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Gargoyles on DVD: Season 1 Season 2: Volume 1

"Gargoyles" Season 2, Volume 1 DVD Review

Buy Gargoyles: Season 2, Volume 1 from Amazon.com Gargoyles: Season Two, Volume 1 (1995-96)
Show & DVD Details

Regular Directors: Frank Paur, Dennis J. Woodyard

Regular Writers: Lydia C. Marano, Michael Reaves, Brynne Chandler Reaves, Cary Bates

Voice Cast: Keith David (Goliath, Morgan), Salli Richardson (Elisa Maza), Jonathan Frakes (David Xanatos, Coyote), Edward Asner (Hudson), Jeff Bennett (Brooklyn, Owen Burnett, Magus, various), Bill Fagerbakke (Broadway), Thom Adcox Hernandez (Lexington), Marina Sirtis (Demona), John Rhys-Davies (Macbeth), Tom Wilson (Matt Bluestone), Laura San Giacomo (Fox, uncredited), Tim Curry (Dr. Anton Sevarius), Richard Grieco (Anthony Dracon), Rocky Carroll (Derek Maza/Talon, Glasses), Kath Soucie (Weird Sisters, Maggie the Cat, Princess Katherine), Brigitte Bako (Angela), Frank Welker (Bronx, Boudicca, various), Rachel Ticotin (Maria Chavez), Paul Winfield (Jeffrey Robbins), Emma Samms (Gruoch), Michael Dorn (Coldstone), C.C.H. Pounder (Desdemona), Clancy Brown (Wolf), Jim Cummings (Dingo, Hunter), Matt Frewer (Jackal), Cree Summer (Hyena), Michael Bell (Martin Hacker), Charles Hallahan (Travis Marshall, Macduff), James Belushi (Fang), Gerrit Graham (Guardian)

Running Time: 595 minutes (26 episodes) / Rating: TV-Y7
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio) / Dolby Surround 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: December 6, 2005
Season 2, Volume 1 Airdates: September 4, 1995 - February 5, 1996
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9); Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Six-sided fold-out Digipak with cardboard slipcover

Page 1: Show and Season 2 Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

Following a 13-episode first season, Disney sought to expand "Gargoyles", the well-received half-hour animated series, in the fall of 1995. For its second year, "Gargoyles" would move from weekly Friday afternoon airings to 4-times-a-week showings, Monday through Thursday as the last half-hour of the two-hour Disney Afternoon programming block. The show's episode order would accordingly be multiplied by four, for a total of 52 Season 2 episodes. This drastic expansion no doubt created more work for the people behind the series, but fortunately, they had more than enough interesting stories to weave. As a result, not only did "Gargoyles" avoid a sophomore slump, it eschewed any noticeable decline in quality. Quite the opposite, characters were allowed more opportunity to grow, recurring story line elements had more room to breathe, and the gargoyles' adventures would no longer be limited to modern day Manhattan thanks to a handful of magical occurrences and dual-chronology adventures.

Those who did not catch the first 13 installments of "Gargoyles" would be at a minor disadvantage jumping into the show's second season. But the newly-added narration to the opening title sequence and the "Previously on 'Gargoyles'" recap that follows (often featuring clips from Season 1) both do an admirable job
of explaining just what is going on in about 90 seconds. Gargoyles, the winged stone creatures which adorn more fanciful structures, remain motionless and asleep while there is daylight. When night falls, they break from the stone and live with their primary duty being to protect their home base. Once the feared defenders of Castle Wyvern in 10th century Scotland, the central gargoyles of this series awoke in 1994 Manhattan following a 1,000-year curse-induced sleep.

The five stone-by-day protagonists now serve New York City, the source of most of their names. They are as follows: Goliath, the powerful and wise leader of the pack; Hudson, the scarred once-leader who has passed over the reins to his former apprentice; Broadway, the goofy and rotund one; Lexington, the technically-inclined gargoyle; and Brooklyn, the thrill-seeker. There is also their pet Bronx who, like any good indecipherable cartoon character, is voiced by Frank Welker. In the premiere season, the show's attentions firmly landed upon Goliath, but individual episodes were devoted to each of his fellow gargoyles. That is again the case and the members of Goliath's pack seems secondary most of the time, not appearing at all in certain episodes or being reduced to providing exposition in other ones. More often than not, there are things in the contemporary human world which concern the gargoyles and require their attention.

