days of King Arthur. (I know I once said seven, but I forgot someone. Which isn't like me.)

Here are the rules. You have to name all eight correctly. Partially correct answers will receive no partial credit. I won't say you got three right and five wrong or whatever. I won't provide any hints at all beyond the following two names:

1. King Arthur
2. The Lady of the Lake

You have six more to guess. Remember, I'm looking for their Arthurian names. Yes, I've mentioned that Duval is one of the survivors, but listing him doesn't count, i.e. it doesn't count as a guess as to who Duval is, who the survivor is.

The winner will get a prize, I think. Nothing of any worth, but something. (Maybe a xerox of my recording script for Pendragon, complete with all my scribblings. That sort of thing seems to go over fairly well.)

You can guess as many times as you like. But always post it as a separate "question" to ASK GREG. Don't lump it in with other questions. And don't make multiple guesses on the same post. Just eight names. First to give me all eight correct in one post, wins.


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Ladies & Gentlemen...

WE'RE BACK!!

And better than ever, don't you think. Sure it took awhile, but how about a standing O for Gorebash. The new ASK GREG digs look great.

As promised, as my first ramble...

A GATHERING '99 DIARY (of sorts)

I had such a damn good time. So let me start with an apology. I'm gonna forget some stuff. I met so many people. Some for the 2nd or 3rd time. I tried very hard to remember names, faces, etc. But I'm bound to screw some of it up. Just forgive me.

THURSDAY
My back is killing me. I get up, I can barely move. Barely lean over the sink to brush my teeth. I don't know how I'm going to endure a three hour flight to Dallas. So I make an emergency call to my chiropractor. He can fit me in. But now I have to shower, pack and drive over there for an adjustment on my way to the airport. Nothing like starting a trip with pain and stress.

By the end of the weekend, I'll have forgotten about both. (You guys. So great.)

Anyway, "SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE" is playing on the flight, which strikes me as a VERY good omen. I promised Christine I would start her book on the way to Dallas. And I do. But I can't resist this movie, even with goof airline edits on my fourth viewing, so I get less reading done than I had hoped. (Sorry. Christine. I'm still reading a chapter a night (give or take). I just finished the "castle" section. The "Curse" to follow.)

Spike and her boys pick me up at the airport. We have fairly light traffic and get to the hotel pretty easy. My hotel room is ready. I see Jen. Unpack. Call home. And go out to dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse with Thomas, Jen, Christine, Tim, Becca, Sara and Patrick. The Spaghetti Warehouse is a dead-ringer for L.A.'s Spaghetti Factory, right down to the cable car in the middle of the restaurant. I can't help wondering who ripped off whom. Dinner is fun, but I'm still feeling shy. And I know everyone's still acting way too impressed with me. (That'll change. Yes, yes, you may still be impressed with me, but you got better at hiding it.)

We go back to the temporary con-suite, and video tape the DARK AGES & NEW OLYMPIAN pitches. I meet Demona May and Anthony and someone else (sorry). My back, though better, is still killing me, and I had promised my wife I'd phone her before she went to bed, so I call it a night. I'm actually way too excited to sleep much. I wind up staying up way too late. But I can sleep late Friday.

To be continued...


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RAMBLE, RAMBLE, RAMBLE

GARGOYLES, SEX and ROMANCE

Did that get your attention?

I've seen a lot of discussion as to whether or not it's appropriate for
FanFiction to depict the characters from Gargoyles having sex (graphic or
otherwise). I thought I'd weigh in with my opinion. BUT IT'S JUST MY
OPINION.

Let me start with my standard disclaimer. I don't read fanfiction. I feel
I can't take the legal risk. I don't want to get sued by a disgruntled
fanauthor who at some point down the road thinks I stole an idea from him or
her. I also have very mixed feelings about fanfiction in general. Part of
me is very gratified. Part of me feels territorial. I've talked about all
of this in greater detail elsewhere.

But should fanfiction based on or in the "Gargoyles Universe" include sex?
Yeah, sure. I don't see a problem with it... at least not in theory. In
practice, might be another matter.

