Inspector Gadget is an animated television series about a clumsy, absent-minded and oblivious detective, Inspector Gadget, who is a human being with various bionic "gadgets" built into his anatomy. Gadget's main nemesis is the mysterious Dr. Claw, leader of an evil organization known as MAD. This was the first syndicated cartoon show from DIC Entertainment (as well as the first from the company to be created specifically for American viewers, along with The Littles and Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats) and ran from 1983 to 1986 in syndication. This article pertains to the original cartoon series and its characters and plots; for information on its later spinoffs, see Inspector Gadget spinoff incarnations.
Inspector Gadget, voiced by Don Adams, is a bumbling detective with gadgets built into his body. His fashion sense resembles that of Inspector Clouseau from the pink panther movies. Often cluelessly stumbling through any case he is given, Gadget frequently ignorantly makes foolish mistakes pertaining to surroundings and current environment, mistaking innocent bystanders (and Brain) for enemies, and believing that the real enemies are friends. His ineptitude always leads him into danger, but he always gets out of trouble through either his trusty gadgets (most notably his springs), Penny's interference, or pure luck. The episode, "M.A.D. Trap", is one of the few episodes in which Gadget actually shows some competence. When Dr. Claw traps him in a steel foundry, he uses his gadgets flawlessly to save Penny and Brain. Later, in "The Moral", Penny and Brain muse that it was a good thing his gadgets were in top shape. Occasionally, he also inadvertently helps Penny solve the case, with his bungling either distracting Dr. Claw or setting things up for Penny to do her work. The nearest Gadget ever gets to capturing Dr. Claw is in the opening teaser of each episode in which Gadget handcuffs a decoy metal glove, only to have a bomb explode in his face. However, this is meant to demonstrate that Claw always manages to escape justice and was never seen in any actual episode. Gadget's catchphrase is "Wowsers!".
Penny, voiced by Cree Summer, then by Holly Berger, is Gadget's precocious niece. Inspector Gadget is her guardian and caretaker, though often she seems more suited to be his caretaker due to Gadget's clumsiness. Unknown to any of the recurring characters other than Brain, she is a master of investigation and technology who is the one truly responsible for foiling M.A.D.'s schemes. Penny's principal crime-fighting tool is a high-tech Computer Book capable of breaking codes, surveiling buildings and overriding practically any sort of machine or device. Using the book, Penny is able to monitor Gadget's activities and—with Brain's help—surreptitiously help him avoid numerous potential catastrophes that result from his absent-mindedness while uncovering the true nature of Dr. Claw's plot and foiling it. She often plays the helpless damsel-in-distress role and Brain usually saves her, but she escapes by herself sometimes. Her name is Sophie in the French, Italian and German version, Karen in the Israeli version and Lily in few episodes of second season in Polish version.
Brain, voiced by Frank Welker, is Penny's dog. He assists her in keeping Gadget out of danger and solving the crime. He is a master of disguise and dresses up in order to watch over Gadget and save him from attempts on his life. Although Gadget is in contact with Brain almost the entire time while he is supposedly solving a case, Gadget never sees through his disguises (and as often as not, Gadget assumes Brain is a M.A.D. agent while ignoring all the real ones). 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 speak a human language, though in a gruff "dog" voice (with a speech impediment featuring constant uses of the letter "r"), similar to Astro of The Jetsons or Scooby-Doo. Sometimes it is impossible to understand what Brain is saying. In a pinch, Brain will resort to pantomime and physical gestures to communicate effectively. His name is Finot in the French and the German version.
Corporal Capeman, voiced by Townsend Coleman, was introduced in the second season and appears in eight non-consecutive episodes as Gadget’s sidekick. Capeman is a nerdy and annoying wannabe crimefighter who dresses in stereotypical superhero garb. He is even more clueless than Gadget. The two have a student/mentor relationship, though Gadget is rarely teaching anything nor is Capeman learning. (Gadget generally mispronounces his name "Capman"). 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. His last appearance is in the series' last episode: "Gadget and the Red Rose" (#86).
Gadget works as an inspector for the Metro City police department. His missions often take him to a different exotic locale, generally without giving any explanation as to how a crime on the other side of the earth was of any interest to the Metro City police.
