"GARGOYLES: THE SEASON 2 VOLUME 1"
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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When I wrote my review for the first season of “Gargoyles,” I was pretty hard on the show. I had my reasons, mainly that the first season didn’t really stand up yet and kept slipping into weak 1980s sitcom plots about subjects like gun control and racism.
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I will admit that I was a bit unfair by labeling the entire series from the first nine episodes. What really made me realize this was when I stumbled across a “Gargoyles” fan group which took issue with my review. (Yes, I was out there Googling myself. Is that so wrong?) Fortunately for the fans – and myself – I was able to give it a second chance.
I am happy to say that in the second season (or at least the first half of it), my tune had changed quite a bit. What started off as a shaky cartoon has really blossomed into a masterful animated series – probably one of the best I’ve seen in a long while.
The story behind the second season – and the reason it is only out in one volume so far – is somewhat inspirational. After completing the first season, the producers were approached by Disney to do another season. However, instead of ordering a short supply like the nine-episode first run, the Mouse House asked for 52 episodes.
After the panic faded, the producers went into a scramble to meet the expectations. Here is a classic example of the pressure turning something ordinary into something spectacular.
In order to sustain 52 episodes in a year, they had to focus on the story and the writing. Instead of just letting the Gargoyles wander through their daily life in New York, they had to add more meat to the story. This afforded them the opportunity to really explore characters and storylines. Instead of having only a dozen or so single-shot episodes, they gave us deeper insight into the history behind the characters.
This was the key to making the show really great. With 52 episodes to fill, there wasn’t a problem spending two or three of them exploring a new villain or giving some rich background to the relationship between Goliath and Demona. It also allowed the writers to develop some interesting new characters like mutant gargoyles and a lost tribe of gargoyles.
Because the writers were forced to turn inward, they abandoned the humdrum stories of flying creatures in Manhattan. The shock value of gargoyles fighting crime would quickly wear off – as it did in the first season – and they needed to find more interesting devices.
“Gargoyles” went from being a two-bit animated series to a work of art. The animation didn’t suffer at all, and the plots become richer and more complex. Instead of trying to cram the creatures’ histories into an introduction or a season premiere, they took multiple trips back in time to the Gargoyles’ native Scotland.
With this much room to play, the writers had some fun. Characters from Shakespeare were introduced as recurring roles. Xanatos was given a much grayer role, sometimes fighting the Gargoyles but sometimes helping them as well. There were greater villains around than Xanatos. Additionally, with more background on Demona, the villainous female Gargoyle, it was easier to understand her.
The only unfortunate thing with this DVD is that they haven’t improved on the special features. There’s a spotlight on the cast and crew, and this is nice because there are so many new voices for the new characters. Other special features include audio commentaries on four episodes as well as episode introductions by series creator Greg Weisman
Considering that the first season (which was the one I didn’t like) had only nine episodes, the majority of programs anyone saw was from later seasons. This helps explain why the show still has such a rabid fan base.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Fullscreen (1.33:1). English subtitles for the hearing impaired.