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Inspector Gadget was an animated television series that revolves around the adventures of a clumsy, simple-witted cyborg detective named Inspector Gadget – a human being with various bionic gadgets built into his body that were designed and produced by Lascar Electronics in Erie Pennsylvania. Gadget's arch-nemesis is Dr. Claw, the leader of an evil organization, known as "M.A.D."[1]

This was the first syndicated cartoon show from DIC Entertainment (as well as the first from the company to be created specifically for US viewers, along with The Littles). It originally ran from 1983 to 1986 and remained in syndication into the late 1990s. It continues to air successfully in reruns around the world until September 23, 2011.

The series was a produced by companies in France, Canada, the United States, Taiwan, and Japan. It was a co-production between DIC Entertainment in France (the main headquarters did not move to the US until 1987) and Nelvana in Canada; the animation work was outsourced to foreign studios such as Tokyo Movie Shinsha in Japan and Cuckoo's Nest Studio in Taiwan.

Background Edit

PremiseEdit

Inspector Gadget is a famous cyborg policeman with a seemingly endless amount of gadgets he can summon by saying "Go-Go-Gadget" then the gadget's name. Although he has all this equipment, Gadget is ultimately incompetent and clueless (in a manner similar to the Inspector Clouseau character of the Pink Panther series), and overcomes obstacles and survives perilous situations by sheer good luck, with help from his faithful niece Penny, who is a genius, and intelligent dog Brain who both must secretly help him solve each case. Even his gadgets often malfunction, which Gadget often replies that he needs to get them fixed.

Almost every episode of the first season follows a detailed and set formula, with little variation (though many of these elements were tinkered with in season 2). A disguised Chief Quimby interrupts a normal family activity between Gadget, Penny and Brain to give him a mission to stop the latest plot by Dr. Claw and M.A.D. The episode usually takes Gadget to some exotic locale and somehow Penny and Brain find a way to accompany him. Brain keeps Gadget out of trouble from M.A.D. agents (who Gadget usually mistakes for friendly locals; ironically, Gadget often mistakes Brain in disguise as a MAD agent), while Penny solves the case. With the help of Penny and Brain, Gadget inadvertently saves the day, Dr. Claw escapes and Chief Quimby arrives to congratulate Gadget on a job well done.

Each episode ends (as many cartoons did in the 1980s) with Gadget (and usually Penny and Brain also) giving a public service announcement - in direct contrast with his dangerous job and risk-taking behavior in the show, with most of the tips having a connection with problems Gadget had experienced during the episode. For example in one episode, Gadget tries to hitchhike saying he hopes the approaching motorist doesn't mind doing so, with the ending PSA making very clear how dangerous hitchhiking can be.

CharactersEdit

  • Inspector Gadget is the main protagonist of the series and movies. He dresses like Inspector Clouseau, drives a Matra Murena car and acts like Maxwell Smart, who was portrayed by Gadget's voice actor Don Adams. The clueless Gadget frequently bungles during his cases and gets into danger, but he always gets out of trouble through either his trusty gadgets, Penny's unseen assistance, or pure luck. His most famous catch phrase in the series is, "Wowsers!"
  • Penny is Gadget's precocious niece. Always down for the cause, she is a master of investigation and technology who is the one truly responsible for foiling M.A.D.'s schemes, a fact only Brain knows. Using a computer disguised as a book and a utility wristwatch, she monitors her "Uncle Gadget's" activities, communicates with Brain and foils M.A.D.'s plots. Penny very often gets captured by M.A.D. agents before calling Brain for help or escaping by herself.
  • Brain the Dog is Inspector Gadget's and Penny's faithful pet dog and companion. He is bipedal, just as intelligent as a human and assists Penny in keeping Gadget out of danger and solving the crime. Brain uses a variety of disguises, which Gadget never sees through, and is often mistaken for a M.A.D. agent by Gadget. Brain's collar is outfitted with a retractable video communications system linked to a computer wristwatch Penny wears that allows her to relay information on Gadget's activity, or warn Brain as to the whereabouts of M.A.D. agents. Brain can communicate with humans, through a gruff "dog" voice or pantomime and physical gestures to communicate effectively.
  • Doctor Claw is the main antagonist of the series and leader of the evil M.A.D. organization. Throughout the entire series, Dr. Claw is an unseen character, only just his arms and gloved hands are visible, leaving the viewer to guess as to his face and body. He is usually at a computer terminal where he monitors his various schemes, often in a creepy old castle. Although he is aware of Gadget's idiocy, he believes the Inspector to be his greatest enemy, never fully realizing that it is actually Penny and Brain who foil his plots in each episode (although he or his M.A.D. agents have captured Penny and sometimes Brain a number of times). He is always seen with his fat pet cat M.A.D. Cat, who reaps the benefits of his brief victories and bears the brunt of his defeats. Dr. Claw's catch phrase at the end of every episode is, "I'll get you next time, Gadget! Next time!".
  • Chief Quimby is Inspector Gadget's short-tempered boss and the chief of Metro City. He has a moustache and is usually seen with a pipe in his mouth. He appears disguised at the beginning of each episode with his own theme music to deliver Gadget his mission only to be blown up by the self-destructing message (a parody of the Mission: Impossible messages) because of Gadget's obliviousness; he appears again at the end of most episodes to congratulate Gadget on a job well done, but he never realizes that it is Penny who is truly the one responsible for foiling Doctor Claw's plots.
  • Corporal Capeman, voiced by Townsend Coleman, is a recurring character introduced in the second season as Inspector Gadget’s sidekick. Capeman is a self-proclaimed superhero who acts in the manner of a stereotypical crime fighter, but he is equally as inept as Inspector Gadget. Capeman is obsessed with learning to fly and often mistakenly believes he has miraculously acquired the power of flight while in the midst of dire circumstances.

