Gargoyles (TV series)

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Gargoyles is a Walt Disney Company animated television series. Two seasons of the show (totalling 65 episodes) were aired as part of the Disney Afternoon programming block between October 24th, 1994 and May 15th, 1996. (A third season, rebranded as The Goliath Chronicles and broadcast on ABC, aired from September 7th, 1996 until February 15th, 1997, but this season is not considered canonical.)

The series differed from other Disney series in its level of maturity and the darker tone of the program. It drew much inspiration from world folklore, notably the works of William Shakespeare, legends of King Arthur, and Norse mythology.

Contents

Opening titles

During the opening title sequence of Gargoyles, clips from the show (many of them from the five-part pilot episode, "Awakening") are set to an instrumental score by Carl Johnson.

During the second season, in order to familiarize new viewers with the show's backstory, Keith David (the voice of Goliath) provided a voice-over that played over the theme tune.

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!

Characters

The series revolved around the adventures of the Manhattan Clan and their human allies, and occasionally, their enemies.

History

The Comedy Development

Gargoyles was originally pitched as a comedy-adventure series, more in the vein of Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears, but in the modern world. The basic premise remained the same: approximately one thousand years ago, gargoyles were not merely stone statues, but real flesh and blood creatures. But unlike the noble protectors of the final shows, these gargoyles were mischievous troublemakers who frequently drove the local humans nuts. Eventually, the gargoyles are tricked into consuming 1000 year sleeping potion. Since gargoyles turn to stone whenever they fall asleep, they remain stone for the next thousand years. Then a wealthy businessman moves the castle where the gargoyles are napping to the top of his skyscraper, largely because he can. The jostling from the castle being placed atop the skyscraper is enough to wake the sleeping gargoyles. Now it's the twentieth century, the gargoyles are awake, and they are ready to party.

The comedy development went through several versions before eventually being scrapped in favor of a more serious treatment of the subject matter. However, some of the characters created in this early stage would later evolve into the final characters in the action-adventure series. One character who persisted through many versions of the comedy development was Morgan, the gargoyles' human friend. Morgan's day job went from museum curator to inventor to elementary school teacher. She was tasked with teaching the gargoyles about the modern world and keeping them out of trouble. When the show was reimagined with more of a dramatic focus, Morgan stayed around, eventually became a detective, and was renamed Elisa Maza. The name Morgan was eventually used as well.

On the villains side, the gargoyles' main foe was Xavier, a guy with very few morals and lots of inherited wealth. Xavier is also a descendant of an ancient sorcerer (named "Sidero", "Xavier of Glint", or the more informal "Sorcy") who battled the gargoyles back in the day. Now, however, he's stuck as a transparent ghost-like image and has to content himself with ordering his descendant around. Over the various stabs at the comedy development, Xavier was described first as a lazy, spoiled, rich guy who couldn't handle real work, then as an unscrupulous businessman who partnered with inventor Morgan and profited from her talents until he grew tired of being outshone by her and kicked her out of the company. At one point, Xavier had a flunky named Mister Owen who had somehow been turned into an anthropomorphic aardvark. Xavier, of course, evolved into David Xanatos. Owen was promoted from sniveling aardvark to Xanatos' right hand man and the epitome of "straight man". Aspects of the villainous sorcerer were later used for the Magus and the Archmage (and the idea of an ancestral ghost was used in "Vendettas").

The gargoyles themselves went through a lot of alterations. Early documents from the comedy development suggest as many as twelve possible gargoyles, though the number was quickly thinned down to a more manageable cast size. As the comedy treatment progressed, some of the gargoyles began to resemble the gargoyles we know today. A character called Georgette from early memos was promoted from the clan leader's love interest to clan leader. She was described as a scaly female Indiana Jones with a weakness for ice cream and a mortal fear of pigeons. Later, she was renamed "Dakota" (and swapped the ice cream for Chinese food). Finally, she became an overambitious bad apple and the only gargoyle to side with Xavier. To fit her less heroic personality, Dakota got her final change of name: Demona.

