Sunday, September 28, 2014

Watch 3 Minutes of The New Inspector Gadget Series Now!

Here it comes - by far the biggest news I've ever had to tell you about this reboot. A promotional video clip including the full new intro sequence and theme song as well as two minutes of an actual episode has been released to Worldscreen.com! So get yourself over there and watch it!

Screenshot from... you guessed it... the new intro!

I'm working on sorting out my thoughts right now (and they are MANY! and they are MIXED!), but in the meantime, I just had to spread the word here. My commentary is on its way.

Screenshot from the episode "Game Over, Man"

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The 11-Minute Format "Definitely Brings [The New Gadget Series] Up To Date", Says DHX's Josh Scherba

A September 24 article from TBI Vision - also available in magazine PDF format here - includes what I think is DHX's first actual comment on the 11-minute run time of the new series. Entitled "The New Vintage", the piece talks about the vast amount of classic animated brands being rebooted right now, including Maya the Bee, Heidi, Thunderbirds, Danger Mouse and, of course, Inspector Gadget:

In Canada, Teletoon has tasked DHX Media with creating a new version of Inspector Gadget. DHX’s senior VP, distribution Josh Scherba says Inspector Gadget already has lined up a “significant” group of broadcast partners, highlighting the continued impact of a show that first hit screens in 1983. 
“We’ve got a generation of people who grew up on it that are going to want their kids to experience it too,” he says. “Gadget is such a classic character – we’re keeping the physical comedy very much alive as that remains very relevant for audiences in 2015.”

I find that last sentence there a bit amusing. Physical comedy remains very relevant for audiences in 2015. That's almost as basic as saying, "entertainment value remains very relevant for audiences in 2015"... but, oh well, I think I get his drift.

However, the most interesting statement by far comes in the part about modern-day "consumption patterns", where Scherba addresses the shorter run time:

Consumption patterns have changed significantly in the multimedia era, and this represents another challenge for producers looking to remain true to their classic brand. While Studio 100 is keeping Heidi at its original 22-minute episode length, others such as Maya the Bee have been reduced to 11. 
DHX made a similar choice with Inspector Gadget. “One of the big things was go with an 11-minute format, rather than the 22-minute that was the norm in 1983,” says Scherba. “That definitely brings it up to date.”

So clearly, the 11-minute format was an integral part of DHX's rebooting Gadget for modern audiences. That in itself brings it up to date, apparently. I'm just not sure I get that. Okay, yes, shorter formats are becoming more popular. Television viewers - kids in particular - are far less patient than they were 30 years ago. But I'm still not buying that kids can't or won't sit through a 22-minute animated show. That all depends on how good the show is. Successful, animated reboots retaining the 22-minute format can certainly still be found. One example is Nickelodeon's current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (a somewhat flawed series in my eyes, particularly when compared to the superior 2003 version; but still hugely popular). Plus, as for 22 minutes being "the norm" back in the early 80s... one needn't look further than to DiC's own Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats from '84 for an exception to that rule. And there were of course many exceptions.

Bottom line - as I've said before - I really hope the decision to go with 11 minutes was ultimately also a creative one, not purely driven by the idea that all modern-day kids' shows need to be 11 minutes. I think it's important to say out loud that this is not really true, regardless of what networks and broadcasters seem to think. The execution determines whether an 11-minute or a 22-minute show will keep the viewer's attention.

And as long as the new Gadget series also targets adults who grew up with the original - which they did say it would - I tend to think 22 minutes might work better for including elements like character development, drama, overarching storylines... in other words, things that might make adults invested in addition to the comedy and action. (Again, though, much of this is still execution and how well the run time is spent. I might be prejudiced towards 11 minutes based on the fact that I've seen many more 22-minute series that I like.)

I'm not trying to pretend, by the way, that the format and production of the original Inspector Gadget was not affected by business decisions. The way the 1983 series was made - 65 half-hours pre-ordered for the first season and produced in less than a year - was very much steered by commercial interests. But speaking as a fan, I think the original 22-minute format ended up working really well for Gadget. It enabled the writers to juggle a lot of different plot points within one storyline, most of them adding greatly to the entertainment value.

I'll try not to make such a fuss over the run time in future posts. You must be getting tired of hearing me repeat these points. Seeing as the series is produced like this anyway, I honestly do hope to be proven wrong in my scepticism towards 11-minute episodes. I hope the reboot works fantastically with 11-minute episodes. And at the same time, I hope it manages to appeal to both adults and kids.

We'll just have to wait and see how all that is juggled, right?

A Couple of New Series Episode Titles...

