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The Disney Staff

The Masterminds of Disney

Production Team

Members of the "Gargoyles" team, from left: Story Editor Michael Reaves, Producer/Director Frank Paur, Production Coordinator Laura Perrotta, and Disney TV Animation Director of Development Greg Weisman.

Micheal Reaves posted some comments about the first few episodes of the series:

Hello, all.

My name's Michael Reaves; I'm the story editor and head writer for the first 13 half hours of Gargoyles. I came onto the show after doing two years of storyediting and writing for Batman: The Animated Series. I'm not on the Internet yet, but Diane Duane has kindly forwarded me some of the mail concerning the show, and she's sending this reply back for me. If I can figure out how to sail the seas of cyberspace, maybe I can do this for myself eventually.

The people at Disney TV Animation are very glad that the show is so well received; it was, as you can imagine, something of a risk for them to do a show so different from anything they've done before. The reviews have been excellent, for the most part, and even those who don't like the show grudgingly admit it's well done, if you like that sort of thing.

The first 13 half hours are all part of an extended story arc, and so there is strong continuity between them. Because of this, we have to run them in order, which is difficult to do because of production realities. One of those realities has just bitten us in the leg a bit, and we're going to have to put on some reruns for a few weeks while the next episode in the continuity is redone to bring it up to the high standards of the series. So, be patient; new episodes will be coming as soon as we can arrange it.

So far the poorest animation we've had has been on "Thrill Of the Hunt"; if subsequent episodes look no worse than that, I think we'll be okay in the animation department.

Someone mentioned a bit of interspecies lust for Brooklyn; I'll pass this along to Jeff Bennett, who does the voice of Brooklyn (as well as the voice of Owen, Xanatos' right-hand man, and a bunch of others as well). All three of the trio are fun characters, and bring a bit of much-needed lightness to the show, I think.

There was also mention made of Demona and Goliath going through a window at the Cloisters in "Temptation"; it's true that breaking glass is a big bug-a-boo of Standards and Practices. Our S&P person has taken big chances on the show, and those of us on the creative side are very grateful to her. (How strong an episode "Deadly Force" is is due as much to her as anyone else.) There's much more creative freedom on this show in that aspect than we had on B:TAS.

Someone's pointed out that the "freeze-in-a-funny-pose" bit is already getting a bit stale; that's our opinion too, and we're not going to play it any more if we can help it.

Re: continuity glitches; there are a few mistakes in the first run that we weren't able to retake in time. Those who are purists can wait until the second or third run to tape the show; by that time all the retakes should be in.

About Demona: All I can say there is, keep watching. As you've already learned, her story about being put in suspended animation by the Magus, like the rest of the gargoyles, isn't true. Just how she came to survive the centuries will be revealed further down the line. I think you'll find it an interesting story. Let's just say that, by her lights, Demona is wholly justified in her hatred of humanity.

Re: Elisa; she will continue to be a strong element in the story lines, never fear. We have a couple of stories in development which feature her quite prominently.

Re: Lexington and his "inventions"; keep in mind that, however innately intelligent Lex is, he's still a product of the 10th century. While he's grasped some of the basics of now things work, and he'll pick up more knowledge as the series progresses, don't expect him to be tinkering together any inter-dimensional portals or matter-energy converters or suchlike. We don't want the trio to turn into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Gargoyles, so we're trying to keep them as believeable as possible within the series' context.

This letter's gone on much too long, so I'll wrap it up. I hope you all keep enjoying the show; we're going to keep trying to make it as good as we can. Thanks for your enthusiasm.

Michael Reaves

Disney posted a press release to the usenet (rec.arts.disney, to be precise), previewing the show:

ON TV SCREENS EVERYWHERE-Legend says they were a mysterious, medieval race-stone by day, alive by night-powerful, winged creatures who guarded a Scottish fortress from ruthless Viking attackers. One thousand years later, they have been transported to New York City and, once again, they own the night-emerging from their stone slumber to protect Manhattan from modern-day barbarians.

They are the Gargoyles, heroes of Walt Disney Television Animation's first-ever dramatic series, a riveting, highly original saga that catapults Disney animation into a new arena of dramatic storytelling. Premiering with a five-part miniseries, Monday through Friday, October 24-28, Gargoyles will launch a new themed daytime programming concept for Buena Vista Television's acclaimed children's programming service, "The Disney Afternoon." Following this five-part opener, eight additional half-hour episodes will air on subsequent "Action Friday" afternoons, in the half-hour preceding the new daily series, Disney's Aladdin.

Offering mystery, suspense and action with a contemporary twist, the series continues the tradition of high-calibre animation that "Disney Afternoon" viewers have come to expect. A second season of Gargoyles is already in development, as are several other "Action Friday" series for future seasons.

