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Time to ramble...
I think this episode had a fun story written and edited by Cary Bates. And I know it had a great moody storyboard directed by Frank Paur. But it suffered from two major problems...
1. Repetitive elements. We had multiple story editors working on multiple episodes. I was overseeing all of them, but sometimes things did get away from me. "Monsters" has a number of elements in common with "Heritage" which had only just preceeded it in the line up. It makes "Monsters" seem a bit more tired than it really is, through no fault of Cary's. For example, we open with a Sea Monster. One of our female cast members is lost and nearly drowned. Goliath searches frantically. Etc. Even my five-year-old son Benny was convinced, "We just saw this one." It just felt very been there done that. My fault.
2. Very weak animation -- some of the weakest of the series -- removed much of the mystery and mood from the boards that Frank directed. I know we called tons of retakes on this ep, but there was a limit. Secrets were given away too early. What's a monster submarine and what's a monster is too easily discernable at the start. We were hoping for more silhouette's in that murky Loch. Throw in some really atrocious character moments (like when Angela wakes up in chains) and you've got an ep that's unimpressive at best.
And yet, there's much in this show that I really like.
It takes an important step toward evolving Angela's relationship with Goliath. Though G's not aware of it, Sevarius reveals to Angela that she is his biological daughter. Having grown up around her adoptive *HUMAN* parents, that notion of biological imperative must have seeped in. She already KNEW that Goliath was one of her ROOKERY parents. But this revelation ignites her curiousity and need. I find it interesting anyway. My eight-year-old daughter Erin was likewise fascinated with this aspect. She was anxious for Angela to tell Goliath about her discovery. Of course, Goliath knows in a 'shrug' sense. It's visually obvious to him. It just isn't programmed to be significant for him.
And if that weren't enough to make the ep worthwhile, we also get another wonderful over-the-top performance from Tim Curry as Dr. Anton Sevarius. He has a TON of great lines in this (all quotations approximate)...
"If it gets any more sacharine in there, I'll have to shove a finger down my throat."
"It must be awful to wake up in chains first thing in the morning."
"Thank heaven for little girls... and DNA markers."
"He's your very own flesh and stone."
"Enough to make my mind boggle..."
But there were other problems too. In my mind and Cary's Big Daddy and Nessie were mates (with little ones revealed at the end). But because of the name "Big Daddy" and because we were intentionally using the L.N.Monsters to parallel and comment on Goliath and Angela's father-daughter relationship, many people thought that Big Daddy was Nessie's dad. I'm not sure it matters too much. But (unintentional) confusion can't help.
Elisa knows they haven't arrived in Manhattan because it's too quiet and because the water's too clean. Of course, Loch Ness is famous for having MURKY, MURKY water. Not that the water is "dirty" exactly, the way New York Harbor is. But it's hard to figure Elisa would think of the Loch as clean either. And I knew that. Don't know how that got by me.
But Elisa does have some fun lines here and there:
"I'm not really the adventuring type."
"It's a show... Themeparks do this five times a day."
(Yes, we weren't above giving a gentle knock to the parent company.)
(Of course, when Elisa said that last bit, Erin said, "I don't think so." Benny noticed the submarine was metal and thought it was a robot. It took him a while to get the notion that it was a ship or sub.)
LITTLE CONTINUITY TOUCHES
Elisa leaves a message on Matt's machine. But the tape is full. This was done for two reasons. Or three...
1. We felt that Elisa would and should attempt to contact someone.
2. We wanted to prolong the agony (at least in the audience's minds) as to what happened to our travelers from the point of view of those left behind.
3. We were in the middle of a tier, and couldn't guarantee (as we saw with "Kingdom" that the episode would air in order. We didn't want Elisa to successfully contact anyone, because it might screw up continuity.
Nice to see Brendan & Margot taking a little vacation on the Loch, huh?
Angela says to Nessie: "I bet you've never been this close to a real live gargoyle either." But of course Angela's wrong. One of the reasons that Nessie gets so friendly so fast with Angela is BECAUSE she recognizes her as a gargoyle and knows that gargoyles are friendly to the Monsters of the Loch.
Of course, this begs the question as to what the Loch Ness clan was doing throughout this little adventure. I don't have a grea answer -- YET -- but for now, I'm just going to fall back on the notion that they were aware that Nessie was missing, but didn't know the cause. (It is a big murky loch, after all.) And yes, I know that's a feeble explanation, but it will have to do until I figure out a better one.
The title "Monsters" is another one of my thematic one word titles. Angela hits the nail on the head when she calls Sevarius the only monster around here. It's central to the series theme. But again, maybe too obvious, contributing to the weakness of the episode.
We had some trouble with the animation of the scene where Bruno confronts Goliath and Elisa right after they escape the dungeon. It forced us to reuse Jeff Bennett's "All right." line twice in a row.
Speaking of Jeff, my wife Beth thought Bruno sounded very Jack Nicolson. I pointed out that when Bruno was created, way back in "Awakening" we asked Jeff to make him a young George C. Scott. Beth couldn't hear that at all.
Benny used to love Bruno. Not only does Bruno barely register with him now. He doesn't remember ever liking the character. Erin asked him if he remembered the Xanatos Goon Squad. He didn't respond.
Another weakness... Angela just holds her breath forever down there at the end.
And when Goliath does get there, her chains pop off too easily, begging the question why she couldn't free herself.
I know I keep talking about the ep's flaws. But like all the 66 chapters, I really am more fond of it than critical. I do love seeing Goliath launched as a living torpedo, for example. There are a bunch of little things that I like.
And heck, we killed off four more characters. Sevarius and Bruno survived. But I think we have to assume that the other four members of the Goon Squad are gone for good.
But it wasn't one of our best efforts, I'll have to admit.
Sorry 'bout that...
Anyway, that's my ramble. Where's yours?