Inspector Gadget (1983 TV series)
|Developed by||Jean Chalopin|
Cree Summer Francks (Season 1)
Holly Berger (Season 2)
Dan Hennessey (Season 1)
Maurice LaMarche (Season 2)
|Theme music composer||Saban Records|
|Country of origin||
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||86 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||22 minutes|
Lexington Broadcast Services Company
First Season only:
Cuckoo's Nest Studios
Mono (Season 1)|
Stereo (Season 2)
December 4, 1982|
(Pilot episode; Special sneak preview on five stations)
September 12, 1983 – February 1, 1986
|Followed by||Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas|
Inspector Gadget is a French-Canadian-American animated television series that revolves around the adventures of a clumsy, dim-witted cyborg detective named Inspector Gadget—a human being with various bionic gadgets built into his body. Gadget's nemesis is Dr. Claw, the leader of an evil organization known as "M.A.D."
This is 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). lt originally ran from 1983 to 1986 and remained in syndication into the late 1990s. ABC in Australia (26 July 1984 - 8 February 1991).
Created by Andy Heyward, Bruno Bianchi, and DiC's founder Jean Chalopin, series was 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. It was the first animated television series to be presented in stereo sound.
Inspector Gadget is a famous cyborg police inspector with a seemingly endless amount of gadgets he can summon by saying "Go-Go-Gadget" then the gadget's name. The word "Gadget" is actually part of the name, as hinted at in some episodes, (e.g. Gadget copter). Although he has all this equipment, Gadget is ultimately incompetent and clueless (in a manner similar to Maxwell Smart of "Get Smart" – who was also played by Don Adams – and the Inspector Clouseau character of the Pink Panther series), and overcomes obstacles and survives perilous situations often by sheer good luck. He is also helped by his niece, Penny, and intelligent dog, Brain, who both secretly help him solve each case. His gadgets often malfunction, which usually causes Gadget to exclaim 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. The formula is as follows.
- Gadget, Penny, and Brain will be doing something together.
- A phone rings, which Gadget identifies as the Top Secret Gadgetphone.
- Gadget answers the call with his hand, into which the Gadgetphone is built. The calls consist mostly of the following conversation: "Is that you, Chief? You're where? Right away, Chief."
- Gadget has a rendezvous with Chief Quimby, who is usually either hiding or in disguise. He receives a brief containing his assignment, which ends with "this message will self-destruct."
- Gadget accepts the mission, usually with the exclamation "You can count on me/Don't worry, Chief, I'm always on duty!" He then crumples the message up and tosses it back toward Quimby, apparently forgetting the self-destruct warning. The message blows up in Quimby's face, after which he usually asks himself, "why do I put up with him?"
The episode then 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 takes the disguised Brain for a MAD agent), while Penny solves the case. In early advertisements, as well as early merchandise for the show, it was revealed that M.A.D. stood for Mean And Dirty.
Frequently, Penny herself lands in trouble with M.A.D. agents – most of whom truss her up and leave her in a "Death-Trap" or similar perilous situation (a nod to The Man From U.N.C.L.E.). She occasionally extricates herself at the last possible moment, but more often she is forced to call Brain who rescues her in the nick of time. (More than anything else, Penny's being reduced to a damsel in distress prevents Brain's role from becoming entirely thankless.) 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 him doing so, with the ending PSA making very clear how dangerous hitchhiking can be. In another, Gadget and Penny use the story of the Trojan Horse to relate the danger of dealing with strangers. And another were Gadget gets drunk during an auto race and end the episode with a tip about the danger of drinking and driving.
- Inspector Gadget:
is the title character and main protagonist of the series and movies. He dresses like Inspector Clouseau, drives a minivan that can be converted into a police vehicle resembling a cross between a Matra Murena and a Toyota Celica, and acts like Maxwell Smart, who was portrayed by Gadget's primary voice actor Don Adams. The clueless Gadget frequently bungles his cases and gets himself into danger, but he always gets out of trouble either by using his gadgets (sometimes inadvertently), through Penny and/or Brain's unseen assistance, or by pure luck. Gadget cares about his family often takes risks to protect them, especially Penny. Another trait of Gadget's personality is that he does not believe in the supernatural. One of his most famous catch-phrases in the series is "Wowsers!" While he would never succeed in completing a mission by himself without Penny and Brain, they usually would not succeed in completing a mission themselves without Inspector Gadget and his gadgets unintentionally foiling the M.A.D. agents' plans. It is never clarified in the original series if "Gadget" is his code name or his actual name. The 1999 live film names him "John Brown", indicating it to be a code name.
- Penny (Sophie in French):
is Gadget's precocious and intelligent niece. 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 often gets captured by M.A.D. agents before calling Brain for help or escaping by herself.
- Brain (Finot in French):
is Inspector Gadget's and Penny's pet dog and companion. He is bipedal and intelligent, in the same way as a human. He assists Penny in keeping Gadget out of danger and solving crime. Brain uses a variety of disguises which always fool Gadget, although Gadget usually mistakes him for a M.A.D. agent. 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, Scooby-Doo-like "dog" voice or pantomime and physical gestures.
