Cartoon Corner: Gargoyles (1994)
Show Name: Gargoyles
Written: Michael Reaves, Lydia Marano, Brynne Chandler Reaves, Cary Bates, Gary Sperling, and Eric Luke
Director: Dennis Woodyard, Frank Paur, Kazuo Terada, Saburo Hashimoto, and Bob Kline
Number of Seasons: 3
Number of Episodes: 78
Air Dates: October 24, 1994 to February 15, 1997
It has been a while since we reviewed a cartoon show and I thought that it was about time I reviewed one of my favourite shows when I was in High School.
When you speak to people about their favourite cartoons, this one is rarely in the running as not many people remember this gem. It started its run in syndication and eventually found a home on ABC.
Brief History and Background
The show started as a pretty small affair. The first season comprised of only 13 episodes. Most of the stories for this first season were written by the husband and wife team of Michael Reaves and Brynne Chandler Reaves. The first 5 episodes of the series were essentially the opening story to Gargoyles and was pretty cool. Looking back on it, it is rare that cartoons at the time, had the story telling depth of Gargoyles.
For the second season there was increase of staff and seems that they had more budget. The writing staff increased to include Lydia Marano, Cary Bates, Gary Sperling, Adam Gilad, Diane Duane and Peter Morwood. It seems that Disney had a lot of hope for this franchise.
The third season staff changed again and the mood of the show had changed and it seemed to have lost its appeal. At least to me and it is a bummer cause the first 2 seasons were very good and they could have done something more with it.
There were also comic books released during this time by Disney. A few of these particular comics were taken for the animated show. When researching this show, I did not know that Marvel released some comics based on the show. There were 11 books released with a 12th one that was never released.
There were a lot of Hollywood A-listers that lended their voices to the show. Many of them surprisingly were from the Star Trek series of shows. Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) and Jonathan Frakes (Commander William Riker), Michael Dorn (Lieutenant Worf), Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway), Nichelle Nichols (Uhura), and Brent Spiner (Lieutenant Commander Data). There were others but these actors often made appearances on the show. This is one hell of a cast. The one voice that stood out for me was Keith David William as Goliath. He is known for his narration on various documentaries such as Ken Burns' Jazz and Mark Twain.
The theme itself is not as catchy as other cartoons of its time. However, the opening sequence for me was epic. It is the story of Gargoyles in one minute. The narration by Keith David Williams is awesome as always. Back then he was not known as much for his voice acting but it was still a great fit.
I always loved the animation. I am a sucker for old school drawn animation. I have mentioned this before. It brings a spirit to the cartoon and it extra feeling. I am not saying that people that do computer animations do not do a good job, I just find it to be a cold approach. I know that I am one of the few that thinks this way, but for me hand drawn animation goes a long way.
This was one of the best opening themes for any cartoon. It felt more adult and less childish. especially when you compare this to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Transformers, and G.I. Joe for example.
The wikipedia page describes this story much better than I ever could.
The series features a species of nocturnal creatures known as gargoyles that turn to stone during the day, focusing on a clan led by Goliath. In the year 994, the clan lives in a castle in Scotland. Most are betrayed and killed by humans and the remainder are magically cursed to sleep—i.e., be frozen in stone form—until the castle "rises above the clouds." A millennium later, in 1994, billionaire David Xanatos purchases the gargoyles' castle and has it reconstructed atop his New York skyscraper, the Eyrie Building, thus awakening Goliath and the remainder of his clan. While trying to adjust to their new world, they are aided by a sympathetic female police officer, Elisa Maza, and quickly come into conflict with the plotting Xanatos. In addition to dealing with the gargoyles' attempts to adjust to modern New York City, the series also incorporated various supernatural threats to their safety and to the world at large.
That premise is awesome. I read that and i wanted to rewatch the series again. There is something about the lore of Gargoyles mixed in with modern times. I am also a sucker for supernatural shows and this was the closest to a show about supernatural beings without reading a book.
There are so many reasons why I love this show.
As you saw above, the theme and intro were awesome. They really got you excited and getting you to watch the show. It was epic and grand.
The characters were very well developed. Goliath was well voiced and well drawn. He looks like a leader and acts like one. I also liked the fact that there was a relationship at one point between Goliath (Gargoyle) and Elisa Maza (Human). It felt like a weird version of Beauty and the Beast.
I always liked a few of the characters based on name alone. There was the main advisor to Goliath called Hudson, named after the Hudson River. There was also Brooklyn, named after the New York City borough. The last but not least the best name of everyone is Fu-Dog. He is a green-skinned leonine gargoyle beast, looks very much like a Chinese statuary lion.
The feel of the show was always cool for me. Since they can only live at night away from their stone selves, the show was more dark. I liked this. It gave it a tone and feel that was different from most cartoons at the time.
There was a game on the Genesis that was released in 1995 called Gargoyles. It has been so long since that I played it that I would have to play this again to see how it has aged. Here is a sample of the gameplay.
Gargoyles (SEGA Genesis) - Sample Gameplay
I remember it being cool and fun but I never had the game. I would rent it from the corner store at the time, when renting video games was a thing.
You can buy the seasons and watch them (Google Play, iTunes and Windows Store). Unfortunately, it does not seem that the show is available on any streaming service (Netflix or Amazon Prime) at the moment. The show used to be available on YouTube for free, but it seems that the license ran out and this is not the case anymore. You can find some random shows here and there but not the full series.
Gargoyles (Season 2 - Hunter's Moon 3)
There you have it, a show that was great and that most people have forgotten. I know that there are rumours that Jordan Peele has pitched an idea to Disney about making a movie about this. I think that could have potential. He has a good track record so far.
Do you remember this show? Was it as good as you remembered?
Let us know below.