Imagine a hybrid of Maxwell Smart, James Bond, and Inspector Clouseau and you have a pretty good representation of the trenchcoat- wearing, bumbling (but heavily-equipped) Inspector Gadget. Unfortunately, where he excelled in technological advances, he sorely lacked in savvy. Still, it was hard not to love Inspector Gadget, the syndicated cartoon series created by DIC Entertainment – which arrived on the airwaves in 1983.
Gadget (voiced by Don Adams, famous for his role as Maxwell Smart) wasn’t the most adept inspector to ever walk a beat. He made up for his lack of brainpower, however, with a most impressive array of nifty devices – many of which that were attached to his body – which allowed him to perform all sorts of miraculous feats such as bounce, fly, and stretch his arms to inhuman lengths by simply issuing the command, “Go, Go, Gadget Arms!” He also received plenty of help from his niece Penny (who sported an assortment of her own gadgets) and her dog, Brian – a cunning master of disguise.
Gadget received his assignments from Chief Quimby, who had a nasty habit of being accidentally blown up at the beginning of each episode, thanks to Gadget’s inattention to the self-destruction messages. The Inspector’s usual nemesis was the evil Dr. Claw, head of a sinister organization called “Mean and Nasty” (MAD.) Claw, who was never without his trusty feline accomplice, Madcat, was never seen from the front. There was no doubt as to his evil demeanor though, once one got an earful of his menacing voice (provided by prolific voice actor Frank Weller.)
Inspector Gadget originally aired from 1983 to 1985, before moving to Nickelodeon, where it ran from 1987 to 1992 and achieved its greatest popularity. It also made its way to CBS for a stint, and even NBC got in on the action by producing a 1992 prime-time holiday special called Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas. And finally, in 1999, Gadget finally made his way to the big screen in a live-action adaptation that featured Rupert Everett as Dr. Claw and Matthew Broderick as the famed inspector.
If you remember being curled up in front of the television, just waiting to see what antics Inspector Gadget would get himself into, we welcome your recollections in our comments section, as we tip our hats to our bumbling, but beloved, animated friend.