But let's talk about theory first. Many relationships in the Gargoyles
series pack a pretty hefty erotic charge. (At least I think so.) Fox &
Xanatos and Goliath & Elisa are obvious. If we're talking flashbacks, then
I'd also say Goliath & Demona is pretty obvious as well. And you don't have
to look hard to find less obvious choices. So why not explore that? I
wouldn't put graphic depictions of sex on broadcast tv for an afternoon
audience of children, but this is a different medium. I think Gargoyles
should be able to expand into whatever medium it encounters. I hope I built
the show strong enough to survive that. I think there needs to be some
safeguarding for children, but beyond that, if sex stories don't interest
you... DON'T READ 'EM. And no harm done.

Personally, I've had a few fairly graphic fantasies about Gargoyle Mating
Habits, about Goliath and Demona's first time. About Goliath and Elisa's
burgeoning relationship. I don't know where I'd ever write those up, but I
won't deny that the idea fascinates me. (If that makes me a pervert, well,
I can live with that label, I suppose. Though frankly, I don't buy into
that.)

Where it doesn't work for me is in that old "in practice" arena. First off,
gargoyles aside, there's a lot of very bad writing being done in the
so-called adult corners of the net. (Frankly, there's a lot of bad writing
everywhere.) Bad writing is bad writing is bad writing. Gratuitous
Gargoyle sex doesn't interest me. (Alright, well maybe a little, but it
doesn't make for good story-telling. And GARGOYLES was always about telling
great tales, not getting some tail.)

But more importantly, (and this is what I really wanted to RAMBLE about) I
have a sense that fanauthors are letting my characters "get some" a lot more
often than I think I'd believe. That's where ROMANCE comes in. (Thought
I'd forgotten about romance, didn't you?) I think collectively, Gargoyles
Fans lean toward the romantic. And I'll include myself. There's a desire
to find Brooklyn a mate. To find Lex a mate. To find Hudson a mate. To
find Owen a mate. To find... Well, you get the idea. Again, I'm as guilty
of this as anyone. We weren't halfway through writing "Her Brother's
Keeper" when I realized that Fox was in love with Xanatos, thus creating a
relationship that I couldn't resist exploring. If I had done BAD GUYS you
would have seen a difficult but intense chemistry between Harry and Robyn
(Dingo and Hunter to the uninitiated). New Olympians would have had a Romeo
& Juliet relationship as one of its core dynamics. Plus there's the
Tom-Katharine-Magus triangle. Coldstone and Coldfire. Oberon and Titania.
Macbeth and Gruoch. The list is pretty darn endless. But there are a
couple things that put the breaks on actual SEX.

One is that TRAGEDY is a built in factor in the dramatic truth of the
Gargoyles Universe. I'm not... I can't make life easy on these characters.
Oh, every once and awhile sure. And Gargoyles is basically a series
grounded in HOPE for a better tomorrow. But if I'm going to be a good
dramatic storyteller, I can't make things too easy. So when are Goliath and
Elisa going to have sex? No time soon, as far as I'm concerned. It took
them 65 episodes to kiss, for heaven's sake. There are a lot of roadblocks.
Elisa can no longer deny her love for Goliath, but that's not the same as
committing to him. And frankly, I don't think she's there even yet. They
haven't even talked about their feelings. Elisa has studiously refused to
talk about hers, beyond finally acknowledging that they exist. When they do
talk, as I've noted before, I think they'll mutually come to the conclusion
to break up before they ever really get together. In theory, Elisa still
wants a normal life. They're going to have to learn that they're love is
inevitable. It'll be awhile before they get to attempting any kind of
sexual fulfillment. And actual intercourse is a LONG WAY away, assuming it
EVER HAPPENS.

What about the others? Well, I've no doubt that Fox and David go at each
other like rabbits. No doubt that they're quite adventurous, even kinky.
But don't expect much from any of the others.

I gather that in fanfiction, Brooklyn was mating more than Hugh Hefner. But
that brings us back to the tragedy factor. If I were still writing this
thing, I wouldn't make it easy for him to find a mate. Heck, he has to time
travel back to Feudal Japan to do it. One of the tragedies of the Gargoyles
is that their race has been so decimated, that it's a good question as to
whether the species can survive at all. AT ALL. So I'm not, or I should
say, I wouldn't start introducing a number of new gargoyles (female or male)
that would allow Brooklyn or Lex to suddenly and easily find a companion.
It CAN'T be that easy, no matter how much we'd like it to be.

