Saturday, April 12, 2014

French Premiere of the New Gadget Series Planned For November 2014 on Boomerang

I recently came across this March 20 press release from Turner Kids, via the site ComicSystems.fr, detailing the new shows slated to air this year on Turner's various kids channels in France - in other words, Boomerang, Boing and Cartoon Network. It can also be seen as a PDF via Boomerang-academy.fr. At the end of the section for the Boomerang channel, the press release says this:

Inspecteur Gadget 
A la fin de l’année Boomerang comptera un nouvel arrivant dans son casting de stars, Inspecteur Gadget ! La série arrivera, en exclusivité sur l’antenne, avec une toute nouvelle production. Il sera au rendez-vous avec ses nombreux Gadgets, bien sûr, et les personnages mythique de la série.  
26 épisodes de 22 minutes
Inédit TV

Which, when run through Google Translate, comes out something like this:

Inspector Gadget 
At the end of the year, Boomerang will have a newcomer in its star cast, Inspector Gadget! The series comes exclusively to the channel with a brand new production. It will be waiting for you with its many gadgets, of course, and the legendary characters of the series.

26 episodes á 22 minutes
Unreleased TV

Apparently, this has been known for some time before Turner's press release. A Toonzone forum comment, written as early as February 4 in a Cartoon Network news thread, says, "Also, MR. BEAN and INSPECTOR GADGET at BOOMERANG EUROPE in 2014!" (A new season of the animated Mr. Bean was one of Turner's other announcements in the press release.)

Anyhow... while the press release itself is no more specific about the premiere than "the end of the year", a slideshow gallery near the bottom of the ComicSystem post features the below image and the caption, "En novembre sur Boomerang" (In November on Boomerang). This is actually the most specific timeframe I've seen for a premiere date so far. (By the way, I have no idea why a silhouette image is being used here, as this is merely a silhouette of the Gadget copter picture released by Teletoon last June. I guess someone thought they were being coy.)


One thing I really like: this Boomerang press release is the second time I see 22 minutes officially stated as the episodes' runtime! The first time, of course, was in DHX's distribution catalogue from January. Speaking of which: DHX recently released a slightly updated version of this distribution catalogue, back on March 17. It has pretty much exactly the same information about the reboot series (see page 33, or double-page 17), with one nuance difference in that the description now says "26 x 22 min" rather than just "26 x 22' ". Yeah, a small difference if there ever was one, but I like seeing that the 22 minutes information has been kept:



However -- in contrast to Turner's press release, DHX's March 17 catalogue states once more (on page 10, or double-spread 6): "New series to premiere in 2015!" So the two official sources are slightly contradicting each other about the premiere time. Then again, it might very well be that DHX's catalogue refers to the planned Canadian premiere on Teletoon. It has happened before that a show gets its world premiere in a different country than the one where it was commissioned and produced (just recently with The Tom and Jerry Show, which premiered on Teletoon Canada before it did so on Cartoon Network); and considering Gadget's evergreen popularity in France, I had half-way expected some broadcaster there to snatch up the new series as soon as it became available. If these proceedings go as scheduled, perhaps the world premiere of the reboot series will end up being on Boomerang France.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Incredible News: Inspector Gadget Fans Are Getting Their Due At Last [APRIL FOOLS]

UTDATE (April 3): Sorry, folks. This was all an April Fools' post. I thought I might as well state it outright here, since the date has now passed (and because more people than I had expected ended up believing it). If anyone has feedback or thoughts on this post, I'd appreciate hearing it in the comments section.
Also - dear DHX Media, La La Land Records, Michael Donovan, Michael Hirsh and Michael V. Gerhard (that's a lot of Michaels in one place): Please don't take this April Fools' post in the wrong way. It's simply wishful thinking from a very dedicated fan, who among other things thinks Inspector Gadget could have easily gotten better treatment on home video than Cinedigm gave it. As for the new series that the team at DHX Halifax is putting together, I'm excited to see it regardless of who you hire to compose or to play the voices (as long as they're good). All I want from the reboot is for it to be a great series. (That said, Frank Welker as Dr Claw would be incredibly cool.)
                                                             -----

I have gotten wind of some very exciting news today, all sent to me via e-mail. They will be announced on their respective, official web sites in a few days, but I've been graciously allowed to share them here first:

News Flash Number One is somewhat related to last year's DVD release of the series, the "Inspector Gadget Megaset" from Cinedigm and Flatiron Film Company, which was also released as four separate volumes. I've neglected to cover this DVD release here on the blog so far (mostly due to lack of time), but Cinedigm's DVD editon has a LOT of problems - among them, audio dropouts throughout several episodes (the audio suddenly disappears for a few seconds, then pops back in); tracking problems at the bottom of the picture in many episodes; one safety tip missing from "Art Heist"; pixillated image quality in "Gadget Goes West"... just to mention a few of the set's amateurish technical issues. Happily, DHX Media is now well aware of Cinedigm's shameful DVD treatment of the series, which is why they e-mailed me today to say they are preparing to properly remedy the show's home video problems once and for all.

