June 24, 2009
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. Disney has certainly gone through its ups and downs in terms of TV, hasn't it?
NC (voiceover): That is to say, it wasn't always the onslaught of "popular" sitcoms/rock star Barbie dolls it is today.
Clips of the Disney Afternoon theme is shown, along with clips of its shows.
NC (voiceover): Example: Disney once had a two hour block of programming called the Disney Afternoon. It started out strong with good shows like DuckTales, TaleSpin, and Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers, but after a while, the shows started to slip in popularity, with less successful programs like Quack Pack, Bonkers, and [Picture of Disney's Doug is shown] ...that show that must never be named. So Disney decided to take an approach they've never done before: an action series. Something that had no talking animals or cutesy scenarios that Disney was usually associated with. Their answer was a surprisingly well-written show simply known as Gargoyles.
Clips from the Gargoyles TV show are shown.
NC (voiceover): Often seen as Disney's answer to the Batman cartoon, Gargoyles was dark, serious, and very complex. Its stories were epic and its characters were fleshed out - well, scaled out.
NC: So, why was Gargoyles such a kick-ass show? Lots of reasons. (Beat) And you probably want to know what they are. So, let's stretch out our wings and fly right into Gargoyles.
Cut to the opening scenes of the show.
NC (voiceover): So it starts out in present-day New York as pieces and debris are dropped upon passing bystanders. So they call up Detective Elisa Maza to investigate, the only cop who for some reason has blue hair.*
Cut to a picture of a blue-haired Marzgurl with the word "Marzgurl?" written at the bottom.
NC (voiceover): Connection?
- Marge Simpson has blue hair and was also a cop.
Return to the show.
NC (voiceover): She's curious as to what could be causing all that horrible destruction.
Elisa Maza: Claw marks? What could be strong enough to leave claw marks in solid stone?
NC: (thinks for a second) Sporks?
Cut to an image of a spork with the words "Lord Spork" written next to it.
Voice of Lord Spork: (speaks with accompanying mystical music) The lineage of the sporks goes on for several eons. In fact, we predate the dinosaurs.
NC: (confused) Indeed!
Return to the show.
NC (voiceover): So we flashback a thousand years ago to Scotland, where the ancient battle for... this castle, I guess, is being fought by... whoever the hell these guys are, because they... really, really... want it. I don't know. There's, like, no detail on this backstory. It's just people with swords doing what people with swords do. Give any guy a sword and he will want to go pillage something.
Hakon (An Invading Warlord): Attack!
Hakon's warriors charge at the castle.
NC: (as a warrior, while pretending to brandish a sword, parodying Braveheart) They may take our lives, but they will never take our questionably unclear MOTIVATIONS!
Return to the show.
NC (voiceover): But it turns out those stone gargoyles aren't just there for decoration. By daytime, they're stone, but when the sun goes down, they break through the rock and become the defenders of the castle.
NC: (a little bit confused) So, they're like stone vampires?
A Photoshopped image of a vampire with sunglasses, smoking a joint and a bong is shown. (Get it? Stoned vampire.)
NC: No, no, no. I didn't mean like...Never mind!
Return to the show.
NC (voiceover): So the leader of the clan is called Goliath, who I swear has the coolest freakin' voice of all time.
Goliath: You are trespassing. / They're not far ahead. / I can scare those cowards away without any help.
NC: I don't know who that actor's wife is, but I bet she plays a LOT of 70's music when he's around.
(70's sexy music is played over a scene with Goliath gently grabbing hold of Demona, a female gargoyle)
Goliath: You and I are one, now and forever.
The words "Hell Yeah" appears at the bottom of the screen.
NC (voiceover): There's other gargoyles, too, but for some reason, they don't have names. I guess they just associate them with their common action team stereotypes.
Broadway (a fat gargoyle): (grabs a lot of fruit in his hands) What is it? Are we being attacked again?
NC: (points off-screen to his right and chuckles) Look, it’s the Fat One!
Hudson: Tracks are very light for horses to carrying armored men.
NC: (points off-screen to his left with a smile) How are you doing over there, Old One?
Lexington: (to Broadway) Not afraid, are you? (pokes at Broadway’s belly) I can see why.
NC: (to the camera) My, the Prissy One is in rare form today.
Demona: Let us go out in force and put an end to these pigs once and for all.
NC: Hey, how are you doing, Incredibly Big Boobied One?
NC (voiceover): Oh, there’s also a gargoyle dog. How the hell does that work? I mean, are there gargoyle cats, too? (A Photoshopped image of a cat with bat wings on its back is shown with accompanying sound effect of a cat snarl) My guess is it’s not really a dog but a normal gargoyle that was just born with special needs.
(A couple men are seen running away from the “gargoyle dog” who will later become known as Bronx)
NC: Leave him alone. He just likes to walk like that.