The gargoyles take a moment to catch their collective breaths after defeating the now-robotically-enhanced version of The Pack. The three young gargoyles debate over who should be second-in-command.

As in the real world, humans come in both good and bad flavors. Representing decency and the gang's best non-gargoyle friend is Elisa Maza, a police detective who makes sure to help the gargoyles just like they help her. Less respectful of the winged ones is David Xanatos, an amoral billionaire who oversaw the group's move to Manhattan and return to life. Xanatos' interests are squarely his own and his plans often view the gargoyles as nothing more than expandable obstacles. His assistant Owen's allegiances lie with his wealthy boss and the two of them pursue their own version of self-centered success.

Among the other folks the gargoyles encounter with a propensity for evil: Demona, Goliath's dear old love who avoided the 1,000 year curse and has developed an unhealthy hatred for humans; Macbeth, the old Scottish king who has a unique and special relationship with Demona which has granted them both unusually long lifespans; the Pack, a group of TV-stars-turned-thugs who are handily the cheesiest recurring characters in the series; and Tony Dracon, a slick young mobster. Season 2 also introduces the Weird Sisters, a trio of quasi-immortal females named Phoebe, Selene, and Luna but identifiable only by their hair color (and even that seems optional), who prove to have an important stake placed in the actions of several of the characters on the series.

What ensues here is not merely a series of cat-and-mouse chases between the good gargoyles and their self-serving nemeses. If it were just that, the formula would likely grow a bit thin after one episode with each villain. Instead, the antagonists gradually reveal depth and are in something of a cycle, with Xanatos, Demona, and Macbeth appearing most frequently and others showing up every six shows or so. The stories are more complex than simple good/bad/avoid death scenarios and it's impressive the number of different ways that the same characters and the gargoyles plight of daytime dormancy can be faithfully upheld and still allow a coherent and compelling tale to be told.

Macbeth and Demona's magical bond begins. The Weird Sisters turn up in a number of Season 2 episodes, but that doesn't mean you'll know which is which.

The first half of the second season contains two noteworthy multi-episode arcs, the 4-part "City of Stone" and 3-parter "Avalon." The former puts the humans of New York City in jeopardy at the hands of Demona, and explains the special bond she shares with Macbeth by exploring their present-day conundrums and their first encounters hundreds of years ago. The latter also maintains the importance of the past by taking Goliath, Elisa, and Bronx to a magical island where the gargoyles' long-presumed-dead offspring have grown up. These are both sufficiently engaging, but "Gargoyles" tends to be most rewarding in its 23-minute standalone episodes. Clearly, the most enjoyable episodes from this set of 26 were found in the middle of the set. Is it possible that this reviewer just needed some time to reacquaint himself with the characters and then got tired of watching "Gargoyles" back-to-back-to-back in a
vain attempt to have a review done by release date? I've considered that, but truth be told, both the early and late episodes of this box provide their fair share of interesting moments. They simply do not grip the way most of the middle shows do. Whether the split-gargoyles Avalon World Tour this set leaves is on leads to a drop in storytelling or not - and I hope not - it does take the series in a different direction and one with more evident formulas.

Throwing new characters into the mix, two additional sets of gargoyles are introduced early on in Season 2. The first are of human origin and include Elisa's brother Derek Maza, who had taken on the role of Xanatos' pilot last season despite warnings from his sister. A botched experiment oversaw by Xanatos and Dr. Anton Sevarius has left the lot looking like animal-esque gargoyles; Maggie Reed becomes Maggie the Cat and Derek takes on the name Talon. The second group is the genuine article, hatched from the eggs carefully protected from the gargoyles' heyday in Scotland. The most significant member of this group is called Angela, who bears a physical resemblance to Demona but personal characteristics more like Goliath (hint, hint).

On the surface, this may not sound as interesting as it really is, but "Gargoyles" certainly achieves greater things than most of the other action cartoon series I have come across from the 1990s. Its plots are intelligent and involving, its characters are nuanced and marked by human flaws (even the gargoyles), and its world is a rich and fascinating one. The series doesn't rely purely on childhood memories to engage and delight ten years later. Even though it is decidedly an un-"Disney" series, it remains one of the better shows put out by the studio.

Goliath and Elisa are aided by the newfound gargoyles of Avalon, including Angela (right). Fox and Xanatos enjoy a honeymoon time travel.