...have popped up at the LinkedIn profile of Andrew Anningson, a writer and production manager at DHX. Anningson has been a Studio Production Supervisor on Inspector Gadget and other DHX Halifax productions since January, but his writing credits are what I want to focus on here. In addition to several other animated projects, he wrote two episodes for the new Gadget series last year:

Writing:
2013 - Inspector Gadget
Comedy / Action
- MADsoaker
- A Penny Saved

Note that the genre of the series is listed as "Comedy / Action". I'm certainly expecting it to be a comedy first, but I wouldn't mind, personally, seeing equal portions of dramatic action. The action element has been sorely downplayed in almost every Gadget production since the original season 1. To me, it's needed to balance the slapstick and give the stories some stake.

Anyway, I do believe those episode titles are the first to appear online. Don't know about you, but I sorta think "MADsoaker" might involve M.A.D agents getting soaked, and "A Penny Saved"... oh, I don't know... Penny getting saved? Wow. Where am I getting all this??

Of course, the most interesting question regarding the latter title would be who saves Penny. Could it be Brain? Could it be Gadget? Or possibly - just possibly - could it be Dr Claw's handsome and crush-worthy nephew Talon?...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Title Logo for New Gadget Series Revealed; Super RTL To Air the Reboot in Germany

Still real short on time, as I was five hours ago, but I just had to post about this...


Via the German television "Infoportal" wunschliste.de - or really via the TV channel Super RTL - comes our first glimpse of the new series' title logo. I don't know exactly when this image (or the reboot show's listing at wunschliste) appeared online... but the news that public broadcaster Super RTL will air the series in Germany has apparently been known since this announcement from June 30. No exact air date is set yet, though some headlines indicate that the series is part of the channel's 2014/2015 season lineup. Here's a press release in English via RTL Group's own site.

Anyway, time for my ramble about the new logo design! As you might have expected, I love how they kept the classic touch of the upside down Gadget being the 'I' in "Inspector". Will he and the other letters be bouncing into place in the intro sequence? The font looks overall good, I suppose. While I do like the classic version better, this neatly brings associations to it without being completely similar (for one thing, it's not quite as rounded).


On the other hand, the colors of the new logo has me somewhat on the fence. I get the feeling that the new series' design team has a real thing for blue, as it seems quite dominant in the overall color scheme: Gadget, Penny and Quimby's pants, the new Gadget Mobile, background details in images and now, the logo. While I don't hate the new dark blue, I have to admit I much prefer the vintage pink colors for the moment being. Maybe it's just the retro feel talking to me. I do wonder how the original colors would have worked on the new font.

(Interestingly, the old and new versions still share some color similarities. Like the original logo's 'Gadget', the new logo letters have an orange outline; and both title cards have background colors which are rather close to the font colors.)

Oh, and one more thing: I can't quite put my finger on it, but somehow, the new logo picture seems strangely connected to another recently released image. Hmmmmmm. What if........


GASP!

Okay, so this is just my own quick edit (in Microsoft Paint, no less!). I'm sure it can be done better. But it illustrates the point. The title logo and the group picture which has popped up in several cropped versions by now are of course the same image. And even now, in my edited-together version, we can see that it's not 100% complete. The picture was obviously put together for promotional reasons, so I'd be surpriced if a full, high-res version doesn't appear eventually.

The emphasis on the globe in the background is interesting to me. I wonder if this is a hint that Gadget and his family will travel across the globe in their combats with M.A.D, as in the original show's first season? To me, the exotic locations were one of the classic series' best elements, so I'm certainly hoping. (Not to mention, we have a possible second hint in the synopsis sentence, "Dr Claw has reactivated his global crime syndicate M.A.D...".)

Finally, seeing the picture like this also brings a new perspective to Chief Quimby's pose. Now, instead of just shrinking from the sight of Gadget, it seems to me he's worried that the logo - supported by only one of Gadget's hat hands - will come crashing down on him. Not that this doesn't suggest that he has been accidentally hurt by Gadget before... but at least he has a clear motivation for being anxious aside from just seeing Gadget next to him.

"Inspector Gadget 2.0" Added To DHX's Online Catalogue

Okay, I suppose this will have to be classified as 'old news', seeing as a whole month has passed since I discovered it. Yeah, that's how busy I've been lately, which is also the reason I've fallen behind with answering some of the comments here (sorry about that). But let's see if this can be the start of updating on a semi-regular basis again...

Anyhoo, the news: Approximately a month ago - on August 15, according to Google - DHX Media finally added the new Inspector Gadget series to their online distribution and show catalogues, as well as to the "New Shows" section. Remember how the reboot was called "Inspector Gadget NEW Series" in the PDF catalogue released in January? Well, for their site, DHX has found an even simpler way of separating new from old: The reboot series is listed as "Inspector Gadget 2.0". Inspector Gadget, Chapter 2. I'm sure the series' on-screen title will still just be "Inspector Gadget", but this seems to work nicely to set the reboot apart in the catalogue.

