What I could never work out as a kid was – was Inspector Gadget a robot? Or some sort of cyborg? Or was he just a human with a load of, well, gadgets? Some of them – like the propeller in the hat – could feasibly just be wacky James Bond-esque contraptions, but ‘Go Go Gadget Legs’?!? There’s no way they were detachable.
OK I am now going to look on Google to find the answer. Hang on a minute…
Right, it seems that’s a hotly debated topic, but the Internet comes down on the side of Cyborg.
Now that is settled, let’s remember Inspector Gadget properly. It was a brilliant cartoon!
Gadget’s boss, Chief Quimby, would give him an assignment every week, which usually entailed the latest plot by evil organisation – M.A.D. and their fearsome leader, the always unseen Dr Claw.
Inspector Gadget could activate any of his gadgets by saying ‘Go Go Gadget Legs’ or ‘Go Go Gadget Arms’ etc. He had loads of them – telescopic binoculars, an umbrella, handcuffs, roller-skates – even helicopter blades that came out of his hat. Not to mention the Gadgetmobile, his in-no-way-influenced-by-the-Batmobile car.
The central gag of each episode, was that Gadget was a clumsy but likable buffoon who had no control over his contraptions and it was Penny and Brain who were the real – well, brains – behind the outfit. There were the two main catchphrases – Dr Claw’s “I’ll get you next time, Gadget! Next time!”, and Gadget’s “Wowzers!” plus an excellent running joke where Chief Quimby would give Gadget his mission on a piece of paper that would ‘self destruct in 10 seconds’. Gadget would always dispose of it causally in Quimby’s direction, leaving him covered in soot by the blast.
And as with He-Man, every episode would end with Gadget giving a moral lesson – these were usually very practical, such as turning off the light switch before you change a light-bulb.
But we must pause now to consider, perhaps, Inspector Gadget’s most valuable component – the theme tune. I would go so far as to say this was the GREATEST of all the 80s cartoons. Better than Thundercats, I hear you cry? Yes, probably.
In fact, if you want proof, I think boyband 5ive might have even sampled the Inspector Gadget theme tune in one of their songs. There can be no greater honour.
There were two series of the original Inspector Gadget running between1983 to 1986, and in 1991 Matthew Broderick starred in the live action film – which made the cardinal mistake of showing Dr. Claw in full (and he looked like Rupert Everett which was NOT how I imagined him at all). Later, there was also some rubbish spin-off cartoon called Gadget Boy, featuring the Inspector as a small boy.
But as always, the original was the best! All together now – da da da da da Inspector Gadget do do do do do woo woo! (I love 5ive).
By Luke Chilton
Ed says: I remember when I found out that Penny from Inspector Gadget was voiced by Cree Summer (in her first voice-over role), who played Freddy in one of my favourite old school TV shows A Different World. That made my day! I recently discovered that Cree’s father Don Francks did the voice of Dr Claw in a few episodes! Interesting!