|Created by||Bruno Bianchi|
|Developed by||Jean Chalopin|
|Written by||Peter Sauder (season 1)|
Jean Chalopin (season 2)
|Directed by||Bruno Bianchi|
|Voices of||Don Adams|
Cree Summer Francks
|Theme music composer||Saban Records|
|Country of origin|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||86 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producers||Jean Chalopin|
Patrick Loubert (season 1)
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Production companies||DIC Audiovisuel|
Nelvana (season 1)
Field Communications (season 1)
TMS Entertainment (season 1)
Cuckoo's Nest Studios (season 1)
K.K. DIC Asia (season 2)
|Original network||First-run syndication (United States)|
First Choice Superchannel (Canada; season 1)
December 4, 1982
September 5, 1983 –
November 13, 1985
Inspector Gadget is an animated superhero science fiction comedy series from the mid–1980s co-created by Andy Heyward, Jean Chalopin and Bruno Bianchi, and was originally syndicated by DIC Audiovisuel and Lexington Broadcast Services Company. The show revolves around the adventures of a clumsy, dim-witted detective named Inspector Gadget—a cyborg human with various bionic gadgets built into his body—who is sent on missions to thwart plans by his nemesis Dr. Claw, the leader of an evil organization known as "M.A.D.", while unknowingly being assisted by his niece Penny and their dog, Brain.
The series stars the voice of Don Adams as the titular character, and first premiered on December 4, 1982, as an exclusive pilot. It is the first cartoon show to be syndicated by DIC, who specifically created the series to help expand into the North American market, and the first animated series to be presented in stereo sound. The program originally ran from 1983 to 1985, broadcasting 86 episodes over two seasons, and remained in syndication into the late 1990s. The TV series proved to be a success for DIC, not only launching the Inspector Gadget franchise, including additional animated productions, such as a 2015 sequel series, and two live-action films, but also encouraging the company to produce additional programs such as Heathcliff.
Since 2012, the rights to Inspector Gadget have been owned by WildBrain (previously DHX Media) through its in-name-only unit, Cookie Jar Entertainment. Cookie Jar had purchased DiC and its library of shows in 2008, and was itself acquired by DHX Media in 2012.
Inspector Gadget, the titular character of the series, is a world-famous cyborg police inspector who works for a secret police organization that combats crime across the globe, with each of his missions focused on thwarting the criminal schemes of M.A.D. (which stands for "Mean And Dirty")—a criminal organization led by the nefarious Dr. Claw, and conducted by his agents. Missions that he undertakes often occur in a foreign locale, or within the fictional city of Metro City. Despite the fact that Inspector Gadget is equipped with numerous gadgets to help him, including a personal vehicle that can morph between a family minivan to a compact police car, he is ultimately incompetent and clueless on each mission, often uses a gadget that he did not call for, and is sometimes prone to causing trouble inadvertently for those around him - an example of this is a running gag, inspired by the "self-destruct" message, in which Inspector Gadget is given briefing messages from his boss Chief Quimby, who primarily hands them to him while in disguise, only to have them unintentionally returned to him before they detonate.
In reality, the investigations are often conducted by Inspector Gadget's niece Penny, who has a gifted sleuthing mind despite her young age and secretly operates behind the scenes to thwart M.A.D.'s plot and ensure that her uncle remains out of harm's way, as Dr. Claw frequently instructs his agents to get rid of Inspector Gadget before he can stop them, in denial that she is his real enemy. Even though Inspector Gadget is incompetent, he always escapes danger due to luck, either from a misfired gadget, or from the secret assistance of the family dog Brain, who usually shadows him in disguise; on most occasions, his disguise often causes Inspector Gadget to chase him in the mistaken belief that he is a M.A.D. agent. While Penny remains in contact with Brain during her investigation, she is often placed in danger and either escapes by recalling Brain to help, or using her own technology. Despite the pair's involvement, both make it certain that Inspector Gadget is seen to have completed the mission in Quimby's opinion; in some cases, Inspector Gadget actually completes a mission, though usually through his own luck. Dr. Claw always vows revenge on Inspector Gadget for thwarting his schemes, and flees the scene on most occasions having been on site to oversee his plans.
Like many cartoons made in the 1980s, Inspector Gadget always ended each episode with a public service announcement advising how to handle a situation, such as the danger of dealing with strangers.
In 1981, Inspector Gadget creator Andy Heyward left Hanna-Barbera and traveled to Paris to work with DIC Audiovisuel after being proposed by the company to do so. As the company wanted entertainment for the United States, Heyward combined ideas to originate Inspector Gadget. Many ideas were inspired by Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, Get Smart, and The Six Million Dollar Man. Due to concerns that the show would not appeal to girls, Penny was created for the show. Brain was named to conceive the idea that "he is smart while Inspector Gadget [is the opposite]."
