Gargoyles (TV series)
|Also known as||Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles (Season 3)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||78 (list of episodes)|
|Producers||Frank Paur, Greg Weisman, Dennis Woodyard, others|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Production companies||Walt Disney Television Animation[a]|
Jade Animation (Seasons 1–2)
Tama Productions (Seasons 1–2)
Nelvana[b] (Season 3)
|Distributor||Buena Vista Television|
|Original release||October 24, 1994 –|
February 15, 1997
Gargoyles (also known as Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles for season 3) is an American animated television series produced by Walt Disney Television and distributed by Buena Vista Television, and originally aired from October 24, 1994, to February 15, 1997. The series features a species of nocturnal creatures known as gargoyles that turn to stone during the day. After spending a thousand years in an enchanted petrified state, the gargoyles (who have been transported from medieval Scotland) are reawakened in modern-day New York City, and take on roles as the city's secret night-time protectors.
Gargoyles was noted for its relatively dark tone, complex story arcs, and melodrama; character arcs were heavily employed throughout the series, as were Shakespearean themes. The series also received favorable comparisons to Batman: The Animated Series and Cybersix. A video game adaptation and a spin-off comic series were released in 1995. The show's storyline continued from 2006 to 2009 in a comic book series of the same title, produced by Slave Labor Graphics.
One thousand years ago, superstition and the sword ruled. It was a time of darkness. It was a world of fear. It was the age of gargoyles. Stone by day, warriors by night, We were betrayed by the humans we had sworn to protect, frozen in stone by a magic spell for a thousand years. Now, here in Manhattan, the spell is broken, and we live again! We are defenders of the night! We are Gargoyles!— Goliath's Opening Narration
The series features a species of nocturnal creatures known as gargoyles that turn to stone during the day, focusing on a clan led by Goliath. In the year 994, the clan lives in a castle in Scotland. Most are betrayed and killed by humans while petrified and the remainder are magically cursed to sleep—i.e., be frozen in stone form until the castle "rises above the clouds." A thousand years later in 1994, billionaire David Xanatos purchases the gargoyles' castle and has it reconstructed atop his New York skyscraper, the Eyrie Building, thus awakening Goliath and the remainder of his clan. While trying to adjust to their new world, they are aided by a sympathetic police officer named Elisa Maza and quickly come into conflict with the plotting Xanatos. In addition to dealing with the gargoyles' attempts to adjust to modern New York City, the series also incorporated various supernatural threats to their safety and to the world at large.
A total of 78 half-hour episodes were produced.
The first two seasons aired in the Disney Afternoon programming block. The first season consisted of 13 episodes, including a five-part opening story. This season's episodes were almost entirely written by Michael Reaves and Brynne Chandler Reaves. The second season featured 52 episodes, and a long mid-season story arc dubbed by fans as "The Gargoyles World Tour" in which four of the main characters travel the world, encountering other Gargoyles and confronting various mystical and science-fictional dangers. The writing staff was greatly expanded for season two.
The third and final season aired during Saturday mornings on ABC as Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles. Behind the scenes, the animation producers and writers had almost completely changed from seasons one and two, while on-screen, the Gargoyles' relationship to the world changed considerably.
The voice cast featured several actors who are alumni of the Star Trek franchise, including Marina Sirtis and Jonathan Frakes (respectively, Deanna Troi and William Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation), who were featured regularly as principal cast members. Other Star Trek actors had recurring roles on Gargoyles, including Michael Dorn (Worf on TNG and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Kate Mulgrew (Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager), Nichelle Nichols (Uhura on Star Trek: The Original Series), and Brent Spiner (Data on TNG); while Avery Brooks (Benjamin Sisko on DS9), Colm Meaney (Miles O'Brien on TNG and DS9), and LeVar Burton (Geordi La Forge on TNG) made guest appearances.
The series bears no creator credit, though there were several people who are responsible for the show's format. Michael Reaves, who wrote the first six episodes and was the primary writer/story editor of the show's first two seasons has described himself in respect to Gargoyles as "in on the ground floor [of] creating something iconic". Greg Weisman also describes himself as one of the creators of Gargoyles.
