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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

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

Elisa and Tony team up for a protection scam on local establishments. Or do they? Hudson is not a happy prisoner of Xanatos in "The Price." A friend from the past pays Goliath a visit and takes him to Avalon.

Disc 3

18. Protection (22:48) (Originally aired November 13, 1995)
Elisa and the gargoyles seem uncharacteristically hostile and amoral in this episode, but there's more than meets the eye as Anthony Dracon and his cronies use bully tactics to get neighborhood establishments to pay them for protection.

19. The Cage (22:49) (Originally aired November 16, 1995)
It's high time to catch up with Elisa's brother Derek, who remains a gargoyle-like beast named Talon, has not yet reunited with the rest of his family, and still believes that Dr. Sevarius is dead and Goliath is the enemy.
Elisa and the gargoyles try to help him and his fellow mutations, but they fight against anyone who speaks against Xanatos.

20. The Price (22:51) (Originally aired October 12, 1995)
Macbeth shows up holding a non-specific bone to pick with the Gargoyles. His attempts to terrorize them ultimately lead to Hudson not waking out of his stone slumber at dusk. While the Gargoyles try to find a cure for their old friend, Xanatos is searching for immortality.

21. Avalon, Part One (22:46) (Originally aired November 20, 1995)
For this episode, the start of the series' third multi-part arc, the powers that be again decided on a two-tiered approach that weaves between the happenings of 10th century Scotland and 20th century Manhattan. An armored man looking for Goliath in Manhattan reveals himself to be Tom, a young boy when the gargoyles were cursed in Scotland who was entrusted to watch over gargoyle eggs and has since grown up. He invites Goliath and Elisa to the mystical island of Avalon, where the eggs have remained for a thousand years.

22. Avalon, Part Two (22:50) (Originally aired November 21, 1995)
Goliath and Elisa get to see the "eggs" which are now fully-grown gargoyles and include Angela, who bears a physical resemblance to Demona. Rather than getting to know each other better, the two sets of gargoyles both work together to fight off The Archmage, a formidable old opponent who is well on his way to world domination.

When in doubt, wake up King Arthur. Goliath battles the stone creatures of his inner psyche in "Shadows of the Past." This Labyrinth gargoyle has found a stash of guns.

23. Avalon, Part Three (22:48) (Originally aired November 22, 1995)
With the gargoyles forced to face off with The Archmage, The Weird Sisters, Macbeth, and Demona, Elisa decides they could use some warrior assistance. To that end, she awakes King Arthur from his sleep. Arthur does battle with Macbeth and there's enough action to go around for all in this epic good vs. bad arc-concluder.

24. Shadows of the Past (22:53) (Originally aired November 23, 1995)
In the previous episode's conclusion, we were told that Avalon does not take you where you want to go. Instead, it sends you where you need to be. Apparently, Goliath needs to be inside the cave atop a perilous cliff in Scotland, where his old castle used to stand. Troubled by visions and haunted by guilt, Goliath must stand up to the demons of his past in order to survive. This is the first episode in the so-called Avalon World Tour arc, which will last well into the next DVD set.

25. Heritage (22:49) (Originally aired November 27, 1995)
Goliath, Elisa, Bronx, and Angela aren't heading home just yet. Their next stop is an island off the western coast of Canada. A mystical, elderly Native American woman helps Elisa recover from her near-drowning, but Goliath and Angela are warned by a raven-headed gargoyle of the woman's sorcery. Her well-educated son doesn't buy into her spiritual beliefs, but things aren't always what they seem.

26. Kingdom (22:46) (Originally aired February 5, 1996)
With Goliath, Elisa, and Bronx still missing, the rest of the central gargoyles try to find them, with Brooklyn making for a reluctant surrogate leader. They team up with Elisa's brother Derek and his group, who are dealing with trouble in the ranks of the Labyrinth lurkers.

For Halloween, Elisa and Goliath re-enact a scene from "Beauty and the Beast" sans the Angela Lansbury song. Goliath looks at his second in command.

VIDEO and AUDIO

"Gargoyles" is again presented in the 1.33:1 fullscreen aspect ratio, matching the dimensions in which it and most other '90s television series were made. The picture quality shows considerable improvement over Season 1, with the predominantly nighttime-set animation looking more polished and nearly impeccably transferred to DVD. Detail is satisfying, sharpness seems spot-on, and colors are solid and largely consistent. Next to the slightly older cartoon series Disney recently released to DVD in thrifty fashion, "Gargoyles" looks much better and that should please fans. The visuals might not yet reach feature film quality, but they do ascend above Season 1 and the majority of '90s television shows.

