THREE GUYS AND… AN ANIMATED SERIES
series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson
“GARGOYLES: SEASON ONE”
written by Dominick Cappello
“Gargoyles” was an obsession of mine when I was 9-10 years old. I’ve said that once you were too old for the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” it was time to graduate to “Gargoyles”. I recently binged the 13-episode first season. In case you don’t know, the series was about the survivors of a clan of Gargoyles from 10th century Scotland who were cursed to sleep for a millennium after being betrayed by the humans they swore to protect. The Gargoyles are stone during the day and flesh and blood at night.
Goliath, voiced by Keith David, is a stoic warrior and leader of the clan. The only Gargoyle to have been given a name in the 10th century. The others choose names as they acclimate to their new home, New York City. Brooklyn, Lexington, and Broadway are the youngest members of the clan. Hudson, voiced by Ed Asner, is the wise elder and former leader. Their loyal watchdog Bronx is usually by his side. Their arch enemies are David Xanatos, a megalomaniacal industrialist who had their castle (Castle Wyvern) transported to Manhattan, and Demona, Goliath’s former love interest who conspired with the humans and was responsible for the destruction of most of The Castle Wyvern Clan, but she refuses to accept responsibility for her actions and has an intense hatred for humanity. Xanatos is voiced by Jonathan Frakes and Demona is voiced by Marina Sirtis. There would end up being many “Star Trek” actors lending their voices to this series. The clan’s most trusted ally is Detective Elisa Maza, voiced by Salli Richardson-Whitfield, who’s tough, resourceful, and has a strong bond with Goliath. Elisa restores Goliath’s faith in humanity.
“Awakening, Parts 1-5” hold up well even after 24 years sans a couple on the nose lines of dialogue, but I must remember that the target audience for this series was elementary school students, so I suppose some plot points needed to be spelled out. I find it interesting that when Goliath first meets Elisa he explains how Gargoyles cannot fly. They instead glide on currents of wind. He stresses that they need to be high up for the currents to be strong enough to lift them, but as they series went on, that concept was somewhat abandoned, and the Gargoyles only needed to be about a story off the ground to be able to glide.
As I binged, I realized episode’s 6 & 7 have very similar plots. Episode 6, “The Thrill of the Hunt”, introduced The Pack. Mercenaries turned television stars called Wolf, Fox, Jackal, Hyena, and Dingo. Wolf is voiced by Clancy Brown, who was also the voice of Hakon, the Viking who mercilessly smashed The Castle Wyvern Clan to pieces as they slept. Wolf would later in the series be revealed to be a descendent of Hakon. Fox, voiced by Laura San Giacomo, charms Lexington and he inadvertently leads Goliath into a trap. Episode 7, “Temptation”, has Demona manipulating Brooklyn and he inadvertently leads Goliath into a trap. Back to back episodes where a female antagonist influences one of the younger members of the clan so to get the drop on Goliath. Happily, Goliath is understanding and uses these events as opportunities to teach the clan how trust is important even if you have been taken advantage of in the past.
Episode 8, “Deadly Force”, was Broadway’s turn to learn a valuable lesson. He plays with Elisa’s gun and accidently shoots her. The not too subtle gun safety episode. As Elisa recuperates, we meet her family. Her mother is voiced my Nichelle Nichols. Even at the age of nine, I was very much aware that this episode was a thinly veiled public service announcement. Foreshadowing what the series would become when it moved from syndication to ABC and was rechristened “Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles”. Episode 9 was “Enter Macbeth”. Just the tip of the iceberg regarding Macbeth, voiced by John Rhys-Davies. He confronts the Gargoyles hoping to lure Demona into a trap under the mistaken impression that she is their queen. He even claims to have named her. Many unanswered questions left to be resolved in season two. This is also the episode where the Gargoyles reluctantly abandon their castle because Xanatos is about to be released from prison. Elisa finds them a new home. The clocktower above her police station. I’m sure many “Gargoyles” fans would say that the clocktower is more iconic than the castle.
Episode 10, “The Edge”, introduced Elisa’s new partner Detective Matt Bluestone (though he appeared briefly in “Deadly Force”), a conspiracy theorist voiced by Thomas F. Wilson. You know, Biff from “Back to the Future”. “Awakening, Part 5” had introduced The Steel Clan. Robot Gargoyles modeled after Goliath and controlled by Xanatos. The Steel Clan returns in this episode, but Xanatos gets in on the action, wearing a mechanized Gargoyle suit. So, Xanatos is like Lex Luthor meets Tony Stark. This is the episode where I realized that Xanatos has a habit of declaring himself the winner even in defeat. When I binge season two, I’ll have to see if there’s any instances of Xanatos admitting defeat. Episode 11, “Long Way to Morning”, was the first episode to make use of flashbacks (unless you count “Awakening, Part 1”) and the first to spotlight Hudson. Hudson protects an injured Goliath from Demona as flashbacks to the 10th century shows their search for The Archmage, an evil sorcerer voiced by David Warner, which is when Hudson received his trademark scar. The show established early that turning to stone during the day heals their wounds, so I’m not sure why Hudson has a permanent scar. I guess it’s his age that makes it harder for him to heal? After defeating The Archmage, Hudson relinquishes command to the younger and stronger Goliath. I enjoy the parallel storylines in the past and present. Reminds me of “Highlander”.
Episode 12, “Her Brother’s Keeper”, is when Elisa’s brother Derrick goes to work for Xanatos as his personal pilot. When I was kid, Derrick annoyed the hell out of me because he was so easily manipulated by Xanatos, but now that I’m older and perhaps a bit wiser, I’ll give this character the benefit of the doubt as I continue to binge. This episode also revealed that Fox was in love with Xanatos. And Lexington converted The Pack’s helicopter into some sort of Gargoyle-mobile. Seemed forced and perhaps an excuse to have a vehicle that could be made into a toy. As a kid, I had actions figures of The Manhattan Clan, but I was never one for vehicles. Episode 13, “Reawakening”, introduced Coldstone, one of Goliath’s rookery brothers voiced by Michael Dorn, brought back to life by a combination of Xanatos’ science and Demona’s sorcery. Coldstone is led to believe that Goliath is responsible for the destruction of their clan, but then sacrifices himself to save Goliath. After Coldstone is presumed dead, Goliath vows that his clan will protect all of Manhattan and that is the high note season one ends on. It was enjoyable to revisit this series. Now I must prepare myself for the odyssey of binging the 52-episode second season.
– Dominick Cappello