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GARGOYLES: SEASON TWO, VOLUME TWO
Gargoyles: Season Two, Volume Two Home Video Release
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Outlet: Disney Movie Club Exclusive
Release Date: June 26th, 2013 (Wal-Mart: October 7th, 2014)
The ancient struggle between heroes and villains continues among the skyscrapers and bridges of a modern metropolis as Gargoyles returns for a second season. It's an adventure one thousand years in the making! Goliath, Hudson, Broadway and Brooklyn are back from their stone-cold sleep and ready to save humanity from evil gargoyle clans, banshees and legendary monsters. But will Demona's diabolical plan to exterminate mankind prove to be the Gargoyles' final reckoning? Prepare for thrills and chills in this collectible 3-disc DVD set of Gargoyles: Season 2 Volume 2.
Click the images above for a closer look!
Gargoyles: Season Two, Volume One Review
by James Harvey
No real backstory is needed for the excellent 1990s animated series Gargoyles. If you're reading this review, there's a fair chance you already have a strong idea about the origins of this show and the characters involved. If you don't...well...a bunch of Gargoyles, frozen in stone by a magic spell for 1000 years, wake up in 1994-era New York. Complications build as enemies and motives come to light and, basically, chaos ensues. Gargoyles is far more than that, it's complex and incredibly well thought-out, but that's the super-simplified version of things. I strongly implore, if you've never watched a single episode of this series, to do a quick search on this show and watch the first two DVD collections readily available. Go, I can wait. But once you're done, come back here and continue reading. Cool? Cool.
With Gargoyles, Disney really attempted to create a more mature and dramatic effort, something of an answer to the likes of Batman: The Animated Series and X-Men, both of which ruled the airwaves in the 1990s. Featuring excellent characters, a dark and moody atmosphere (sometimes shockingly dark for a cartoon), with plenty of drama and action to be found, it definitely found a home with countless fans of all ages. The animation was usually solid for the most part, and the score was excellent (though budget constraints led to the same samples being used over and over). And geeze - the voice talent involved? Staggering. Keith David (Goliath), Jonathan Frakes (Xanatos), Marina Sirtis (Demona), Ed Asner (Hudson), and just so many more...I could go on forever. Such an impressive cast that was matched by only a handful of other shows during the 90s. Gargoyles came and went so fast, airing in just a few scant years, but nearly 20 years later it's rightfully remembered as one of Disney's landmark shows.
Just to note, a listing of every episode included in this collection can be found by clicking on the thumbnails above, each leading to a menu screen from the DVD release. Naturally, the menu screens feature the included episodes for each disc.
Since there are just too many great episodes to discuss, and so little time to do it in, I'll opt to simply point out a couple of them. First off, "Future Tense" is one of my favorite episodes. I'm a sucker for these dystopian-future type stories, where everything has gone to pot, and Gargoyles delivers in spades. Dark, unnerving, and absolutely shattering at times, this show really had the guts to (ugh) "go there," and this is a prime example. And, of course, the epic three-part "Hunter's Moon," the epic pinnacle of Gargoyles up to that point, is worth the cost of admission alone. The entire series has built up to these final three episodes and, boy, not a letdown in the slightest. Superbly handled with a very satisfying conclusion that brings an end to Greg Weisman's Gargoyles (well, unless you consider Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles in continuity - which you shouldn't - or you read the excellent sequel comic title penned by Weisman himself). "M.I.A." is also a favorite episode of mine, one which I think goes under-appreciated and overlooked.
Honestly, I could rattle though all these episodes, and in much more details ("Hunter's Moon" deserves at least a page to itself), but chances are, if you're reading this review, you're reading it for thoughts on the physical DVD release, You know these episodes, have your favorites, etc., so those conversations can be saved for another time.
As for the actual DVD release, it feels like Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has tried every possible thing to get fans not to purchase this collection (as if to prove some misguided adage that no one wants this show on DVD, which is just...a billion times wrong). Right off the bat, having to order it through Disney Movie Club and, as a result, get tied into the obligations that come with, was an immediate issue for countless fans. Many took the bullet and joined, others found creative ways around it, but still ... the studio did not make it easy from the get-go. There's also an alternative with the Disney Movie Club eBay page, which makes it far easier to get a copy, but (naturally) Gargoyles: Season Two, Volume Two tends to sell out very quickly when the eBay page is stocked.
So ordering it was a big hassle for lots of folks, that's established. But as for the actual physical product? Well, it leaves a lot of be desired for. The design of the actual DVD case comes off as very slap-dash, amateurish. There's no attempt made to evoke the mood or feel of the show. It looks like something churned off the assembly line. The previous collections, I found, had nice packaging representative of the source material. Not great, yeah, but sufficient. Looking inside, the discs are bare save for a plain black text and a some logo imagery. And, something that I find very bothersome, all three discs in the set are stacked on top of each other. There's no separate flaps or folders. Just...just three discs stacked on top of each other in one disc holder. So be careful - be very careful - when taking out these discs. I recommend purchasing a proper hinged DVD case to safely secure all three discs.
Thankfully, what's on the disc is worth all these inconveniences and problems. Here we get the remaining episodes from the second season of Gargoyles. More importantly, the content is unedited and complete. This DVD set is the only place get these episodes in their original form. Any televised repeats or online videos? All edited. These episodes right here? All present in their original broadcast presentation. Seriously, drop what you're doing and buy these already.
As great as it is to get these shows unedited, just how is the presentation quality? Well, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has done well...for the most part. The audio is actually pretty great and more robust than I was expecting. While the sound is mostly centered, it's well distributed and there's never a need to turn up or turn down the volume - the quieter moments are nicely balanced with the action sequences. So, solid marks all around on audio. But what about the video? Well, that's more of a mixed bag. In all honesty, this is likely the best these episodes have ever looked and will ever look. I don't foresee any digital remastering for this show down the line from Disney, given their notorious stingy behavior when it comes to past animated television properties. That being said, the quality on some episodes is noticeably weaker than others. The dip in video quality on some episodes is similar to Warner Home Video's Batman: The Animated Series DVD collections. No clean up was done, so the image can look faded or dusty at times. There's no real pattern, just the unfortunate luck of the draw, I suppose.
And true, there's no bonus features to be found, but that seems to be the standard for most animated television home video releases these days.
Still, should that stop you from purchasing this collection? No, no, no. This is what fans have been waiting literally years for - so go grab it. Gargoyles: Season Two, Volume Two may not give the show or the fans the DVD release they deserve, but it's still a worthwhile purchase to see this show - once again - in its original glory. A solid collection for a great series, lucked with solid audio and good video quality. Highly Recommended.
For those worried about being unable to get this release, I just want to reassure you there are plenty of Gargoyles fans out there doing what they can to make sure this release gets in the right hands. Either through the official Disney Movie Club, or the far easier DMC eBay page, there are ways. This DVD has really brought out the Gargoyles fanbase again, and they've really all pulled together to help each other out - it's admirable and shows the major impact this series has made on the lives of many. Check around with a few like-minded fans, and I'm sure you'll be able to find some help. Don't miss out.
Special thanks to Corey for making this review possible!