The series' first season was almost entirely written by the husband-and-wife team of Michael Reaves and Brynne Chandler Reaves, who wrote 12 of the 13 episodes; the remaining episode was written by Steve Perry. Weisman officially joined the series as a co-producer with episode 6 (though he also oversaw earlier episodes in his capacity as a Disney executive), and did not have any writing credits on the show until the third season.[nb 1]
According to Weisman, the first season was developed on a sliding schedule; each phase of developing the thirteen episodes, such as writing, storyboarding, and animating, was given a ten-month period, with significant overlap. After they had delivered the first thirteen episodes, they asked Buena Vista Television to pick up a second season with another thirteen; the show had not yet aired, but Buena Vista agreed for them to start work on six more episodes. Once the show started its weekly syndication run in 1994, it was quickly seen as successful both as a television program and for promoting toy sales, and Buena Vista pushed on the show's team to make the second season 52 episodes so that they could run it daily starting in the 1995 television season. Weisman stated they were not prepared for this given their production methods and the lack of timing to get those episodes ready for a fall 1995 premiere, despite telling Buena Vista this several times. When Buena Vista refused to back down from the 52-episode order, the team decided to expand four-fold to handle the additional episodes. The writing staff grew to include Reaves, Chandler Reaves and Perry, as well as newcomers Lydia Marano, Cary Bates, Gary Sperling, Adam Gilad, Diane Duane and Peter Morwood, amongst others. For this season, story editing duties were handled on a rotating basis by Reaves, Chandler Reaves, Bates and Sperling. Storylines expanded beyond the Manhattan setting and more characters were added to help creating stories to fill the episode count. Weisman said that he had discussions with Michael Eisner of using Gargoyles as a starting point for an action-oriented universe within Disney, comparing this to how Warner Bros. owned DC Comics, and some second season episodes were used to set up potential hooks for these.
The third season was reduced to thirteen episodes and moved to a Saturday morning slot. This was a result of two factors according to Weismen. The first was changes within Disney itself. Fallout from the death of Disney president Frank Wells led to the divide between Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Katzenberg left to form Dreamworks. Weisman's bosses, Gary Krisel and Bruce Cranston, that had been supportive of Gargolyes, also left with Katzenberg for Dreamworks. Further, internal pressure on Eisner from Roy E. Disney forced him to treat Gargoyles as part of the studio's older works, thus dropping the larger action universe plans, leaving the show without any support. Secondly, as the second season aired, the highly-publicized trial of O. J. Simpson drew audiences away from Gargoyles often due to preemption from the trial's coverage. By the time the trial was over, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers had become more powerful as a brand. At this point, the show staff did not think they were likely to get a third season, but as Disney had just bought Capital Cities, the owners of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) network, they needed programming for its Saturday morning block, and had the Gargoyles team develop thirteen more episodes for it, now calling the series The Goliath Chronicles. Because this was on broadcast stations rather than syndication, the show had to meet different Broadcast Standards and Practices which Weisman stated drastically limited his creativity. While he wrote the first episode and spoke of his concerns to Disney, they had removed him from the team and assigned the rest of the show's run to Nelvana.
Many Shakespearean characters and stories found their way into the show's storylines, particularly those from Macbeth and A Midsummer Night's Dream. The series was also influenced by medieval Scottish history, as well as television shows ranging from Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears to Hill Street Blues. The latter in particular inspired the ensemble format of the series and the 30-second "Previously, on Gargoyles..." recap found at the beginning of later episodes. The former was an influence on the original comedy development of the show, which was subsequently made darker and more serious by first season writers Reaves, Chandler Reaves and Perry.
New York artist Joe Tomasini brought a suit against Disney, claiming that his copyrighted screenplay and character designs had been copied during the development and production of Gargoyles. The case was ultimately thrown out, after it was proven that Disney did not have access to Tomasini's creations.
VHS and Laserdisc
The five-episode pilot "Awakening", edited into a single movie under the title Gargoyles the Movie: The Heroes Awaken, was released on VHS and Laserdisc on January 31, 1995, by Buena Vista Home Video.