- Doctor Claw (Docteur Gang in French):
is the main antagonist of the series and leader of the evil M.A.D. organization. Throughout the entire series, Dr. Claw's real name is never revealed and His full body is never seen. Only his arms and gauntlet-clad 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). Dr. Claw's preferred mode of transportation/escape is the M.A.D. Mobile, a black and red vehicle that can transform into a jet or a submarine. He is always seen with his fat pet cat M.A.D. Cat, (a nod to James Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld and his cat) who reaps the benefits of his brief victories and bears the brunt of his defeats. Dr. Claw's catch-phrase is "I'll get you next time, Gadget! Next time!" It is heard at the end of every episode, during the credits, and is followed by a loud meow from M.A.D. Cat.
- Chief Quimby (Chef Gontier in French):
is Inspector Gadget's short-tempered boss and the chief of police of Metro City. He has a mustache and is usually seen with a pipe in his mouth. Accompanied by his own theme music, he appears disguised and/or hidden at the beginning of each episode 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 (even though she often alerts him using her watch).
- 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. Though he is more observant of details than the Inspector, he is equally as inept at interpreting them. 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. Gadget almost always mispronounces Capeman's name as "Capman."
The series 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 designed 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 350 sketches before reaching his final design. Gadget's design also included a mustache in the pilot before it was dropped for the rest of the series. A fourth version of the pilot was recorded where lines were added to explain the mustache away.(Penny:"You know uncle, I really like your new mustache" Inspector Gadget:"It's so that nobody will recognize me. I'm on vacation absolutely, totally and completely off duty") However, the third version of the pilot was used in US DVD releases, so this is an obscure fact.
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.
After the pilot, the first sixty-four 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), with creative supervision by Jean Chalopin. Bruno Bianchi was the Supervising Director. 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 (or also known as Wang Film Productions Co. Ltd.), 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 show was animated by DiC's own then-new Japanese-based animation facilities.
The role of Gadget went through two different voice actors for the pilot episode before Don Adams was cast. In the first version of the pilot episode, the voice of Gadget was provided by Jesse White. This version has not been seen since its initial production. A second version of the pilot was made with the only difference being Gary Owens re-recording all of White's dialogue with a deep-toned English accent. Eventually, producers decided to cast actor Don Adams in the role, re-recording all of Gadget's dialogue in the pilot to make it more reminiscent of Maxwell Smart of Get Smart (also played by Don Adams), one of the series' inspirations. A fourth version of the pilot was made for broadcast with Frank Welker re-recording one line as Gadget to explain away the mustache.
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. Welker and Adams recorded their dialogue in separate recordings in Los Angeles, while the rest of the first season's cast recorded in Toronto. Don Francks initially replaced Welker as Dr. Claw for about 25 episodes following the pilot before Welker was called in to replace him for those episodes, and onward. However, Welker was unable to re-record a few episodes, where Francks' voice remained. Francks remained with the show, however, and usually performed the voice of a henchman of Dr. Claw. Sometimes Francks would portray a secondary M.A.D. agent, with Welker (who usually performed the voices of the agents otherwise) as the other in episodes where Francks' voice was necessary. Penny was originally voiced by Mona Marshall in the pilot and was subsequently portrayed by Don Francks' daughter, Cree Summer, for the rest of the first season in her first voice acting role. Chief Quimby was voiced by John Stephenson in the original pilot, and later by Dan Hennessey for the remainder of the first season.
When production of Inspector Gadget moved from Nelvana in Toronto to DiC's headquarters in Los Angeles for the second season, all of the Canadian-based voice artists were replaced. Holly Berger replaced Cree Summer Francks as the voice of Penny while Maurice LaMarche replaced Dan Hennessey as the voice of Chief Quimby. Occasionally, LaMarche would fill in for Don Adams as Gadget whenever necessary.
The theme music was inspired by Edvard Grieg's movement "In the Hall of the Mountain King" and was composed by Shuki Levy. 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 1980s and 1990s, and is still running today.
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.
The theme song was sampled in the song "I'll Be Your Everything," performed by Youngstown, which served as the theme song for the live-action Inspector Gadget film starring Matthew Broderick as both Inspector John Brown-Gadget and a robotic impostor of him whom Dr. Claw creates. It was also sampled in "The Show" by Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick and "Rockin' to the P.M." by Raw Fusion on the album Live from the Styleetron.
The pilot episode featured a slightly different opening and closing credits and a moustached 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 North America in September 1983, 9 months after the Pilot was previewed on five stations. 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.
The first season episodes were repeated during the 1984–1985 season, with 21 new episodes airing on Saturdays 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.
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 more often than not, were still not arrested by the end of their 3rd and final 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 show.
