Talk with anyone associated with Gargoyles, Disney's animated series that originally aired from 1994 to 1997, and – to a person – they'll invariably use the phrase "ahead of its time." The show was a stark departure for Walt Disney Television Animation, which had created – in the years prior – several generation-defining shows that formed The Disney Afternoon.
For nearly 10 years, The Disney Afternoon dominated after-school syndicated TV with shows such as Adventures of the Gummi Bears, DuckTales, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, Darkwing Duck, and Goof Troop. However, where those shows were bright, cheerful, and relentlessly optimistic, Gargoyles was dark, smart, gothic, and full of literary allusions.
The show was a major departure for the company. It was a wholly original property that wasn't based on a toy line, a feature film, or existing characters. And it seemed to target an older audience than its Disney Afternoon predecessors.
But the show traveled a long and bumpy road before it finally came together as the series beloved by older millennials and late Gen-Xers. It originally began life as an adventure comedy in line with Gummi Bears and didn't feature Goliath at all. Over the course of two years of development and three pitches to Disney CEO Michael Eisner, the show changed dramatically. And it eventually became a huge hit.
So much so that Michael Eisner (after getting talked out of buying Marvel years before the eventual purchase) looked to the show to build a brand-new action franchise for the company. Gargoyles was meant to be the foundation upon which an entire universe of shows would be built. Alas, what could've been.
During its relatively brief life, though, Gargoyles truly broke new ground. Aside from the stark contrast in character design and color palette it had with its Disney Afternoon cohorts, the show boasted an astonishingly impressive cast. Jonathan Frakes, Keith David, Marina Sirtis, Ed Asner, and Frank Welker all voiced central characters. Supporting or guest-starring roles featured the likes of Clancy Brown, Jim Cummings, Michael Dorn, Matt Frewer, Kate Mulgrew, Nichelle Nichols, John Rhys-Davies, Brent Spiner, Paul Winfield, Avery Brooks, LeVar Burton, Hector Elizondo, Roddy McDowall, Tony Shalhoub, and John Forsythe. And so many more.
With the characters of Elisa Maza and Demona, Gargoyles was also notable for featuring two strong female leads. Indeed, Elisa was one of the very few women of color to be featured on after-school television at all.
SYFY WIRE sat down with several of the people who brought their unique creative visions to the table and helped craft one of the most compelling shows Disney ever created. These are, quite literally, the people who brought Gargoyles to life. Together with Greg Weisman (creator and producer), Keith David (voice of Goliath), Jonathan Frakes (voice of Xanatos), and Carl Johnson (composer), we take a look back at this seminal show that continues to make waves and command fan obsession.
Setting the Scene
Greg Weisman (creator and producer): There was a sense among my boss, Gary Krisel, which I shared, but that he had also talked to Jeffrey Katzenberg about, that The Disney Afternoon was wonderful, and we had wonderful shows, but every single one, up to that point, had been a "funny animal" show. They were all different. I don't want to make it sound like I'm saying they were the same show. They weren't. But from a visual standpoint, there was a commonality there.
There was a concern that, over time, the audience would just grow tired of it. Not because the shows weren't good, but simply "funny animal fatigue," in essence.
So there were a couple directions we went very consciously. One was into Tex Avery-style cartoons with The Shnookums and Meat Show. And the other was Gargoyles, with a dramatic action show. The thing that gave us confidence that we could do it and the audience would be there for it was, frankly, Batman: The Animated Series. We weren't trying to emulate Batman, but certainly that darker, dramatic tone that Batman had let us know that there was an audience for this style of action drama at a high-quality level.
So we set out to make a show that was in this Gummi Bears mode with a rich backstory and great characters. But we wanted it to stand out and get more respect. The word "edge" was really big in the '90s. So we made two conscious decisions to give a Gummi Bears-like show more edge.