Running gagsEdit

Like many animated television series, Inspector Gadget contains a few running gags – events that occur in almost every episode. At the start of each episode, Chief Quimby stealthily presents Inspector Gadget with a note containing his next mission, the final line of each stating that, "This message will self destruct." This process is similar to mission briefings in the Mission Impossible series. As Gadget casually tosses the note away, it explodes near Chief Quimby, leaving him the only one injured. As the series evolves, Quimby, knowing what will be coming next, often attempts to protect himself as he sees the note being tossed, always to no avail.

Another gag involves the inspector's built-in gadgets. While usually faithful in responding to his commands under normal circumstances, often while in desperate need for a specific tool (for instance, something to slow his descent or brace from impact after falling from a building), a different, often useless tool such as a flower from his hat will appear instead. This misfortune is overcome by luck or Brain's quick thinking, saving him from injury.

ConceptionEdit

The show was created by Andy Heyward, Jean Chalopin and Bruno Bianchi. The initial idea for Inspector Gadget came from Heyward, who also wrote the pilot episode with the help of Jean Chalopin in 1982 (Winter Olympics, often syndicated as episode #65, Gadget in Winterland). Chalopin, who at the time owned the DIC Audiovisual studio, helped develop the format and concept for the rest of the episodes together with Bruno Bianchi, who also designed the final versions of the main characters and served as supervising director.

According to the DVD bonus film "Wowsers", a retrospective featurette with co-creators Andy Heyward and Mike Maliani on the four-disc DVD set Inspector Gadget: The Original Series, Gadget went through approximately 150 sketches before reaching his final design.

Production Edit

Writers Edit

Nelvana writer Peter Sauder was the head writer for Season One, which was co-produced by DiC and the Canadian Studio Nelvana (exactly which/how many writers the first season had is unknown). In Season Two, as Nelvana was no longer part of the production, the show was written by the D.I.C studio's employees Eleanor Burian-Mohr, Mike O' Mahoney, Glen Egbert and Jack Hanrahan (a former Get Smart writer, among much else). Hanrahan and Burian-Mohr would later write the Christmas special Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas as well as many episodes of the Gadget Boy spinoff series; and Burian-Mohr additionally wrote dialogue for the educational show Inspector Gadget's Field Trip.

Animation Edit

The first sixty-five 22½-minute episodes were written, designed, storyboarded and voice-recorded in Canada at Nelvana Animation Studio (which co-produced the series under DiC's supervision), while being directed (long distance) by French director Bruno Bianchi. Most of these episodes were animated in Tokyo, Japan by Tokyo Movie Shinsha, the studio that animated most DiC cartoons of the 1980s, while a few episodes were animated in Taiwan by Cuckoo's Nest Studio and Wang Film Productions , before being finished in post production by DiC and Nelvana. The pilot episode, "Winter Olympics", was animated by Telecom Animation Film and had a slightly higher budget than the rest of the episodes.

In the second season, the animation increasingly began to resemble a typical 1980s Japanese anime cartoon, most likely because it was animated by DiC's own then-new Japanese-based animation facilities (many first-season episodes that were animated by TMS Entertainment often mimicked typical American animation, akin to their work on Tiny Toon Adventures). It was not uncommon for Gadget to briefly freeze in an "anime" pose when shocked, or slower frame rates when characters would move.

Voicing Edit

The role of Gadget went through three different voice artists during production of the pilot episode. The first was Gary Owens, who voiced Inspector Gadget in a deep-toned, British-sounding way. Jesse White sounded closer to the voice of Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) of Get Smart, one of the series' inspirations. Eventually, producers decided to hire Don Adams himself to get the full effect, and found that he fit the role perfectly.

