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Ramble, ramble, ramble...
The other night my family and I sat down to watch "The Price"...
Director: Dennis Woodyard.
Writer & Story Editor: Michael Reaves
Based on Comic Book Material by Lee Nordling
It seems like I was starting to learn my lesson about not giving too much away in the "Previously on Gargoyles" section. This one is really all about Hudson, and issues of old age and mortality. I think it tends to hint that maybe, just maybe, we were thinking of killing him off. Anyone else think that perhaps we might?
There's some really great, really good looking character work in this animation. Pretty stuff.
There's a great moment where Hudson banks off an office building. Very cool.
Also, I like it on those rare occasions when we do weather in New York. Snow here. Or rain. Usually, it's all left standard for the same reason Elisa usually wears the same clothes. It's cheaper.
As the story opens, we're again trying to set Hudson up for possible termination, at least in the minds of the audience. He says, "Not a bad life all things considered..." which is usually an invitation for something really horrible to happen.
This is the last episode of our third tier. I had always hoped it would air last, since what happens at the end to Owen's hand would make interchanging very difficult. But on the first go-round it was ready long before a couple of other eps in the tier. So it aired early. (Particularly before Owen's appearance in "The Cage".) I tried to correct that for later runs. Sometimes with success. Sometimes not.
Anyway, because I couldn't be sure it would air in the right order, you can see that we hedged our bets a bit. Goliath doesn't understand how Macbeth escaped the Weird Sisters. He's not referring to events in "High Noon" which he could not have known about and which I could not guarantee would air before "Price". He's referring to events in "City of Stone, Part IV".
*At the moment he brought them up, my daughter Erin just happened to be coloring a picture of the Sisters drawn by artist David Wong (I think that's his name) who was selling them in the Dealer's Room at the Gathering 2001 in L.A. Erin was very excited by the kismet of the moment.*
Did you guys register Mac's limited dialogue? It would be tough in the first fight by itself. He does have four lines. And GARGOYLES was never a show to go in for extensive quipping during battles. So four lines may have seemed like enough.
And did you register the "Magic Sparkly Powder" when it first hit Hudson?
This ep is fun because there are so many layers of deceit going on.
Note that at this early stage, Goliath doesn't intend to kill Macbeth. He aims for the Sky-sled's control panel and hits it. The fact that the sled goes down is an unfortunate and unavoidable result. And Goliath clearly feels at least a little guilty. Hudson doesn't mind though. He thinks Goliath's action was perfectly reasonable.
I don't suppose anyone thought Mac was really dead? I wasn't really even trying to trick you into that one. Between the immortality info that you (but not the Gargoyles) knew from City of Stone and the early timing of the death in the episode, I figured nobody would be fooled. And I didn't want anyone fooled. Because that wasn't what I wanted to fool you guys about. I didn't want you to figure out that Macbeth was a robot. So I intentionally did not show the body, on the assumption that most everyone knows that if you don't see the body, the victim probably isn't dead. That way when Mac came back, you'd all be thinking, "Hah, Immortal!" instead of "Hah, Robot!"
BTW, everyone always asks how Hudson can believe Mac is dead and then later acknowledge Mac & Demona's immortality to Xanatos. But Hudson was thinking of immortality in the sense of living on without aging, ala the Norse Gods. Not in the sense that Mac was somehow immune to all injury and death ala the Greek Gods. Clear?
Lucky for Xanatos that all the Gargs seem to have favorite poses. (Cheaper that way, don't you know.) Of course it also helps that since they all wake up and go to sleep at the same time, they rarely get a good look at each other's poses. Makes statue prep easier, huh?
Anyway, when Hudson didn't wake up, did everyone buy the magic powder/he's not waking up scenario? Had anyone seen Lee Nordling's Disney Digest comic story that inspired this gimmick. I've never met Lee, but he came up with the idea of replacing a sleeping garg with his statue. He used Goliath, not Hudson. But it was the same basic principle. I gave the idea to Michael (just that notion) and he ran with it to create this entirely different story? Did anyone see Lee's story and still not get it?