"With Gargoyles and 'Action Friday,' we're taking all the quality elements of Disney animation- strong characters, compelling storylines, humor and heart- and translating them into an exciting, new genre for our viewers," says Gary Krisel, President, Walt Disney Animation.

"The gargoyles are creatures who have suddenly awakened in an alien time and place," continues Gary. "This poses all sorts of dramatic potential as they begin to explore and understand the parameters of their modern-day surroundings, and struggle to maintain their code of honor in a complex world where good and evil are often indistinguishable."

Employing unsurpassed artistry- and a vocal cast that includes Keith David (Platoon), Edward Asner (Thunder Alley), Salli Richardson (I Spy Again), Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Bill Fagerbakke- brings to life a remarkably original and fascinating world of unique characters, based on the grotesque and imposing stone sentinels that have adorned European castles and cathedrals for centuries.

The series imagines that in medieval times, gargoyles were stone statues by day-but at sundown, they were transformed into fearsome, living creatures. Gargoyles focuses on one clan of these winged beings, honorable creatures in a violent and brutal age, who vigilantly protect a Scottish castle from Viking assaults until they are betrayed and placed under a sorcerer's spell.

Condemned to remain frozen in stone through night and day until "the castle rises above the clouds," the gargoyles are unaware of the centuries that pass by. Then, a wealthy American businessman purchases the ancient Scottish castle, dismantles it, and rebuilds it high atop his corporate headquarters in Manhattan, "high above the clouds." Now free of the spell,the gargoyles sleep in stone by day, but at sundown they awaken to become majestic heroes of the New York night.

Creatures of honor in a world of crime, the gargoyle clan is dedicated to protecting New York from 20th-century evils. Led by the master warrior Goliath, their adventures mix old world and new, mystery and suspense, humor and action.

Here is the email from Greg Weisman on leaving the show. He posted it to the Ranger List, but CC'ed it to me personally. I'm rather flattered. If you read this, thanks for thinking of me Greg. You will be missed.

Hello, everyone. Hope the list is flourishing. Today is my last day at Disney, and not coincidentally, my last day with e-mail. So I thought I owed it to you all to let you know what's been going on.

I hope you've been enjoying the last ten episodes of GARGOYLES. More new ones this week and next. Then reruns in syndication. New episodes on ABC Saturday morning in the fall -- but...

My involvement in those 13 ABC episodes is fairly minimal. I wrote and story edited the first of the 13, titled "The Journey". When you see it in September it should give you an idea of what I had in mind for season three. But the next twelve episodes were story edited by someone else and they don't reflect my work or the big "Master Plan" that I used to talk about. Which is not to say that they may not have something in common with what the master plan was (after all, they are still building off what has come before), but any other similarities are probably coincidental.

This is a Disney computer system, so I want to avoid making this a Disney- bashing memo, but I think it's fair to set a few things straight on the record. I did not leave the show over money. We never got far enough in our discussions to get to the issue of money. And I certainly didn't leave the show because I was out of ideas for GARGOYLES. I had plenty of those. They did offer me the third season. But they wouldn't offer me any of the creative controls or checks that I had in the first two seasons. At the time they were planning on pre- producing and producing the episodes at DIC. In addition, the schedule that I was presented with was literally impossible for me to meet. I just couldn't preside over what seemed destined to be the destruction of the show. So I turned it down.

Since that time, a lot has changed. They changed their minds about DIC, which is no longer involved with the show. Scott Thomas, the new producer has all the checks and controls that I requested, but that they would not guarantee at the time. The writing schedule relaxed considerably. So news for Gargoyles fans is not necessarily bad. The new story editor is former Disney Writer Eric Lewald. He's a great guy. I went to his wedding. Eric is using former Gargoyle writers Cary Bates, Lydia Marano and Adam Gilad. He's using former Disney writers Len Uhley and Julia Roberts Lewald and a bunch of other talented people as well.

But those last twelve episodes are not the shows I would have done.

I'll leave you with one last riddle explained. During the reign of Caesar Augustus in Rome, there was a human sorceror, the original Magus, who wrote the GRIMORUM ARCANORUM. He was very powerful and he worked for Caesar. Caesar was a "family values" kind of Emperor. And though Rome, as a "civilized" nation was largely Gargoyle-free, the occasional gargoyle was brought before him. Caesar found it very disturbing that when the gargoyles burst free of their stone skins every night, they invariably wound up in the buff. For their clothes did not turn to stone with them. He asked his Magus to cast a spell of humility. The Magus complied and since that time gargoyle clothes have turned to stone with the gargoyles themselves. Bandages, weapons, accessories or what have you, are more inconsistent. It largely depends on the mindset of the gargoyle as he or she is turning to stone. If they regard the item as part of the package. It will stone up too. If not, it will remain in it's normal form.

Now that's a tidbit that I'm sure at least a few people wish I had never revealed.

Thanks for all your support.

Take care, Greg.