|VHS Name||Episode Titles||Release Date||Stock Number|
|The Hunted||"The Thrill of the Hunt" & "Temptation"||October 11, 1995||5968|
|The Force of Goliath||"Deadly Force" & "Enter Macbeth"||October 11, 1995||5969|
|Deeds of Deception||"The Edge" & "Long Way to Morning"||April 9, 1996||6713|
|Brothers Betrayed||"Her Brother's Keeper" & "Reawakening"||April 9, 1996||6714|
IGN ranked Gargoyles 45th place on its 2009 list of top 100 animated series, stating: "A decent success at the time, Gargoyles has maintained a strong cult following since it ended more than a decade ago". Hollywood.com featured it on their 2010 list of six cartoons that should be movies. UGO.com included it on their 2011 top list of legendary medieval and fantasy TV shows. Doug Walker, also known as the Nostalgia Critic, praised the show: "But in secret, I would be watching every one of them, because it was just that good. I don’t know if it really changed anything in terms of kids' shows like Batman or Animaniacs, but it was certainly a welcome detour from what Disney usually did. It really stood on its own and created some really wonderful and really unique stories. Gargoyles is a blast from the past that is sure to live on in the future." Less favorable assessments of the series came from animation producer Bruce Timm, who dismissed Gargoyles as "kind of namby-pamby... with all that Celtic fantasy crap" in a 1999 interview and the animation blog Cartoon Brew, which cited the series as an example of the sort of "juvenile mediocrities" that are beloved by the nerd community.
A live action film adaptation had been discussed by Disney since the beginning of the show's run. Todd Garner was the executive producer on a proposed project; having admired the series. Rick Baker was hired to create concept art for the characters and even made a maquette. Greg Weisman and Michael Reaves wrote a draft that adapted the five part "Awakening" pilot, but it was rejected. Disney regular Jim Kouf was hired to pen a new draft that established Goliath as a Gaelic warrior named Goliath MacGrath who makes a deal with a good sorcerer to battle an evil one named Morgan. However, he and his men are cursed to "give up [their] flesh and blood and [their] heart will be turned to stone" and are promptly turned into gargoyles and turn to stone upon defeating Morgan. In modern day, the focus shifts to Alex Anderson, described as "Goliath’s long lost relative", who returns to New York City following the death of his father. He teams up Detective Brenna, a stand-in for Elisa Maza, and meet the Gargoyles who must battle a revived Morgan. While Disney favored the script, the project was abandoned as it would have been expensive to produce and because the series had ended its run.
In July 2011, David Elliot and Paul Lovett of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra were hired to pen a film adaptation of Gargoyles, In June 2018, Jordan Peele pitched his own film version to Disney. but it was supposedly not picked up.
Weisman was eventually hired to write for the comic, but Marvel cut the deal with Disney before his run could be produced. Weisman still had his unpublished script for the comic, and would eventually use it as issue #6 of the Gargoyles: Clan-Building SLG comic series.
Slave Labor Graphics
On June 21, 2006, Slave Labor Graphics, in association with CreatureComics, began producing a new Gargoyles comic written by Greg Weisman. Weisman wrote the comic book series as a direct sequel to the first and second seasons, ignoring the third season and telling his preferred story in its place.
In August 2008, Greg Weisman announced that, due to Disney increasing its licensing fees, Slave Labor Graphics would not be renewing its license of Gargoyles after it ran out on August 31, 2008. The final two issues of Bad Guys and four of Gargoyles were released in the comic trades collecting both series in August 2009. Weisman also stated that SLG president Dan Vado had not given up on the Gargoyles franchise and hoped to pursue the idea of Gargoyles graphic novels in the future.
On December 24, 2015, Aaron Sparrow revealed that Gargoyles was to be adapted into a cinestory comics series published by Joe Books Inc.. Originally, the first volume was intended to be released on March 30, 2016, adapting the five-part "Awakening" episodes from the first season, and second volume would have adapted the next four episodes ("The Thrill of the Hunt", "Temptation", "Deadly Force", and "Enter MacBeth") following the pilot. However, on September 29, 2017, Joe Books Inc. confirmed that the cinestory has been cancelled.
Various merchandise released for the series included a series of 22 five-inch action figures (along with two vehicles and a castle playset) released by Kenner in 1995. A collectible card game, Gargoyles Stone Warriors Battle Card Game, was published by Parker Brothers in 1994. Other licensed merchandise included numerous other toys and figures, collectible trading card and sticker series, and a wide range of clothing items, books, art supplies, kitchen and bathroom items and supplies, clocks and watches, etc. A world based on the television series was initially considered for Kingdom Hearts, but the idea was scrapped.
- The Handheld LCD game, titled Gargoyles – Night Flight, was released by Tiger Electronics in 1995 in China.