We would put our gargoyles to sleep for 1,000 years, and they would wake up in the present. We thought them being in modern-day Manhattan would be edgier than being back in a soft-focus Medieval Times kind of world. And then the second obvious thing was that instead of being cute, cuddly, multicolored bears, we would make them cute, cuddly, multicolored gargoyles. Which seemed edgier.
We had a whole comedy adventure development with that version of the show. We started out with the leader of these comedic gargoyles being a character named Dakota – a female lead. But Dakota quickly just seemed boring. She was sort of the straight man to the funny, wacky gargoyles running around. So we decided to switch Dakota to Demona, and we made her the bad guy. The one evil gargoyle. But still, this was comedic villainy.
We had the Xanatos character, but back then he was called Xavier. He was very much in the mode of Duke Igthorn or Captain Hook, but he was Lex Luthor/Bruce Wayne/Tony Stark rich. He was very much like Xanatos in a lot of ways, but he was a comedic villain. He had an assistant named Mr. Owen who, in the first episode, gets hit by a magic spell and turned into an anthropomorphic aardvark. He then spends the rest of the show trying to change back into a human being. Not just that episode – the entire series. So he was an aardvark in a suit for the entire series.
He had an assistant named Mr. Owen who, in the first episode, gets hit by a magic spell and turned into an anthropomorphic aardvark.
And it was fun, and it was great, and I loved that show. But we pitched it to Michael Eisner, and he didn't like it. He passed on it. But everyone at Disney TV Animation thought there was something to this idea. So Gary Krisel told me to go back to the drawing board and try to figure out another approach.
It was an original property, so it was a slightly harder sell, since it wasn't based on a movie. Or a candy. So I showed the pitch to a handful of people at Disney just to get some feedback. One of the people I showed it to was Tad Stones, the creator of Darkwing Duck. Tad looked at it and said, "You've got all these little funny gargoyles. What if, instead of them, you had one big gargoyle?"
He had seen an early preview of Beauty and the Beast, and since we already had the female friend to the gargoyles, he thought we could take her and make her "Beauty" and then create a Beast. And this resonated with me, since my background wasn't in comedy but in superheroes. That really clicked for me.
Telling a Gargoyles Origin Story
So the artist Greg Guler and I created the character of Goliath, the one character who did not exist in the old comedy development. And then we took the whole comedy development and put it through the prism of Goliath and came out the other end fundamentally with the show we're all familiar with.
We got very excited about this show and came up with a ton of ideas. Xavier became Xanatos and stopped being a silly Igthorn type. Demona became this complex tragic figure. These were things you hadn't seen on television. We were doing superheroes without any of the trappings of superheroes. We were solidly in the superhero genre, but there were no tights or capes or obvious superpowers.
They pitched this new version six months later...
Weisman: Eisner passed. The next day we had the post-mortem meeting with Jeffrey Katzenberg where we were talking about the shows that Michael did buy the day before. It was either Goof Troop or Bonkers or both. We went through that meeting, and then Gary, me, and Bruce Cranston got up to go and Jeffrey said, "And you're going to work on Gargoyles some more."
I looked at him, and I looked at Bruce, and I was like, "Well, no. Michael killed it. We pitched it as a comedy, and he killed it. We pitched it as an action drama, and he killed it. I kind of think it's dead at this point."
And Jeffrey said, "Oh, he didn't kill it. He just thought it needed more work." So what this was telling me was that Michael hadn't liked the show, but Jeffrey had. And in those days, before Michael and Jeffrey had their big split, Jeffrey wasn't going to defy Michael in a meeting, but he thought there was something there, and he wanted us to try again.
I finally said, "There is absolutely nothing wrong with this show. The problem is not the show; the problem is the pitch."
This was the pivotal moment. Show, don't tell... but don't show too much, either.
Weisman: We put too much into the pitch – all stuff that would eventually make it into the show. It wasn't bad stuff, but it made the pitch feel busy and confused and unfocused. So we cut tons of material from that pitch and refocused it on the original idea that Tad had suggested, which was the Beauty and the Beast idea.
