When I was a wee lad, I was quite sure that I’d grow out of my “childish habits” by the time I became a man. It's been a long time since becoming a man and these so-called "childish habits" dominate my life now more than ever. Of course, I've accumulated a few adult activities over the years, but I’m still a kid at heart. Cartoons are one of those "childish habits.” So, when I was given the chance to review the first season of Inspector Gadget (IG), I jumped at it.
I hadn’t seen IG since the early 80’s so I really didn’t know what to expect. I was filled with so many questions. Mainly: Would it stand up today? Could I appreciate it as an adult as much as I did as a child?
I popped the first of four discs into my DVD player. I clicked the “play all” episodes option and was greeted with the familiar and excellent IG theme song. Then I became instantly confused. IG had a mustache? Huh? The episodes appear in order. The pilot episode plays first and is significantly different from the way we remember IG. The most noticeable changes is the inclusion of a mustache on IG (a mustache which never appears again) and the different voice actors playing recurring characters parts like Chief Quimby (IG’s boss). It’s ironic in a later episode in the season IG wears a disguise that consists of glasses and a goofy mustache!
The pilot episode was great. It’s a shame that the entire season shares a similar formula. Gadget gets an assignment; Penny (his niece) and Brain (the dog) have to get to the bottom of each plot while keeping him out of trouble. Dr. Claw (IG’s nemesis) gets angry when his plot is foiled and they do it all over again. The episodes rely far too much on IG’s appeal. Don’t get me wrong, he is appealing. When that’s all you have, it breeds boredom and episodes seem to blend together.
Regardless of content, IG’s video quality is generally solid for a 20+ year old cartoon series. There isn’t any grain or color bleeding to be found. Periodically you’ll notice scratches in the print, but there’ve been worse. The majority of the time the colors are bright and beautiful. At certain points when IG cuts to some scenes they appear darker and, in turn, uglier than when IG is “running” at its best. Very strange.
The audio is the shining star of this set. The audio is crisp and clear. The sound effects like those used for IG’s different gadgets are distinct and iconic. The voice actors are extremely entertaining and only add to the appeal of the characters. I suspect this series wouldn’t have survived so long without them. The best part of the audio is the soundtrack, which ranges from “goofy music” to awesome synth sounds akin to the IG theme. If I had the soundtrack, I’d be listening to it right now. Totally recommended.
As with a lot of older cartoon sets they’re light on the extras. IG isn’t immune to this “curse.” On the fourth disc we’re treated to a short retrospective on how IG got started. There is also an original art gallery and some fan art. It shows that little effort was put in this set and I find that sad. Ultimately, that’s not why we’re here. We’re here to watch a classic cartoon! Still — no excuse.
Cartoon sets like IG seem to always be meant for fans first and foremost. Unlike other sets I’ve viewed and reviewed, I can’t recommend this to anyone other than die-hard fans. The episodes are simply too shallow and lack variety. If you’re an IG fan you’ve already bought this set or plan to do so. To everyone else remotely interested, rent this set or watch it with your die-hard fan friends.