As we speak, DHX are in the process of remastering all 86 episodes from the original show in full, high definiton, slated for a collector's edition Blu-ray and DVD release early next year, to coincide with the debut of the new TV series on Teletoon Canada. As DHX's Chief Executive Officer Michael Donovan said in the press release they sent me (which will be posted on DHX's site in a day or two): "We're extremely happy to bring the classic Inspector Gadget series to HD, giving the Inspector's original adventures a new lease of life in the 21st century. As one of the most evergreen properties to emerge from television animation over the past 30 years, Gadget was really a no-brainer for high-def restoration. We're only sorry we haven't done this earlier. The restoration will be done to the highest standards possible - you've never seen the show like this before." While the remastering is not yet ready to be shown to the public, DHX sent along this publicity still from the episode "Snakin' All Over" as an indication of the expected picture quality.


Tentatively planned special features include:
* "Behind The Gadgets" - this 2-hour documentary will delve deeply into the creation, development and production of the series. Including in-depth interviews with creators Jean Chalopin, Andy Heyward and the late Bruno Bianchi, writers Peter Sauder (season 1) and Eleanor Burian-Mohr (season 2), voice actors Frank Welker and Cree Summer and a handful of TMS's Japanese animation crew members, whose names are yet to be revealed.
* All 4 versions of the pilot episode "Winter Olympics" (Version 1 starring Jesse White; Version 2 starring Gary Owens; Version 3 starring Don Adams and Version 4, the syndicated Don Adams cut with the Frank Welker redub explaining Gadget's mustache).
* The original commercial bumpers for both the pilot episode and the standard series. Additionally,the episodes "Winter Olympics" and "Monster Lake" will both include an option to watch with or without the bumpers inserted.
* Audio commentaries for 10 hand-picked episodes by Jean Chalopin, Andy Heyward and Peter Sauder.
* "Original Production Art" - development sketches, model sheets and a selection of storyboards presented in full 1080p HD.
* "Original Pencil Animation" - pencil tests from the original series, presented in full 1080p HD from re-scanned pencil drawings. Including pencil animation from "Bermuda Triangle", "A Bad Altitude" and several other vintage episodes.
* "Brian Lemay's Character Designs" - season 1 designer Brian Lemay was the most prolific designer of secondary characters and props on the series. While we have seen many of Brian's great model sheets on his personal web site over the years, this exclusive featurette will be the most complete tour yet of his work. All model sheets presented in full 1080p HD, with video and audio commentaries by Mr. Lemay himself.
* "Composing For A Klutz" - legendary composer Shuki Levy talks at lenght about the sensibilities and inspirations he brought to the task of composing for Inspector Gadget. Levy also goes into detail about key compositions such as "Chocolate Factory" and "Mad Art Museum", and plays several of them in front of the camera.

News Flash Number Two. DHX's Executive Chairman Michael Hirsh, who famously co-produced season 1 of the original show, e-mailed me with another press release today containing some intriguing news about the upcoming reboot TV series. Most prominently, Shuki Levy has now been officially hired as the new show's composer. "We thought, with the original show's music being as great as it is, why reinvent the wheel? Wonderfully enough, Shuki Levy responded enthusiastically to our request. He is now excited to revisit one of his major works from the era of 80s television cartoons, updated ever so slightly for modern tastes."

The same reasoning, according to Hirsh, lies behind DHX's decision to hire Frank Welker to reprise his role as Dr Claw. "We briefly considered auditioning Brian Drummond, who was used by DiC in their various Gadget reboots from the 2000s; but the general opinion of the entire creative team at DHX was, he sucked. So we just had to go to Frank, the only voice actor who has truly portrayed Dr Claw convincingly over the years. He has started recording for us and is loving every minute of it. I'm thrilled to say Claw in our new series will sound just as gleefully evil as he did in the original, if not more so."

News Flash Number Three. Finally, La La Land Records wrote to inform me that the complete, missing master tapes for Shuki Levy's original score music have been found at last. La La Land is currently working towards releasing a fully remastered CD box set in the United States next year, including approximately 150 tracks. "This will be one of our major releases for 2015," comments La La Land co-founder Michael V. Gerhard. "Shuki Levy is an immensely gifted TV composer, responsible for so many catchy, memorable synth scores which have yet to be properly represented on CD. After bringing numerous famous animated scores to compact disc, including the likes of Batman: The Animated Series, Levy's incomparable Inspector Gadget soundtrack is a new high point for La La Land."

