Childhood Cartoons Revisited

Cartoons from our youth dissected as a young adult

Go Go Gadget OK Cartoon

on April 27, 2012

It has been quite awhile since I have watched Inspector Gadget, but its influence on both myself and the rest of my housemates in The Village is clearly evident. Anytime we want something done, but don’t want to do it ourselves, one of us usually orders it done by saying “Go Go Gadget…” It never actually works, but it still gets a good laugh out of all of us. A few days ago I posted “Go Go Gadget Sports Journalism Job Opportunity” on my Facebook page as a joke and one of my housemates mentioned that Inspector Gadget had recently been put on Netflix. I decided to check it out for myself, as I hadn’t watched any reruns of the show since it was taken off the air for good in 2000. I probably stopped watching it sometime in 1998, but I don’t know for sure. All I know is that after re-watching a few episodes of the show, I have mixed feelings about it. It had its clever, funny moments, but it also had its dull, boring moments as well.

Inspector Gadget debuted on CBS way back in 1983 and was the first syndicated show from DIC Entertainment. It featured the main protagonist Inspector Gadget, a clumsy, dim-witted cyborg with seemingly everything imaginable stored somewhere in his body. He had the ability to choose his device of choice by uttering the words “Go Go Gadget” followed by the name of the gadget. For example, if he wanted a kitchen knife, he would say “Go Go Gadget kitchen knife” and his arm would turn into a kitchen knife. Inspector Gadget also has the responsibility of taking care of his niece, Penny, and her dog, Brain. Penny serves as the brains of the family, as she is the one who usually foils the plans of the evil Doctor Claw, the leader of M.A.D. organization. Yet, Inspector Gadget never realizes that it is Penny and Brain who have stopped Doctor Claw’s devious plans.

The best part of the show was the running gags that occur in just about every episode of the show. One such gag is the notes that Inspector Gadget receives from his boss, Chief Quimby. The notes themselves are not the gags, but the note’s end, which always reads “This message will self destruct.” However, after hearing the message, Inspector Gadget nonchalantly tosses the note away, always landing near Quimby, who is stealthfully hiding somewhere in the background. Quimby bears the brunt of the explosion, having never learned from past episodes. The other running gag is Inspector Gadget’s misfortunes when summoning some of his gadgets. There is always one point of the show where Inspector Gadget gets screwed over by his arsenal of gadgets. For example, if he was falling from a tall building and called for a helicopter blade, a flower pot would instead appear. He usually gets saved by luck or by Penny.

The one thing I didn’t like about the show was the majority of the characters. I found Penny to be an annoying, brainy little girl that becomes more of a headache with every scene she appears in. Inspector Gadget’s dumb nature grows old after awhile and it makes me wonder how he ever became an inspector in the first place, as he’s clearly not qualified for the job. That’s another thing that bothered me about the show: it’s just too unrealistic. I know that sounds stupid to say because it’s a cartoon show, but most cartoons have aspects about the show that are somewhat realistic. Inspector Gadget has nothing. Penny, a young girl, is smart enough to foil the plans of the most evil organization on the planet on a regular basis, with absolutely no help from her uncle, who is supposed to be trained in situations like that. How is a little girl and her dog smarter than an investigator, somebody who is supposed to be extremely smart? Wouldn’t they just hire the girl and fired Inspector Gadget? That always irked me because there was nothing I could relate to when watching this show.

I didn’t have a favorite character nor did I have a favorite episode. Doctor Claw was kind of cool because he had a pet cat that he showed a lot of empathy toward. I’m a cat person myself so I liked seeing the cat for the ten seconds it appears in each episode.

Inspector Gadget ended on Feb. 1, 1986, but was re-run on Nickelodeon from 1987 to 2000. Perhaps the best parody of the show was the one done by Robot Chicken. It makes me laugh every time and I wish the show was more like that.

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