Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Title Logo for New Gadget Series Revealed; Super RTL To Air the Reboot in Germany

Still real short on time, as I was five hours ago, but I just had to post about this...

Via the German television "Infoportal" - or really via the TV channel Super RTL - comes our first glimpse of the new series' title logo. I don't know exactly when this image (or the reboot show's listing at wunschliste) appeared online... but the news that public broadcaster Super RTL will air the series in Germany has apparently been known since this announcement from June 30. No exact air date is set yet, though some headlines indicate that the series is part of the channel's 2014/2015 season lineup. Here's a press release in English via RTL Group's own site.

Anyway, time for my ramble about the new logo design! As you might have expected, I love how they kept the classic touch of the upside down Gadget being the 'I' in "Inspector". Will he and the other letters be bouncing into place in the intro sequence? The font looks overall good, I suppose. While I do like the classic version better, this neatly brings associations to it without being completely similar (for one thing, it's not quite as rounded).

On the other hand, the colors of the new logo has me somewhat on the fence. I get the feeling that the new series' design team has a real thing for blue, as it seems quite dominant in the overall color scheme: Gadget, Penny and Quimby's pants, the new Gadget Mobile, background details in images and now, the logo. While I don't hate the new dark blue, I have to admit I much prefer the vintage pink colors for the moment being. Maybe it's just the retro feel talking to me. I do wonder how the original colors would have worked on the new font.

(Interestingly, the old and new versions still share some color similarities. Like the original logo's 'Gadget', the new logo letters have an orange outline; and both title cards have background colors which are rather close to the font colors.)

Oh, and one more thing: I can't quite put my finger on it, but somehow, the new logo picture seems strangely connected to another recently released image. Hmmmmmm. What if........


Okay, so this is just my own quick edit (in Microsoft Paint, no less!). I'm sure it can be done better. But it illustrates the point. The title logo and the group picture which has popped up in several cropped versions by now are of course the same image. And even now, in my edited-together version, we can see that it's not 100% complete. The picture was obviously put together for promotional reasons, so I'd be surpriced if a full, high-res version doesn't appear eventually.

The emphasis on the globe in the background is interesting to me. I wonder if this is a hint that Gadget and his family will travel across the globe in their combats with M.A.D, as in the original show's first season? To me, the exotic locations were one of the classic series' best elements, so I'm certainly hoping. (Not to mention, we have a possible second hint in the synopsis sentence, "Dr Claw has reactivated his global crime syndicate M.A.D...".)

Finally, seeing the picture like this also brings a new perspective to Chief Quimby's pose. Now, instead of just shrinking from the sight of Gadget, it seems to me he's worried that the logo - supported by only one of Gadget's hat hands - will come crashing down on him. Not that this doesn't suggest that he has been accidentally hurt by Gadget before... but at least he has a clear motivation for being anxious aside from just seeing Gadget next to him.

"Inspector Gadget 2.0" Added To DHX's Online Catalogue

Okay, I suppose this will have to be classified as 'old news', seeing as a whole month has passed since I discovered it. Yeah, that's how busy I've been lately, which is also the reason I've fallen behind with answering some of the comments here (sorry about that). But let's see if this can be the start of updating on a semi-regular basis again...

Anyhoo, the news: Approximately a month ago - on August 15, according to Google - DHX Media finally added the new Inspector Gadget series to their online distribution and show catalogues, as well as to the "New Shows" section. Remember how the reboot was called "Inspector Gadget NEW Series" in the PDF catalogue released in January? Well, for their site, DHX has found an even simpler way of separating new from old: The reboot series is listed as "Inspector Gadget 2.0". Inspector Gadget, Chapter 2. I'm sure the series' on-screen title will still just be "Inspector Gadget", but this seems to work nicely to set the reboot apart in the catalogue.

As an aside, I wish someone would correct that original series' title card being used
as a thumbnail for "Inspector Gadget's Field Trip". IT MAKES NO SENSE.

It's worth adding that the synopsis at the "2.0" show site is a condensed version of the synopsis which appeared, confusingly, at the show site for the original series back in January (disappearing again some months after that), and which was also included in DHX's January and March PDF catalogues. For comparison, here's that longer synopsis...

INSPECTOR GADGET is BACK! Dr. Claw has reactivated his global crime syndicate MAD and the bumbling Swiss army knife detective has been brought out of retirement to save the world! Tagging along with Gadget is his niece Penny and her trusty dog, Brain. Now an agent in training, Penny uses her intelligence, martial arts and high tech gear to keep her bumbling Uncle Gadget safe from harm. But it won't be easy. Dr. Claw has a secret weapon. His handsome nephew Talon is eager to learn a little old school evil as they try to take over the world.

...and here's the new "2.0" synopsis. Less information, but the shortening was obviously done to keep the presentation brief and to the point:

INSPECTOR GADGET is BACK! Dr. Claw has reactivated his global crime syndicate MAD. Only the bumbling Swiss army knife detective can stop him! With his niece, Penny and her dog Brain, Gadget must combat the sinister Dr. Claw (and his nephew TALON) who keeps trying to take over the world.

