Wednesday, September 18, 2013

RR Inspector Gadget

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Name: Inspector Gadget: The Original Series - Box Set 1 (aka Season 1 Part 1)
Created by Jean Chalopin
Original run 1983
Genre Cartoon comedy/adventure

Who hasn't ever heard of Inspector Gadget?

This classic 1980s cartoon was created by Jean Chalopin and was produced by DIC Entertainment.

It actually was a Franco-Canadian-United States-Taiwanese-Japanese co-production (no less!!). The series was mostly produced at DiC's main headquarters in France and in Canada, with most of the animation done at Tokyo Movie Shinsha in Japan. That what gave the show such a unique blend of Western-cartoon/anime-feel.

Inspector Gadget ran from 1983 to 1986 for only two seasons. It was the first animated series offered in stereo at the time!

The cartoon follows the adventures of the self-titled Inspector Gadget, a sort of cartoon take on "Get Smart" with similar elements/parodies from both James Bond and the Inspector Clouseau.

It follows the adventures of this clueless hero who solve crimes by accident, thanks mostly to his nice Penny and their dog Brain.

Most episodes follow the same basic outline.

Inspector Gadget is a robotic detective with an array of crazy gadgets ranging from extended robo-legs to an helicopter-hat. With an order - Go-Go-Gadget! - he is able to summon those at will... well, most times. Gadget also has a transformable car he uses to get around.

Chief Quimby contacts Gadget from one of his crazy hiding spots. Once Gadget has read the new assignment it self-destruct... right in the Chief's face! A parody of those mission messages from Mission: Impossible.

The Gadget gang go to a new exotic place.

There they will have to put a stop to an evil scheme from M.A.D. agents. Be it an heist or some other insane master plan.

The audience never gets to to see their leader's face - Dr. Claw. In pure Sean Connery-era James Bond fashion.

M.A.D agents try to kill Gadget while Brain has to follow him around to protect him. Meanwhile Penny does all the work, find some clues and his able to resolve the actual issue.

Claw escapes... once more.

At the end, episodes would usually end with a public service announcement. These PSA ranging from simple everyday safety tips to stuff less likely to ever happen to a child watching the show - like not falling asleep while driving a boat (really?!?). Sometimes those would be lightly tied to the actual plot.

Inspector Gadget is a perfect example of a very episodic cartoon series, with its "villain-of-the-week" formula, yet original enough to pull this simple idea off each time. Yes, it's very repetitive, but the characters and the whole concept where fun enough to avoid boring repetitions.

Gadget was voiced by Get Smart's Maxwell Smart himself actually, Don Adams.

When the show originally started, Gadget actually had a mustache in the pilot episode! But they forced the creators to take it out to avoid a comparison with Clouseau.

The stories are kinda sloppy when you watch it from a fresh perspective, nowadays. But those silly puns and incessant jokes are kind of part of Inspector Gadget's charm too.

The animation can be a bit cheap at times.

Brain talks with a Scooby-Doo-like voice. And boy, that pet cat M.A.D. Cat was creepy for an animal!

The great fantastic memorable music was composed by a very inspired Shuki Levy. The very fun score ranges from moody almost-creepy cues to more action-packed segments.

And let's not forget the fantastic memorable catchy Gadget theme melody! A big part of the show's success, no doubt!

There were a huge number of episodes produced for the first season.

Season 1 aired in 1983, for 65 episodes!

It improved a bit over the time, but those early episodes are kinda bad and dated - to be honest. The crew behind the show started getting more creative and having fun with the concept over the course of the show. And it shows.

More original storylines and less straightforward copy-paste plots.

After several continuous re-runs, a 2nd season was produced for 1985-86. It ran for 21 episodes, for a total of 86 episodes.

Those 80+ episodes were collected on DVD over 4 Volume collections. With this first boxset containing the first 22 episodes of the show.

Overall, it's a fun beloved cartoon series. It aged a bit, but it's a great way to relieve its good memories.

It does get better over the run of the show.

The second season would later introduce an annoying recurring superhero and would be-sidekick, Corporal Capeman.

Episodes would be produced as three-parters, reusing the same themes and villains over those 3 episodes where the villains would only be arrested by the end of the 3rd final episode.

The series became a huge hit back then and thanks to re-runs all over the 1990s become part of the pop culture and an iconic series from the 80s. A videogame and later two live action films were also produced.

Inspector Gadget would go on to live on through spinoffs and reimaginings of the series in Gadget Boy & Heather as well as Gadget and the Gadgetinis. And even several direct-to-video traditionally-animated and CGi films!

I give it:
2.5 / 3 Felixes!

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