I can't remember why we wound up cutting Banquo & Fleance. Guess we were saving money or time at some stage. So Mac's mansion works on auto-pilot, I guess. Though those cannons still aren't too effective against gargs. And who else would attack?
Back to Brooklyn and Broadway guarding "Hudson". We wanted to keep the focus on Hudson, which is tough, since he's not moving. Brooklyn's worried about the reality of being able to find a cure. Again, we're expressing his leadership tendencies without confirming them since we couldn't guarantee that "Upgrade" would air first.
Then, finally at the end of the act, we reveal the real Hudson. My kids got very excited. Erin said: "The stone guy's not the real him." And Benny chimed in with: "That's the real one!" What were you thinking at this moment?
I even had the odd notion last night that we could have gone the direction of Hudson's "prison" being all in his mind. That the statue was him, and that he couldn't wake up until he escaped this mental/dream prison. Obviously, not the way we went. But it's a cool story idea. Anyone think THAT?
So then we come back from commercial and reveal Xanatos who claims he wants Hudson's skin. The line is said in such a way that we and Hudson are geared to think the worst. Which sets up the fun.
Hudson: "You'll have the devil's own time getting it."
Xanatos: "Gee, that wasn't as hard as you made it sound."
Ah, STONE skin. For the Cauldron of Life. I'm pretty sure the Cauldron was Michael's idea.
Everything has a price. Xanatos just doesn't get that yet.
But Hudson has X's number. They're exchanges throughout this episode are a lot of fun. Like a flip on the Goliath/Renard exchanges in "Outfoxed". But better done, frankly. Less preachy.
These exchanges may have been the inspiration for Hudson and Xanatos killing each other in "Future Tense". Owen's watching and subconsciously realizes that in some way, Hudson and Xanatos make better natural adversaries than Goliath and Xanatos. Maybe.
Hudson: "Growing old terrifies you doesn't it?
Xanatos: "Nothing terrifies me, because nothing's beyond my ability to change." (Who else can lie and tell the truth in the same sentence with this much charm. I'm so proud of this boy.)
X: "What about you? Still wasting your nights in front of the television?" (An only semi-dated reference to both Hudson's origins as the comedic gargoyle Ralph and to the way we occasionally still relegated him to clock tower duty in order to have fewer characters to deal with.)
Note that Xanatos plans on giving Fox immortality as well. He knows he loves her at this point. Wouldn't leave her out.
He doesn't mention Owen though, and in general doesn't treat Owen with his usual respect. Goads him a bit. (Macbeth has already died for me once.) Or rather teases him. He probably figures that Owen can take it. But I think it gets to Owen a bit. Xanatos wasn't expecting Owen to test the Cauldron for him. Owen felt the need to prove something. As he says: "Service is its own reward."
Lots of people watched this episode and e-mailed me that X was a big jerk for treating Owen this way. Particularly at the end of the episode when Xanatos seems completely unfazed by Owen's stone hand. Of course in our minds, this was all a very subtle clue to Owen's true identity. Xanatos and Owen both know that this condition is only as permanent as the Puck chooses to make it.
"Over-sized chamber pot." Heh.
X loves them zingers. He nails Hudson with that "the hardest part was finding a replica for your sword."
I like Goliath's desperation in the scene with him and Elisa. "We need a sorceress. We need Demona. You are a detective."
She doesn't know how to find Demona though.
Meanwhile Mac's back, still using only those same four lines. Anyone catch on here? Or wonder why Mac was working for Xanatos again?
Broadway now knows the expression is "Sitting Ducks" not "Sitting Dorks" as he said it in "Enter Macbeth". A little inside joke.
Okay. Very little.
Erin sees Hudson pick up the stone skin and asks what it is.