Exactly one year to the week of the unprecedented Complete First Season DVD release, Disney has preserved the first 26 episodes of Season 2 in a 3-disc box set aptly titled "Gargoyles" Season 2, Volume 1. All signs point to the remaining half of the massive Season 2 coming next December with similar treatment, which would continue to satisfy the large fanbase of "Gargoyles." It's worth noting that the playlist here differs in a couple of places from most online episode guide; the set appears to arrange shows by production order not airdate. Of course, nothing is affected in terms of continuity (at least in a negative way) and as the set seems to have been overseen by "Gargoyles" co-creator and most vocal spokesperson Greg Weisman, I'm sure this is the proper order.

An overview of the twenty-six featured episodes appears below. I've taken pains to make sure that you can read the whole thing all the way through and not lose out on any of the fun within any individual episode if you haven't already seen it. Still, the show prides itself on a continuous narrative and some important surprises may be best discovered on your own. If this is something that sounds good for you, then you'd be well served to only read the first few episode descriptions and avoid Greg Weisman's introductions on installments you have not already seen.

The Pack are breaking out! Sigh. The creepy looking cat gargoyle is frightened by those who most resemble her. In "A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time", Hudson makes a new friend who celebrates reading in spite of being blind.

A star () denotes my ten favorite episodes from this Season 2, Volume 1 collection.

Disc 1

1. Leader of the Pack (22:54) (Originally aired September 4, 1995)
A masked man helps the renegade former TV stars The Pack escape from prison. It's not long before they are out and looking for revenge against the gargoyles.

2. Metamorphosis (22:50) (Originally aired September 5, 1995)
Elisa's brother Derek, who has been working for Xanatos as a pilot, gets hit with a stray dart and injected with a genetic strain which turns him into a gargoyle. Lexington and Brooklyn try to track down a mysterious cat-like gargoyle they spot in a dark alley.

3. Legion (22:57) (Originally aired September 6, 1995)
Three of Goliath's fellow gargoyles from the olden days (namely, 10th century Scotland) are stuck inside the robotic body of Coldstone, leaving them more than a little conflicted. It's up to Goliath to go inside and sort things out.

4. A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time (22:50) (Originally aired September 7, 1995)
The discovery of scrolls which may have belonged to Merlin creates conflict among the gargoyles. Macbeth returns and is behind the theft of the scrolls. Hudson makes friends with blind former author Jeffrey Robbins and considers the power of the written word in this pro-literacy episode.

It's clearly Opposite Day in the world of gargoyles! Broadway has a thing or two to tell Tony Dracon. Xanatos is all decked out for a wedding, but is Goliath ready to commit?

5. The Mirror (22:55) (Originally aired September 11, 1995)
Demona steals a powerful mirror from a museum and unleashes the fairy Puck. Though he listens to her wishes to make Goliath love her by eliminating Elisa, Puck has his own way of interpreting them while providing fun for him. Namely, there's a lot of gargoyle-to-human transformations (and vice versa), with interesting results.

6. The Silver Falcon (22:59) (Originally aired September 12, 1995)
Elisa's partner Matt Bluestone has been missing for 48 hours. When she sets out to find him, she learns his disappearance is related to a search for an old mobster's jewels headed by Anthony Dracon (voiced by guest Richard Grieco) and his men. Meanwhile, Broadway helps Elisa out as a partner she reluctantly accepts.

7. Eye of the Beholder (22:51) (Originally aired September 13, 1995)
Xanatos proposes to Fox and she accepts, but the Eye of Odin, the engagement necklace he bestows upon her, has her transformed into a wolf nightly. Goliath and Elisa are thrown into this problem and, in a rare occasion, work with Xanatos to help save the object of his affections. The arrival of Halloween enables the rest of the Gargoyles to enjoy night life on the street, while Elisa dresses as the Belle to Goliath's Beast.

8. Vows (23:00) (Originally aired September 14, 1995)
Xanatos and Fox get married, with Goliath as best man and Demona as maid of honor. Xanatos capitalizes on this arrangement by taking all back in time to Scotland 975 A.D. Their presence back when Goliath and Demona were lovers may have you scratching your head (as most time-travel conundrums do at some point) but makes for an interesting episode where the past and present are compellingly juggled.

Demona acts cool by leaning on the humans she has cursed to stone. The gargoyles are a little underwhelmed and confused by the statue they think is a present from Elisa. That police officer looks a bit like Demona, don't ya think?

