As good as the Inspector Gadget cartoon was, I could never quite work out exactly what Inspector Gadget himself was. Since he had a niece called Penny I always assumed he must be human, but given that he had extending arms and legs and flip top fingers he always appeared to be more robotic in nature. I guess then he must have been some kind of human-android hybrid, in which case having all those gadgets fused into his body must have been quite painful.
Also, assuming the police force stumped up to have this man turned into a crime fighting machine, you’d think they would have picked somebody a little less bumbling in nature, rather than the Inspector Clousea/Agent Smart hybrid they ended up with.
Gadget might have been accident prone, but he did have a huge array of useful gadgets, most of which he brought into service by saying “Go Go Gadget Arms” or “Go Go Gadget Egg Whisk”. You get the idea. Despite the clear instructions from the Inspector, quite often the wrong gadget would activate, thus adding to the accident count.
As well as the extending arms and legs, Gadget had multiple smaller gadgets stored in his fingers (including a laser and a communications device), a helicopter in his hat, an inflatable coat (activated by pulling a button) and many, many more. Gadget also had a suitably high tech car called the Gadgetmobile, which was also laden with useful features and could transform between police car and van modes, and even a boat on occasion.
Every episode would start with Gadget going about his normal life with Penny and their dog Brain, before Chief Quimby would turn up (normally popping out of a rubbish bin or out of a manhole) to issue Gadget with his latest mission. In a nod to Mission Impossible, the message would normally self destruct in Quimby’s face, as Gadget ditched the note just in time to avoid the blast.
Inspector Gadget’s missions were normally James Bond style affairs, with the ultimate aim to stop agents of the villainous Doctor Claw’s evil organisation, named MAD. Whilst we always heard the gravelly voiced Claw giving out orders, and damning Gadget at the end of each episode, all we ever saw of him was his big, pointy, metallic glove. Oh, and his pet cat, since all evil supervillains should have a pet cat.
With Gadget being the bumbling fool he was his cases were normally solved by Penny and Brain, though Gadget was never aware of this. Penny had a Computer Book which could do just about anything, and also had a wrist watch which enabled her to tell Brain what to do from a safe distance.
Poor Brain though. Unusually for a cartoon dog he couldn’t talk, but he was still able to communicate with and understand Penny’s orders. He did however spend most of his time walking in a more humanoid fashion, often in a disguise so that the dim-witted Gadget wouldn’t recognise him (though you could clearly tell it was Brain through the wigs and fake moustaches).
The cartoon ran from 1983 to 1986 and clocked up 86 episodes. It remained on our screens for much longer though, due to its popularity, and in 1999 it was still considered popular enough to be turned into a live action film by Walt Disney Pictures, and starring Eighties favourite Matthew Broderick as Gadget. This first film did fairly well (and features a nice spoof of a scene from the Hollywood Godzilla, another Broderick movie) and it spawned a sequel, although Broderick did not reprise the role and the film presumably ended up as a direct to video affair.