"Gargoyles: The Complete First Season"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
Keith David as GOLIATH
Edward Asner as HUDSON
Thom Adcox Hernandez as LEXINGTON
Jeff Bennett as BROOKLYN
Bill Fagerback as BROADWAY
Salli Richardson as ELISA
Marina Sirtis as DEMONA
Jonathan Frakes as XANATOS
Created by: Greg Weisman
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I remember when the “Gargoyles” television show first started. I was at the end of college, and I remember reading about it in the TV Guide. I didn’t actually watch it when it first aired. I was too busy finding a job and learning about the joys of life, like paying taxes and managing credit card debt. However, I do remember thinking that this would make a pretty neat show.
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Fast-forward ten years, and I’m watching the DVD of the complete first season in a 10th anniversary edition 2-disc set. And while this was a decent show, I was a bit let down by it.
The show begins at the turn of the first millennium in Scotland. Magical gargoyles guard a castle, watching over it as stone monsters during the day and awakening at night. Although they are the castle’s protectors, few of the humans treat them better than monsters. While fighting off an attack, the gargoyles are betrayed and are put under a curse that makes them sleep for a thousand years.
When the curse is finally broken, the old Scottish castle has been moved to New York City by a wealthy industrialist named Xanatos (Jonathan Frakes). He has learned the gargoyles secret and wants them for his own gains. However, being more than mere monsters, these creatures get wise and join forces with a NYC detective named Elisa (Salli Richardson), who helps them learn about the modern world.
“Gargoyles” had everything it really needed - honor, betrayal, humor, action - and I give it a definite A for effort. However, like my burgeoning credit card debt that kept me from watching it the first time around, the show didn’t actually manage its assets that well. Too often, things deteriorated into cheap jokes or just plain silliness. In one episode, the gargoyles espouse on the joys of television, and eventually do battle with a WWE-style entertainment troupe called “The Pack.”
In another episode, the writers manage to put together the perfunctory “gun control” episode. In this ridiculous plot, one of the gargoyles finds Elisa’s loaded gun and accidentally shoots her. I guess this was part of the lobby to get trigger locks on all firearms on the off chance that a wayward gargoyle might find a loaded weapon.
And while the supporting cast of gargoyles (who name themselves with New York monikers like Broadway and Brooklyn, making them sound more like strippers than superheroes) is often too silly, the leader Goliath (Keith David) endlessly broods about the betrayals of the past. The voice cast is a nice round of actors that would make a great panel at the San Diego Comic-Con. In addition to Keith David, it includes “Star Trek: TNG” talent like Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis, as well as a late appearance by Michael Dorn.
This was one of the first in a line of newer animation in the 1990s that gave us the “Batman” animated series, the new “Spider-Man” animated series and other superhero shows. Unfortunately, I didn’t find “Gargoyles” stories to be much beyond that found in the old “Super Friends” series.
The DVD features audio commentary on the first five episodes with Greg Weisman, Frank Paur and Keith David, giving it a nice behind-the-scenes feel. There’s also a short featurette about the Gathering of the Gargoyles, which is an annual convention in Canada commemorating the show.
No doubt, if any of those fans are reading this, I’ll get some nasty letters. But that’s the dangers you face when you’re not impressed with the Gargoyles.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Fullscreen (1.33:1). English subtitles for the hearing impaired.