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BACK IN MY DAY: Go Go Inspector Gadget

Words by Christian Orkibi
Illustration by Sarah McDonald

No, this is not about Matthew Broderick’s ‘pile o’ shit’ Inspector Gadget movie from 1999. If you want to know about that Inspector Gadget, search through your local Video Ezy bargain bins and then put your head in a blender.

The Inspector Gadget TV series first aired all the way back in 1983, but it wasn’t until the early ‘90s that the show began to churn out follow-up seasons on Nickelodeon. Revolving around the adventures of cyborg detective Inspector Gadget, the show was produced by several companies around the globe. Animation was done in Japan and Taiwan and writing in France and Canada. Go go, carbon footprint!

Inspector Gadget is celebrated by kids of the ‘90s for displaying the power of clumsiness. He was our Basil Fawlty, and we loved him. Gadget was constantly tripping over himself and making a mockery of the advanced technical wizardry contained within his body (penis joke, not intended). For me, his ability to save the day, despite his failures, really instilled hope and reassurance into my own failures. Years later, I’m still waiting on the Royal Melbourne Hospital to fulfill my request for springy robotic legs.

The character and personality of Inspector Gadget was originally designed to mimic the mannerisms and escapades of The Pink Panther’s Inspector Clouseau. In the pilot episode in ’83, Gadget can even be seen with the iconic Pink Panther moustache. Gadget was accompanied by his so-close-to-a-Family Guy-lawsuit dog Brain and his super genius niece Penny. Penny and Brain were the brains behind the operation (pun intended), solving almost all of the cases set against Gadget by the super cliché bad dude, Doctor Claw!

The plot of each episode wasn’t exactly Academy Award winning, given that every single episode pretty much went down the same. But then again, the writers didn’t have much to work with, did they? Well, nothing except for the fact that he was a robot filled with gadgets …

The episodes would begin with Gadget, Penny, and Brain receiving a call from Chief Quimby, (seriously, all these cartoon producers need to have a big lawsuit day). Quimby would then give the Inspector an assignment, which of course would self-destruct after reading. The group would then travel to the location of the crime, where Gadget would get into mischief while Penny and Brain fought Doctor Claw’s men and solved the case. At the end of each episode, Gadget would be commended for his service to the world and it would end with a good moral lesson. Something like not deciding to stuff half of NASA’s equipment up your bottom to help solve crimes.

Gadget’s legacy lives on today and he is remembered for his charm, innocence, and crazy contraptions. Despite the series ending in the early 2000s, a new animated show is currently in development and Inspector Gadget comic books have been on shelves since 2012. But perhaps the best thing Inspector Gadget ever gave us was a childhood of standing on tables with a little bowler hat on, screaming “Go go gadget!” at pieces of furniture. May we never forget him.