"Gargoyles" Season 2, Volume 1 DVD Review
|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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
A star () denotes my ten favorite episodes from this Season 2, Volume 1 collection.
1. Leader of the Pack (22:54) (Originally aired September 4, 1995)
2. Metamorphosis (22:50) (Originally aired September 5, 1995)
3. Legion (22:57) (Originally aired September 6, 1995)
4. A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time (22:50) (Originally aired September 7, 1995)
5. The Mirror (22:55) (Originally aired September 11, 1995)
6. The Silver Falcon (22:59) (Originally aired September 12, 1995)
7. Eye of the Beholder (22:51) (Originally aired September 13, 1995)
8. Vows (23:00) (Originally aired September 14, 1995)
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)
11. City of Stone, Part Three (22:54) (Originally aired September 20, 1995)
12. City of Stone, Part Four (23:00) (Originally aired September 21, 1995)
13. High Noon (23:02) (Originally aired September 25, 1995)
14. Outfoxed (22:54) (Originally aired September 28, 1995)
15. Revelations (22:54) (Originally aired October 26, 1995)
16. Double Jeopardy (22:50) (Originally aired November 6, 1995)
17. Upgrade (22:50) (Originally aired November 9, 1995)
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Reviewed December 13, 2005.
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Gargoyles on DVD: Season 1 • Season 2: Volume 1