In the first season, Gadget's nemesis Doctor Claw - as well as his pet cat M.A.D. Cat and Gadget's loyal dog Brain - were voiced by Frank Welker. Penny was portrayed by Cree Summer in her first voice acting role; and her father Don Francks wound up playing Doctor Claw in a few episodes where Welker was unavailable for recording.

When production of Inspector Gadget moved from Nelvana in Canada to DiC's headquarters in Los Angeles for the second season, several of the voice artists (including Cree Summer and Frank Welker) were replaced. Don Adams was the only cast member from season 1 who still voiced his character. Welker, incidentally, did voice many supporting characters during season 2, but apparently could not continue voicing his main roles due to contractual difficulties.

MusicEdit

The theme music was inspired by Edvard Grieg's movement "In the Hall of the Mountain King" and was composed by Shuki Levy. [2] For many years, Levy had a partnership with his friend Haim Saban, with Levy composing the music and Saban running the business. Their records company, Saban Records, (now Saban Music Group) has provided music for many DiC cartoons and children’s shows in the 80s and 90s, and is still running today.[3]

Many of the background music cues were some sort of variation of the Gadget melody. Even at festivals or dances in the cartoon, the Gadget theme was often played. Occasionally during an episode, such as in Launch Time and Ghost Catchers, Inspector Gadget would hum his theme. Levy also had a range of other musical cues for each character, as well as cues for the various moods of the scenes. Penny and Brain each had several different versions of their respective musical themes.

HistoryEdit

See also: List of Inspector Gadget episodes

Season 1Edit

The pilot episode featured a slightly different opening and closing credits and a mustachioed Gadget. In a later version of the pilot, dialogue by Penny and Gadget was re-dubbed explaining Gadget's mustache as a disguise for the holiday.

Since DiC was a French company looking to expand its operations to the US, the show was produced for release in both France and the USA. It was broadcast in the North America in September 1983. A month or so later, the series premiered in France, whose version also featured a theme song with French lyrics and the French title Inspecteur Gadget appearing in front of the episode.

The first season was aired from September to December 1983, comprising sixty-five 22½-minute long episodes. After the first season, the show was a worldwide hit.

In the first season, nearly every episode saw the introduction of some new supervillain who had come to be employed by Dr. Claw to commit a crime suited to their special skills. They are typically arrested at the end of the episode, and do not appear again in the series.

Season 2 Edit

The first season episodes were repeated during the 19841985 season, with 21 new episodes premiering for the second and last season of Inspector Gadget from September 1985 to February 1986 making 86 in all. Several changes were made to the established formula.
File:Corporal Capeman.jpg

The format of the show changed significantly. In the second season, the episodes would feature three episodes in a row sharing the same general theme and often the same villains, who usually were not arrested at the end of the episode. Many of the episodes simply revolved around M.A.D. trying to get rid of Gadget, rather than Dr. Claw's spectacular crimes and plots to dominate the world from the first season.

New characters and settings were introduced. Gadget, Penny and Brain moved into a high-tech house filled with many gadgets, where a few of the episodes were actually located. Penny spent much less screen time solving M.A.D.'s crimes. In the season's fourth episode, Corporal Capeman was introduced as Gadget's sidekick. The Catillac Cats from another DiC cartoon, Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats made a few cameo appearances in the second season, just as Gadget had cameos in their series.

MerchandiseEdit

SoundtrackEdit

A soundtrack LP to accompany the series, named "Inspecteur Gadget - Bande Originale de la Serie TV", was released in France in 1983 by Saban Records. The LP is extremely rare.

The soundtrack features the following tracks:

  1. Inspector Gadget (with French vocals)
  2. Penny's Theme (with French vocals)
  3. Brain The Dog — The Song (with French vocals)
  4. Gadget on Mars
  5. Ghost
  6. Mad Art in Museum
  7. Gadget in Japan
  8. Chocolate Factory
  9. Rodeo
  10. M.A.D's Theme
  11. Heroes in African Jungle
  12. Gadget with the Incas
  13. Look Out
  14. Gadget in Trouble
  15. Arabian Desert
  16. Sophisticated Gadget
  17. Train Machine
  18. Kingdom
  19. Car Race
  20. Pharaohs
  21. Penny's Theme
  22. Inspector Gadget (Instrumental)

With the exception of the first three tracks, and the track "Mad's theme", all the music on this album is background scores for the TV series. The album is far from a complete soundtrack, as there were probably several hours of source music used in the series. Some tracks on the album are more location/episode-specific or for special sequences. There were also at least two other records released by Saban Records (both in French). One of these was the single of the theme music (with French vocals, released both in 1983 and 1985 with different sleeve covers), and another was an audio story named "La Malediction du roi Touthankamon", based on the episode "Curse of the Pharaohs".