This isn't arbitrary. I think it's really HARD to find a lifemate. REALLY
HARD. I'd be lying through story, if I made that seem easy.

And I'm NOT going to be handing out human mates to Gargoyles on a regular
basis either. Elisa and Goliath HAVE to be special. The problems they're
facing MUST be unique. Or else, all their angst is reduced to just a lot of
whining and indecision. So don't expect to see a lot of human/gargoyle
pairings. Either in flashback, the present or the future. I'd tend to be
extremely stingy with that.

And Hudson. Well, I've made a big deal about Gargoyles mating for life.
Then in the key relationship of the series... I blow that myth away.
Goliath mates with Demona. They, in essence, divorce, and Goliath begins a
new relationship with Elisa. So someone has to carry the dramatic weight of
that mate for life thing. So Hudson gets the nod. Sure in Dark Ages, I bet
he and his mate were getting it on regularly. But now that she's gone, I
think he's going to carry a torch for her forever. Forever. I know it's
sad. But nothing else makes sense to me. I can't live in a universe
without sadness. I can't create one either.

And talk about tragedy, how about Coldstone and Coldfire. I suppose someone
could write a story about built-in robotic sex organs, but dramatically,
that changes everything about their relationship. Yes, finally, they are
together. But


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MORE RAMBLINGS ON TIME TRAVEL AND FREE WILL:
Hey, Gary (and everyone)... You asked me further questions about time. The
answers all come down to Point of View. You didn't comment on the
"religious" aspects of my comments, but frankly, they seem unavoidable.

PoV. To Goliath, in the 1990s, the past seems fixed. The present and
future, not. To Goliath in 1940, the past and present seem fixed, and the
future seems fixed for a few decades, and then past the mid-nineties, not.
To Greg Weisman, in his capacity as god of the Gargoyle Universe, the past,
present and future seem fixed.

But what does this mean? It means we are bound by what we know and nothing
more. What does "fixed" mean? Goliath realizes that Griff can't return to
his clan in the forties, because he didn't return in the forties. But that
doesn't mean Goliath cannot affect their mutual futures, by bopping Griff
forward to the nineties.

Greg Weisman knows that something big happens in the year 2158. But he
doesn't yet know all the results of that. For that matter, Greg has a lot of
knowledge about what happened in 984. But what exactly happened between 984
and 994? I've got a basic idea, but there's room for movement. There are
facts I can't dodge, therefore facts that my characters can't dodge. But
that doesn't remove their free will.

Pre-destination does not NEGATE free will, unless the character abdicates
free will in the mistaken belief that he or she has none. And even then, the
"act" of abdication is a choice, an act of free will.

One other note: the Gettysburgh Address in my previous example could be
called a "time circle". Unbroken. No beginning or end. The Archmage is not
a circle, but a loop in a straight line. Think of a roller coaster. It goes
along straight for 100 yards. Then it begins a loop-de-loop. We travel up
and backwards and around and then the track flattens out again at the eighty
yard mark. For twenty yards the tracks run side by side, or put another
way, since the track is unbroken, lengths of the ONE track run side by side.
Then one length, "the younger length," heads back into the loop, while the
other "mature" length continues forward on the straight flat track.

Hope this helps. (GDW/1-27-98)


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Here's a rambling:

There's been a little debate in the comment room, regarding the Archmage
time travel loop, time travel in general, and the subject of free will in
the Gargoyles universe. I posted my two cents, but thought I should include
it here too, in case anyone missed it:

Oh, I'm probably going to regret this, but...

Gary, Gary, Gary> Yep. There is a loop. And you're comparison to the
classic "Kill your own grandfather" chestnut doesn't parallel.

I could show you this pretty easy on a diagram, but it's a little more
complicated in type. But let me give it a shot.

