Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Inspector Gadget is an animated series about a bumbling detective, Inspector Gadget, and his fight to stop the evil organization MAD, led by Dr. Claw. This was the merchandising company DiC Entertainment's first syndicated show, and ran from 1983 to 1986 in syndication.
Inspector Gadget was a cyborg with various "gadgets" built into his anatomy through an operation after he slid on a banana peel chasing a villain. He could activate each gadget by saying the phrase, "Go-go gadget arms!" (for example). The gadgets would often malfunction in humorous ways, to which he would reply "I have to get these gadgets fixed!" but never did.
Almost every single episode followed a standard plot:
- Gadget, his niece Penny, and her dog Brain are engaged in some family activity that is interrupted by Police Chief Quimby appearing in an outlandish disguise.
- Quimby gives Gadget a mission on an exploding sheet of paper. The sheet of paper always winds up exploding in Quimby's face after Gadget has read it. The exploding message is a spoof of the exploding taped messages in the TV show Mission Impossible.
- Gadget bumbles through his mission oblivious to what's going on around him.
- Brain follows Gadget in disguise, often interacting with Gadget who never recognizes Brain. Gadget usually considers the disguised Brain to be the main suspect.
- Penny investigates and solves the crime, with the help of her Computer Book. Often Penny would be captured and escape in the process.
- Inspector Gadget invariably gets credit for solving it, everyone believing that he had in fact stopped Dr. Claw single-handedly. Chief Quimby appears and congratulates him.
- Common of many 1980s American children's TV shows, Inspector Gadget ends with a safety tip often relating to the episode.
While the show was admittedly formulaic, charming and appealing main characters, exotic and varied locations, and solid writing kept the series fresh.
Dr. Claw was always depicted sitting in a high-backed chair facing away from the audience, and was thus never seen except for his arms. He had a cat, MAD Cat, at which (unfortunately for MAD Cat), he would often lose his temper when things started going badly. At the end of every episode, Dr. Claw would escape in the "MAD jet" yelling: "I'll get you next time, Gadget! Next time!" followed by MAD Cat's signature scream. The black and red MAD jet was capable of converting into almost any vehicle. It could change into a car, a submarine, and was capable of firing missiles. Dr. Claw is a spoof of Ernst Blofeld, the villain of several James Bond movies, who also had a cat.
One element of the Inspector Gadget's popularity was the fact that a lot of the show's premises were never fully explained, which in turn led to open speculation. For example, the mystery of Dr. Claw's identity was never revealed, nor was the history of his feud with Gadget. The location of Penny's parents was likewise never explained, nor was her exact relation to Gadget ever clarified. The show offered very little background, which allowed viewers to use their imaginations to explain the unexplained.
The theme music for the show was composed by Shuki Levy.
The first season episodes were repeated during the 1984 - 1985 season, with 21 new episodes premiering during the second and last season of Inspector Gadget from September 1985 to February 1986. Several significant changes were made to the established formula. For instance, evil henchmen would have recurring roles, and the crime would center around getting rid of Gadget. Gadget, Penny and Brain moved into a high-tech house filled with many gadgets. Penny didn't get into trouble as often. In the season's fourth episode, the writers introduced a sidekick named Corporal Capeman, who was widely unpopular with the show's fan base.
The cartoon was written in France, then animated in Tokyo, Japan and (a few of the episodes) in Taiwan, before being voiced in Canada and broadcast in the USA for the first time in September 1983. Only a month or so later, the show premiered in France. Don Adams, the voice of Inspector Gadget in the American version of the cartoon, had also played Maxwell Smart, the lead character in Get Smart, giving both shows a certain resemblance to US viewers. When the recording moved to the United States for the second season, several of the voices (among them Cree Summer, who played Penny) were replaced.
Like Scooby-Doo, Brain has some difficulty with pronuncation, and tends to pronounce most words that begin with "R."
In 1999, Matthew Broderick starred in a live-action movie from Walt Disney Pictures, also called Inspector Gadget, based on the cartoon series. In 2003, French Stewart starred in the straight to DVD sequel, Inspector Gadget 2 , which is said to have more closely followed the cartoon series.
Specials and spinoffs
Inspector Gadget's Field Trip
In 1995, DiC made a series called Inspector Gadget's Field Trip.
In this series, the popular animated character, Inspector Gadget, takes students around the world in this series of 50 field trips. Adams returns as the voice of Gadget.
Gadget and the Gadgetinis
In 2001, DiC also made 52 episodes of the spinoff Gadget and the Gadgetinis.
In it, Gadget is a lieutenant member of an organization called "WOMP" (World Organization of Mega Powers). He is aided in his work by Penny (a character from the original series, but now twelve years old), as well as the new robot characters Digit and Fidget, invented by Penny.
Inspector Gadget's Last Case
In 2002, DiC made an animated movie called Inspector Gadget's Last Case.
When Inspector Gadget gives up his beloved but aging Gadgetmobile, his archenemy Dr. Claw uses a competing crime fighter to discredit Gadget and cost him his badge. The movie is a slapstick comedy cartoon filled with action.
The voice of Gadget is provided by Maurice LaMarche rather than Don Adams. Oddly enough--noting the Inspector's dog's name--LaMarche is most well-known as the other Brain, the large-headed megalomaniacal lab mouse on Animaniacs.
Also, after all these years, Dr. Claw's face is finally visible to the audience...sort of. This movie has the same animation as the Gadgetinis series.
Inspector Gadget's gadgets
- Gadget Binoculars - Binoculars lowered down out of his hat over his eyes.
- Gadget Brella - A hand holding an umbrella that came out of his hat.
- Gadget Coat - His trench coat inflated when he pulled one of the buttons on it and enabled him to float. It was almost always deflated by being punctured.
- Gadget Copter - A helicopter that came out of his hat that enabled him to fly.
- Gadget cuffs - A handcuff came out of his forearm just above his hand.
- Gadget Lasso - His necktie turned into a lasso.
- Gadget Legs/Arms/neck - His neck, arms and legs could extend to great lengths.
- Gadget Mallet - A wooden hammer held in a robotic hand that also came from the hat. It usually wound up bopping someone it shouldn't--sometimes even the Inspector himself.
- Gadget Phone - A telephone in his hand. The antenna came out of one finger and the speaker and receiver on others. This is the only gadget that was not voice activated. Possibly a reference, also, to Maxwell Smart's ingenious shoe-phone.
- Gadget Respirator - A self contained breathing mask and the only hat gadget Gadget has to physically reach for and pull on.
- Gadget Siren - A police light and siren popped out of the top of his hat.
- Gadget Skates - Roller skates came out of the bottom of his shoes. Also, sometimes rockets would come out of the sides.
- Gadget Skis - Skis extended out of the ends of his shoes.
- Gadget Spring - A spring came out of his hat, enabling him to bounce usually when falling head first and hitting his head against the ground.
- Hand Gadgets - there were several gadgets that were inside his fingers and were utilized by taking the end off his finger to expose the gadget. These included: flashlight, key, laser, pen, corkscrew, and whistle.
At times, the wrong gadget would emerge when another was called for, and Gadget would muse that he was overdue for a checkup/tuneup.
- Internet Movie Database links
- Inspector Gadget (original TV series)
- Inspector Gadget
- Inspector Gadget 2
- Inspector Gadget's Field Trip
- Inspector Gadget's Last Case
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