Disc 2

9. City of Stone, Part One (23:01) (Originally aired September 18, 1995)

Demona takes to the airwaves with a curse to strike back against humanity. The origins of her detest for the human race is depicted, with flashbacks of 10th century Scotland and her interaction with a young Macbeth.

10. City of Stone, Part Two (22:52) (Originally aired September 19, 1995)
With all who saw and heard Demona's broadcast turned to stone (that includes pretty much every New Yorker), Goliath and the gargoyles try to track her down. Meanwhile, extensive flashback sequences reveal how a common enemy (The Hunter) drives Demona and Macbeth to become allies.

11. City of Stone, Part Three (22:54) (Originally aired September 20, 1995)
In the present day, the gargoyles and Xanatos work together to reverse Demona's curse on humans, which has nearly all of New York in a confused state. But the majority of the episode takes place in 11th Century Scotland, where Demona and Macbeth make a pact with the Weird Sisters (basically Shakespeare's Three Fates) which grants them near-immortality. Their deal also helps them against King Duncan, who as "The Hunter" seeks to get rid of both Macbeth and the handful of remaining gargoyles.

12. City of Stone, Part Four (23:00) (Originally aired September 21, 1995)
With the aid of Xanatos' robotic gargoyles, Goliath and the real gargoyles attempt with Xanatos to set the skies ablaze as a last resort for undoing the nighttime-as-stone curse upon humans. Meanwhile, the eternally-linked Demona and Macbeth square off in the present-day, as Demona tries to thwart the curse-reversal operations.

13. High Noon (23:02) (Originally aired September 25, 1995)
Macbeth and Demona team up to steal Coldstone from the Gargoyles as they are trying to devise computer help for the part robot, three-tortured-souls-in-one. Macbeth, Demona (who is now human during daylight), and Coldstone work together to outsmart the gargoyles and serve their own interests. An exhausted Elisa struggles to help her friends.

Goliath stands next to Halcyon Renard, an old man who believes in values. The Hollywood Tower of Terror is nothing compared to what Goliath has to put up with in "Revelations." Thailog = Goliath backwards, almost.

14. Outfoxed (22:54) (Originally aired September 28, 1995)
Goliath tries to protect the Fortress II, a robot-operated airborne ship, on its maiden voyage. He is mistaken for trouble and taken prisoner by Halcyon Renard, who recalls Goliath was responsible for destroying the original Fortress (which is depicted briefly in a flashback sequence from Season 1). Meanwhile, Renard's trusted assistant Preston Vogel (guest voice Peter Scolari) and Fox have a sabotage plan involving a breakdown among the ship's crew of robots. Fox also has a couple of secrets up her sleeve, which come at the end of this more suspenseful than usual episode.

15. Revelations (22:54) (Originally aired October 26, 1995)
This episode is told from the point of view of Elisa's partner Matt Bluestone. Matt's thirst for conspiracy brings him closer to discovering and exposing the Illuminati, the secret society that has long haunted him to the indifference of those around him. It also brings him to the Gargoyles when long-missing gangster and Illuminati member Mace Malone tips him off to Elisa's secret. As a result, Goliath winds up in Malone's Hotel Cabal, a mind-warping maze fraught with danger and distress. It's quite the engaging show, and starting from the middle, as it does, works to its advantage.

16. Double Jeopardy (22:50) (Originally aired November 6, 1995)
Elisa, Broadway, and Lexington encounter what they think is Goliath being uncharacteristically evil. But it's not, of course. It's Thailog, an evil clone of Goliath who has now concocted a clever scheme to get back at his creators, Xanatos and Dr. Sevarius.

17. Upgrade (22:50) (Originally aired November 9, 1995)
The gargoyles mostly foil The Pack's bank heist, but Goliath gets injured in the process. Hudson advises Goliath to pick out a gargoyle as second in command, leading to some friendly rivalry among Lexington, Broadway, and Brooklyn. While Xanatos gives The Pack a makeover, providing them with robotic enhancements to put up a better fight in their rematch with the gargoyles.

Continue to Page 2 >>

Order Gargoyles: Season Two, Volume One DVD from Amazon.com

Page 1: Show and Season 2 Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

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Reviewed December 13, 2005.

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Gargoyles on DVD: Season 1 Season 2: Volume 1