The grandfather thing is a "non-working" paradox. The timestream short
circuits. [No cheating, now. No "Well, it turns out the man I always
thought of as my grandfather wasn't really my biological grandfather" and no
"He had sex with my grandmother just before I killed him." None of that.] I
go back in time to kill my grandfather. He dies. My father's never born.
I'm never born, therefore I don't exist to go back in time to kill my
grandfather. Since I don't exist, my grandfather never dies. So my father
is born, and, subsequently, so am I, allowing me to go back in time to kill
my grandfather. And so on, and so on, and so on... It iterates without
fusing. Again, short circuit.

Compare another chestnut that I made up a few years ago. I am a historian.
My specialty is Abraham Lincoln. I travel back in time and meet him just
before he's scheduled to give the Gettysburgh Address. To my horror, I
discover that he's got writer's block. The most famous speech a president
ever gave, and Abe can't think of what to write. I panic. And "write" the
speech for him. Of course I didn't compose it. I simply write down the
Gettysburgh Address from memory. Abe loves it. Gives the speech. Reporters
transcribe it. Historians put it in history books. I study it and go back
in time. Time flows unbroken. It is a "working" paradox. A paradox that
doesn't short circuit the time stream. Now it raises a HUGE question? Who
composed the Address? Not Abe, he got it from me. Not me, I got if from a
history book. Not the historians or the reporters, they got it from Abe.
The answer is it was born with the timestream, created by God or the Big Bang
or whatever. It is mysterious. But it works.

The best example of a working paradox story I've ever read is Robert
Heinlein's "All You Zombies". It's a brilliant, subversive little piece of
work.

The Archmage (and/or the M.I.A.) loop has much more in common with the
Gettysburgh chestnut than the Grandfather chestnut. It is a working
paradox. Simpler even than Gettysburgh. You are the Archmage. Once upon a
time, you were a kid. Then you grew up to be a man, and you wind up falling
into a chasm. You're rescued by a "STRANGER" who looks something like you,
but not quite. The "Stranger" mentors you and gives you power and actually
changes you so that you look more like the stranger than like your old self.
Then the "stranger" sends you back in time to that point where you rescue
your old self. Now to that old immature version of you, you seem like "the
stranger". You mentor the old you, you give him power. Then you send him
back to effect the rescue. It's a loop, because you don't go back again.
You continue forward until Goliath does you in. There's a beginning and an
end and a loop in the middle. It IS a paradox. But it's a working paradox.
There's no short circuit. Time flows. THERE IS A BIG QUESTION! Where did
the Archmage get the idea to save himself. Well, he knows to do it because
his old self was a "witness" to the rescue. His old self was the rescuee.
But where did the IDEA come from? Again, a quirk of the timestream.

Many people have asked me why I made this the time travel rule in Gargoyles.
It's a very conservative approach. You can't change history. Period. Sure
we may not know the whole story. But what happened, happened. We can't
change it. That's the rule as I established it in "Vows," and as we stuck
with throughout the series. Why? Time travel is all theoretical. I could
have chosen any rule I wanted. I could have chosen no rules. Why did I
chose this rigid approach? Basically, cuz I thought it was MORE fun. I hate
feeling cheated at the end of stories. Time travel stories are easily
subject to this abuse. So many great Star Trek episodes full of time travel,
wind up wimping out in the end. Cheating. Using non-working paradoxes or
breaking any semblence of rules they've already established. I always felt
ripped off. I didn't want that for Gargoyles. Also it presents our
characters with a greater challenge. Griff vanished in WWII. Goliath goes
back in time to change it. AND HE CAN'T!!!!!! So he has to find another way
to solve the problem. It also explains why our guys just don't go back and
fix things so that the Wyvern Massacre never happened. Once you open a a can
of worms, you're stuck with a lot of worms (or worse, you pretend they aren't
there). That seemed lousy to me, so I made it clear that once an event is
absolutely known, you can't dodge it. Only work within it's frame. It's all
a matter of opinion, but that seemed like MORE fun to me.

And now...DAH DAH DAH. Predestination vs. Free will. This is an ancient
argument. God is omniscient. He knows what Eve is going to do. So she had
no free will, right? Well, most theologians would say she does. Eve is
created with free will by God. She doesn't have to take that apple. Cain
doesn't have to kill Abel. Sure, God knows that Eve is gonna take it, that
Cain is going to kill, but he doesn't impose that knowledge or his authority
on either Eve or Cain. (He's God. He can make those subtle distinctions in
his creations.) The fact that Mom tells you not to eat the cookies and
nevertheless knows you're going to, doesn't mean that you have no free will.
You could surprise Mom and skip 'em. Now you can't surprise God. He's God.
So he knows ahead of time what you're going to do. But it's still your
choice. Nothing touched your free will.