In the sound department, "Gargoyles" offers a Dolby Surround track and a fine one at that. The tracks here seem a bit more active and involving than Season 1's, not that they left great room for betterment when you consider that daily animated series have never gone through the same mixing process that big screen productions do. Though the stereo surround presentation won't rock your windows and glasses the way other DVDs might, it delivers about as sophisticated and satisfying a soundtrack that you could hope for on a mass-produced, 10-year-old television series. The memorable/hummable pieces of score that are thoughtfully stretched to fill the season come through well. The dialogue has been recorded with commendable clarity and mixed seamlessly with settings. The plentiful sound effects - from animalistic gargoyle groans to your costly lasers and ensuing explosions - are also represented in a more than adequate fashion. In short, no complaints need be lodged in either the picture or the sound departments.

Co-creator Greg Weisman provides introductions to all 26 episodes on the set. Ed Asner steps out from his Santa suit to talk about voicing Hudson. Versatile voice actor Jeff Bennett not only provided vocals for Brooklyn, but Owen and countless others too. In "The Gathering of the Cast and Crew", he gives a demonstration of his range.

BONUS FEATURES

Many of Disney's television series receive either absolutely nothing or nothing of substance in the way of DVD supplements. The water-testing first season release of "Gargoyles" was fortunate enough to be graced with an audio commentary on the five-episode pilot and a featurette. This time around, there is a new commentary (on a 4-parter), a new featurette, plus something entirely new (for "Gargoyles", that is): episode introductions by co-creator Greg Weisman. Diehard fans of the series likely know of the high regard for which Weisman holds both his series and its many followers. Weisman seems to be the man driving these DVDs (with the ardent fanbase and solid sales fueling him) as well as the one dispatching news of their release. On the discs themselves, he serves the role of your insider "Gargoyles" buddy and his introductions (which follow in the vain of Stan Lee's exuberant previews on Disney's Marvel cartoon series) further this sensation.

Weisman's twenty-six episode introductions run, on average, 20 to 30 seconds each. They are generally thoughtful, relevant, and well-done, highlighting key voice performances and story specifics of the episode you are about to watch. These simple but appreciated inclusions are bound to be useful for those unfamiliar with the episode titles (who are too lazy to call up this review). The intros are not necessary to enjoy the episodes, but they do provide a welcome perspective and only err slightly when they contain spoilers (having seen the whole season probably shouldn't have to be a prerequisite for being introduced to the episodes) or become a little fanboyish (nothing compared to Stan Lee's setups on the "Fantastic Four" set). Otherwise, even when they're a little cheesy and the background graphics seem needlessly busy, they are the next best thing to having full commentaries on all
the episodes. Gladly, you can choose to "Play All" together, where each disc's intros total about 4 minutes and Disc 1 contains an additional introduction to the introductions. Being prompted to select having the introduction included or not at the start of every individual episode playback, however, is a bit tedious.

Disc One also holds the 9-minute featurette "The Gathering of The Cast & Crew." Several members of the voice cast and creative staff of "Gargoyles" have been newly interviewed for this piece, something a fan of any show would be glad to see. It's really great that the talent behind the show is interested in paying tribute to their series by participating on the DVD. With a few noteworthy exceptions, this generally hasn't happened for any other retired Disney television show from the past twenty years lucky enough to come to DVD, animated or not (and there's been hardly any of the former). Perhaps the studio deserves some credit for extending invitations, but based on the DVD treatment of other series from the studio, I'm guessing thanks are more likely in order for Greg Weisman and the fans who have kept "Gargoyles" alive in the years since it left television. Together, they make something special like this possible. The featurette itself covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time, including the amped-up production Season 2 rang in, the Shakespeare-inspired stuff that was regularly weaved into the show, the series' passionate fanbase and different traits of the central characters. Appropriately-timed clips from Season 2 appear throughout. Among the voice cast members who speak are Ed Asner, Bridgette Bako, Thom Adcox, Bill Fagerbakke, and Jeff Bennett (who illustrates some of the vastly different voices he memorably performed on the show). There are a few noteworthy absences, including Keith David, who at least appeared on Disc 1's featurette and commentaries.

The last bonus feature is an audio commentary on the 4-episode arc "City of Stone", which can be found on Disc 2. Here, Weisman, supervising producer Frank Paur, and story editor/writer Michael Reaves remark upon one of a number of multi-part tentpoles that marked "Gargoyles." Their discussion covers a good mix of narrative/artistic intentions and technical/business realities, both of which lend quite a bit of deep insight into the creative process of "Gargoyles." Fulfilling the former, the trio speak about characters, the actors who gave them voice, the epic nature of the four-parter and how it ties into both previous and future "Gargoyles" episodes, and the historical and Shakespearian inspirations for the world of Macbeth which is as thoroughly defined here as it ever was. As for the business realities, they explain why Laura San Giacomo wasn't credited for voicing Fox, how a tight budget required them to make the most of a limited score, how different animation studios were employed resulting in inconsistencies, and various other insider tidbits of this nature.