Sunrise. At the end of Act Two, Elisa has an oddly timed slow reaction to events, that I wish we had found a way to trim a bit.
Benny was worried: "He's gonna break into pieces and never be alive again."
Erin was a bit more tv-savvy: "He's not going to break into pieces. Or this would be the last [episode]."
I didn't really think anyone would think we were actually going to kill BW here. I think the interest is to wonder over the commercial break exactly how the hell we're going to get out of this.
Beth asked: "How'd Elisa know to shoot at that box? Who came up with that? She clearly didn't like it."
Michael Reaves put in this bit about BW turning to stone in mid-air. And I cut it. That's right. Cut it. I thought that it was too big a deal to fit into this story or at any rate that we could never make the rescue convincing. But ultimately I put it right back in. Michael was right. We needed it here. Everyone worked very hard to make Elisa's save as real as possible. The carpet sign established in advance. The multiple shots it takes her just to hit the rope twice. And Brooklyn and Goliath's exchange:
Brook: "It's a miracle!"
Gol: "A miracle named Elisa."
We're acknowledging how unlikely this is and hoping you'll just share it with us.
I still don't know. It's fun. But I'm not sure we really pulled it off in a convincing way. What did you all think?
"Jalapeña, you're still alive!" Another tier risk. Since I couldn't be sure this would air after "Protection".
X: "Hudson, your bath is ready."
This is another cool exchange. The Price metaphor really comes through here.
The title, I think, was one of mine. Inspired by the Arthur Miller play and the Jim Starlin Graphic Novel of the same name.
Back at the Macbeth battle, here he is again. By this time, the robot thing may be more obvious. Same four lines. We still tried to preserve suspense. Since he's presumably working for Xanatos to distract the Gargs that may explain his behaviour. Anyone who thought he was the real Macbeth right until the moment G gutted him?
Elisa is out of bullets. At the time, I thought that made realistic sense. Always hated guns that seemed to have unlimited bullets. Now it just feels like she was dumb for not reloading.
But one other thing strikes me -- in today's environment, we probably wouldn't have been allowed to let Elisa use a realistic gun at all.
Boom. The Hudson statue is blown to bits. By this time you all knew it wasn't Hudson, but we were hoping that for a split second, the image itself would be shocking enough to make you forget. Just for a second.
I think it worked. Ben needed to reassure himself: "That's okay. It's not the real Hudson." I don't think he would have even bothered to say that, if for a split-second he hadn't thought it was.
Of course, Goliath, who had been on the verge of putting two and two together just before this attack, goes positively medieval on us. Before he aimed for Mac's sky-sled. Now he wants "Gargoyle Justice". He's trying to kill Macbeth. It's just lucky that (a) it was a robot and (b) we had a very understanding S&P executive.
I think the robot's death scene is pretty cool. We had John Rhys-Davies come in just to record five lines. The four that we reprinted over and over and one more 'winding-down' take on "You'll have to do better than that!" It's very cool. With the eye popping out and everything. Nice stuff.
One thing I remember discussing with Michael was the rescue of Hudson. Originally, I think he had Goliath and the boys figure it out and have them show up to get H. But I felt strongly that Hudson had to rescue himself. Prove to all concerned that his age was not the liability that X thought.
This is fun.
And I love that Hudson won't destroy the Cauldron.
Like Xanatos, we think that H is "just full of surprises." But it shouldn't be much of a surprise. I think that was right in character for Hudson.
And I love his parting shot: "What will be your legacy, Xanatos?"
Frakes and Asner were both just amazing in this episode.
X: "Let him go. He's earned it." Of course, that's right in character for X too. No revenge. No jumping up and down and whining.
And hey, now Owen's arm can live as long as the mountain stones.
"How literal-minded." I think that line was one of mine. Not sure. It would probably have helped if I had read those two drafts of the script I posted yesterday. But I didn't have time.
So there's my ramble. Where's yours?