Lastly, the distribution site adds a few technical details...

STATUS: Catalogue
FORMAT: 26 x 22' (52 x 11')
TARGET: Kids 6 - 11

...confirming once more the series' format: 52 11-minute episodes produced as 26 half-hours. I still hope the series allows for a full-fledged, 22-minute episode once in a while if the story needs it, but I'm not sure how likely that is. We'll see.

For the sake of completion, here's also the picture being used on DHX's site. Yeah, we've seen it before in a less cropped version, but I'm noticing the color settings are brighter here. Which is clearly Very Important. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is just one reason this blog is one of the geekiest places on the internet.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

After These Messages

Dang, gotta hate those commercial breaks! But I think I'll sit through this one...

After all, they are promising that Inspector Gadget will return.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

DHX Finalizes Their New Inspector Gadget Design

This just in! Far into the production of the new TV series, DHX Halifax has decided to add one last detail to Gadget's CGI design - the long-neglected mustache from the pilot episode! According to vice-chairman Michael Hirsh, one of the co-producers of the original season 1: "We always felt Gadget looked better with the mustache, as per Bruno Bianchi's original vision, but at the time we had to remove it because the MGM Studios claimed it was too close to their detective character, Inspector Clouseau. Today, however, Inspector Gadget is a well-known brand in its own right, and obviously there is no risk of our new series being confused with the Pink Panther movies. So we felt it was finally time to bring the mustache back for a new generation of fans."

But why make this change so late in the production process? Says Hirsh, "We've actually been debating back and forth for a couple of years now whether the mustache should be part of the new design. At first, we admittedly did decide against it, as evidenced by the character designs and animation released so far. But over the past few weeks, the creative team here at DHX Halifax has really gotten vocal in defending the mustache, and everybody sort of said the same thing - let's do this! So, yes, we're revising the already completed animation to get the mustache included. It's funny how things come full circle", Hirsh muses. "Back when we did the original series, we had to remove the mustache at the eleventh hour. Now, we're doing last-minute revisions to get the mustache back in there! It's all worth it, though. The mustache will make a huge difference to our new reboot of Gadget."

The new mustache design hews closely
to the original 1982 pilot episode.

I really don't have words to describe my reactions to this, but I'll try. I'm just baffled. I want to stay open-minded towards DHX's creative decisions, but this one - bringing back a major design detail not seen since the original show's pilot episode - really came out of nowhere. I think I'll just have to wait and see how this works. Seeing as Gadget has a new voice sounding somewhat different from Don Adams, I guess it's not impossible that the mustache could work as well, but...

...what? You want me to admit what? Okay, okay: I'M KIDDING. NONE OF THIS IS TRUE. Sorry if I gave someone a heart attack. It's just that, well... fellow fan Cortoony and I have been having this tongue-in-cheek discussion in the comments to this other post about how wonderful it would be if DHX had revived Gadget's original mustache for their new design. One thing led to another... and suddenly Cortoony did an awesome-looking edit of the CGI design with the mustache added to it. It looked so real that it just inspired me, and I had to do this what-if post. So, yeah, that is of course Cortoony's edit we're seeing at the top of this post. My apologies to DHX Media and Michael Hirsh - and thanks, Cortoony, for the terrific mustache rendition of the new Gadget. Cortoony's original upload can be seen here, by the way. (Yes, I mirror reversed his image to match the officially released character design even more. That's how shrewd I am.)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Full-Figure Version of New Series Picture With Gadget, Penny, Quimby, Brain... and Apparently the Gadget Mobile

Low-res, I know, but much better than nothing:

After seeing the first teaser animation for the new series yesterday, did you think that was all the news I had for you at the moment? No sir-E! A few minutes before that discovery, I actually also found the above image... but being short on time (as can happen when you're on vacation), I decided to prioritize the animated footage. But hey, that means today's post can focus on the group picture!

We are of cource looking at a full, or at least fuller, version of the image I posted back on July 11. The version I posted then had better resolution, but was obviously cropped, as shown by Brain's ears popping up in the lower right corner. The current version of the motive is sourced from a PDF press kit from France TV - you'll have to download the PDF to your harddisk to open it - which was released online at Annecy Replay 2014 sometimes in June to sum up the June 11 press conference by France Télévisions at Mifa (The International Animation Film Market) at the Annecy festival. In other words, yes, the same press conference where the animated teaser clip was first screened. Gee, seems I just can't stop talking about that.

But let's talk about the image! Finally, we get to see the full-figure versions of Penny and Chief Quimby, and not least, what I think is the first really representative image of Brain. His color looks much better here than in the photo from the Chronicle Herald article - not as dark, and closer to the original fur. Generally, Brain's design keeps growing on me, though it still leans a bit too much towards a realistic dog. But I'll wait and see how he works in animation.