In 1997, Weisman began answering fan questions about the series in an online forum at Ask Greg, revealing, among other things, productions details about the series, in-universe details about the characters, and his plans for the property if it had not been cancelled or if he was able to revive it in the future. Among other revelations, Weisman has detailed spinoffs for the series that reached various stages of development, including Bad Guys (for which a leica reel and comics were produced), Gargoyles 2198, Timedancer, Pendragon, Dark Ages and The New Olympians.
|The Gathering of the Gargoyles|
|Country||USA and Canada|
|Website||The Gathering of the Gargoyles|
The Gathering of the Gargoyles was an annual fan convention which began in 1997 and ended in 2009. The Gathering featured several regular guests close to the Gargoyles franchise including Greg Weisman and voice actors Keith David and Thom Adcox. The Gathering has featured several recurring special events such as a radio play where attendees audition and take speaking roles, a masquerade ball where attendees dress up as their favorite character, an art show where the many artists within the fandom can display or sell their artwork. Weisman has in the past shown the leica reel of Bad Guys at Gatherings. Footage and interviews from the 2004 Gathering appears as an extra feature on the Season 1 DVD of the show.
CONvergence 2014 featured a Gargoyles related theme with many guests from the series including Greg Weisman, Thom Adcox, Marina Sirtis, C. Robert Cargill, Scott Lynch, Amy Berg, and Emma Bull. It is a four-day convention held in Bloomington, Minnesota over the Fourth of July weekend. It was done to celebrate the series' 20th anniversary.
References in other works
As a nod to members of the voice cast who worked on both series, the 2001 Pioneer LDC English dub of the anime 3×3 Eyes contains Gargoyles homage scenes. These include a homeless man humming the Gargoyles theme and a character who wonders "What could make claw marks in solid stone?" Shared actors included Brigitte Bako, Bill Fagerbakke, Thom Adcox-Hernandez, Keith David and Ed Asner.
The series finale of the 2017 DuckTales animated series, "The Last Adventure!", features an extended Gargoyles homage. During a battle, the character Manny the Headless Man-Horse is briefly turned to stone before transforming into his "true form", which heavily resembles a gargoyle. The sequence is accompanied by an excerpt from the Gargoyles theme tune, and Manny quotes Goliath's "I live again!" during his transformation, with Keith David providing his voice.
- In an interview, Weisman said "During season one, all the writers – including Brynne and Lydia Marano (and a few others) – were working under Michael’s supervision. And Michael was working under my supervision. We broke all the stories together, and I came up with most of the springboards myself and did the final, final pass on every script after Michael was done."
- Animation outsourced to AKOM, Animal-Ya, Hanho Heung-Up, Koko Enterprises, Saerom Animation, Sunmin Image Pictures, Sunwoo Animation, Hong Ying Animation, Toon City, Walt Disney Animation Australia, Walt Disney Animation Japan and Wang Film Productions.
- The animation for Season 3 was originally going to be given by then- fellow Disney subsidiary DIC Productions, L.P., but was eventually given to Nelvana.
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- Gargoyles Vol 2: The Force of Goliath [VHS]: Keith David, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Jeff Bennett, Edward Asner, Frank Welker, Thom Adcox-Hernandez, Bill Fagerbakke, Jonathan Frakes, Brigitte Bako, Marina Sirtis, Thomas F. Wilson, Kath Soucie, Yeun Young Sang, Susan Edmunson, Diane Duane, Greg Weisman, Len Wein: Movies & TV. ASIN 6303671772.
- Gargoyles: Deeds of Deception [VHS]: Keith David, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Jeff Bennett, Edward Asner, Frank Welker, Thom Adcox-Hernandez, Bill Fagerbakke, Jonathan Frakes, Brigitte Bako, Marina Sirtis, Thomas F. Wilson, Kath Soucie, Yeun Young Sang, Susan Edmunson, Diane Duane, Greg Weisman, Len Wein: Movies & TV. ASIN 6303929729.
- Gargoyles: Brothers Betrayed [VHS]: Keith David, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Jeff Bennett, Edward Asner, Frank Welker, Thom Adcox-Hernandez, Bill Fagerbakke, Jonathan Frakes, Brigitte Bako, Marina Sirtis, Thomas F. Wilson, Kath Soucie, Yeun Young Sang, Susan Edmunson, Diane Duane, Greg Weisman, Len Wein: Movies & TV. ASIN 6303929737.
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