Although there are the rare exceptions, every single episode of the first season follows a standard plot with little variation:
1: Gadget, Penny, and Brain are engaged in a typical family activity that is interrupted by Police Chief Quimby calling on the Top Secret Gadget Phone. He then appears in an outlandish disguise—a gas barrel, a Gypsy fortuneteller, a turtle shell, even a gargoyle on Gadget's house, but most often, it's in a trash can.
2: Quimby gives Gadget a mission on a self-destructing sheet of paper. As Gadget reads the message, his eyes dart back and forth while the sound of a typewriter, fax machine, or a camera's shutter (in servo mode) is heard in the background. Sometimes, Penny and Brain are near him and listens what Gadget reads. The last line of the message always reads "This message will self-destruct.", a spoof of the exploding taped messages from Mission: Impossible. Sometimes it would say that the message would self-destruct in ten (sometimes thirty) seconds. The second season often had "Caution: This message will self-destruct" as the final line in the message. Gadget says his catchphrase, which is "Don't worry, Chief, I am always on duty.", before he crumples up that paper, and then unintentionally throws the message back at the Chief and walks away in total ignorance. The message explodes seconds later in Quimby's face. The only episodes without the exploding paper are "Gadget's Replacement" (#23), where Gadget is replaced by a computer, and "Health Spa" (#6), in which Gadget doesn't even get a mission. Instead, Gadget slams the door in the Chief's face shortly after Quimby says, "At last, an assignment that didn't blow up in my face." In "M.A.D. Trap" (#20), Gadget did not get an assignment from Quimby, but when it appears that Dr. Claw does not intend to commit any crimes that day, Gadget gives Chief Quimby a paper that reads, "Have you got any assignments for me today? This message will self-destruct." Quimby panics at this and drops it in front of the pigeons he was feeding. While attempting to rescue them, Gadget's message blows up in Quimby's face.
3: Dr. Claw is always somehow visually monitoring this event on his computer from his desk or car, and introduces his scheme and usually a new super villain employee to the viewers. The schemes nearly always include trying to eliminate Gadget as well as stealing valuable things.
4: In most times, Gadget tells Penny and Brain the mission is too dangerous and he leaves to mission, followed by Brain usually and both Penny and Brain sometimes. In fewer times, Gadget takes Penny and Brain to the mission.
5: Gadget bumbles through his mission oblivious to the dangers and overall situation around him. He frequently makes ridiculous assumptions (such as thinking that the sound of explosions is thunder). He also almost always mistakes enemy agents for helpful allies, and vice versa.
6: Brain is always instructed by Penny to follow Gadget to make sure he doesn't get hurt: "I'm worried, Brain. You'd better follow him." Brain would make use of various costumes (although how he got them is not explained) and often interacts with Gadget, who never recognizes him. Gadget usually considers the disguised Brain to be the main suspect. When intervening to save Gadget from MAD agents, Brain often becomes the victim (along with the agents themselves) instead of Gadget. Gadget himself rarely comes to any harm, and if he does, it's usually self-inflicted. Even when Gadget falls into a MAD agent trap, he always escapes by using his gadgets. Penny often calls Brain if her uncle is okay and Brain tells her everything.
7: Penny in fewer times has a contact with Brain on her school. She stays at home usually when Gadget is on the case. Rarely, she there finds out something in MAD plan and goes to place of crime on her bike. In fewer times, Penny goes to place of crime after having a contact with Brain. She sometimes goes to place of crime with Gadget and Brain.
8: Gadget, while bumbling around, meets up with MAD Agents and thinks they're good people. They're trying to get rid of Gadget again, but Gadget escapes. In episodes "Winter Olympics (a.k.a. Gadget in Winterland)", "Amusement Park" and "M.A.D. Trap" Gadget is trying to arrest the real MAD Agents.
9: Meanwhile, Penny investigates the crimes and is usually the one to solve the case with the help of her Computer Book. With it, she can override the controls of just about anything electronic. She often stops the MAD agents when she overrides the controls of the vehicle MAD agents drive and forces them to crash.
10: Often, Penny may get captured and escape the criminals during her investigation, when Brain usually comes to rescue her. Sometimes, Penny escapes herself when the M.A.D. agents do not lock her up properly, or are distracted by something. She will sometimes use the help of her Computer Book to escape as well. Usually, Penny isn't captured. Penny isn't captured in most episodes of Season 2. In more episodes, she falls into difrennt peril than capture. In episodes "Dutch Treat", "M.A.D Academy", "Prince of the Gypsies" and "Do Unto Udders" Penny is almost captured.