As an aside, I wish someone would correct that original series' title card being used
as a thumbnail for "Inspector Gadget's Field Trip". IT MAKES NO SENSE.

It's worth adding that the synopsis at the "2.0" show site is a condensed version of the synopsis which appeared, confusingly, at the show site for the original series back in January (disappearing again some months after that), and which was also included in DHX's January and March PDF catalogues. For comparison, here's that longer synopsis...

INSPECTOR GADGET is BACK! Dr. Claw has reactivated his global crime syndicate MAD and the bumbling Swiss army knife detective has been brought out of retirement to save the world! Tagging along with Gadget is his niece Penny and her trusty dog, Brain. Now an agent in training, Penny uses her intelligence, martial arts and high tech gear to keep her bumbling Uncle Gadget safe from harm. But it won't be easy. Dr. Claw has a secret weapon. His handsome nephew Talon is eager to learn a little old school evil as they try to take over the world.

...and here's the new "2.0" synopsis. Less information, but the shortening was obviously done to keep the presentation brief and to the point:

INSPECTOR GADGET is BACK! Dr. Claw has reactivated his global crime syndicate MAD. Only the bumbling Swiss army knife detective can stop him! With his niece, Penny and her dog Brain, Gadget must combat the sinister Dr. Claw (and his nephew TALON) who keeps trying to take over the world.

Lastly, the distribution site adds a few technical details...

STATUS: Catalogue
FORMAT: 26 x 22' (52 x 11')
TARGET: Kids 6 - 11

...confirming once more the series' format: 52 11-minute episodes produced as 26 half-hours. I still hope the series allows for a full-fledged, 22-minute episode once in a while if the story needs it, but I'm not sure how likely that is. We'll see.

For the sake of completion, here's also the picture being used on DHX's site. Yeah, we've seen it before in a less cropped version, but I'm noticing the color settings are brighter here. Which is clearly Very Important. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is just one reason this blog is one of the geekiest places on the internet.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

After These Messages

Dang, gotta hate those commercial breaks! But I think I'll sit through this one...


After all, they are promising that Inspector Gadget will return.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

DHX Finalizes Their New Inspector Gadget Design


This just in! Far into the production of the new TV series, DHX Halifax has decided to add one last detail to Gadget's CGI design - the long-neglected mustache from the pilot episode! According to vice-chairman Michael Hirsh, one of the co-producers of the original season 1: "We always felt Gadget looked better with the mustache, as per Bruno Bianchi's original vision, but at the time we had to remove it because the MGM Studios claimed it was too close to their detective character, Inspector Clouseau. Today, however, Inspector Gadget is a well-known brand in its own right, and obviously there is no risk of our new series being confused with the Pink Panther movies. So we felt it was finally time to bring the mustache back for a new generation of fans."

But why make this change so late in the production process? Says Hirsh, "We've actually been debating back and forth for a couple of years now whether the mustache should be part of the new design. At first, we admittedly did decide against it, as evidenced by the character designs and animation released so far. But over the past few weeks, the creative team here at DHX Halifax has really gotten vocal in defending the mustache, and everybody sort of said the same thing - let's do this! So, yes, we're revising the already completed animation to get the mustache included. It's funny how things come full circle", Hirsh muses. "Back when we did the original series, we had to remove the mustache at the eleventh hour. Now, we're doing last-minute revisions to get the mustache back in there! It's all worth it, though. The mustache will make a huge difference to our new reboot of Gadget."

The new mustache design hews closely
to the original 1982 pilot episode.

I really don't have words to describe my reactions to this, but I'll try. I'm just baffled. I want to stay open-minded towards DHX's creative decisions, but this one - bringing back a major design detail not seen since the original show's pilot episode - really came out of nowhere. I think I'll just have to wait and see how this works. Seeing as Gadget has a new voice sounding somewhat different from Don Adams, I guess it's not impossible that the mustache could work as well, but...

...what? You want me to admit what? Okay, okay: I'M KIDDING. NONE OF THIS IS TRUE. Sorry if I gave someone a heart attack. It's just that, well... fellow fan Cortoony and I have been having this tongue-in-cheek discussion in the comments to this other post about how wonderful it would be if DHX had revived Gadget's original mustache for their new design. One thing led to another... and suddenly Cortoony did an awesome-looking edit of the CGI design with the mustache added to it. It looked so real that it just inspired me, and I had to do this what-if post. So, yeah, that is of course Cortoony's edit we're seeing at the top of this post. My apologies to DHX Media and Michael Hirsh - and thanks, Cortoony, for the terrific mustache rendition of the new Gadget. Cortoony's original upload can be seen here, by the way. (Yes, I mirror reversed his image to match the officially released character design even more. That's how shrewd I am.)