Now, I'll admit, that at times in Gargoyles, that distinction seems less
clear. I'm the main (though not the only) god of the Gargoyles Universe.
(At least I used to be.) But, obviously, I'm not GOD, and I don't have his
subtle powers of creation. But I tried. I suppose it's tough to figure how
the Archmage could choose not to save himself. But I think the key is that
he wouldn't want to choose anything other than what he did. So his free will
isn't touched. Griff chooses to fight in the Battle of Britain. He chooses
to risk his life. He doesn't know about Phoenix Gates or time travel. But
he knows the risks of war. He doesn't make it home for forty years. Maybe
that's a consequence he couldn't predict, but it's better than dieing. His
free will isn't missing from the equation just because the time stream (or
God or whatever you believe in) knows that he's not coming back even before
he departs. In GONE WITH THE WIND, Rhett Butler doesn't join the Confederate
Army until he knows the Confederacy is doomed. HE KNOWS. But that doesn't
effect his free will. We all make decisions. Maybe someone out there knows
the results. God. Or a psychic palm reader living in Petaluma. Or your
Uncle Ralph, who did the exact same thing when he was your age. But the fact
that someone else know, whether we know they know or not, does not effect our
free will.

Anyway, that's my two cents. (GDW/1-26-98)


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Here's another tidbit you've never seen. A cut scenelet from "Hunter's Moon,
Part Two". It takes place during Act Two. Goliath, Brooklyn and Lex have
spotted the Huntership. Goliath glides in and latches onto the craft,
digging his talons into the metal hatch. He rips it free and lets it fall...

EXT. STREET - NIGHT

VINNIE is out for a stroll. Suddenly, the steel hatch SMASHES to the
sidewalk in front of him, digging a big chunk out of the sidewalk. Vinnie
takes, looks up. Shakes his head.

VINNIE: (gasp, then) Can you believe it?

CUT TO:

And we're back inside the Huntership with Goliath, Lex and Brooklyn. That
little touch of Vinnie in the night was scripted and I think boarded, but it
was cut before the show was shipped because we were too long. It's a silly
moment, but it does help motivate Vinnie a little more for his role in "The
Journey," and anyway, I thought you all might get a kick out of it. (GDW / 12-5-97)


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RANDOM THOUGHTS

I did have Ed Asner/Lou Grant in mind when I was writing the character description for Hudson. The last line of the description was "Hudson hates spunk."

Jason Canmore has a younger sister Robyn and a younger brother Jon.
So do I. But my siblings don't have much else in common with his.

I knew I didn't want the show to be filled exclusively with gargoyles and white male humans. So we intentionally tried to present a more honest, inclusive version of America (and the world).

Xanatos is the kind of villain I like to write. Anyone interested in seeing his precursor (and Owen's) should check out General Eiling (and Captain Allard) in back issues of the DC comic book CAPTAIN ATOM which I used to write with Cary Bates.

Goliath is the kind of hero I like to write. Noble and flawed. Not a guy who's as bad as or worse than the bad guys he fights.

As to whether I was disappointed...

The short answer is honestly, NO. Not a bit. I'm very proud of all 66 episodes and our entire ensemble of characters.

The longer answer is that there are plenty of little things that I wish I could fix. Most of them are ticky-tack things, many I'm sure you wouldn't even notice. There are even two story things (one each in "Grief" and "The Hound of Ulster") where I feel like I missed a peace of the "true" story.
There's also material that got cut for time that I wish I had been able to include, particularly in "Avalon, Part II" and "Hunter's Moon, Part III".
There was a great scene in the clock tower between Elisa and Jason the morning after the Hunters blew the place up. It was really gorgeous stuff. But the script was way too long.

The only other regret I have is that I opted not to write and/or edit the GOLIATH CHRONICLES. I had good, sound reasons at the time, but in retrospect it was a mistake.



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