So we really focused the pitch on Goliath and Elisa, and we made it about their story. So six months later, some two years into development at this point, we pitched it to Michael again. And this time he bought it.
When that meeting ended, Jeffrey looked at me and said, "Wow, you added a lot to that, didn't you?" In reality, I hadn't. I just cut a ton of stuff from it. So I looked back and said, "Yes. Yes, I did."
Giving Voice to the Characters
David: When I auditioned for it, they were looking for a Sean Connery type. So I came in with my best Sean Connery. But it was still an audition. So I only had the first speech, which was about what the gargoyles are. As I remember it, it was wonderfully simpatico. It felt like, "OK, the search is over. We found him." That's what it felt like to me, at least – "You don't need to look any further. I got this!" Some actors have a wider range than others, but any actor has one thing he or she can do perfectly. If they can't do anything else, they can do that. For me, this was one of those.
Frakes: I have no pretense. I always say yes to jobs. I'm an actor! There's a lot of unemployment in this industry. I must've had to audition. I don't think they give those parts out.
David: By nature, Keith David is a nurturer. And by nature, Goliath is a nurturer. He exists at the core of the greatest things about being a human. He's not human, but he possesses all the good things that a good human has or should be about. And yet, like a human being, he's given to any of the things that send that mix to an imbalance. He can get angry. He's susceptible to falling in love.
A great thing about Gargoyles is that no one was ever killed. You might've seen them go off screen in a heap, but no one ever kills anybody. Goliath never really exacted revenge. One of my favorite moments in the whole series was in the very first episode when he gets duped into going away from his clan. By the time he finds out he needs to go the other way, his clan is destroyed. He really wants to exact revenge, but to what end? Everybody is now frozen.
There's this wonderful line: "I have lost everything, even my revenge." The pain of that, he lives with every day. He doesn't necessarily wear it on his sleeve, but it's something that is with him all the time.
Frakes: My whole career before I did Star Trek was villains. From 1976 to 1987 or 1988, it was all bad guys. Playing villains is great. It's delicious.
David: Greg was inspired by a lot of Shakespeare characters, and the language was very Shakespearean, which is right in my wheelhouse. I loved the way Goliath talked immediately, and it just happened to be a really good fit. It lay right in the center of my heart. When I grow up, I want to be like Goliath.
Frakes: I was always looking to get that part of my career [voiceover work] off the ground. Gargoyles has a lot of resonance with people. It was a seminal show to a bunch of people who realized that they had found this gem. The quality of the animation and of the writing existed in their own world. It was just another level.
David: I tried to infuse Goliath with a sense of humor. And as much as possible, a sense of irony when it was necessary. I'd like to think there were several subtleties in Goliath. But I took my lead from what was on the page. It was all there. I think Greg was inspired to write Gargoyles, and I was inspired by his inspiration.
One of my phrases is "jalapeña." When I think something is wonderful, that's what I say. It's a phrase that I stole from another friend of mine, who said, "We're not in church, so we're going to say hallelujah, but if the spirit moves you, say jalapeña!" So I say jalapeña all the time, especially when I'm happy or something is clicking. So [casting director Jamie Thomason] made a bet with Greg and said, "I bet you can't find a way to get jalapeña into the script." And sure enough, he did. There are one or two times when Goliath gets to say jalapeña.
David: I used to watch Marlin Perkins on Wild Kingdom, and I loved it. William Conrad was one of my favorite voices. John Forsythe, Lorne Greene, Percy Rodriguez, Ossie Davis. I would hear these voices and think, "Oh my god, I want to do that! That's what I want to do." If it was a documentary, they made me want to know more about whatever they were talking about. As an actor, that's what I wanted to do.
Frakes: We recorded together as a cast, actually, which surprised me. We used to go up to this place on Ventura Boulevard, grab a couple bagels, and sit in a semicircle. Jamie [Thomason] would direct us, and Greg would be in there. It was fun to play off each other. With a lot of voiceover jobs, you end up in the booth alone, doing your part.
