Inspector Gadget (1983-1986)
This is yet another cartoon that I remember watching on CITV, but this one wasn’t home-made, it was an import that was of French origin. I do try and avoid making the corny “the theme music was great!”-type comments in these pieces, but I can’t resist it in this case, as I really was fond of it, and I also remember that the opening sequence ended with Gadget landing upside down to make the “I” in “Inspector”.
Inspector Gadget was a cartoon all about the adventures of a dimwitted detective who always failed to find the right clues. In the English language version, he was voiced by Don Adams, who had previously played a similar character in the 60s US espionage sitcom Get Smart. Gadget was also a cyborg, and when he said his catchphrase “go-go-gadget!”, all kinds of things would happen, including his hat turning into a helicopter, or his legs extending.
Gadget would receive his missions by often taking a call on his phone that was inside his glove from his boss Chief Quimby (who had a moustache and pipe). He would also do that thing where if he had a piece of paper, his eyes would move in time to the words being read. The main enemy was Doctor Claw of the MAD Organisation, who did everything to try and thwart his plans. He was never seen apart from an arm and hand, but he had a rather deep voice, and kept a creepy-looking cat on the table.
As Gadget travelled around he would often be accompanied by his niece Penny, and of course, she was much smarter than he ever was, although this was because she was partly helped by having a book that was also a computer, and a watch that people would appear on, and Brain the dog would often watch on as all of this unfolded. I’ve also got to reference Gadget’s other terrific catchphrase which was said often: “wowsers!”.
Most episodes would then conclude with the equivalent of a Public Information Film (I can’t remember if these were left in on CITV though). There were a lot of far-fetched ideas in the 86 episodes, and of course I liked the one where Gadget was a contestant on a game show. There were also all of the great sound effects that always turned up in these type of cartoons, with plops, dings, and even the occasional boing everywhere.
The show was often on CITV, and it also featured during the summer holidays strand. But wherever it was shown, I always enjoyed it. There have also been plenty of episodes released on VHS and DVD along with some computer games. In the late-90s, there was a second wave of fame for Inspector Gadget when the first in a series of live-action films was released, and Don Adams was also involved in these. There has also been a computer-generated TV series in more recent years, but the 80s cartoon will always be my favourite version.