11: Shortly before Penny solves the case, she calls Chief Quimby to the crime scene.
12: Dr. Claw orders his minions to get rid of Gadget again. They were trying, but fail thanks to Brain.
13: Penny sometimes uses her computer book to save the day. Usually, she uses her computer wristwatch. In fewer times, Gadget himself will accidentally save the day while attempting to accomplish a completely different task.
14: Gadget invariably gets credit for solving the mission, with everyone believing that he has in fact stopped Dr. Claw single-handedly. Chief Quimby appears and congratulates him. No one ever suspects that it was in fact Penny and Brain who did all of the work. Typically, they show up and Gadget doesn't even know how they got there, but he is delighted to see them. Like many cartoons, the episode usually ends with them all laughing at something.
15: After this, Dr. Claw is seen either in his hideout or escaping in his MADmobile, which can turn into an advanced jet or submarine, delivering his catch phrase: "I'll get you next time, Gadget... NEXT TIME!". Dr. Claw's cat, M.A.D. Cat, will usually hiss in agreement. This phrase is also played towards the end of the end credits in every episode.
16: In common with many 1980s children's TV shows, Inspector Gadget's last scene is usually a safety tip (known as a Gadget Team Alert) often relating to the episode (similar to Captain Planet's Planeteer Alerts or the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog "Sonic Sez" segments).
While the show is admittedly formulaic (it is often compared with Get Smart, which also stars Don Adams), charming and appealing main characters, exotic and varied locations, and solid writing kept the series entertaining throughout its first season.
Inspector Gadget's gadgets were the most unusual aspect of the show, and although they are central to his character, they rarely ever actually do him any good when it comes to solving his case. When using his gadgets, he would say "Go-Go-Gadget", and then the name of the gadget to be used. However, the gadget he said would not always be the gadget that appeared. Even when he did get the gadget he requested, it would often malfunction.
The Inspector has an indefinite supply of gadgets located all over his body. However, there are several that appear regularly.
Besides having all of the typical features, it has many specialized ones as well, such as the ability to extend its wheels (not unlike Gadget's arms and legs) to great lengths, and to completely transform into another vehicle altogether, the Gadgetvan, even while in motion. All of the Gadgets on the Gadgetmobile are voice activated in the same way that the gadgets on his body are activated, by calling its name, "Go-Go-Gadgetvan!" (for example), although when changing into the van and back, he usually moves a lever while saying it.
In The Ruby, Gadget summons the Gadgetmobile while on foot ("Go-Go-Gadget Car!"). The Gadgetmobile then arrives on the scene and, responding to the command improperly, drives straight past him.
It is also, for the most part, nigh invulnerable. There are a few occasions where it has taken head-on collisions, attacks, or has fallen from great heights and remained completely intact. While the Gadgetmobile did not have a voice in the series, in all related films, an off-camera voice actor provides one. Its voice actors have been D.L. Hughley (Inspector Gadget, Inspector Gadget 2), Jaleel White (Inspector Gadget's Last Case), and Bernie Mac (Inspector Gadget's Biggest Caper Ever).
Penny's Computer Book
A phonebook-sized machine similar to a modern-day laptop computer. It is capable of hacking into and interfacing with any piece of electronic equipment, and some non electronic equipment, like a safe. The 'book' apparently does not have multiple pages, as the exact same control configuration is shown whenever Penny is using it. Penny usually carries her computer book in her backpack (she is only seen wearing it when the book is to be used shortly after).
Penny's wristwatch has five known functions:
Brain's communication collar Used for communicating with Penny, Brain's communicator is hidden in his dog collar. When a call is received, the collar's studs extend out around Brain (usually three studs are shown extending but this number does vary). Normally, the three studs contain a speaker, microphone, and antenna. It also has a tracking device that can direct Brain towards Penny (although he only uses it once). In one episode, the third stud carries a video camera.
MAD corporate identity
For an evil organization, MAD seems oddly enthusiastic about self-promotion and branding. Everything MAD creates seems customized to incorporate the MAD logo, or MAD-like imagery (a stylized cat head with fangs). All MAD agents are given corporate clothing, emblazoned with the MAD logo, even down to the underwear (as seen in Did You Myth Me and Do Unto Udders). All MAD agents drive around in trucks with 'MAD' written on the side. Gadget never recognizes any of the MAD indicia.