David: It was always great, great fun. The people who worked on Gargoyles were all extraordinarily gifted people. It was my honor to work with every single one of them. Everybody brought something unique and wonderful to the table. It was a dream job. I was so sad when we did not get picked up again. I don't know anybody who's ever watched Gargoyles that didn't like Gargoyles. And I'm talking about children through adults.
The show became known as a sort of Star Trek landing pad, where actors from the various iterations of the show would land voiceover gigs.
Frakes: I think [the Star Trek connection among the cast] was a coincidence. They started with Marina and me. And Jamie was a huge Trekkie. He was awesome! He made the recording booth a blast to be in. Weisman became a Trekkie. Then [Michael] Dorn came in, Kate [Mulgrew] came in, Brent [Spiner] came in. It became clear that the novelty of having us there was one thing.
Voice acting is a hard nut to crack. It's a great job, but it's very tough to get into. It's a small, small circle. I could be wrong, but I think Disney realized there was real value in cross-marketing with The Next Generation or with the whole franchise. So they get a certain quality of actor, and they get to say, "Oh, look. All these guys are from this huge franchise. That can only help marketing." That was always my concept of it. And Jamie and Greg were fans of the show, so it all worked out.
David: One time at a convention was a moment I'll treasure all my life. A young lady came up to me, and she hugged me. She began to cry, and she said, "I just want to tell you that when I was a kid, Gargoyles saved my life." She was bullied as a kid but would come home and watch Gargoyles and take deep comfort in the alliance and protection of the Gargoyles family. Ultimately, that's what I want to do.
Charting New Territory
Greg Weisman: Disney hadn't done a show like this before, so we didn't necessarily have the right people on staff to produce and story-edit this show. We were having trouble finding someone to be the directing producer and the story editor. We went through a number of people, trying to find the right fit. But in the meantime, the show had deadlines and we needed to move forward. Which meant someone had to make creative decisions, even though we didn't have any producers on the show yet. So, because it had been my baby and I had been fascinated with gargoyles since high school, I just naturally took on the role of making these creative decisions.
By the time we got Frank Paur to produce the show and Michael Reaves to story-edit it — both of whom were fantastic and both of whom were stolen from Batman: The Animated Series — I was too involved to walk away. So I went to Gary and Bruce and said that I wanted to produce the show. I wanted to move to the other side of the desk. They looked at me and basically said, "Greg, you've never been a producer before."
And I said, "Well, that's true, but four and a half years ago, I had never been a development executive before, and that worked out all right." So they talked about it and came back to me and told me I had to keep doing my development job. We only had 13 episodes in the first season, and we had a 10-month sliding schedule to do it in, which wasn't easy but wasn't killer.
So they had me do two full-time jobs while paying me for the lesser.
Michael Eisner eventually became one of the show's biggest boosters. In 1994-ish, I was in a meeting with a bunch of Disney executives, and Michael expressed a desire to buy Marvel Comics. But his own people talked him out of it. They said, "Ah, you don't want that. The rights are a disaster. Sony has Spider-Man, but another studio thinks they have Spider-Man. Marvel has been selling off rights left and right, not paying attention to any conflicts. You'll get the company but then find out you can't make any of the movies you want to make. Don't do it."
So he then turned to me and said, "OK. Warner Brothers has DC, and I'm being told that Marvel is a no-go. We need to build an action universe for the Disney brand. Can Gargoyles be the foundation of that?"
That worked for me, because I thought of the Silver Age Flash and how DC built a whole foundation that eventually became the modern DC universe. And how the Fantastic Four became the foundation over which Marvel built their whole universe. It's not that there weren't characters and properties that existed before that, but it was a conscious decision to build.
In the second season, we got an order for 52 episodes on the same 10-month schedule we had for the first 13. I moved over full-time to be on Gargoyles, we hired more story editors, and I became supervising story editor to make sure everything was cohesive. We hired a bunch of directors. The whole crew expanded. The whole universe of the show expanded.
