Take flight with Gargoyles in “Awesome Cartoons!!”

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Gargoyles are creatures of myth. We see them perched atop of churches, cathedrals and other old world buildings. Some tales depicted them as representatives of the demonic. Other folklores saw them as protectors used to ward off evil spirits. There are even tales of them coming to life after sunset to take flight into the night sky. In this installment of Awesome Cartoons, I, Devildriver1313, am going to take you on journey into the legend. This is a look back at Gargoyles.

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From the mid-80s and into the 90s, Disney adapted many of their beloved characters into several animated series. They even took the liberty of creating their own original series. This being among them. Gargoyles is an animated series produced by Walt Disney Television and Buena Vista Productions. The series focused on a clan of Gargoyles who serve as protectors of a castle in 994 A.D. Scotland. They were at peace with the castle’s ruler and his subjects who in turn were in peace with them. The agreement was simple: the Gargoyles protected the castle from nightly invasions while they were protected by the king and his guard during the day. However, not everyone was content with the nightly defenders. The king’s own Captain of the Guard betrays him by allowing the Vikings into the castle while the Gargoyles slept during the day and while Goliath, the current leader, and his mentor were diverted away from the castle. Goliath would return later that night to find his beloved clan smashed to pieces by the Vikings. Three of his follows did survive the attack, however, they were cursed by the Magus who blamed for Princess Catherine’s apparent death. Goliath pursues the Vikings, finds and then returns with Princess Catherine. Unable to live without his clan, Goliath asks the Magus to cast his spell on him, placing him in eternal slumber.

L to R: Bronx, Broadway, Lexington (kneeling), Goliath, Hudson, Brooklyn (crouching), Demona

L to R: Bronx, Broadway, Lexington (kneeling), Goliath, Hudson, Brooklyn (crouching), Demona

In 1994, billionaire industrialist David Xanatos learned of the legend and purchased the castle. Then he had it transported to his building in Manhattan, New York where it is reconstructed. The Archmage’s spell is designed to end when the castle rises high above the clouds. And Xanatos’ building is pretty dang tall. To his fascination, the spell breaks and the Gargoyles awaken once again after a thousand-year slumber. Now, they serve as Manhattan’s nightly protectors while they adjust to the 20th century. Police detective Elisa Maza discovers and befriends the Gargoyles after she is rescued by Goliath after she fell of Xanatos’ building. Adjusting to their new life, the remaining members decide to take on names for themselves. Goliath’s mentor and former leader took the name Hudson after the famed river. Hudson is an older Gargoyle and the only one to speak with a Scottish accent. Broadway got his name from New York’s well-known theater. More brawl than brains, Broadway is large and green skinned and serves as the muscle though he can be overzealous at times. Brooklyn is a thin red-horned gargoyle with a white mohawk. He quickly finds a passion for motorcycles and comics. Lexington is the youngest and smallest among them. He is good friends with Broadway and seems to keep his pal in line when he makes a bad decision. Lexington finds an affinity for technology, quickly learning about modern computers. Lastly, there is Bronx who is the clan’s pet, in a sense. He has a long relationship with Hudson and is seen with him often.

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AWESOMENESS: Gargoyles has been known for its Shakespearean and mystical themes as well as melodrama. It was much darker than other Disney shows at the time. But then again, Disney isn’t exactly all butterflies and rainbows so let’s not kid ourselves. However, this formula worked as the series’ driving force. Right off the bat, we get the feeling of this drama when Goliath returns to the castle in the first episode to find his beloved clan destroyed. He cradles the pieces in his hands as he wept, “My angel of the night.” Then he lets out a roar of anguish over the deaths of his brethren, setting the tone for the series. Gargoyles was action packed like many cartoons at the time but it also dealt with real world situations amidst the show’s fantasy elements. While playing with her gun, Broadway accidently shoots Elisa while he was visiting her in her apartment. Naturally, Broadway couldn’t bear to tell Goliath what happened until later in the episode. This illustrated the importance of gun safety as the message was cleverly slipped into a children’s TV show. Plus, unlike other cartoons when the injured character returns the next day, Elisa did not return until nearly two weeks later, thus following real world parameters. Another key point is that as the series progressed, Gargoyles began to take on a “Beauty and the Beast” vibe with Goliath and Elisa developing feelings for each other. They went on a date and even danced with Elisa wearing a yellow ballgown similar to that of Belle. Besides the drama, Gargoyles was full of action. It was really awesome seeing these fantastic creatures tear through steel and stone with their bare claws and how quickly they were able to adjust to the modern world.

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Gargoyles ran for three seasons. The first two seasons aired in the Disney Afternoon programming block. The first season consisted of 13 episodes, including a five-part opening story while the second season consisted of 52 episodes. The controversial third and final season aired on Disney’s One Saturday Morning format on ABC as Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles. In this season, the Gargoyles’ relationship with humans begins to improve. Many Star Trek alum made their way to the series including Johnathan Frakes, Marina Sitris, Brent Spiner, Levar Burton, Michael Dorn, Kate Mulgrew and Nichelle Nichols. Gargoyles ranked 45th on IGN’s 2009 list of “top 100 animated series.” Gargoyles has maintained a cult following nearly a decade after the series ended. It still remains a beloved melodramatic, action series with mystical properties that is loved by the geek community.

The Gargoyles theme gets metalized by Eric Calderone aka 331Erock!!