MAD agents often show their respect/allegiance to Dr. Claw by performing the MAD salute. This involves swiftly putting a clenched fist to the side of one's head(occasionally with enough force to knock one unconscious). The salute is used more in later episodes.
MAD has a facility it uses to train prospective agents located under a Metro City skyscraper (MAD Academy). Trainees are indoctrinated in MAD's philosophy and tendency toward self-promotion, as they already wear the official MAD uniform. The facility includes a driving course that is littered with traps. Dr. Claw personally instructs the school's students, and its official slogan is "We Hate Gadget."
The MADmobile is Dr. Claw's personal vehicle. Like the Gadgetmobile, it has a variety of deterrents for use against pursuing vehicles. It is also able to transform into a jet and a submarine. It also has at least one fault, in that the fumes/smoke produced by the "Backfire" weapon carried by the car will back up into the cab of the vehicle if the nozzle is pinched shut (episode 9).
According to the bonus featurette "Wowsers" retrospective featurette with co-creators Andy Heyward and Mike Maliani on the four-disc DVD set Inspector Gadget: The Original Series, Gadget went through around 150 sketches before reaching his final design.
Peter Sauder was the head writer during the first season. In Season 2, Eleanor Burian-Mohr, Mike O' Mahoney, Glen Egbert and Jack Hanrahan (a former Get Smart writer, among many other things) took over. (Hanrahan and Burian-Mohr would later write the Christmas special Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas as well as the Gadget Boy series - see also Inspector Gadget spinoff incarnations.)
Two versions of the pilot were produced. One had Jesse White voicing Inspector Gadget, and the other had Gary Owens voicing him (the version with Gary Owens can be found on the Australian Inspector Gadget DVD set).
The first season was aired from September to December 1983, comprising sixty-five 22½-minute long episodes. The original pilot episode had a slightly higher budget than the rest of the series, but because of several animation problems and a far from established formula, the other 64 episodes of the season generally stand out as better. After the first season, the show was a worldwide hit.
In the first season, nearly every episode saw the introduction of some 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.
Although these differences lessened the repetition, the show's popularity sank. Apparently the removed elements had all been part of the great success of season one. The full reason for the show's cancellation is unknown, though the overall decline in quality and the lesser budgets during the second season is the most common theory, as this most probably led to lower ratings. Another reason may be that the Disney Studio purchased DiC in 1986, leaving many of their shows to syndicated reruns.
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 North American viewers. When recording moved to the U.S. for the second season, several of the voices (among them Cree Summer, who played Penny) were replaced.
Most of the background music cues are some sort of variation of the Gadget melody. Even at festivals or dances in the cartoon, the Gadget theme is usually played. Occasionally during an episode, such as in Launch Time and Ghost Catchers, Inspector Gadget will hum or even sing his theme. Levy also had a range of other musical cues for each character as well as for the various moods of the scenes. Penny and Brain each have several different versions of their respective musical themes.
The soundtrack features the following tracks:
With the exception of the first three tracks, all the music on this album is incidental music directly from the TV series. The album is far from a complete soundtrack, although this would be impossible 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".
Due to the previous overexposure from live-action movies to direct-to-video sequels, and other various spin-off shows, the public grew a distaste of the series as a whole, which led to lower sales than hoped. As a result, they discontinued releasing the remaining episodes. In November 2006, Fox Home Entertainment got the DVD rights to Inspector Gadget along with some other DiC cartoons. Shout! Factory's DVD producer Brain Ward stated that Fox will continue where Shout! left off, though no further plans are announced as of now.
There are also 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.
|Cover Art||DVD Name||Ep #||Release Date||Additional Information|
|Volume 1||22||April 26 2006|
The website www.ezydvd.com.au confirms the release of the second box set of Inspector Gadget episodes, in Australia at least, which was released on July 4, 2007. The third box set has also been released there on October 10, 2007
Inspector Gadget: 25th Anniversary Collection (9 Disc Box Set) according to MagnaPacific, this release will contain the first 64 episodes from the original series' Season One, to be released on 5th November 2008. This leaves out episode 65-86, which have yet to be released in complete form on English-language DVD.
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 background were included.