Hearing the Music of the Show
Prior to Gargoyles, Carl Johnson worked as part of a team on a number of other animated series, including Batman: The Animated Series and Animaniacs.
Carl Johnson: Before I got hired on the project, I was working with Rich Stone on Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain, and I was one of the team of people working on that. But when Gargoyles came along, I had to leave that team, which was kind of a tough thing. Rich had been such a mentor to me. In a sense, I was stepping away from my responsibilities on that time. What that meant, though, was that other people were able to come in and fill that position and get the benefit of that experience. But it meant leaving the family to assume my own command. For the most part, once I got started on Gargoyles, I was 100 percent on that.
It was really helpful how some of those shows were run. For example, on Batman: The Animated Series, Shirley Walker made a real point of trying to work in new composers and really mentor them and help them find their feet. So I had the advantage of doing five or six episodes under her supervision. It was really a fantastic thing that she was doing for people coming up at the time. It was kind of a master class. Also, Rich Stone was doing that with Animaniacs.
Between the two of them, I got to watch and see how a supervising composer handles the workload and handles the team and works with the production company. I think those experiences really helped me when it came time for me to take my own project. I was really eager to get into Gargoyles and work as much as I needed to. That being said, it's difficult for me to listen to a lot of that stuff, because of the way we had to record it and the state of the technology then. To me, it sounds kind of dated just because of the sorts of sounds I had to use.
The score for Gargoyles was partly computerized and partly performed by a live orchestra.
Johnson: It was a hybrid kind of thing. This was something that some of us were doing in the '90s. We would write music out on a score page as if it were going to be recorded by an orchestra. But certain parts of the page were going to be with live players, and certain parts were going to be synth. So what we would do is write all of the electronic synth stuff out, and somebody would record all that into a computer and then come into the recording session with a big multi-computer, multi-traveling case setup. And then play the computers live along with the instrumentalists. It was a very technologically challenging thing to do in the '90s. It was the best we could do to come up with a big orchestra sound with a small orchestra budget.
It was a budget thing. I think the sound we were looking for was big, epic, and orchestral. There just wasn't the budget in the division to do that. So what I had to do was pick my battles. Try to use live instruments that were going to be effective mixed in with electronic stuff. We had a brass and woodwind section with some strings thrown in, so it was probably 25 to 30 pieces.
Gargoyles was definitely something that was new for [Disney] and didn't really fit in their portfolio of shows. Nobody quite knew what to do with it. What appealed to me about it was the concept of these big long story arcs and developing characters and the way the show evolves over the course of a season or multiple seasons. In a lot of respects, it was really way ahead of its time. You see a lot of that now – long story arcs that take seasons to complete – but the way Greg had this thing all set up, it was literally an epic story spread out over many episodes. Also, I had been doing so much "cartoony" stuff for so long that it was nice to do something that wasn't all dominant 7 chords. Getting kind of dark and action-y in places was fun.
The Disney Afternoon had a lot of memorable theme songs that could best be described as earworms. Gargoyles also had a really compelling theme, just no lyrics.
Johnson: The opening theme was one of the first things I wrote when they hired me for the job. Immediately, there was a deadline to get it done so they could work it into the main titles and use it for promotional materials. I think I probably had a couple weeks to work on that, and that's with all the standard back and forth. Maybe four weeks tops, but my guess is that it was two or three.
[For the sound of the show,] they wanted epic. They wanted memorable. They wanted something that had the same sort of sweeping timelessness of the story. As opposed to something more "current" or trendy-sounding. That also appealed to me – the timeless, classic approach.
In the first season, I completely scored the first half of the season. And then as we went further through the season, we brought in a music editor who started reusing earlier bits of score. He and I would strategize ahead of time and decide which parts could be pulled from our library of music and which parts would be created new.