Chalopin, who at the time owned the DIC Audiovisuel 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. Part of the project's existence was to recoup costs incurred by DiC and TMS Entertainment when a planned collaboration, a spin-off of Lupin the Third called Lupin VIII, was cancelled due to financial disputes with the estate of Arsène Lupin creator Maurice Leblanc.
During the start of production, the model of Inspector Gadget was broken down for gadgets that needed to be created. The original design of Inspector Gadget was done in Paris. It included helicopter blades and was based on Andy Heyward and one of the directors of the series. It was scrapped from the writers' confusion of the design, and production assistant Mike Maliani and Andy Heyward simplified the designs to avoid confusion. Gadget went through approximately 350 sketches before reaching his final design. Inspector Gadget originally had a moustache (as shown in the pilot). It was removed after DIC received a letter from MGM (which already acquired United Artists) that he looked too similar to Inspector Clouseau from Pink Panther.
Nelvana writer Peter Sauder was the head writer for season 1, which was co-produced by DiC.[better source needed] As Nelvana was no longer part of the production by season 2, the show was written by the DIC studio employees Eleanor Burian-Mohr, Mike O'Mahoney, Glen Egbert, and Jack Hanrahan.[better source needed] 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.
Due to various recurring elements in the series, often the basic plot of each episode was the same. The geographic location of each episode differed, however, and provided for some variety in the series. The series effectively provided viewers with both comedic and dramatic moments. Despite the censorship standards for American animated series in effect during the 1970s and 1980s, the series also included elements of slapstick comedy. This was nearly forbidden at the time, but the censorship was less strict for syndication series and the studio got away with it.
Along with The Care Bears Movie, Inspector Gadget was Nelvana's first foray into animation outsourcing. Most of episodes from the first season were animated in Tokyo, Japan by TMS Entertainment, while a few episodes were animated in Taiwan by Cuckoo's Nest Studio, before being finished in post production by DiC and Nelvana. The pilot episode, "Winter Olympics" (a.k.a. "Gadget in Wonderland"[better source needed]), was animated by TMS's subsidiary; Telecom Animation Film and had a slightly higher budget than the rest of the episodes. The additional production facilities for TMS-animated episodes are AIC, and Oh! Production. Sunrise, and Toei Animation (uncredited) helped with the ink and painting process for the TMS-animated episodes.
Nelvana was not involved with the show's 21-episode second season, in which pre-production was now moved to DiC's own Los Angeles-based headquarters. The animation and post-production was generally done at K.K. DiC Asia (later Creativity & Development Asia), a Japanese animation house Jean Chalopin co-founded that DiC had some ownership in at the time.
The role of Inspector Gadget went through two different voice actors before Don Adams was cast. The first voice of Inspector Gadget was provided by Jesse White, but his voice characteristics was not tested well. Gary Owens auditioned the voice of Inspector Gadget with ad-libs, including his catchphrase "Wowsers!". Eventually, producers decided to cast actor Don Adams in the role, re-recording all of Inspector Gadget's dialogue in the pilot from Jesse White and Gary Owens.[a]
Dr. Claw, M.A.D. Cat, and Brain were voiced by Frank Welker.[better source needed] 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 25 episodes following the pilot before Welker was called in to replace him for those episodes. However, Welker was unable to re-record a few episodes, where Francks' voice remained.[failed verification] 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.
After the pilot, all of the first season episodes were voice-recorded in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at the Nelvana facilities. 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 Inspector 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 record 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. 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. Wagram Music made it available on online services such as Spotify and iTunes. 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, five tracks were exclusive to the Australian LP.
In her book Robot Takeover: 100 Iconic Robots of Myth, Popular Culture & Real Life, Scissor Sisters singer Ana Matronic says she considers the theme music to be widely recognized around the world. The series was a "global hit" and its theme song became "iconic". However, she notes that copies of the original television soundtrack had become extremely rare by 2010.
The original Inspector Gadget television series was the first production of DIC Entertainment intended for American television. The series first premiered as an exclusive pilot on December 4, 1982. On March 14, 1983, it was announced the series would be released in Fall 1983, consisting of 65 episodes. The series' debut varies, depending on its affiliates. The earliest-known debut was on September 5, 1983, on WFSL-TV in Lansing, Michigan. According to the Syndication Leaders chart in Electronic Media issued on March 1, 1984, the series was renewed for a second season. On August 20, 1984, Television/Radio Age explained that the series was renewed for a second season due to its success, ordering 20 to 25 additional episodes. On October 15, 1984, Broadcasting Magazine announced that the second season would begin in September 1985. The second season debuted on September 30, 1985 and ended on November 13, 1985.