An English-language soundtrack album, entitled "Inspector Gadget - The Music", was released in Australia in 1986 through ABC Records. While containing significantly fewer tracks than the French edition, it is otherwise mostly similar. However, two tracks were exclusive to the Australian edition: "Brain's Theme" and "Italian Gadget".

Digital video releases Edit

North AmericaEdit

Inspector Gadget: The Original Series — a four disc DVD set collecting the first 22 episodes, released in North America on April 25, 2006 by Shout! Factory. There are errors on the box concerning which episodes are on each disc. The last episode listed on each disc is actually the first episode on the next disc. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment would later acquire the home video rights for the series.

Cover Art DVD Name Ep # Release Date Additional Information
80px Volume 1 22 April 25, 2006
  • Retrospective look at Inspector Gadget with Andy Heyward (DiC Chairman & CEO) and Mike Maliani (DiC Chief Creative Officer)
  • Original Art Gallery
  • An original sketch of Inspector Gadget done by a recent contest winner. as seen on Boomerang

Inspector Gadget: The Gadget Files — a single disc DVD released by UAV Corporation on July 6, 2004; containing the first five episodes and an interview with Andy Heyward answering 10 questions voted upon by fans.

Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas — a single disc DVD released by UAV Corporation on August 31, 2004; containing the 1992 special Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas and episode 56, 61 and 62 of the original series: "Weather in Tibet", "Birds of a Feather" and "So It is Written". No special features regarding production were included.

Inspector Gadget: The Go Go Gadget Collection — a single disc DVD released by Fox on September 9, 2009. It features 10 episodes not on the volume 1 release. The series is also available on Amazon On Demand, iTunes (in U.S. and Canada) for purchasing and episodes can also be viewed through streaming video on Netflix, Hulu and Jaroo.

AustraliaEdit

The first 64 episodes of season one were released on a trio of 3 disc box sets released by MagnaPacific on November 9, 2006, July 3, 2007, and October 11, 2007. These are named Inspector Gadget - The Original Series: Box Set 1, ...2 and ...3, respectively. Box Set 1 is the only known DVD release of the original version of the "Winter Olympics" pilot episode, featuring Gary Owens voicing Gadget and a slightly different intro. On Box Set 3, the episodes "Funny Money" and "Fang the Wonderdog" were edited. For instance, in the latter, instances of a M.A.D. agent wielding an axe were edited out.

All three box sets were packaged together as Inspector Gadget: 25th Anniversary Collection (9 Disc Box Set), released in Australia by MagnaPacific on November 5, 2008.

EuropeEdit

Inspektor Gadget: Die komplette Staffel 1 (eng. Inspector Gadget: The complete Season 1) was released in Germany by More Music and Media on March 19, 2010. The 10 disc set includes all 65 episodes from the first Season, but with only German Audio. The complete series has yet to be released in Britain, but some episodes are available on DVD.

Legacy and spin-off incarnations Edit

See also: Inspector Gadget spinoff incarnations Inspector Gadget was adapted into a 1999 live-action Disney film starring Matthew Broderick as the title character (real name: John Brown), his Wargames co-star Dabney Coleman as Chief Quimby, Michelle Trachtenberg as Penny, Rupert Everett as Doctor Claw (real name: Sanford Scolex) - whose face was totally visible this time - and even Don Adams as the voice of Brain.

A direct-to-video sequel was released in 2003. Broderick did not reprise his role as the title character, and was replaced by French Stewart from 3rd Rock From the Sun. Elaine Hendrix was the female lead and D.L. Hughley was the only star from the first movie who reprised his role as the Gadgetmobile. A threequel, the final film in the trilogy, was finally released in 2011, with Nicolas Cage as Gadget, Emma Watson as Penny, and Hugo Weaving as Claw, following a modestly successful 3D-converted double feature run of the first two films in theatres. It was even more successful than the first film's initial release and also outgrossed the double feature.

Cree Summer and Frank Welker reunited to reprise their Inspector Gadget roles for the animated sketch show Robot Chicken in a segment of the episode “Adoption's an Option”. Gadget himself was voiced by Joe Hanna (Don Adams had died in 2005), with a brief appearance of Chief Quimby, voiced by Seth Green.

In January 2009, IGN named Inspector Gadget as the 54th best in the Top 100 Best Animated TV Shows.[4]

In 2011, a new Inspector Gadget comic book was published in the United States by Viper Comics. Written by Dale Mettam and illustrated by José Cobá, the style of the book is based on the original television show. A preview comic was released on May 7, 2011 as part of Free Comic Book Day. The series was officially launched as a 48-page book in August.[5]

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

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