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:
- Inspector Gadget (with French vocals)
- Penny's Theme (with French vocals)
- Brain The Dog — The Song (with French vocals)
- Gadget on Mars
- Mad Art in Museum
- Gadget in Japan
- Chocolate Factory
- M.A.D's Theme
- Heroes in African Jungle
- Gadget with the Incas
- Look Out
- Gadget in Trouble
- Arabian Desert
- Sophisticated Gadget
- Train Machine
- Car Race
- Penny's Theme (Instrumental)
- Inspector Gadget (Instrumental)
With the exception of the first three song tracks and the tracks "M.A.D's Theme" and "Penny'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 Touthankarton", based on the episode "Curse of the Pharaohs". French title is a word play with the name of Pharaoh "TouthankAMon. In french, "TouthankARTon" sounds like "Tout en carton" (all in carton). An English-language soundtrack LP, entitled "Inspector Gadget – The Music", was released in Australia in 1986 through ABC Records. While many of its tracks overlapped with those of the French LP, 5 tracks were exclusive to the Australian LP: "Inspector Gadget Theme" (an extended version of Inspector Gadget's American opening theme), "Brain The Dog" (an instrumental background music version of Brain's theme), "Max's theme" (a misspelling of "Mad's theme", this is an alternate version of the same composition on the French LP, with slightly different orchestrations), "Italian Gadget" (a piece of background music) and "Gadget Closing" (the American end credits theme for the show).
Digital video releases
UAV Entertainment released two single disc collections on DVD in 2004. Inspector Gadget: The Gadget Files, released on July 6, 2004, contains the first five episodes of the series and an interview with Andy Heyward answering 10 questions voted upon by fans.
On August 31, 2004, UAV Entertainment released the 1992 special Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas and episodes 56, 61 and 62 of the original series: "Weather in Tibet", "Birds of a Feather" and "So It is Written".
In 2006, Shout! Factory acquired the rights to the series and subsequently released Inspector Gadget: The Original Series, a four disc set featuring the first 22 episodes of the series on DVD on April 25, 2006 with Sony BMG Music Entertainment. 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. This release has been discontinued and is now out of print.
On September 9, 2009, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released a single disc DVD entitled Inspector Gadget: The Go Go Gadget Collection. It features 10 episodes from the series.
On May 24, 2013, TV Shows on DVD noted that New Video Group had acquired the home video rights to the series. New Video Group released the complete series on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time in 4 volume sets on October 8, 2013. They also re-released Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas on October 29, 2013.
All season one episodes except for Quizz Master were released on a trio of 3 disc box sets by Magna Pacific 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 contains the first known DVD release of the Gary Owens-voiced version of the "Winter Olympics" pilot episode, where Owens gives Gadget a very different vocal interpretation than Don Adams would later on. On Box Set 3, three of the episodes were edited: "Funny Money", "Tree Guesses" and "Fang the Wonderdog" all had small edits made to them. For instance, in "Tree Guesses", a scene with a lumberjack M.A.D. agent throwing numerous axes at Gadget were cut out.
All three box sets (64 episodes in total) were packaged together as Inspector Gadget: 25th Anniversary Collection (9 Disc Box Set), released in Australia by MagnaPacific on November 5, 2008.
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. In Hungary, Dr.Claw is called "Doktor Fondor", it is actually the first two syllables of "fondorlat", meaning intrigue, deviousness, or fraud. In the UK Platform Entertainment Ltd. released these episodes on DVD.
Legacy and spin-off 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. It scored 21% on Rotten Tomatoes.
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 lead female character as G2 replacing Joely Fisher as Dr. Brenda Bradford, Caitlin Wachs replacing Michelle Trachtenberg as Penny and D. L. Hughley was the only star from the first movie who reprised his role as the Gadgetmobile.
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 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 1983 television show. A preview comic was released on May 7, 2011 as part of the Free Comic Book Day, before the entire story was officially published as a 48-page book in August.
A new CGI-animated Inspector Gadget TV series has been in development since at least the start of 2012, possibly earlier. It was commissioned by Teletoon Canada, which will air the show, and put into preproduction by The Cookie Jar Company. In January 2012, the in-development show was mentioned by Ray Sharma, the CEO of XMG Studio, which produced the hit mobile game "Inspector Gadget: M.A.D. Dash". Sharma described how the success of the game had resulted in a new TV series being in the making: "We did 1 million downloads in a week, and it's reinvigorated the TV brand with a new TV series in production." In September 2012, Cookie Jar issued a short press release about the upcoming series, as part of the advertising for it during the MIPCOM market that October, stating: "Cookie Jar Entertainment is celebrating Inspector Gadget's 30th anniversary with the launch of a brand-new series with its Canadian broadcast partner TELETOON. The series will again revolve around the iconic bionic bumbling detective." On June 9, 2013, Teletoon officially announced the reboot show with two press pictures of Gadget's new look as well as a press release" The 26 episode series is produced by DHX Media, which purchased Cookie Jar in 2012. It's currently airing on Boomerang in Europe and Australia as of 2015. The series can also be found on Netflix.
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