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I, too, thought the animation was rather problematic (a lot of repetition and stiff movements and expressions). The image-continuity suffered as well--when we first see the sonar tag, it's attached directly to the skin, but later it becomes a collar. Also, instead of the usual pole for steering and propelling the skiff, Goliath is now using an actual oar (of course, this is balanced by the fact that there is something rather ludicrous to traversing a mile-deep loch with a 7-ft pole). Finally, Angela did have a rather poorly done awakening sequence (although I swear that later airings seem to have cleaned it up slightly).
And yes, I noticed the similarities between the beginings of this and HERITAGE (there were subtle differences, but the overall resemblence is pretty big).
Despite all this, I still find myself comfortably watching this episode. Perhaps this has a lot to do with Tim Curry as Sevarius. He's just so fun!! And he has a tendency to get all the best lines. In addition to the ones you've mentioned, Greg (particualaly the "...finger down my throat" one), I'd like to add two more:
"Well, this shouldn't take long. I'm sure Big Daddy misses his Nessie-wessy." (Just the way Tim says that last part is great).
"'Monster Love!' How touching."
Whatever else you can say about the guy, he loves his work.
Anyway, from beginning to end...
Elisa's line about the water being too clean still works for me (I mean, there isn't any garbage floating on top of it). And the initial bump with the sub was good, too. I like Angela's pose when she puts here finger in the water after the group goes ashore (I don't know why, I just do), and her mention of trying again to find Manhattan really spoke to me (I had just started to wonder along with her).
I knew Elisa would try to contact home and let them know what was going on, but I felt like screaming my throat into a bloody mess when I saw the message saying "Tape full." Talk about frustrating. Pointless note--the first time I saw this (i.e., before KINGDOM aired), I was goofishly pleased that Brooklyn was singled out as someone to get word to. Just my pride for my fav character coming out I suppose.
The sequence with the boat (and the cameo by Margot and Brendan) is pretty fun. I like Elisa's calm, smug confidence that the whole thing is fake--and how, while she's obliviously comparing the situation to theme parks, the gargoyles notice the creature heading right toward them with somewhat horrified looks dawning on their faces.
It was several viewings before I noticed that Goliath had seen Angela's sillhouette (sp?) under water and tried to swim toward it before being blocked by Big Daddy.
The Goon Squad Leader/Head of Security finally gets a name. And we find out that Sevarius is at work in the loch. He has a rather interesting introduction here. Almost like a Bond villain, what with being heard only as a voice first, then seen as a sillohouette (sp?), then just a shot of him from the neck down, and FINALLY his face. Though, for those of us who followed the show religiously from the beginning, there was no mystery as to who this guy was (not with Tim Curry doing the voice). But I wonder what the effect would have been on a casual viewer for whom this was the first episode (something I may come back to later...).
Severius seems very...enamoured with Angela. The way he...handles her hair is very...interesting.
Angela's interaction with Nessie makes much more sense, and is much more palatable (sp?) with the knowledge that Nessie is familiar with gargoyles. Without it (the knowledge), it's alright, but seems a little like Snow White with all the animals of the forest just eating out of her hand. Thus, Sevarius' line is all the more hilarious (and even a bit cathartic).
While the gargoyles sleep, Elisa manages to find and tail the Goon Squad (typical detective). It was weird to see the Female Goon without her helmet on. Just a random observation.
I actually rather like Sevarius and Angela's conversation. Angela's calling Sevarius "the only monster here" may have been blatantly pointing out the theme, but I still like it.
And now we have actual confirmation that Goliath is Angela's biological father. Personally, I think that revelation is more for Angela's sake than the audience (or at least those who saw AVALON PART TWO). It must be weird, hearing about this great hero all your life, then meeting him, then being allowed to go adventuring with him, and then finally learning that you are his child! With her somewhat human viewpoint, that must have had Angela's mind reeling for a little bit.
One thing that really impressed me in later viewings. An almost casual throw-away line as Sevarius leaves Bruno to guard the base. He gives Bruno the gun with the implied order to kill Goliath if he "becomes too rambunctious," but he preceeded this with "It would be a shame to lose a gargoyle." There may have been a bit of sarcasm there, but I feel like the line kind of shows the scientist in Sevarius--the man fascinated by unique species.
I noticed the awkwardness of Bruno's "All right" line. Actually, that whole sequence was problematic. It took me several viewings before I realized what went on there.
For being an enemy, Bruno was pretty helpful in the mini-sub. Then again, if you're faced with an armed woman (you don't know the gun's not loaded) and a beast that could give Cujo a run for its money, you might be helpful, too!
I'm surprised the mini-sub didn't take any damage when it scraped along the side of the main sub.
One note: I never actually thought that Nessie was Big Daddy's daughter. I don't know how, but I kind of figured they were mates. Still, maybe a different name for the male would have worked better. Alpha, maybe? Or how about, Nester? NO! No, definitely not that....
It's a bit disconcerting when you see the goon at the controls for the tasers, and then, after Sevarius gives the order, seeing the doctor's hands on the controls. I do think Sevarius is the kind of guy who would try to do this sort of thing personally, but I think a scene of him pushing the Goon out of the chair and taking his place would have helped.
A good animation bit--the electricity of the taser reflected in Angela's mask as she looks on horrified.
And the monsters destroy the sub. It took me a while before I realized that those Goons probably all died. I really like that little revelation. Adds another dimension to what happened there. I also like how Sevarius vanished, and Bruno speaks of him as having "more lives than an alley cat." Nice little ominous bit that.
Actually, one thing I thought of a while back was how much Sevarius fits into the stereotypical, Saturdy morning Archnemesis role. I mean, he's seen in command of henchmen, he does the standard "telling of plans" with Angela, Goliath yells his name in anger when G recognizes his voice, he has the best lines, he vanishes at the moment of probable death, and a hero/henchman (in this case the latter) states that he will be back. I wonder if the casual viewer for whom this was the first episode would conclude that Sevarius was the main antagonist for the heroes. Of course, there is the mention of "Mr. Xanatos." You've got to admire a man whose very name warrants a musical sting.
All in all, while it certainly isn't the best episode, I find it a pleasant enough one.
I tend to agree with everything you've stated. Tim was just so good, it was easy to let him carry the episode, even though -- up to this point -- he had been the scientist/flunky. He had never been an episodic villain in his own right.