Back when Georgette was more the power behind the throne than the actual leader, the gargoyles followed a gargoyle named Nick. Nick was good at coming up with plans, but not so much at coming up with plans that actually worked, leaving Georgette to save the gargoyles' tails. Nick was also highly interested in the ladies, though his interests were seldom returned. Fortunately for the safety of the clan, Nick was demoted in the next pass and given the appropriate name "Trouble". Later dubbed "Amp" and given a hip and modern attitude, he resumed the position of leader when Georgette became Demona and turned to the dark side. His leadership abilities didn't improve much though; he's described as "easily tempted by ... temptation!" Fortunately, the rest of the gargoyles were never very quick to follow his lead. Amp was an obvious early incarnation of Brooklyn, though he apparently bore more physical resemblance to Lexington. The name Amp would eventually be used as well.

During Nick's brief stint as leader, there were two gargoyles named Cambell and Lassie. Cambell was fascinated by everything modern and Lassie was easily distracted and prone to misinterpretting situations. Cambell disappeared in the next memo, but Lassie remained and gained a little of Cambell's love of all things new - from modern weaponry to modern... shoelaces. Lassie eventually became a loyal, sweet-natured idiot-savant. When the action-adventure development began to evolve, Lassie got an intelligence upgrade and eventually became the gargoyle known as Lexington. (Though in a reverse of Amp, Lassie looked a little more like Brooklyn.)

Also among Nick's crew were a pair of gargoyle sisters: Pan Dora and Isa Dora. Isa Dora had a large girth, a love of song and dance combined with a talent for neither, and a generally sweet and friendly personality. The first memo to mention Isa Dora also refers to a possible alternate male version of her. Around the same time that Georgette became Dakota, Isa Dora was renamed "Cocoa", though her personality remained the same. In the 1991 pitch of the comedy development - with Amp as the leader and Demona turning evil - "Coco" was still present and still much the same: a gargoyle with the heart of a dancer and "the grace of a rhinoceros." With a change of gender and some additional refinements, Coco eventually became Broadway.

Rounding out the cast of recurring gargoyles was Ralph. Originally named "Ralph Fullmoon" and paired with "Alice Fullmoon" in an obvious "Honeymooners" nod, Ralph just couldn't catch a break. Everything he tried to do ended up backfiring on him. Of all the gargoyles, he was the least happy about being awake again. In later passes, Ralph lost his last name and went from world's unluckiest gargoyle to aging couch potato. He enjoyed the comforts of modern life and preferred experiencing them from the comfort of the indoors. The other gargoyles would come to him for advice or to catch up on the latest soap opera happenings. When the show became a drama, Ralph became Hudson.

The final pitch for the Gargoyles comedy series was written in September of 1991. It was submitted and rejected shortly thereafter, paving the way for a reimagining of the series as a dramatic action-adventure show.

"The Gargoyle" - Shifting to Drama

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After the Disney executives passed on the comedy version of Gargoyles, Greg Weisman went to Disney TV producer Tad Stones for advice. Mr. Stones suggested revamping the series into a more straight-up action-adventure show with a single gargoyle protagonist, borrowing some themes from Disney's highly successful version of Beauty and the Beast. The pitch was almost completely reworked and retitled The Gargoyle. In this version, the titular gargoyle was magically created by an evil wizard to help him attack the castle of a good princess. The gargoyle dutifully makes his way to the castle, but once there, has a change of heart. He is taken with the princess and her ideals and resolves to help her battle the evil wizard. But as the sun rises, the gargoyle turns to stone, a condition of the wizard's spell he didn't know about. When he awakens the next night, he finds the castle ransacked. The princess is gone, possibly dead. Even his creator is nowhere to be found. The gargoyle is alone.

Being a creation of magic, the gargoyle is immortal. He remains at the crumbling castle, only making occasional forays into the wider world to steal books or sometimes fight evil (e.g. battling alongside the RAF in the Battle of Britain). But he never connects with another person and always returns to the castle in solitude. Then one night, he discovers that someone has been repairing the castle while he slept. He finds more and more of the castle restored each night. Then one day, the castle and the gargoyle are moved across the ocean to the top of a New York skyscraper belonging to wealthy businessman Xavier. It's in this strange new world that the gargoyle makes his first new human friend: an idealistic young plainclothes detective. She helps him find a purpose in life, protecting the city from evil.

Continuation

Both this series and its spinoffs were continued in the Gargoyles comic series produced by Slave Labor Graphics.

See also

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