Go Go (Inspector) Gadget Facts!
If you grew up in the ’80s and early ’90s and had access to Nickelodeon, no doubt you found yourself watching Inspector Gadget at one point or another. The cartoon about a bumbling detective and his genius niece Penny and her dog Brain who are constantly saving the day only ran for two seasons, but the reruns lived on (and were popular enough to warrant a 1999 live-action movie).
Because Neatorama is always on duty, here are a few wowser facts about the good Inspector, Penny and Brain:
1. If some of the voices from the cartoon sound familiar, it’s because you’ve almost certainly heard them elsewhere. Cree Summer, the voice of Penny, has also been in Tiny Toon Adventures as Elmyra, Rugrats as Susie Carmichael and Drawn Together as Foxxy Love (among lots of one-off voice appearances and guest spots).
2. Even if you were never a fan of the cartoon (or the movie, for that matter), you might be familiar with the Inspector Gadget theme song. In 1984, Doug E. Fresh sampled it for his classic song The Show, which resurfaced in the 1991 Wesley Snipes movie New Jack City.
3. The original song was inspired by a classical work – “Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg.
4. In 2006, a couple of the original voice actors reprised their roles for a Robot Chicken skit. Sadly, Don Adams had died the previous year, so Gadget was voiced by Joe Hanna. But the voices of Penny, Brain and Dr. Claw are all done by the originals. Chief Quimby was voiced by Robot Chicken co-creator Seth Green. If you’ve ever wondered what a cross between Gadget and the Terminator would look like, here you go:
5. You might remember Gadget’s best gadgets: binoculars, skates, springs, extra hands. But those are just the tip of the iceberg. Gadget also had a necktie-lasso, a parachute, a respirator, skis, pulleys, eyeballs that could pop out of his head and spy on people, and even radar (among other things). Those are but a fraction of the gadgets the inspector has at his disposal, though – he was said to have about 14,000 gadgets in all.
6. The 1999 movie starring Matthew Broderick revealed a lot of things the cartoon never did. For instance, Inspector Gadget’s name was John Brown and Dr. Claw’s name was Sanford Scolex. A 2002 cartoon called Gadget and the Gadgetinis, however, tells us that the Inspector’s nemesis was born as “George Claw” and he has a twin brother named “Dr. Thaw” who wears dishwashing gloves instead of a menacing spiked glove like his sibling.
7. You know you’ve got a classic theme song on your hands when street performers add it to their repertoires. Check out this busker in Australia playing the catchy tune by hitting beer bottles with a wooden spoon. It’s pretty awesome.
8. Inspector Gadget had a mustache in the 1983 pilot episode. Almost immediately after the show, DIC, the company who created Gadget, received a “friendly” letter from MGM saying that their cartoon seemed to closely resemble a character they had recently created. Thus, Gadget was clean-shaven for the rest of the series. Try as I might, I couldn’t figure out which MGM character that might refer to – anyone have any guesses? Photo from SearchforVideo.com.
9. Fans already know that Don Adams – probably most famous for playing a somewhat similar character in Get Smart, Maxwell Smart – was the voice of Inspector Gadget. What you might not know is that it wasn’t Don’s first venture into the world of animation. In the ’60s, Adams endeared himself to children as the title voice on Tennessee Tuxedo and his Tales (you’ll see that Tennessee Tuxedo sounds just like Inspector Gadget).
10. Dr. Claw is a spoof on a famous Bond villain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who was seen in several films including You Only Live Twice and Thunderball. In fact, he may be one of the most spoofed Bond villains of all time – Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers series is the spitting image of Blofeld.
11. There was a way to see Dr. Claw’s face prior to the 1999 movie – back in 1992, a Dr. Claw action figure was produced. But there was a catch – a large sticker on the package obscured Claw’s face, so to get a glimpse, you actually had to buy the toy. Clever. Here’s what he looked like when you bought the action figure:
Pictures from ProgressiveBoink.