Well, those are the news I had to share with you today. I'd say all of these announcements were way overdue, but better late than never. Stay tuned to see the press releases on the sites of DHX and La La Land within the week.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Unofficial Gadget and Dr Claw Drawings By Official New TV Series Designer Dominic Marco [UPDATED]

Here's something I thought would be fun to showcase: A couple of unofficial concepts for Gadget and Dr Claw which just happen to be done by one of the artists officially working on the upcoming TV series, Dominic Marco.



Dominic makes it clear in the DeviantArt descriptions that both of these drawings are unofficial - even though he's officially on the new show:

Even though I'm currently working on the new series of Inspector Gadget, THIS IS NOT a design from the show, or done in the the show's current style. The only main character I've officially designed is Penny. This is just one of my own concepts.

Judging by these very nice-looking drawings, I must say I'm getting eager to see Penny's new design! (Yeah, sure, I could nitpick and argue that we see too much of the body in the Dr Claw one... but this is just an unofficial concept; and besides, the art style is great! Dominic also makes sure to mention in the comments section that "Dr. Claw will indeed be in the new series, and like the old, we'll never see his face".)

In addition to DeviantArt, Dominic also has an official blog, and a Facebook page which you can like and follow. Here's the artist's biography from the blog...

Dominic Marco is a classically trained artist/illustrator best known for his whimsically sexy style of Pin-Up art which has been featured in a variety of television advertisements, magazines, and websites. Prior to flying solo as an self-employed artist, Dominic has worked as an animator, designer, storyboard artist and all-around-computer guru for various companies in both Canada and the UK. Dominic currently resides in Halifax, Nova Scotia where he is currently learning the ins and out of 3D Animation.

The Facebook page has a shorter presentation, which I also found interesting enough to quote...

Dominic Marco is a professional pin-up artist and illustrator best known for his classic American cartoon style mixed with Asian manga influences. 

I'd say that style mix sounds quite appropriate, considering the multi-national origins of the original Inspector Gadget series. As for Marco's very attractive pin-up girls, tons of them can be seen in his DeviantArt gallery (as well as on both of the other sites). Could this be an indication of what Penny will look like?...

UPDATE (February 28, 2014): What else besides Penny is Marco designing on the new series? Well, here's a hint from his Twitter account:

The New Gadget Series Now Set to Premiere in 2015; The Episodes Will Apparently Be 22 Minutes Long

Here's something I found yesterday - and found interesting...


The above presentation is a snapshot from a recent DHX Media distribution catalogue, released as a PDF on January 15, 2014. You can find it yourself by following the PDF link and scrolling down to page 21 (or double-spread 11). Note the " 26 x 22' " part, telling us that each of the series' episodes will be 22 minutes long. One of my biggest concerns for the new TV series, ever since last summer's press releases, was that the episodes were announced as being only 11 minutes in lenght. I suppose it's not impossible to make a Gadget series work in the 11-minute format, but I've admittedly been sceptical. I mean, how do you cram a good crime story, featuring all the basic plot and character elements from the classic show (plus some new plot and character elements), into such a short run time? Add to that a detail which Teletoon director Alan Gregg mentioned last June: "...the stories [will be] more compelling." In my eyes, 22 minutes per episode seems better suited for telling stories with substance and drama, as well as comedy. Judging by the above catalogue write-up... maybe DHX has been thinking the same thing.

It might be a little too early, though, to say all this with absolute certainty. The PDF catalogue is so far the only place where I've seen the 22-minute info, and for all we know, it could even be a typo. But I really, really hope that the information is correct. 22 minutes has simply always struck me as the perfect format for Inspector Gadget.

By the way, note that that the reboot is presented as "Inspector Gadget NEW Series" in the distribution catalogue. I had been wondering how DHX would separate the new show from the original, considering that the official title for both still seems to be just "Inspector Gadget" (and since they still haven't separated the two series in their online distribution catalogue). Here's a picture of the full catalogue page from the PDF file...


But we should get on to the second part of the news - the newly announced premiere time. Much further into the distribution catalogue, on page 60, we get a full-page presentation of the Inspector Gadget brand which includes one quite interesting sentence...


That's right, folks: "New series to premiere in 2015!" Not 2014, as I've had featured in my news column to the right for many months now. To be fair, the press from last June only said that the series "...could be ready to hit the airwaves in late 2014", so the 'slated for 2014' bit was partly an assumption by me (just as my earlier 'scheduled for 2013' headline was an assumption based on the press release sentence, "Cookie Jar Entertainment is celebrating Inspector Gadget’s 30th anniversary with the launch of a brand-new series..."). Sure is dangerous to make assumptions like that, however strong the "evidence" seems to be. But this time we actually have an official sentence saying, in black and white, "...to premiere in 2015" - so I'll treat that as a fact until I hear something else.

And thinking about it -- this, coupled with the expanded run time for the episodes, sorta kinda makes sense: DHX might need more time to produce longer episodes. I have to admit that the undefined "2015" sounds a whole lot farther away than "late 2014"... but if the waiting results in a better series, I'm all for it.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Jean Chalopin Disguised As Inspector Gadget

Just because it's so damn epic: A photo of Gadget co-creator Jean Chalopin disguised as Gadget. Can anyone even tell this guy apart from the real thing? Via this Facebook post from "Les séries de notre enfance".

Thursday, February 13, 2014

DHX Media's Phillip Stamp On The Challenge Of Rebooting Gadget


We already have Jean Chalopin's comments on the new TV series, but the below, 22-minute audio interview with supervising producer Phillip Stamp offers the most in-depth perspective that I've heard so far. You may be surpriced to know the date of this interview: July 3, 2013. Yes, it could be considered "old news", but I've decided to still give it a full presentation here for two reasons. One, Phillip Stamp provides a lot of info about his and his crew's approach towards reviving Gadget. Two, I believe very few people have heard this interview, and for good reason. It ran on a Canadian radio program called "Maritime Morning", and the web site featuring the interview episode misspells the series' title as "Insector Gadget". On top of that, the clip is not even playable from the site, due to an erroneuosly linked mp3 file. It almost feels as if someone went out of their way to hide this sound clip from the world! After a bit of experimenting, though, I managed to find the proper mp3 file's url address. So here we have the interview at last, embedded for your enjoyment...





Still here? Great! For those who have finished listening, I thought I'd add one comment to what Phillip is saying. At about 08:15 into the clip, the interviewer asks about the reasons for resurrecting the Inspector Gadget property, out of all the series that are now in DHX's library. Here is Stamp's reply...

...back last year [in 2012], DHX aquired the library of another great Canadian studio called Cookie Jar ... and, when those companies came together, Cookie Jar was actually the company that had owned Inspector Gadget for a long time and so then, that became the property of DHX. And there were a few of us within the company who, when we realized that that was something that we now had - under our creative influence, shall we say - we really thought that that could be something that would be a lot fun to take a swing at, and bring... you know, breathe new life into it.

I have no problem believing that Stamp and some of his colleagues thought reviving the series could be "fun", and I like that they were excited about it from a creative point of view. But Stamp's reply makes it sound like it was DHX's idea from the get-go to make the new TV series, which is not really the case. Maybe Stamp just wanted to simplify his explanation; but the truth is that the reboot series was well into pre-production by the time DHX bought Cookie Jar in October of 2012. In fact, we know that Cookie Jar was already developing the series in January 2012. It might very well be that the full, creative team for the production came together after Cookie Jar had been integrated with DHX... but DHX did not start the production from scratch.

Anyway, Phillip Stamp sounds like a really nice, enthusiastic guy who cares about doing a good show, so I'm not gonna hold this against him. More on his decades-long animation career can be found in this article by The Telegram (which is also where I grabbed the above photograph).

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Cool Vintage Artwork - And A Question


I've been remiss in sharing any of the Gadget-related updates that the Facebook page for the "Les séries de notre enfance" art book has given us over the past year. Above is a great piece of vintage promotional art that they posted on August 25, 2013. I had already seen this artwork online on some Spanish and French VHS covers, but the above picture finally gave me a proper look at it. I love the classic feel of this drawing. Even if the art and coloring is not 100% perfect, I can't help but find it charming. The characters have an authentic, early 80s feel to them, very true to DiC's original model sheets (heck, I wouldn't be surpriced if some of the characters were traced from those sheets). Also, gotta love the brick wall from the intro and not least, that awesome 3-D effect they're going for. Go-Go Gadget!

The Facebook post featuring the drawing also included a question for the fans: What is your earliest memory of this series? Here's what I answered (slightly modified)...

I was 11 years old when I first discovered this series - I still remember it clearly. It was back in 1999, on the Norwegian channel TV2 (which had bought the series because the Disney movie was about to premiere). By pure coincidence, I zapped into the channel as the episode "Monster Lake" was playing (about midway through - the great scene where Dr Claw tries to swallow Gadget with his mechanical sea monster) and was hooked. I fell in love with the show's humor and action pretty much immediately.

Much of what I state above - my first feelings when seeing the show - still holds true today. Admittedly, I don't find the series quite as exciting now as I did at age 11. Back then, I could buy into Gadget, Penny and Brain being in danger on a whole different level. I could find Dr Claw a bit scary - as in really scary. Today, I appreciate the show more for its humor, its tongue-in-cheek parodies and the relationship between its main characters. It took me a few years to really pick up on Penny's love for her uncle.

Anyway, before I digress too much... what I wanted to get at is that I found the question on the Facebook site interesting. And that's why I've decided to ask it over here, as well: What is your first memory of Inspector Gadget? If you're a fan of the show, how did you become one?