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AVALON PART ONE
I liked having the "Part 1" addendum to the title. It whetted (sp?) my appetite for a longer and more involved story than usual. Plus, the "To be continued" at the end didn't piss me off nearly so much since I knew it was coming and had mentally prepared for it.
There's so much cool stuff in this episode, I hardly know where to begin. Well, I might as well start at the beginning.
The clan goes out on patrol, minus Bronx, as per usual, and Goliath--a bit of a surprise that. But then, the big G does seem like the type to want to finish book when he gets to the good part. I wonder what exactly it was he was reading (and how miffed was he when it turned out it would be months before he could get back to it?).
Bronx's saddness at not going with the others helped to underline this particular instance. You know, I guess it says something that I never realized how often Bronx was left behind. Well, this time pooch is getting exposure.
The Guardian. I knew it had to be Tom for the same reason I knew Brooklyn was going to be Second-in-Command--Disney Adventures (an article this time, as oppossed to a comic). The article also said that the show would feature gargoyles native to other parts of the world, including (fanfare, please) Avalon! So I had some idea of what to expect there as well. But I will say that Tom the Guardian's entrance was quite impressive. I love his armor, and the way he refers to the lead ruffian as "sirrah."
Laws of TV and movies at work: within about two seconds of the breaking of the store window, the police show up. Two patrol cars, and 2-3 cops on foot (including Morgan). Talk about being in the right place at the right time.
Morgan's interaction with the Guardian is great. Tom's initial accusation of them being lawless undercut by Morgan's identifying himself, and Tom's rather knightly way of submitting to the law. A nice dignified bit until Morgan drops the sword.
Morgan talks to Elisa, and I like the way he describes the Guardian as "differnt, good somehow." Morgan definitely has a rather insightful and perceptive quality to him.
I didn't pick up on the meeting by Belvedere castle as a clue of any kind, unfortunately. Nor did I believe that when Tom was referring to the "eggs" he meant it in the literal sense of the term (after all, gargoyle eggs hatch after ten years (this was in the article, too) so they must have grown at least a little bit).
Let me just finish with the article now--the revelation that gargoyles existed in other parts of the world really excited me. Now the characters were no longer "the last of their kind," so this was something of a new approach in a series for me (I hadn't gotten to see that much of the GUMMI BEARS). This turning upside down of what my expectations had been at the beginning of the series was really fun.
Back to the show, the Guardian eventually mentions the Archmage. This was a complete and total surprise to me. He was dead! How could he come back like this? If I hadn't been hooked already (and I was) this would have clinched it.
The flashback starts. It's interesting to contrast Tom's traveling in the back of the cart with the eggs here to Demona's memory of him sitting up front (aah, it's probably just two different animation studios/storyboards, but I like the idea of a POV prism). Tom's solemnity (sp?) about his vow is rather touching in its way.
I liked the little scene with Tom and the Magus pushing the cart through the rain. They were becoming friends as well, it seems.
First impressions at the dinner: The King was a nice enough gentleman (voiced by Morgan Shepard), while Constantine's brief appearance here was not enough for me to form any opinions about him yet. Finella aroused some distrust in me for some reason...maybe her hollowed cheeks (that's how they looked to me), or the hint of insincerity in her voice when she spoke to the king, OR the scowl she gave when Constantine proposed the toast to Katharine. Anyway, next to her there was Maol Chalvim--who definitely looked more than a little sinister to me. This might have something to do with his sour expression, hollowed face, stylized eyebrows and Xanatosian beard. Suffice to say, their turning out to be "good guys" in this episode surprised me a bit (but the knowledge that Maol Chalvim would kill his cousin and take the throne did not surprise me at all).
I liked that people (at least Maol Chalvim) tended to look askance at Katharine's care for the gargoyle eggs. And Maol Chalvim already suspected Constantine's treachery ("they can smell their own" sort of thing I guess). I liked Constantine's scowl after Maol's thinly veiled insult.
Details. You just gotta love details. The Magus is writing in the Grimorum (the story of his cursing the gargoyles, perhaps?) and stops to look up when Constantine enters. Then he remains in the background while the future-usurper talks with Katharine. He senses the same thing Finella does (not that Constantine does much to hide it).
I love how when Finella mentions the King's proposal of marriage to her, Constantine seems somewhat incredulous that she has not accepted. A telling bit of character that.