The discussion is quite screen-specific and the speakers point out plenty of bothersome errors you might have easily missed and several visual or character details you may not have fully appreciated. Over the 90 minutes of commenting, there are some stretches of quietude, pure praise, and merely viewing and observing what is "cool" and such. These are in the minority, though, as for the most part, it's a highly engaging listen from three men who are clearly passionate about the program and impressively familiar with 10-year-old episodes. Fans will likely wish that there were both more commentaries and more participants, but even having just four episodes with these entertaining and informative tracks puts "Gargoyles" far ahead of most Disney television series in the DVD game.

A different villain adorns each disc's Main Menu. Here, Demona lights up Disc 1. A look at the Episode Selection menus from Disc 2. The Weird Sisters show up on each disc's Bonus Features menu.

MENUS, DESIGN and PACKAGING

The villains of "Gargoyles" get their day on the cool Main Menus' skyline scene; Demona claims Disc 1, Coldstone adorns Disc 2, and jetpack-equipped Xanatos appears on Disc 3. The animated 4x3 menus offer an appropriate level of entertainment if you leave them running; helicopters and other characters fly by, Demona's eyes go red, rain constantly falls, and so on. Music accompanies submenus, but outside of transitions, there is no additional movement to be found in the selection screen visuals. As is customary for TV box sets, each disc offers the choice to "Play All" or select an individual episode. Aside from the aforementioned annoyance with constantly being asked to play introductions or not, the menus are entirely serviceable and show much more inspiration in their design than the two recently-released Disney cartoon series box sets.

Unfortunately, there are again no chapter stops within the episodes for quick scene access. If you're using a DVD-ROM drive, most players will allow you to drag to a desired timecode. Some physical DVD players will too, otherwise
you're left commanding the fast forward and reverse buttons to the speed that best serves your needs. There's really no advantage or logic to not including chapter stops (despite what David Lynch says). Hopefully, by next December (or whenever the inevitable Season 2 Volume 2 set comes out), Disney will remember to offer these as they have done for most of this fall's plentiful TV on DVD releases.

Season 1's two-disc set was packaged in an ordinary, standard width black keepcase. Season 2 Volume 1 goes the route of most Buena Vista half-hour show box sets with a six-sided Digipak held in a cardboard slipcover. It opens up to provide the three discs (overlapping), a note from co-creator Greg Weisman, episode titles, and stock artwork. Demona, Hudson, and Brooklyn appear on the three disc labels. There are only two inserts inside the box and they are the long-included (and now outdated) Disney TV on DVD catalogue and Disney TV on DVD Library sweepstakes form.

Sneak Peeks play automatically at the start of Disc 1. They begin with the now-ubiquitous spot for the Disney Channel Movie Surfers' previews of The Wild and The Shaggy Dog and also promote Volumes 1 through 5 of "Power Rangers S.P.D.", concurrently-issued Disney Channel DVDs "That's So Raven": Raven's House Party and The Proud Family Movie, and Valiant. From the dedicated menu, additional promos can be accessed for Toy Story 2: Special Edition, Bionicle 3: Web of Shadows, "Spider-Man": The Venom Saga, and "Power Rangers S.P.D." on digital cable's Toon Disney channel.

We live again! Broadway, Lexington, and Brooklyn watch TV like you and me!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Ten years after airing, these second season episodes of "Gargoyles" hold up as solid entertainment which clearly ascend television animation standards. The series' carefully-constructed world manages to hold the attentions of young action-hungry audiences and, more commendably, delight older viewers with compelling, complicated characters and imaginative, inspired stories. In spite of budget limitations and the constrictions of consistently putting its personalities in jeopardy, "Gargoyles" regularly engages, challenges, and excites. The first half of Season 2 offers a few lulls, but generally a rewarding experience worth revisiting in either small or large doses.

"Gargoyles" has again received DVD treatment better than the majority of last decade's animated series, with this 3-disc set boasting improvements in picture and sound, a satisfying amount of bonuses, and a modest list price for more than ten hours of content. As such, the Season 2 Volume 1 DVD receives a hearty recommendation based on the merits of the series and its praiseworthy presentation. Few fans of episodic animation would be disappointed by this collection and even those with minimal interest might be surprised by how easy it is for "Gargoyles" to win them over.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

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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

Related DVD Reviews:
Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: Volume 1 DuckTales: Volume 1
Fantastic Four: The Complete Animated Series Spider-Man: The Venom Saga
Mid-'90s Television:
Boy Meets World: The Complete Third Season Home Improvement: The Complete Third Season
Ellen: The Complete Season Two Sweet Valley High: The Complete First Season

Related DVD Preorders:
Goof Troop: Volume 1 (release date: February 14, 2006)
Quack Pack: Volume 1 (release date: February 14, 2006)

Reviewed December 13, 2005.

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Gargoyles on DVD: Season 1 Season 2: Volume 1