tek's rating:

Gargoyles, in syndication / ABC
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Caution: spoilers

When this started in 1994, it wasn't on any channel I got. By the time it ended in 1997, I must have had access to it, but wouldn't have wanted to see it unless I could watch from the beginning. But it's something I've always vaguely wanted to check out someday (mainly because I was aware of various Star Trek: The Next Generation actors providing voices). I finally got the first season on DVD in 2017, and I enjoyed it well enough. Maybe not quite as much as some people who watched it during its original run did, but well enough. And I look forward to watching season 2, though I'm not sure when I'll get that. I should mention that season one consists of just 13 episodes, the first five of which are basically a single story (they're called "Awakening, parts 1-5"). The second season consists of 52 episodes, so it was released in two DVD sets. (Though for some reason, some sites where you can stream or download the series list the first four episodes of season 2 as part of season 1.) The first two seasons were syndicated, but when Disney cancelled the series, ABC picked it up for a 13-episode third season, called "Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles." That season has not yet been released on DVD, and I don't know if it ever will be, but it's available to watch online. (Another thing I don't understand about streaming websites is that they break season 2 up into three volumes, and call the actual third season "Season 5.") So anyway, I expected to buy season 2 on DVD someday, then eventually watch season 3 (or 5) on Amazon. (Edit: the whole series eventually became available on Disney+, when that service launched in late 2019. So maybe someday I'll subscribe to that and watch seasons 2 and 3 there. We'll see.)

Season One
It begins in Scotland, in the year 994. The gargoyles were protectors of Castle Wyvern, but most of the humans who lived there didn't entirely trust them, considering them monsters. I should mention that they turn to stone at sunset, so they can't move (and I guess they sleep during that phase), returning to life at sunrise. (So, while they're not made of stone during the day, they're flesh-and-blood creatures that can be wounded. Though they're obviously still more vulnerable at night, when they can't defend themselves.) Also, they can't fly, but can use their wings to glide on air currents. And none of them have names, except their leader, Goliath (Keith David). The gargoyles repelled an attack by Vikings led by Hakon (Clancy Brown), and later Goliath and his mentor (the former leader of his clan) hunt them down. However, this turned out to be a diversion by the Vikings, who had returned to the castle to smash all the gargoyles when they were turned to stone during the day. However, three younger gargoyles remained alive, as they hadn't been on duty. And, well, a lot of stuff happens, and the Vikings are finally defeated. But the important thing is that at one point, a wizard called Magus (Jeff Bennett) cast a spell on most of the remaining gargoyles to remain in their stone sleep "until the castle rises above the clouds." When Goliath learns of this, he doesn't want to go on living without any of his kind, so he gets Magus to cast the same spell on him.

One thousand years later, in 1994, a rich industrialist named David Xanatos (Jonathan Frakes, aka Riker from ST:TNG) has the entire castle moved from Scotland to New York City, and rebuilt at the top of his skyscraper. So the castle finally rose above the clouds, and the curse was broken. Xanatos befriends the gargoyles, and they defend the castle when it's attacked by commandos in a helicopter. The battle catches the attention of police detective Elisa Maza (Salli Richardson, best known to me from Eureka), who discovers the gargoyles and befriends Goliath. She also encourages the other gargoyles to choose names for themselves. Goliath's mentor becomes Hudson (Ed Asner). The largest gargoyle is Broadway (Bill Fagerbakke). The smallest is Lexington. And in the middle is the sarcastic Brooklyn (Jeff Bennett). The three of them are brothers from the same rookery. There's also a doglike gargoyle pet called Bronx (Frank Welker). Eventually, Xanatos reunites Goliath with his former mate. She had not been cursed with the others, who thought she had been killed in the Viking attack. But apparently she's been alive all these years, and at some point, she had been given the name Demona (Marina Sirtis, Troi from ST:TNG). Later, Xanatos claims that some important computer disks had been stolen by the commandos, and convinces the gargoyles to retrieve them for him. However, Elisa discovers Xanatos himself had hired the commandos to stage the attack, to trick the gargoyles into stealing disks that belonged to a competitor. He also created robotic gargoyles to eliminate the real ones, but the robots lose their fight against Goliath and the others. Demona then reveals that she's been conspiring with Xanatos, though her goals were not the same as his. Really, she hates all of humanity, and believes only gargoyles should survive. But Goliath and the others still want to protect humans, so Demona becomes their enemy. Meanwhile, Xanatos goes to jail for the theft of the disks. But for now, the only humans who are aware of the gargoyles' existence are Xanatos, Elisa, and Xanatos's aide, Owen Burnett (Jeff Bennett). Owen remains to look after the castle (among Xanatos's other affairs) while his boss is in prison. And that brings us to the end of the five-part origin story.

Over the rest of the season, various other characters are introduced, some of whom become enemies to the gargoyles. There's "the Pack," a group of genetically and cybernetically enhanced mercenaries who had been assembled by Xanatos to star on a TV show, before revealing their true purpose, to oppose the gargoyles. The Pack includes Wolf (Clancy Brown), Jackal (Matt Frewer), Hyena (Cree Summer), Coyote (Jonathan Frakes), Fox (Laura San Giacomo), and Dingo (Jim Cummings). Another enemy is a mysterious man called Macbeth (John Rhys-Davies). And of course Demona pops up from time to time. Meanwhile, Elisa tries to convince the gargoyles to abandon the castle, which Goliath doesn't want to do, as it has always been their home. But eventually Xanatos is released from prison, and it becomes clear that they can no longer stay there. So they move into a clock tower above the police station where Elisa works. Also, Elisa is assigned a new partner named Matt Bluestone (Thomas F. Wilson, best known as Biff from Back to the Future). And at one point, Xanatos hires Elisa's brother Derek (another cop) to be his pilot and bodyguard. Elisa advises against taking the job, but he does so anyway. In the season finale, Xanatos and Demona combine magic and science to resurrect one of Goliath's long-dead rookery brothers, who now takes the name Coldstone (Michael Dorn, Worf from ST:TNG).

And I reckon that's all I can say, plotwise, for now. But the show has some decent animation, action, humor, and drama, and can get surprisingly dark, at times. But then, maybe it's not so surprising, considering that Goliath and his friends (and Demona) are supposedly the last of their kind. (The same plot point has been used to great dramatic effect in some other shows I could name... which actually came out years later than this, but before I ever saw this.) Anyway, I'll say again that I really look forward to seeing the rest of the series....

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