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:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The DiC Exposition (Paris, April 25 - May 4, 2015)

Okay, so I'm not a fan of EVERY DiC series from the 80s by a long shot, but damn, does this look cool nonetheless...

The above poster advertises for an art exposition of classic DiC series set to happen in Paris from April 25 to May 4, 2015. From what I understand, it's being arranged by Maroin Eluasti and Nordine Zemrak, the authors of the comprehensive, French-language DiC history book "Les séries de notre enfance". That book contained a ton of great-looking production art from DiC series of the 80s (DiC's golden age to many, including me) - and judging by this comment from the book's Facebook site, so will "DiC - l'exposition":

Elle aura lieu principalement à Paris du 25 avril 2015 au 4 mai 2015 . il y aura enormément de produits dérivés ainsi que Des cellulos, story board, dessins préparatoires, photos d' époques, journaux, magazines et de très belles surprises

And then Google Translate's English version:

It will take place mainly in Paris from 25 April 2015 to 4 May 2015. there will be a lot of merchandise as well as cels, storyboards, preparatory drawings, photos of the era, newspapers, magazines and beautiful surprises.

Sounds very cool. I wouldn't be surpriced if a lot of the drawings, storyboards, cels etc. which didn't make it into the book will be on magnificent display here. Plus, if the book's focus is anything to go by, I'd expect a LOT of artwork from the early shows such as Ulysses 31, Cities of Gold, Inspector Gadget, The Littles, Heathcliff (as well as selections from the shows of the second half of the 80s, up until the point when Jean Chalopin left the company).

Oh, and did you notice that "Entrée gratuite" near the bottom of the poster? Free entry! This really is sounding better and better.

The authors promise more news on Facebook soon, and are encouraging fans to make suggestions for what they want to see in the exposition. I doubt I'll be updating regularly here about the developments, so if you want day-to-day news, head over to Facebook and follow their site.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Chief Quimby's New Series Design Revealed (And More)!

Via the French news site our first look at the redesigned Chief Qumby!

...and with this, I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief. You see, for over a year now, a question had been percolating in the back of my mind: would Chief Quimby be part of the new show? I always assumed he would, but then again, none of the synopses or press statements have even mentioned him up to this point. So the above visual certainly feels reassuring. And I think Quimby looks pretty good here, too. It is a bit odd to see him with glasses, and I miss the pipe in his mouth - will he be smoking at all? - but his original facial design seems to lend itself nicely to CGI. In fact, this redesign seems more faithful to the original facial shape than for any of the other characters. If his (season 1) personality is kept, and if the disguises and self-exploding messages are included at the start of every single episode, I think I'll be good!

(And seriously, how could the self-exploding message NOT be included? It's one of the most brilliant running gags ever conceived for a cartoon.)

On a similar note, I love Penny in the new picture above. That previously revealed image looked fine, but... here she just seems much more alive, and truly looks and feels like Penny. (Gadget, meanwhile, looks a bit generic.) Also, what's that thing floating in mid-air that Penny is controlling with her hands? A hologram? Some kind of modern-day replacement for the computer book? Man... by this point, each new image just makes me want to see more.

Now for something that might be a slight disappointment, though. The French article with the picture also contained some fresh information about the new series which - if correct - contradicts some of the previously revealed details. Let's have a look via Google Translate (and my own grammar tweaking)...

"Eh la qui va là ? Inspecteur Gadget ! Eh la ça va pas ? Ouh ouh". [French theme song lyrics.] The unforgettable theme song of "Inspector Gadget" will soon return to echo on France 3. The public broadcaster has pre-purchased from the Canadian production company DHX Media the rights to a new version of the cartoon series about the adventures of the famous inspector who delighted children in the 80s.
In 2015, the bumbling police character, assisted by the young Sophie [Penny] and dog Finot [Brain], will try to capture a new generation of children. For this, the inspector created in 1983 by Bruno Bianchi, Andy Heyward and Jean Chalopin will be revised and updated in 3D. Gadgets coming out of his trenchcoat will themselves also be updated for the twenty-first century. In short, his world will be upgraded but the plot of the series will not be changed. 
This new series of 52 episodes of 11 minutes will be delivered in June 2015 by the Canadian production but it will take a few months to France 3 for the translation, dubbing and production of a less dated theme song. The channel should therefore not broadcast "Inspector Gadget" 2.0 before fall 2015. 

So, okay... IF this new info is accurate, then we have some serious contradictions on our hands. Instead of Boomerang France, as we learned from a Turner press release back in February, the series is now apparently set to air on the public channel France 3. Note also that the planned French premiere time is no longer November 2014, but fall 2015 (!). To be specific, June 2015 is the tentative release time for Canada and fall 2015 for France. Considering the announcements we got half a year ago, I'm really surpriced to hear now that the series will not be ready for a Canadian premiere until the summer of 2015. Seriously, this feels like a major postponement.

And then, the part I feel particularly (potentially) disappointed by: The series will apparently consist of 52 episodes á 11 minutes, rather than 26 episodes á 22 minutes. As you might remember, the show presentation in DHX's distribution catalogue from January was the first source to state that 26 x 22 minutes would be the format for the new series. Back then, I expressed hope that this meant each episode would be 22 minutes long. But if this new French article is accurate -- apparently not. This is not necessarily a contradiction to DHX's distribution catalogue. In many cases, TV shows consisting of 11-minute episodes are still produced in a half-hour format, a 22-minute package containing 2 episodes (making sales and distibution deals easier, I imagine). That seems to be the case here. However, it IS definitely a change from the June 2013 press release, where the format was stated to be 26 x 11 minutes.

I've already written a little here about why I feel sceptical towards an 11-minute format. It's not that the series can't possibly work with this shorter run time - that depends on the execution. But I've kind of been hoping that this new show will be just slightly darker than the original, and have a little more room for character development and plot continuity... and that, to me, seems hard to cram into a mere 11 minutes. I hope the writers are at least given the freedom to do an occacional, full 22 minute episode if the plot requires it (this should be doable as long as the series is produced in a half-hour format anyway). Shows like Phineas and Ferb work well like that.

(Thanks to Nbu for the picture link.)