NC (voiceover): So I guess the castle is run by the princess… Insert Pretty Name Here.*
*(Actually, that princess’ name is Katharine)
Captain: I took the liberty of asking them to appear and be recognized for their bravery.
Princess Katharine: We are most seriously displeased to allow beasts in the dining hall.
Magus: These are unnatural creatures. No good can come from associating with them.
NC: Except saving our asses on a daily basis. Hi??
NC (voiceover): I mean, I know prejudice gets stronger the further back you go, but why do they hate these guys? They make house security systems look like the traps from Home Alone!
Captain: (to Goliath) You are as good a soldier as the Philistine giant who fought David.
Princess Katharine: You do well to remember, Captain, that the biblical Goliath was also a bully and a savage!
NC: To be fair, they only eat five high school children a week. That’s not that bad.
Captain: Goliath, we owe you our lives.
Goliath: As we owe you ours every day.
NC (voiceover): (as a narrator for a fake TV promo) But all was not meant to be. When the “E! True Mythical Story” continues, (the caption “Coming Up” appears below) drug abuse and thousand-year-old curses.
NC (voiceover): (normal) For, indeed, there is trouble about, as Goliath’s best human friend (the Captain) leads him away from the castle so he can sabotage the weapons. Goliath finds out too late as the sun rises and freezes our heroes. (Beat) Do they ever freeze in an embarrassing pose?
NC: (demonstrates the following in his seat) Like one of them was just standing there taking a wiz and then suddenly, “Oh, shit! The sun! Motherf—” (He is seen immediately frozen in stone)
NC (voiceover): So the bad guys storm the castle, take everybody prisoner and even destroy all the stone statues of the gargoyles. Yeah, maybe you should’ve, oh, I don’t know, HID YOURSELVES OR SOMETHING! I mean, why display yourselves in the middle of the day in plain vulnerable sight?
NC: That’s pretty cocky, guys. Do you also make taunting motions before the sun comes up? (A drawing by NC of three stone gargoyles taunting is shown (the first holding a sign that says “Smash me!” the second blowing a raspberry and the third flipping the bird with both hands))
NC (voiceover): So Goliath returns and finds all his warriors smashed into cigarette butts. (Goliath stands and roars skyward) There’s only three others who survived, as well as that weird gargoyle dog, because they were sealed in a hidden shelter earlier. So the gargoyles stick with what’s left of their clan and do a hunt down for vengeance, while the bad guys talk to the princess and her…wizardly Legolas impersonator.
Magus: (to Hakon) You blackguard. (Hakon is seen burning Magus’ papers containing spells and cackles) No! My spells!
NC (voiceover): (as Hakon) Now, which one of these fair maidens do you want?
NC (voiceover): (as Captain) I’ll take the albino. She has far more delicate features.
NC (voiceover): (normal) But the princess escapes and the gargoyles fly in to whip some Viking-ish ass.
(Broadway is seen punching a bad guy; cut to two men running into Bronx, who snarls and makes his eyes glow sinisterly)
NC (voiceover): (dubs over Bronx in a deep voice) Zuul, motherfucker! Zuul!
NC (voiceover): (normal) But the wizard guy thinks the princess is dead and the gargoyles are to blame. So he casts a spell on them to turn into stone permanently. But in actuality, Goliath saves the princess while the villains slip off the cliff to their deaths. You know, for a Disney cartoon, a lot of people sure do get the axe.
Goliath: (is enraged) I’ve been denied everything, EVEN MY REVENGE!!!
NC: (as Goliath, raises his fists in anger) And on top of that, I think I have a SPLINTER!!!
NC (voiceover): (as Goliath) Well, at least nothing else can go wrong— (Goliath sees the rest of his clan in permanent stone) Aw, God!
Goliath: (is angry) What sorcery is this?
NC (voiceover): So the wizard realizes his mistakes and regrets that he can’t reverse the spell.
Princess Katharine: You turned them to stone forever?
Magus: The terms of the spell were that they would sleep until the castle rises above the clouds.
NC: Granted, it’s a weak loophole, but it holds up, nonetheless.
NC (voiceover): So…yeah, it hasn’t exactly been the best week for Goliath. Thus, he tells the wizard to cast his spell one last time so that he can at least be reunited with his frozen brothers. (Goliath is seen in a crouched thinking position before NC cuts to an image of Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker” statue) Connection? (Back to the show) Cut to years later when a millionaire named Xanatos — played by Riker from Star Trek (An image of Johnathan Frakes in Star Trek uniform is shown quickly) — actually goes to the trouble of raising the castle above the clouds, resulting in probably the most epic yawn of all time.
(All the stone gargoyles are seen coming back to life and standing up to roar)
Xanatos: You are the one called Goliath?
NC: (as Goliath) But my friends call me…Go.