It's been interesting how the series has maintained its life over the decades. A couple of times I was able to go to the Gatherings that the fans would put on, which were kind of these self-contained comic-cons that the fans would do. Really, even the fans were ahead of their time on this series in terms of how deeply they were into it, and the cosplay, and all of the things they were doing. That was a lot of fun, to attend those.
During the time I was working on the series, I got married and there were a lot of momentous life events going on at the same time. And it all blended together to a blur of happy memories. It was a lot of hard work, but it was all appreciated by the folks at Disney, and we were all trying to work together to create something really good.
I remember a couple of times working on episodes where I was really trying to stretch the vocabulary of what you might hear on afternoon TV. Trying to be just as sweeping and dramatic as I could. There was a multipart arc based on the character of Macbeth, and there's this one moment where Macbeth's wife dies. And was really working hard on that section of score to make it as emotional as I could. For some reason, that moment of writing sticks out for me. I remember being tired, but in general they were all happy memories.
Previously on Gargoyles: Falling Prey to Fate
Greg Weisman: We began writing backdoor pilots into the second season. Ultimately, none of that worked out, because all of the big Gargoyles supporters left the company. Rich Frank, Gary Krisel, Bruce Cranston, Jeffrey Katzenberg. They all left. Eisner didn't leave right away, but he was getting a lot of criticism from the board about what a micromanager he was. So one of the things he gave up was choosing the animated series we did.
Prior to that, he was like the last of the Hollywood moguls. He would choose the shows. At the time, we didn't appreciate it because it seemed so arbitrary. But the great thing about that had been if Michael Eisner says we're making a show, everybody in the company gets on board or gets out of the way. When Michael gave that up, he didn't give that authority to any one individual. From that point on – right up to this very day, not just at Disney but at every company – those decisions are made by committee. People from multiple different divisions get to weigh in, and if they don't all agree, often it just doesn't happen.
The one advantage to a dictatorship is that the trains are on time. So when all these huge supporters of Gargoyles left the company – including Eisner – support for the show just evaporated.
The one advantage to a dictatorship is that the trains are on time.
Season 1, we were a huge hit. Season 2, we were a solid hit – like a single. We weren't doing badly, but we premiered opposite the first season in America of Power Rangers. And Power Rangers was a blockbuster. That was a grand slam. And if that wasn't bad enough, this was also the year of the O.J. Simpson trial, and we were constantly getting pre-empted by trial coverage. That was true for Power Rangers, too, but for that show, you could tune in to any episode at any time. We had a sequential arc.
For example, in Season 2, we had these World Tour arcs that were supposed to go about four weeks. But because of pre-emption delays, it wound up lasting six months or something like that. So the audience felt like this World Tour we sent our characters on was never going to end. And it was not designed to feel like that. If they had aired how they were originally meant to air, it wouldn't have been a problem.
I also made another decision on Season 2 that we would do 30-second "previously on Gargoyles" lead-in segments at the beginning of every episode. That made sense to me. The main reason I did it was not because I thought my audience needed a little leg up to understand the episode. I didn't think that at all. We were getting animation back from Japan and Korea, and it wasn't always great. So the ability to cut 30 seconds of bad footage out of the show was a huge editing help to us.
In hindsight, it was a huge mistake. People would see those "previously" segments and think, "Wow, I missed a lot. I'm too late to come on board for this show." And that wasn't true. Every episode was designed to stand alone and tell a great story. The hope, of course, was that they'd watch that episode and think, "Wow, I want to see the episodes I missed and what happens next." But they wouldn't be confused in the episode.
Those segments hurt us. So, in every show I've done since, I never do that. Ever. Even if I'm doing a two-parter. I find a way in Part 2 to explain, as elegantly as possible, to explain what happened in Part 1. You can see that in the Young Justice two-parter pilot. There are no "previouslies." I will never do a "previously" ever again.
The Goliath Chronicles: That Which Shall Not Be Named
Greg Weisman: Even after all the troubles of the second season, the property was still viable. When Disney bought ABC, they needed a boys' action show. So they said, "Let's do Gargoyles." But a couple things happened. By that time, Frank, Bruce, and Gary had gone to DreamWorks, and they offered the show to me for that third ABC season, but it was clear to me they didn't want me to say yes.
