Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Big 30th

Happy 30th, Gadget.

30 years ago today, on the Monday that was September 12 of 1983, the first Inspector Gadget episode aired on syndicated television in the U.S.

That is, if we are to believe the current information on Wikipedia.

For many years, pretty much all online episode guides for Gadget listed September 10, 1983 (a Saturday) as the date of the show's first airing. These episode guides also claimed that the first season of 65 episodes had originally aired weekly, every Saturday morning, from September of 1983 all the way through November of 1984. Only fairly recently (sometimes during the last couple of years, I believe) have these old dates been switched on Wikipedia with the dates currently listed: September 12 as the start and December 9, 1983 as the end of season 1's first airing. and a bunch of other sites still use the weekly dates starting with September 10.

This is not to say the new Wikipedia dates are wrong, though. I believe in fact that the opposite is more likely. Inspector Gadget (along with He-Man and The Masters of the Universe) was one of the first television cartoons produced directly for syndication, as a so-called "daily strip". In other words, it originally aired in daily installments, to my knowledge every afternoon Monday through Friday. This is why people growing up with the show in its original airing have memories of running home from school to catch the latest episode. And it's also why the first season has a total of 65 episodes, as that number of half-hours was the requirement for first-run syndication.

So all in all, I'm willing to support Wikipedia's latest info as far as the September 12 date goes. But I wanted to point out the conflicting episode guides just as a reminder that September 12 might not be 100% accurate, either. (I don't really know where the information about September 10 or 12 originated in the first place.) Still, as September 12 seems much more likely than the September 10 alternative, I'm going to consider today the official anniversary date.

By the way, Wikipedia's claim that "Winter Olympics" was the first episode to air on that September day in 1983 is nonsense. I know Wikipedia has said so forever, and so has many other sources, including UAV's 2004 DVD edition, but that doesn't make it true. It's a case of wrong information that has been copied over and over again. The pilot episode did air on its own sometimes in 1982, to test the waters; but when the full-fledged series debuted in the fall of 1983, "Monster Lake" was the episode that introduced the show to viewers. The pilot was added to the mix only at the very end of season one's original airing, as episode 65. (The specific version that aired then - today out of circulation - can be seen here. Check 02:35 for the redubbed clip where Gadget's mustache is explained to viewers already familiar with the other 64 episodes of season 1.) So, if we are to celebrate the airing of one specific episode on this anniversary date, that episode is "Monster Lake".

But we are of course not only celebrating "Monster Lake" today. We're celebrating the entire Inspector Gadget series and its history. And to that end... here's what I've been wanting to tell you during this entire post: I have something special to share with you today. Check back here a little later for an exclusive birthday surprice. I think you'll like it.


  1. Just watched the third version of the pilot.

    The segment you listed...Man, that is so obviously Frank Welker it's not even funny. Too bad Maurice LaMarche hadn't perfected his Gadget voice yet.

    1. Actually, I believe that the version I link to up above is the FOURTH version of the pilot. I know this will sound confusing without me explaining it in detail, but I have reasons to believe that Jesse White never did an impression of Don Adams when auditioning for the voice of Gadget, as Wikipedia says he did. In fact, from what I've gathered recently, Jesse White did one recording, Gary Owens did one recording (both using their own acting voices)... and then Don Adams did one recording. Adams' recording - the third version of the pilot - is the version that has been released on DVD in the U.S. twice already, and it will probably be released again on New Video Group's upcoming edition. (Yes, that really is Don Adams, even if his performance sounds off at times.)

      So, in other words, three versions of the pilot were recorded initially back in 1982 (White, Owens, Adams) and were used for testing the series before it went into full production. But of course, so much changed between the pilot episode and the finished series that DiC needed a way to explain Gadget's mustache to viewers who already familiar with Gadget from all the other season 1 episodes. So they had Frank Welker redub that 02:35 clip I mentioned, and also made a few other changes from the third version: Some Dr Claw laughs by Welker were added here and there, and SFX, voices and background music were remixed a few places. And voilá: You've got a FOURTH version of the pilot, which can also be considered an original version, considering this is how the episode first aired in syndication.

      As for Maurice LaMarche - yeah, it probably would have been better if he had done Gadget in that clip, but by this point he was not yet connected to the show in any way. He started voicing Quimby in season 2, and I think that's when DiC found out that he could do a pretty good impression of Don Adams.

  2. Hello! I agree with you, the first episode of the series was "The Loch Ness Monster" here in Spain the first episode that has been marketed in dvds is that without a doubt, but do not know if here in Spain that episode was broadcast as the first, although in different reruns of the series aired as the first episode "The Loch Ness monster", although I believe that here in Spain the first episode that began to bend was "Formula 1" as shown in the chapter that Jordi Estadella the voice actor of the series is not yet complete formation of character the character;)

    Fantastic job Mesterius interesting!

    1. Thanks. :) I'm 100% certain that "Monster Lake" aired first back in 1983, so it's nice to hear that someone agrees. In Spain, as well as in many other European countries (including my home country Norway), the modern-day DVD and television distribution still seems to follow the original syndication chronology, with "Monster Lake" as episode 1. Whereas in the United States, the current distribution has "Winter Olympics" as episode 1. From what I've gathered, this change in the American distribution chronology occurred sometimes in the early 90s, when DiC decided to repackage the series for syndication. At that point, the initially syndicated version of the pilot (version 4, with the Welker redub) was dropped as episode 65, and the original cut of the Don Adams-voiced version (version 3) was inserted as episode 1. I think this is the reason for the current misunderstandings seen on Wikipedia and many other sites: since the series has aired with Winter Olympics as episode 1 ever since the early 90s, people assume it has ALWAYS aired like that. Even UAV's DVD edition "The Gadget Files" makes this mistake (of course, that edition also uses the weekly air dates starting with September 10).

      By the way, what is the English title of the episode "Formula 1"? I'm curious which episode this is.

  3. Hola! gracias por su respuesta! En la versión DVD de francia que tengo aparece como capitulo inicial otro capitulo distinto al de "El monstruo del lago ness" y no sé por que, me he dado cuenta que la distribución de capítulos es distinta a la de EEUU y España que curiosamente siguen el mismo orden, cosa rara ya que los capítulos que se llevaron a España pertenecían de las cintas originales de Francia, el capítulo Formula 1 en inglés es este episodio el capitulo numero 8 (le dejo el video, así lo relacionará mejor:)

    Es una pena que aquí en España no se haya editado la serie al completo en DVD :(

    Por cierto! otra de las bandas sonoras que mas me gusta fue esta ( ver 11:40 del video) aunque para mi toda la banda sonora es sin duda muy especial, me encantaría tenerla al completo!

    ahora que veo a CapMan recuerdo que aunque fue un personaje episodico me gusto mucho la relación con Gadget formaban un duo fantástico y Sultán tenia el doble de trabajo! ya que los dos son unos inconscientes! jaja :)

    espero su respuesta :) gracias