Penny's high-heeled, red boots look good, I think, matching the color of her skirt and also signaling that she's older than in the original series. Gadget's rocket skates seem fine, with a sense of fun to their design. Chief Quimby is looking a bit slimmer than I expected, but overall good, and I like his wardrobe. Judging by his pose, the Chief seems to be slightly anxious at the sight of Gadget... perhaps in fear of being blown up by an unexpected, top-secret message? (I do hope that Quimby's suffering in the new show WILL be mainly connected to the self-destructing messages, as in the original. I do not need a reprise of the over-destructive relationship between Gadget and Colonel Nozzaire from the Gadgetinis series, which took the violent aspect much too far and made Gadget's unintentional hurting of Nozzaire more frustrating and annoying than anything else.)

I have to make one more remark on Quimby, though: how frikkin' short is he supposed to be? Look at the height difference between him and Gadget, and Penny for that matter. I actually thought he was sitting when I saw the cropped version of this image earlier. In the original show, Quimby was almost as tall as Gadget, coming across as a normal-height adult. The height difference between him and Gadget in the new series seems extreme enough that he could have been a child (though on the other hand, Gadget's legs do seem really long in that picture).

(And needless to say, we're ALL extremely frustrated that DHX's new Gadget design didn't revive
the stylish mustache in this model sheet. Don't keep it in, fans! Voice your anger!)

Again, I'll reserve judgment until I see the new design animated. I'm sure the designers had their reasons to go for such a short and small Quimby, but not quite so sure yet if I agree with them.

And before I forget -- the Gadget Mobile. Yeah, that car probably has to be Gadget's new vehicle, seeing as it's so prominently displayed in the background. To be honest, this is the design I like the least of everything I've seen so far. The car doesn't look nearly as cool or unique to me as the original model, neither the Gadget Van mode nor the Mobile mode. I'd really like to know more about what the new car can do, though... for instance, does it have transformation modes?

Cel setup with the Gadget Van from the episode "Curse of the Pharaoh" 

Original model sheet of the Gadget Mobile. Could the
police car model be hiding inside the new car?

Rounding off, here's a snapshot of France TV's press kit presentation, from double-spread 26 (or page 47) of the PDF. Note that the Inspecteur Gadget series is listed under "Achats", meaning "Purchases". (Many other series in the kit are sorted under 'Development', 'Production' etc.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

First Teaser Footage From DHX's New Inspector Gadget Series ("Inspector Gadget Audition, Take 7")

Yes, really! It's been well over a year since we got our first glimpse of the new Gadget... now we can finally see him in animation! Go to 01:51 in the video below to see the the Inspector himself in the process of, um, auditioning for his new show. (Alternatively, click here to start playing the video from 01:51 on its Vimeo site. Whatever you do, watch it.)

For a bit of context, this video is a promo/trailer put together for the press conference of France Televisions at The International Animation Film Market (Mifa), which is the Market section of the famous Annecy animation festival in France. Annecy took place from June 9 to 14 this summer, so that's when the footage got its first exposure. The Vimeo video was uploaded on June 17, so it's actually been out for almost two months without anyone noticing the clip. Sometimes, really big news can be really good at hiding.

I don't have time to say much more right now, but I will say this: I think the visuals look very good for television CGI. The animation is fun. It's appealing. It's even quite elastic. The teaser itself is funny and feels very much in character. And the voice... well, it's definitely a different take than a Don Adams impersonation (in other words, that's not Maurice LaMarche we're hearing), but I actually kinda like it. I don't need a dead-on imitation of Adams as long as the voice has the right charm and personality. Plus, maybe it WAS time for a change, considering that direct impersonations seldom manage to truly live up to the original.

I'm hyped. How about you?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Canadian Actor Derek McGrath Voicing Chief Quimby In The New Gadget Series

We know at last one of the new show's new voice actors.

Derek McGrath, a prolific Canadian actor, voice actor, song writer etc., is the voice of Chief Quimby in the new series. Quoting a July 9 article from My Kawartha:

Mr. McGrath has been acting for almost 50 years - on stage, on the radio, on television and in the movies - and has written more than 100 songs. He has worked with everyone from Jack Lemmon to Billy Ray Cyrus. More recently, he provided a voice over for Mike Crosmaz’s independent zombie film, Walk With Me, and just wrapped up work as Chief Quimby on the reboot of the Inspector Gadget cartoon.

You can read more about McGrath's long and productive career by clicking this link. Here, however, I'd like to focus on (natch) the Gadget-related aspects. First, regarding the production timeline of the new show, the above statement tells us that voice recording has finished - definitely for McGrath in the role of Quimby, and likely for the entire cast. This, in effect, should mean that all the episodes have both been written and voice-recorded by this point. And of course, we already know that the show is well into animation.

But back to Quimby's voice. Personally, I really hope Mr. McGrath can portray Quimby with the same charm and personality that the character had back in season 1 of the original series, as played by another Canadian, Nelvana voice artist Dan Hennessey. (Admittedly, that appeal also had a lot to do with how Quimby was written: I think that in the original season 1, despite his occasional frustrations with Gadget, he was portrayed as a more charming and sympathetic straight man than in any later versions.) I'm not familiar with McGrath's work and have no clear expectations of how he will sound as Quimby... but here's a rather charming video interview from last year which lets us hear his natural voice: