Thursday, June 20, 2013

EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW: The Track List For Télé 80's Upgraded Gadget CD

Yep, you read that right. Télé 80's Christophe Renuad has graciously allowed me to share with you - for the first time anywhere - the planned track list for their upcoming "Inspecteur Gadget" CD, scheduled for release on September 30! Télé 80 announced in March that the new CD would have 30 tracks, but up until now, the actual track list has been kept a secret. We'll get to that list in a moment - but first, I'll just give a brief update on what's been happening with this CD since I last reported on it. (Have patience, you'll be seeing the tracks in no time. ;) Just to be clear, while Télé 80 provided the images seen here, all viewpoints and theories reflected in this post are entirely my own.

As you might have noticed in my news column to the right, this promised, upgraded soundtrack CD has been going through quite a few changes and delays since Télé 80 first announced it back in July  of 2012. At the time, it was scheduled for November of that year, then pushed back slightly to January 2013. Long before we reached January, however, Télé 80's distributon company XIII Bis suddenly went bankrupt, postponing all scheduled CDs indefinitely. Surprisingly, though, these problems led to some happy, unexpected changes. Télé 80 found a new production company (Balthazar Music) and a new production team, and at the same time became an independent label - all of this resulting in increased budgets and production values for their CDs, now targeted more towards collectors. Money is being spent on remastering the music, and cover art and labels look much better than on the old XIII Bis releases. Case in point: The revised cover for the upcoming "Inspecteur Gadget" CD, revealed on Facebook back in March, is in my eyes a vast improvement over the first cover draft. (Notice the tagline "Versions originales remasterisées", which is used on all the new Télé 80 CDs to separate them from the earlier XIII Bis products.)

The new and improved Gadget cover is utilizing illustrations from IDP Home Video's French DVD edition of the series (three box sets released in 2004-2005). I think this is a smart choice: The IDP DVD covers are very well drawn (much better than any of the old LP covers), with faithful, on-model renditions of the characters. Plus, using these illustration elements means that Télé 80 can compose their designs with a lot of freedom, moving around characters and backgrounds to get suitable motives for the CD format.

But enough technical stuff - let's move on to what everybody wants to see. Here it is... the exclusive sneak peek of the track list, as well as the inside part of the CD booklet!

Close-up of the track list (click to enlarge)

The full inside part of the CD booklet (click to enlarge!)

As promised, 30 tracks - and they're all original Levy/Saban pieces as far as I can tell. Everything from the French and Australian LPs is combined at last, and we also get some additional theme song versions. For those who might be more familiar with the English-language titles for these tracks, below is the track list with English titles and explanations added by me. (Note: I decided to use the Australian record as reference for some of the English titles here, as they sounded better than the English titles seen on the French LP.)

1. Inspecteur Gadget / Inspector Gadget [French vocals]. 2:38
2. La chanson de Finot / Brain the dog - The song [French vocals]. 2:02
3. Le thème de Sophie / Penny's Theme [French vocals]. 2:31
4. Gadget sur Mars / Gadget on Mars. 1:30
5. Le fantôme / Ghosts. 1:55
6. Musée de l’art fou / Mad Art Museum. 2:09
7. Gadget au Japon / Gadget in Japan. 2:07
8.  L’usine de chocolats / Chocolate Factory. 2:02
9. Rodéo / Rodeo. 1:38
10. Thème du Docteur Gang / Mad's Theme. 2:14
11. Héros dans la jungle africaine / Heroes in African Jungle. 1:52
12. Gadget chez les Incas / Gadget with the Incas. 0:58
13. Fais gaffe / Look Out. 1:36
14. Gadget en difficulté / Gadget in Trouble. 1:14
15. Désert d’Arabie / Arabian Desert. 1:17
16. Gadget le sophistiqué / Sophisticated Gadget. 1:37
17. Thème du train / Train Machine. 1:57
18. Le royaume / Kingdom. 2:03
19. La course de voitures / Car Race. 1:15
20. Les pharaons / Pharaohs. 1:33
21. Le thème de Finot* / Brain The Dog. 1:10
22. Gadget en Italie* / Italian Gadget. 1:05
23. Thème du Docteur Gang (reprise)* / Mad's Theme [alternate version]. 2:12
24. Thème d’ouverture (Instrumental) / Opening theme [instrumental U.S. opening]. 1:15
25. Le thème de Sophie (Instrumental) / Penny's Theme. 2:29
26. Inspecteur Gadget (Version TV) / Inspector Gadget [French opening theme]. 1:13
27. Inspector Gadget (Opening TV) [U.S. opening theme]. 1:15
28. Inspector Gadget (Ending TV)* / Gadget Closing [U.S. end credits theme]. 0:42
29. Inspecteur Gadget (Générique du film) [?]. 2:27
30. Inspector Gadget Theme* [extended U.S. theme song]. 2:50

22 of the tracks (1-20, 24 and 25) represent the content of Saban Records' original French LP edition: Three theme songs with French vocals, 16 pieces of background music and three instrumental themes. However... fans already familiar with the French LP should probably be particularly interested in the additional music from ABC Records' Australian edition: Tracks 21, 22, 23, 28 and 30, which I've marked with *. "Le théme de Finot" (Brain The Dog) is an instrumental background music theme for Brain, while "Gadget en Italie" (Italian Gadget) is another piece of background music used towards the end of season 2. Both of these are great and especially "Brain The Dog" makes the soundtrack feel more complete, as the French LP didn't include any instrumental themes for Brain. (Note, by the way, that these two tracks have been given new French titles for this CD based on the English-language titles, as they were never released in French by Saban.)

Then we have "Thème du Docteur Gang" (Mad's Theme), which is an interesting chapter in itself. You'll notice that this composition is included twice on the CD, first as track 10, then as track 23 as a "reprise". This is because the French and Australian LPs actually included two different arrangements of this theme. It's the same composition, but orchestrated slightly differently throughout (in addition to the most obvious difference: M.A.D. Cat is meowing in the French soundtrack version, but not in the Australian soundtrack version). It's a curious question why Shuki Levy chose to re-arrange this theme for the 1986 Australian LP, considering it had already been released on the 1983 French LP... but I'm guessing he just did it for his own enjoyment. Whatever the reasons, I love the fact that two versions of this theme exist, and that both versions will soon be available on one CD. (I don't know for certain if track 23 on the CD is the Australian version, but I'm guessing it is since the chronology during the first 20 tracks sticks relatively closely to the French LP).

Tracks 28 and 30 are two of Shuki Levy's original American theme song variants - the latter an extended version of the U.S. theme song, and the former a soundtrack version (in stereo!) of the U.S. end credits theme. These tracks have their natural place on a collector's edition of the soundtrack.

Even better, though, this CD also gives us one English-language theme that was not included on any of the earlier soundtrack albums: Track 27, "Inspector Gadget (Opening TV)". This is the original, American opening theme, to many the most iconic version of Shuki Levy's famous theme song; definitely iconic to anyone who grew up with the English-language version of the series. It's wonderful to see it included. I don't know any technical details, but my hope is that Télé 80 has gotten hold of the stereo version of this theme song, i. e. the version Shuki Levy has up on his official web site. The thing is, there have been a few American CD compilations featuring this song in the past - for instance Television's Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 - 70's & 80's and Toon Tunes - Funny Bone Favorites - but as far as I know, those CDs have always used a mono version of the theme. The version on Levy's site, though, is in stereo, and I assume that's how the theme song was originally recorded. (The stereo/mono difference is easy to notice if you listen to the song through a headset.)

In addition to all that, we get two French bonus tracks which I hadn't seen coming; tracks 26 and 29 to be precise. "Inspecteur Gadget (Version TV)" is the TV version of the French theme song, sourced from (I believe) the storybook record "La Malédiction Du Roi Toutankharton". (Arguably, the end credits theme "Inspecteur Gadget (Fin)" could also have been included from this record -- but having listened to both themes, I will say that the "Fin" theme admittedly sounds almost completely similar to the middle part of "Inspecteur Gadget (Version TV)". Still, as a diehard fan I wouldn't mind getting the "Fin" theme on the CD as well.)

Track 29, "Inspecteur Gadget (Générique du film)", is actually a bit of a mystery to me. At first, I was wondering if it was a French-dubbed version of the Disney movie theme song, but I'm currently speculating that it might be the A-side of this Saban single: "Inspecteur Gadget - Bande originale du film et de la série télévisée". This was a single released in France in 1987, concurrently with a theatrical cartoon feature titled "Les dossiers secrets de l'inspecteur Gadget", which consisted of several season 2 episodes edited together. I had thought that the "Bande originale du film..." single included the same version of the "Inspecteur Gadget" song as earlier French vinyls, but the Discogs listing notes that 'a different (unknown) singer' performs the theme song here, describing the voice as "...closer of "Daffy Duck" (nasal voice)". So, provided that this information is true, it sounds like the French 1987 theatrical feature had an alternative version of the French theme song, which was also released on the 1987 Saban single. Most interesting!... I'm very curious if the "Générique du film" track on the CD turns out to be this theme song. :)

Anything else? Visually speaking, I think the interior booklet is nicely designed, just like the cover. The one gripe I have with the interior motive is seeing Capeman in there. I realize it's a matter of personal taste, of course... Capeman WAS part of the original series (the second season, anyway)... and he's even in one of the episodes where the track "Gadget en Italie" (Italian Gadget) is played. (Still, he's such an awful character! At least I'm glad he doesn't get to stand next to Gadget, Penny and Brain.)
   Otherwise, there are a few (very minor) track title inconsistencies when compared to the French LP: "La course de voitures" was originally titled "La course de voiture", "La chanson de Finot" was originally titled "La chanson de Fino", and "Thème du Docteur Gang" was originally titled "Thème du Dr Gang". As I said, very minor, and it's the kind stuff that only the most nit-picky fans will notice. Still, this is a collector's edition, so maybe those titles could be revised for 100% accuracy with the original LP.

In any case, I'm looking forward to this CD. If the sound quality lives up to the track list, this will be the best and most complete edition of Shuki Levy's Inspector Gadget soundtrack to date! It will of course not contain the 100% complete soundtrack - Saban's master tapes remain officially lost for all the background music that was never released on vinyl - but for the first time, all the score music that survives from various releases over the years will be gathered on one attractive CD. If you're still considering whether or not to buy this, have a look at the classily designed disc label as well. The vinyl design is a great touch.

Oh, that's right: Now that Télé 80 has gone independent, their new Balthazar Music releases are limited to smaller pressings of about 500 copies per CD. So if you plan to get this soundtrack, it might be a good idea to mark your calendar right away for September 30... which, I might add, will be perfect timing for Gadget's 30th anniversary this fall.

Big thanks to Télé 80 for letting me present these news!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Teletoon Officially Announces Inspector Gadget's New CGI Series

Well, that was a quick turnaround. We've had a year and a half with only the vaguest of information about this in-the-making show, and in one day, it's all over the internet. Why? Because Teletoon Canada has issued an official announcement and press release about the upcoming Inspector Gadget TV series, as well as two press pictures which have been circulating online along with that announcement. (Click on the pictures to see Gadget in super-large size!)

The second picture is, of course, the full version of the low-res image that I found on DHX Media's site on May 9, confirming that it was indeed from the new series (in fact, the low-res version is still viewable through DHX's image url). But let's get on to the new information - first of all, Teletoon's announcement and full press release! It can be found on a ton of news sites online, but I thought I might as well link to Teletoon Media's official site, which is probably where it originated. First, the formal announcement...

Inspector Gadget Reboot Tops Off TELETOON Canada’s Latest Original Production Slate 
TELETOON Canada announces two new original series, Inspector Gadget and Pirate Express, as well as the renewal of four others
June 09, 2013 - (...) 
TELETOON Canada Inc. today announced its latest original production slate, featuring a brand new CGI version of the beloved Canadian animated series Inspector Gadget and swashbuckling new series Pirate Express, as well as the renewals of Rocket Monkeys (Season 2), Endangered Species (Season 2), Total Drama (Season 6) and Johnny Test (Season 7). This announcement was made from the Banff World Media Festival, where TELETOON is a proud sponsor of the Kids and Animation program for the fourth consecutive year. (...)
...and then - the most interesting part - the actual info about the new series:
Inspector Gadget 
DHX Media • 26 x 11 minutes 
Premiere Date TBC on TELETOON 
MAD Agents, look out! Criminals, beware! Bystanders … take cover! Inspector Gadget is back to battle Dr. Claw with all-new gadgets – and all-new gadget-related chaos. But the loveable, bumbling, accidentally-destructive Inspector is not alone in the fight to take down MAD. His ever trusty police-dog, Brain, is still by his side and he's getting extra crime-fighting help from his new partner, Inspector-in-training Penny. With MAD more powerful than ever and with the arrival of Dr. Claw's evil-genius (and totally crush-worthy) nephew, Penny and Brain will need to use every ounce of their training to keep the world safe from Dr. Claw … and Gadget.

So, the new show's episodes will be 11 minutes in lenght rather than 22, Dr Claw has an evil-genius (and totally crush-worthy?!?) nephew, Penny is Inspector Gadget's official partner... There are a lot of changes to the original concept here which I honestly hadn't been expecting. In fact, pretty much the only thing from the press releases that I had been expecting was that the new series would be CGI-animated. At least that prediction turned out to be correct.

The following article from The Canadian Press (here via Yahoo! Canada) goes a bit in-depth about the development of the new show, as described by Alan Gregg, Teletoon's director of original content:

Teletoon Canada plans to air 'Inspector Gadget' reboot 
By: Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press 
Tuesday, Jun. 11, 2013 at 5:56 PM 
BANFF, Alta. - Go-Go-Gadget reboot. 
The clueless cyborg police inspector along with his catchy theme song, niece Penny and dog Brain are being dusted off and brought back to TV by Teletoon Canada and DHX Media (TSX:DHX). 
The original "Inspector Gadget" was introduced to audiences from 1983-86 and used the vocal talents of Don Adams, who is best-known as secret agent Maxwell Smart on the '60s sitcom "Get Smart." 
The series also spawned a 1999 movie of the same name starring Matthew Broderick. 
The network said the longstanding popularity of the franchise, which has run for years in reruns, serves a dual purpose. 
"We had been speaking with the programming department about finding brands that already resonated well ... particularly with adults," said Alan Gregg, Teletoon's director of original content, at the Banff World Media Festival on Tuesday. 
"It's a challenge because parents tend to not watch so much animation but we thought there's an opportunity with Inspector Gadget to sort of trade on the nostalgia factor — all the people who loved Inspector Gadget 30 years ago now have kids of the age who are watching our network." 
The reboot will stay true to its roots, said Gregg, but the latest version will be in CGI and the storyline and the characters will be updated just a bit. 
"The theme song is a huge part of Gadget and everyone loves the theme. I was just searching the other day and realized it is actually based on a classical piece by a Norwegian composer (Edvard Grieg) in 'In the Hall of the Mountain King,'" he chuckled. 
"We would like to get a major Canadian composer or songwriter to do a reboot of that theme song which would be true to the original but contemporarize it a little bit." 
The character of Penny will be a few years older and the bad guy will be the nephew of Gadget's original nemesis, Dr. Claw. 
It's too early to say who will do the voice but it won't be Adams, who died in 2005. 
Gregg said the show will be weekly and divided into two mini 11-minute segments. It could be ready to hit the airwaves in late 2014. 
Although Teletoon Canada is primarily thought of as a children's channel, Gregg said there are plenty of adult viewers — especially later in the evening. The new Gadget will likely run later in the family viewing timeframe as a lead-in to the more adult programming. 
"We're an animation channel first and foremost and a great deal of our programming is for kids but post 9 o'clock, we go to adult content like 'Robot Chicken,' 'Futurama,' 'Archer,' and 'American Dad,'" Gregg said. 
"All the key components are there. Anyone who looks at the new Gadget will be happy that we didn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. The show will be more contemporary and the stories more compelling."

For a moment, while reading the part with "...the bad guy will be the nephew of Gadget's original nemesis, Dr. Claw", I was wondering if Dr Claw himself would not be in this new series at all - he is, after all, only described as Gadget's original nemesis. However, a shorter write-up from The Canadian Press (via News1130) seems to confirm Dr Claw as a character in the new show:

‘Inspector Gadget’ making a return 
No premiere date yet for new CGI version
The Canadian Press June 11, 2013 9:29 am 
TORONTO (NEWS1130) – Go-Go-Gadget reboot! 
Teletoon Canada says it plans to air a new CGI version of the 1980s Canadian children’s animated series “Inspector Gadget” from DHX Media. 
The show features a bumbling cyborg detective who launches bionic gadgets in his body with the command “Go-Go-Gadget.” 
The cartoon sleuth originally debuted in 1983. 
Teletoon Canada says the new incarnation, which doesn’t have a premiere date yet, will also include original characters Dr. Claw, Brain the dog, and sidekick Penny.

As you've probably noticed, Teletoon Canada is the one who's making pretty much all the announcements at the moment. On DHX Media's side, there's only been a short news article so far. It doesn't tell us anything that we didn't already know from the Teletoon quotes, but it's nice to hear the news from DHX as well, so here it is:

DHX to produce new Inspector Gadget, Johnny Test 
2013-06-11 10:41 ET - News Release 
Mr. David Regan reports 
DHX Media Ltd. has received an order from Teletoon Canada Inc. for a new CGI (computer-generated imagery) series of the classic kids cartoon, Inspector Gadget, and a seventh season of the hit children's series, Johnny Test. In addition, Teletoon Canada will be premiering Johnny Test, season 6, fall 2013.

I'll be posting my own thoughts about all of this shortly (hopefully later today or tomorrow)... but for now, what do you think about all the new announcements?