Repeats of the series briefly appeared on CBS's Saturday morning cartoon lineup from 1991 to 1992. Nickelodeon also aired reruns of the show from October 1, 1987 until August 31, 1992, and again from November 4, 1996 until April 29, 2000. Internationally, it aired on various TV stations and remained in syndication into the late-1990s. Various stations, such as Global Television Network, and The Family Channel aired Inspector Gadget until the late-1990s. Inspector Gadget was seen on Qubo from August 31, 2019 until the channel's shutdown on February 28, 2021.
The Meier Group first released VHS tapes of the series in 1983, each containing a single episode. These releases continued on through companies such as Family Home Entertainment, Kideo Video (distributed through Karl-Lorimar Home Video), and Buena Vista Home Video. In 1999, Buena Vista Home Video released Inspector Gadget: Gadget's Greatest Gadgets, a direct-to-video feature that contained three episodes of the TV series. It was made to tie in with the Disney film, Inspector Gadget. On July 6, 2004, Sterling Entertainment released a VHS/DVD called Inspector Gadget: The Gadget Files. The release contains the show's pilot Winter Olympics alongside the first two episodes of the series, which are "Monster Lake" and "Down on the Farm". The DVD version contains "Gadget at the Circus" and "The Amazon" as bonus episodes, alongside an interview with Andy Heyward answering 10 questions voted upon by fans. The Sterling release of Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas contains the episodes "Weather in Tibet" and "Birds of a Feather" with "So It is Written" as a bonus episode.
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. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment would later acquire the home video rights for the series. On September 9, 2009, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released a single-disc DVD, Inspector Gadget: The Go Go Gadget Collection which features ten 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 four volume sets on October 8, 2013. They also re-released Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas on October 29, 2013.
The series is available on Amazon Prime Video for purchase. As of September 11, 2023, Inspector Gadget can be streamed on Paramount+, The Roku Channel, and Pluto TV.
Emily Ashby of Common Sense Media gave the series four stars out of five, writing, "Bumbling bionic detective offers worry-free laughs for kids."
On November 28, 1983, Broadcasting Magazine reported that Inspector Gadget tied with Woman to Woman and Hour Magazine at No. 5 for Monday-to-Friday daytime programming in independent stations, with an average of a 7% share on each three stations. On May 7, 1984, an advertisement revealed that Inspector Gadget appeared in 16 of the Top 20 markets and increased its Nielsen rating by 37% from October 1983 to February 1984. On August 20, 1984, an advertisement from McNaught Syndication Inc. reported that Inspector Gadget was seen in the Top 20 of 19 markets and experienced an average increase of 56% in Kids 2-11 in 16 markets and 69% in Kids 6-11 in 17 markets from the previous year. Television/Radio Age also reported that the series ranked at No. 8 in the kids' animation category, getting a 7.9 Nielsen rating with kids and a 2.1 Nielsen household rating with a share of 11%. According to Henry Siegel, chairman of Lexington Broadcast Services, the series' success led to produce the 1984 animated adaptation of Heathcliff.
On December 10, 1984, an advertisement from LBS Communications revealed that Inspector Gadget rose from being the No. 26 to No. 4 syndicated kids show in one year. It was also revealed that since October 1983, it rose 156% in ratings, 189% in shares, 89% in homes, 100% in Kids 2-11, and 78% in Kids 6-11. In May 1986, a "Fat Cats" advertisement from DIC Audiovisuel revealed that Inspector Gadget topped all other kids cartoons in Los Angeles, California, with an 18 Nielsen rating for kids. It was also revealed that its rating for Kids 2-11 increased by 25% from November 1985 to February 1986.
Further information: Inspector Gadget
Inspector Gadget was adapted into a 1999 live action film by Disney starring Matthew Broderick as the titular character, Dabney Coleman as Chief Quimby, Michelle Trachtenberg as Penny, and Rupert Everett as Dr. Claw, with Gadget's original voice actor, Don Adams, as Brain in a post-credits scene. It was panned by critics, fans and audiences, and because of it, the movie earned a 21% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
A direct-to-video sequel was released in 2003. Broderick did not reprise his role as the title character; he was replaced by French Stewart. Elaine Hendrix was the lead female character as G2, and Caitlin Wachs portrayed Penny replacing Trachtenberg. D. L. Hughley reprises his role as the Gadgetmobile; he is the only star from the first film who appears in the sequel.
In January 2009, IGN named Inspector Gadget as the 54th best in the Top 100 Best Animated TV Shows.
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 was developed in 2012. It was commissioned by Teletoon and put into pre-production by Cookie Jar Entertainment. It was mentioned by Ray Sharma, the CEO of XMG Studio, in January 2012. 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 series with two press pictures of Inspector Gadget's new look as well as a press release. The TV series is produced by DHX Media, which purchased Cookie Jar Group in 2012.
In May 2015, it was announced that a new film with a rebooted version of the character was in the works. Like the live-action movies, it would be by Disney, with Dan Lin producing it. In October 2019, Mikey Day and Streeter Seidell were hired to write the film.
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