Goliath: How long has it been?
Xanatos: This may be a shock. A thousand years have gone by since the spell was cast. (All the gargoyles look shocked) The Magus who cursed you wrote the whole story down in there. (He shows Magus’ spell book encased under glass) I was fascinated by the Magus’ story. I wanted to see if it was true.
Goliath: Why have you done all this?
Donald Sinclair: (from Rat Race, played by John Cleese) I’m eccentric! Rowr! Rowr!
NC (voiceover): So Xanatos explains all about this new world they’ve entered while Detective Maza from earlier explores what was causing all that falling debris.
Elisa Maza: (to herself while leaving an elevator) Sorry, pal, but this investigation isn’t over yet. (explores with a flashlight) Don’t tell me this is where Dracula shows up. A good laugh would be worth a lot of money right about now.
NC: (as Elisa Maza) You know, for a snoop, I sure do talk to myself a lot.
(Cut to Elisa aiming her gun at Bronx before Goliath would take the gun and crush it in his hand; Elisa backs away in fear before falling backwards off the ledge unexpectedly; she screams before Goliath swoops down to save her and carry her to safety (The Superman heroic theme music is heard here))
NC (voiceover): So Goliath dives down and catches her and does his best to explain who they are.
Goliath: My kind have no names. But you humans call me Goliath.
Elisa: Your "kind"? You mean there’s more than one of you?
Goliath: (breathes in and out through his nose in a huff) Barely.
NC: (as Goliath) We treat the mentally disabled one as a dog, so I don’t know if that counts.
NC (voiceover): So he climbs back up the building carrying her along with him.
(After making it back to the top, Goliath lets Elisa off him before she would clutch her chest and take deep breaths before she sees Bronx approach; Cut back to when Elisa is seen falling off the ledge backward and screaming)
NC: (as Goliath, throws up a hand as though fed up) Oy!
NC (voiceover): OK, so that part didn’t happen, but she does befriend the gargoyles and becomes sort of the April O’Neil of the group. You know, if April was packing. (A Photoshopped image of April O’Neil’s head on a live-action woman’s body and holding two pistols is shown briefly) This starts off a quasi-romance between Goliath and Elisa, which I always thought was kind of weird. I mean, what would their kids look like?
NC: (is seen looking away to imagine such kids but then stops himself) Nope! Nope. Not gonna think about it. (He looks away to imagine again) Nope! J-Just erase it from my memory. (He looks away to imagine one last time, this time showing us an image of a human baby with a manipulated face (complete with large ears, turned-in eyes and a creepy grin); he recoils in disgust) How come my mind never does what I tell it to?!
NC (voiceover): So if there’s ever a time-traveling fish-out-of-water story, you know there’s gotta be a few scenes where they react comically with modern technology. But to the show’s credit, it’s pretty downplayed. They usually do it when these three are around.
(Broadway is seen taking some food from a large freezer room)
Brooklyn: What do you suppose this does?
(Brooklyn turns on the stove, which scares him and falls backwards, bumping into Lexington and starting a chain reaction of comedic slapstick in the kitchen (with an audio snippet of the theme music to the Three Stooges black and white theatrical shorts), beginning with Lexington falling backwards into a stock of pots and pans; Cut to Lexington shutting the door to the freezer room)
Broadway: Hey! Let me out!
(Broadway tries to break down the door with himself as Lexington and Brooklyn open the door; Broadway ends up running into the two and spilling the food he collected all over. NC is seen shrugging his shoulders as the theme music to the Three Stooges shorts ends)
NC (voiceover): But it’s decided that the gargoyles really do need names, so they decide to name themselves after the famous city landmarks.
Hudson: Does the sky need a name? (points out to the Hudson river) Does the river?
Elisa: The river’s called the Hudson.
Hudson: Fine, lass. Then I will be the Hudson as well.
NC: (as Hudson) Because it’s all dirty and often very smelly, just like me.
Brooklyn: Brooklyn. I’m Brooklyn.
Lexington: Lexington. Do you like it?
Goliath: They’re all fine names. (gestures to Bronx) I guess he’ll need one as well now.
Brooklyn: Oh, I’ve got one for him, too.
NC: He’ll be…New York Metropolitan Sewer System.
Brooklyn: (to Bronx) You’re Bronx.
(Bronx grunts and walks away)
Lexington: (chuckles) I think he likes it.
NC (voiceover): By the way, am I the only one that thought Lexington should have been named Queens? Oh, I gotta stop thinking of it. So, in a surprise twist, Goliath’s old flame returns as well, only this time, she’s called Demona -- voiced by another Star Trek actor (An image of Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi from Star Trek is shown) who wanted to play Troi -- except she’s not quite as Goliath remembers her, as she wants revenge on all humans because of how they betrayed her clan.
Demona: (to Goliath) We have no human friends, nor should we. / Humanity is a poison that must be purged from this planet. / I want you to get rid of the humans. / Humanity is our enemy, Goliath.
NC: Yeah, but we make such good porn. You gotta give us that.
NC (voiceover): Sort of like a female Magneto, Demona actually becomes one of the great cartoon villains, always vengeful and always cold with that great brooding voice.
Demona: If you are not my ally, then you are my enemy. (She fires some ammo out of a bazooka at a castle tower, to which Goliath is seen blown away from the explosion)
NC (voiceover): It turns out Xanatos becomes a villain, too; always hatching diabolical schemes to gain more power and control but always staying suave and savvy.
(Cut to Goliath holding Xanatos over the ledge and is about to drop him)
Xanatos: Go ahead. Without me, you’d still be gathering moss. (He smiles, and NC adds a shining sparkle to it)
NC (voiceover): Such is the plot to Gargoyles, as they constantly fight not only Demona and Xanatos, but a whole slew of other baddies. The stories were sometimes episodic but mostly intertwined, the best ones being about Demona’s past and how she survived all these centuries. For example, there’s one episode where Demona goes back in time and tries to convince herself to kill Goliath and rage war on all of humanity. But the hopeful Demona of the past doesn’t want to believe that she becomes the vengeful Demona of the future. This is actually a really clever idea.
Future Demona: (refers to the gargoyles being permanently frozen in stone) The humans did this, and you can stop it! Destroy all the humans! Rule the gargoyles, rule the world! (She clutches onto Past Demona’s arm) I am what you will become.
Past Demona: I will never be like you! (She snarls and withdraws her arm away)
Future Demona: I do not wish to hurt you.
Past Demona: And I do not wish to be you!
NC: (as Demona) And I don’t wish for you to…hurt you while I’m you…you!
NC (voiceover): There’s also episodes with mythical characters like King Arthur and Puck, but again, they don’t make them as cheesy as it sounds. They actually give them the dignity that a lot of these myths already had. That’s pretty impressive for a kids show. But I think my favorite episode is the one called “Future Tense,” (NC’s caption “Spoilers Alert” is shown quickly) where Goliath arrives in the future and all hell broke loose as Xanatos has apparently taken over. Trying to set things right, all the gargoyles get killed and slaughtered by Xanatos’ army. But then it turns out Xanatos is really a computer with all the memories of the original person. But THEN it turns out it wasn’t Xanatos at all; it was Lexington, who’s become overtaken by madness. BUT THEN it turns out it was all an illusion by Puck to try and get a mythical emblem from Goliath. AND THEN it turns out it may or may not have been a dream.
NC: AND THEN it turns out that Goliath is a woman! (A Photoshopped image of Goliath in drag appears with a dramatic music sting) Okay, that didn’t happen, but you get the idea.
NC (voiceover): This show was filled with plot twists and surprise endings that actually all seem to add up. They didn’t seem forced or contrived.
Puck: This just might be fun after all.
NC (voiceover): Oh, by the way, did I mention that Puck is voiced by Data (an image of Lieutenant Data from Star Trek is shown), ALSO from Star Trek?
NC: Good God! They should just make the credits look like this.
(In the style of the opening credits to Star Trek: The Next Generation with accompanying theme music, we first see the title card to Gargoyles followed by footage of characters from the show in the following order with these credits by NC: “With Jonathan Frakes as Xanatos,” “Marina Sirtis as Demona,” “Brent Spiner” as Puck,” and “And Whoopi Goldberg as Broadway”)
NC (voiceover): After the first two seasons were such a big hit, they went into their next and final season called “The Goliath Chronicles.” This is where I kind of remember it getting weird. It wasn’t horrible, but it just wasn’t as strong as it used to be. Xanatos is now a full-time friend, Demona was rarely seen, and the villains were replaced by these weird sort of gargoyle KKK rejects called the Quarrymen. That’s…really lame. The stories were a lot weirder, too. For example, there’s an episode where Broadway becomes a TV star, and another one where Goliath actually goes on trial. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an episode entitled “Shark Jumping and You.” But I remember the original shows, and they were always gripping and clever. It’s funny, because this show came on while I was in the middle of high school, around the point when you kind of stop watching kids cartoons. So the rare time someone would mention this show, I’d be like…
NC: (acts as though denying the existence of the TV show) Gar-what? Garwhuh--I don’t know any “Gargoyle—” I-ge-je-buh-PFFT!
NC (voiceover): But in secret, I would be watching every one of them, because it was just that good. I don’t know if it really changed anything in terms of kids' shows like Batman or Animaniacs, but it was certainly a welcome detour from what Disney usually did. It really stood on its own and created some really wonderful and really unique stories. Gargoyles is a blast from the past that is sure to live on in the future.
NC: I’m the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don’t have to. (He gets up to leave)