Then Constantine murders Kenneth (who saw that coming? *countless hands raise into the air*). I liked how Finella turned out to be a more sympathetic figure here, through her devestation at this turn of events. And Tom (details--the tears down his cheeks) sees it all. I know kids had to grow up more quickly then, but MAN! Seeing that has got to affect a kid, no matter what era.
Scenes of the usurpation occur, and of course show what a jerk Constantine is. Maol Chalvim kills a guard (off-screen, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out what happened), and tries to get Katharine to flee. You're right, Greg, he is rather heroic here actually. I didn't see any smile though, after Katharine tells him to go for the last time. His face registers more a shocked expression. It's still an awkward transistion (especially because you only see it for half a second), but better than a smile.
Constantine tries to force Katharine into marriage, and it's only Mary and Tom that keep the Magus from rushing him (details again, yay!) while Finella runs away in, what seemed to me, a rather embarrassed fasion (one wonders if she, *ahem* gave more to Constantine than that one kiss).
About this scene, where Constantine is crowned, I find a contrast between this and Macbeth's back in CITY OF STONE. When Macbeth did it, I really believed that he meant those words. With Constantine, it seemed more of a PR thing. That could be just because we already knew what those characters were like before they took the oath, but I also think that Ian Buchanan just does good voice work here (and throughout the episode).
RE: The amount of broken crockery. Maybe Tom went and broke it for the plan to work. Or, hey, maybe Constantine and his boys are just a rowdy lot who like to break things (now THAT would be ironic). I like how the "magical glow" begins and ends with the eggs and their dopplegangers.
I loved the romantic moment between the Magus and Katharine in the next scene where he promises to take her beyond the ends of the earth. I did expect them to wind up together. Actually, I kind of expected it from AWAKENING PART 5--his anger there seemed very much like that of a man who lost his love.
Finella shows up and offers her help in the matter. I like her admission that she does it "more to hurt Constantine." True to the character, and a nice moment in an animated series.
Then the Magus tells us the "spiked-cider" plan. Actually, the Magus really gets to shine as a hero in this episode. He comes up with the plan to get the eggs to safety, and then, once Finella is brought in, comes up with the method to get Katharine out of the castle. Throughout all this, he has planned to take them all to Avalon, and when the Weird Sisters block their path, he is able to defeat them, not just with magic, but by skillfully weilding the steering pole as well. And then, for love, he gives up his magic book. It really isn't surprising that a fair number of fans really like this guy. Once he got past that "bigot" problem, he could be quite dashing and romantic (then again, since some folks take the same view of Brooklyn, maybe it's got something to do with Jeff Bennett).
I liked how Finella offered to take the book. This was a surprisingly noble gesture on her part. And not one that I expected. And then Mary offers to stay with her. I love her line, "One woman alone could get into trouble. TWO women can cause plenty of it." Mary is an interesting character. Like Katharine, once she got past the "bigot" problem she was quite a good judge of character. Also quite daring in her own right. I hadn't even noticed Kath Soucie voiced Mary until...I want to say the credits, but when Mary said "I'll stay with Finella" I half-thought that came from Katharine (leaving me very confused), until Mary's image popped up on the screen again. So that was how I figured they were both voiced by the same woman. Still, excellent work otherwise. Kind of sad that Mary and Tom had to separate, but then too, boys tended to become men much earlier in those days.
Back in the present, the Guardian spells out the time difference (fair enough) and Goliath asks about the Archmage, mentioning how that cad died before Tom was even born (a nod to continuity I was grateful for). Then we get to Avalon, and get our first glimpse of the new clan. I think I only recognized that we had a female, a male, and a beast, before Goliath's surprised face filled the screen. And excellent little cliffhanger that left me eager for the next episode as well.
Glad you liked it. I wonder if that Disney Adventures article enhanced or detracted from your appreciation of the actual episode.
It of course goes without saying that Jeff Bennett and Kath Soucie were invaluable to us. Jeff is so charismatic, no matter who he's playing. And so versatile. In that episode alone, he's Brooklyn, the Magus & Maol Chalvim. Kath is Katharine, Mary and all three Weird Sisters. (She got paid twice, in case anyone's wondering.) We were blessed with a stunning cast in general, but Jeff & Kath were two of our absolute rocks.