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Shout Factory presents
Inspector Gadget: The Original Series (1983)

"Ah, England, totally charming, wouldn't you say so, Penny?"
- Inspector Gadget (Don Adams)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: April 25, 2006

Stars: Don Adams
Other Stars: Frank Welker, Cree Summer, Maurice LaMarche
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 11h:00m:00s
Release Date: April 25, 2006
UPC: 826663100006
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C- C-DC- C-

DVD Review

The lineup of memorable kids' cartoon series from the 1980s is long. However, only a handful have stood the test of time and are relevant, let alone appealing, in today's crowded market. Inspector Gadget is such a show, to an extent, giving us a character whose hi-tech gadgets still seem pretty cool in the 21st century. Airing from 1983 to 1986, the cartoon captured the imaginations of kids of all ages; even adults were drawn to the voice work of Don Adams as the title character. It took over a decade, but the popularity of this animated series eventually led to the production of the hit 1999 live-action film version with Matthew Broderick.

The premise is pretty straightforward, as it involves Gadget, a bionic detective who is sent on missions by his boss, Chief Quimby (Maurice LaMarche), who always pops up in the strangest of places, via messages that always self-destructed along with Quimby himself. It doesn't take us long to figure out that Gadget isn't the smartest detective, as he makes mistake after mistake on his way to eventually solving a case. Penny (Cree Summer) is the real brains behind the inspector's gadgets. This young girl keeps a step ahead of the evil Dr. Claw (Frank Welker), the mastermind who is always up to no good in his endless quest to kill Gadget.

This volume of DVDs compiles the first 22 episodes. We start with Gadget in Winterland, where our hero goes deep in disguise by simply wearing a mustache. Gadget and Penny then travel to the destination outlined in their mission, and the bionic sleuth proceeds to do all he can to sabotage things. This non-wavering format might still appeal to kids today, but for adults who grew up watching the original broadcasts, it might be a stretch to get through three episodes before the repetition becomes dull. Parents will be happy to see the message that the ending of each episode conveys, though, as most are still as relevant today.

There's no debating the show's appeal to kids, but the one reason for adults to still watch is the late Don Adams' voice work. His role is a constant rip on his Agent 86 character from Get Smart, so he knows how to make such a dunder-headed detective funny and consistently appealing. His distinct voice brings Gadget to life in a natural, unforced manner, which is the driving force of the show. The other voice talent is solid as well, but there's no debating just how funny Don Adams was.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: These 22 episodes appear in their original television format, but there doesn't appear to have been much of an attempt to clean up the source material. The animated images are very soft, with far from vivid colors, and an overabundance of dirt and grain is a major distraction.

Image Transfer Grade: D


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Not surprisingly, the Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is bland. Everything stays up front, but the narrow dynamic range and lack of bass presence is to be expected from an older animated series. The dialogue is crisp and clear, though, and works in tandem with the rest of the mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring C.O.P.S. The Animated Series, Home Movies, The Legend of Zelda: The Complete Animated Series
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Cardboard Tri-Fold
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Original Art Gallery
  2. Inspector Gadget Fan Art Contest Winner
Extras Review: Aside from a few Shout! Factory DVD previews, the extras section brings us Wowsers!, a seven-minute retrospective of the series with its co-creators Andy Heyward and Mike Maliani. It's interesting to hear some of the original casting ideas for the show, as well as its evolution from the conception to its final drawing.

There's also an original art gallery and a look at the winning drawing of the 2005 Inspector Gadget animation contest.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

While it's lost some of its gusto for those who grew up with it, Inspector Gadget: The Original Series is still appealing to a new generation of animation fans. Revisiting Don Adams' voice work makes this initial DVD volume worth a look. Unfortunately, the audio, video, and extras, can't stand up against other animated shows on DVD.


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