The long running era of the Saturday morning cartoon has officially ended, but no one can stop you from fulfilling your true weekend calling. Cartoons and Saturday mornings were made for each other and no one can tell us otherwise. It is to that end that we maintain vigil, bringing you animated selections each Saturday morning until the internet dies, or until we run out, good thing there’s always reruns.
"Inspector Gadget” Episode 1.1 “Winter Olympics” Created by Andy Heyward, Jean Chalopin, and Bruno Bianchi; Directed by Bruno Bianchi, Bernard Deyries, and Toshiyuki Hiruma; Written by Jean Chalopin and Andy Heyward; Starring Gary Owens, Frank Welker, and Mona Marshall; originally aired in 1982.
“Winter Olympics” also known as “Gadget in Winterland” is the pilot episode of “Inspector Gadget” and differs from the original series in a few key ways. In the original version of this episode (included below) Gadget is voiced by Gary Owens as opposed to Don Adams who voiced the character for the remainder of the series. In addition Gadget sports a moustache which was later ditched due to claims made by MGM that the character too closely resembled Inspector Cleaseau of “The Pink Panther.”
While Gadget is still clumsy and bumbling, he needs a little less help from his niece Penny and her dog Brain than usual. It seems any luck he had left with the moustache.
This episode introduces several familiar characters and gimmicks that remain throughout the series. We meet the trio of main characters as well as the villain Doctor Claw who may or may not have a body and a face, as well as his criminal organization MAD. We also meet Chief Quimby who delivers assignments to Gadget on location. The popular gimmick of Gadget accidentally injuring Quimby when the mission papers self-destruct is also established in the pilot.
Gadget, Penny, and Brain are on vacation at a ski resort when the Olympic torch comes through. Doctor Claw attempts to destroy the event by switching out the torch bearer with one of his underlings and switching out the torch itself for dynamite. When that doesn’t work, Claw releases a hybrid franken-robot abominable snowman which he controls from his castle lair. Claw is also capable of knocking down trees and controlling gondolas and lifts with the flip of a switch or the push of a button. His apparent control over the resort is enough to make Plutarch Heavensbee blush.
It's probably the work of childhood nostalgia but hearing a different voice come out of Gadget's mouth is a little disconcerting. In researching for this article I found by some coincidence that Gary Owens, sadly, passed away on the twelfth. His notable works, outside of being the original voice for Gadget include "Space Ghost," "Garfield and Friends," and Powdered Toast Man on "Ren and Stimpy." Check out the In Memoriam by CitizenBot.
Though the series made some minor changes after the pilot episode, it remained a fun story of a girl and her dog saving her bumbling yet technologically advanced uncle from the machinations of the evil Doctor Claw. And even with his bumbling demeanor who wouldn't want to be Gadget? it's like his whole body is Batman's utility belt.
Go, go, gadget...