I think the perception was that I was biding my time until the end of post-production, and then I would go to DreamWorks. So they stopped inviting me to meetings because they viewed me as a spy in their ranks. But that wasn't true. I really wanted to stay at Disney. But when they offered me the third season of Gargoyles, they offered me a demotion from producer to story editor. They weren't going to let me produce the third season.
They told me they were going to move the show out of Disney TV Animation and give it to DIC. And DIC at the time was doing a much lower quality of product. They ended up giving it to Nelvana, which still was lower quality than Disney but not nearly as bad as DIC would've been.
In November of 1995, they gave me a schedule where the first script was due in October of 1995. I looked at the schedule, looked at them, and said, "Do you guys have a time machine I don't know about?" They knew the schedule needed to be adjusted, but they had a firm deadline. So we needed to catch up. Which meant I would be starting out under the gun. This was a Thursday or Friday, so I asked for the weekend to think about it. I felt like they were asking me to supervise the demise of the show.
Nevertheless, I came back on Monday thinking I would walk away but still open to talking about it. But when I got into the office, I discovered they had already hired my replacement.
We made a deal for me to write the first episode because they were so under the gun, and I could write it faster than anyone else. They had good people do that third season, but they had no time. I worked in a consulting role, but all of the suggestions I made were ignored. On occasion, when I said, "Oh my god, don't do that!" they took those suggestions. So I stopped some of the worst notions they had from going forward, but I wasn't able to do any of the things I thought they needed to do. I was just able to stop them from doing things that really would've not worked.
If you watch that season, it feels a lot more like X-Men than Gargoyles. A lot of characters are behaving out of character, the animation is mixed quality, and the stories aren't great. So from a fan's standpoint, we kind of ignore that third season. We think of the 18 comics I wrote for Slave Labor Graphics to be the official "canon" third season. We just don't count The Goliath Chronicles.
Giving the Gargoyles New Life
With the success of Young Justice and the Disney streaming service coming next year, the chances of seeing Gargoyles come back have never been greater.
Greg Weisman: People tell me now that Gargoyles was ahead of its time. I think there's some truth to that; the show holds up great. The only thing that really dates it is the lack of cell phones. I think if Disney put that show on a streaming service, it would do phenomenal business. People would binge the hell out of that show. When I think about Gargoyles, I think that Frank Paur and I created the perfect binge-watching show, we just did it 25 years too early.
I think that show could do great business now – air 65 episodes and then start right in with Episode 66 and a new season. But it needs that streaming service appearance to demonstrate that. Right now, there's no one at Disney that believes in the property.
We were starting to get close right before Disney bought Marvel. Then they bought Marvel and Lucasfilm. And the thought was, "Why take a chance on an obscure show from the '90s that's got a niche fan base when we can just make Spider-Man or Star Wars Rebels? We have slam-dunks in our arsenal now." That really derailed all the talks with Disney I was having at the time. They no longer needed to take a risk.
But now – and keep in mind that I'm at Warner Brothers and have no inside information about Disney – I do believe that if they put Gargoyles on their new streaming service, the fans will show up and that will demonstrate there's money to be made. And then I think there's a real chance that Gargoyles can come back in some shape or form.
Whenever that streaming service shows up, that's our best shot. And I think it's a good shot.
Eyeing the Horizon
When asked if they'd be interested in returning to Gargoyles if it were to return in some fashion, the responses were all overwhelmingly positive.
David: Interested? "Interested" doesn't even begin to describe it.
Johnson: Oh absolutely. I love the property, I love the people, I love the whole culture around it. But I'd also love another crack at making it sound as good as the technology now will allow it to sound. If I had access to the quality of electronic libraries that are available now, I could've done a much better job then.
Frakes: Oh, by all means. I don't want anyone else playing that part! I've still got the same voice!