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18 Things You Might Not Know About Inspector Gadget

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Image credit: Watson.ch

With a CGI reboot about to hit Netflix, now is a perfect time to think back to Inspector Gadget. The classic cartoon ran original episodes for only three seasons, from 1983 to 1986, but played in syndication throughout the remainder of the decade, and well into the 1990s, and motion pictures were made about the dimwitted cyborg detective, who needed the help of his niece Penny and her dog Brain to defeat Dr. Claw and his M.A.D. henchmen.

1. THE MAIN INFLUENCE BEHIND THE SHOW WAS A CARTOON ABOUT A ROBOTIC DOG.

Andy Heyward worked on the Hanna-Barbera show Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, which began in 1976 as part of Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour before joining Scooby's All Star Laff-A-Lympics one year later. The Blue Falcon hero needed the help of his dog sidekick Dynomutt, who was always outfitted with a bunch of contraptions. Heyward remembered the Blue Falcon not being the smartest of heroes, and he came up with the Inspector Gadget concept from there.

2. GET SMART WAS ANOTHER INSPIRATION.

Don Adams played secret agent Maxwell Smart, TV's “bumbling detective” archetype. In addition to Adams voicing Inspector Gadget, Get Smart writer Jack Hanrahan was the main writer for Gadget’s second season.

3. THE INSPECTOR WAS FORCED TO GET RID OF HIS MOUSTACHE.

After viewing the pilot episode, MGM called Heyward and DiC Entertainment to complain that their main character had another obvious influence: their own Inspector Clouseau. You can judge for yourself below, and hear famous voice actor Gary Owens unsuccessfully audition for the title role.

4. THE MAYTAG REPAIRMAN ALSO TOOK A SHOT AT VOICING GADGET.

Jesse White, who played the Maytag repairman in the company's commercials from 1967 to 1988, took over for Gary Owens and re-recorded his lines in what was initially titled “Gadget in Winterland,” but Adams was the final choice.

5. M.A.D. MAY OR MAY NOT STAND FOR "MEAN AND DIRTY."

While it has been written as fact that Dr. Claw’s evil agency is an acronym for “Mean and Dirty,” no full explanation was ever given during the series and presented as canon. Some speculate that it stands for "Malevolent Agency of Destruction," while others think it's short for "Men Against Dogs." And some people reason that M.A.D. isn’t an acronym at all, it’s just a play on super evil organizations like SPECTRE in the James Bond books and films or KAOS in Get Smart.

6. THE THEME SONG IS BASED ON A CLASSICAL TUNE.

Haim Saban and Shuki Levy’s composition has some elements from Edvard Grieg’s "Hall of the Mountain King" in it. You’ve probably heard Grieg’s work before.

7. JIM CARREY AUDITIONED TO PLAY CORPORAL CAPEMAN.

Capeman was an unpopular season two addition to the series, and was voiced by Townsend Coleman. Coleman would later voice Waldo on Where’s Waldo?, Wayne Gretzky on ProStars, and (most notably) Michelangelo on the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series. In 1984, the year Capeman made his debut, Carrey got his first lead role on a short-lived NBC comedy called The Duck Factory, about a young animator starting his career at a low-budget animation company.

8. PENNY WAS VOICED BY DR. CLAW’S DAUGHTER.

Don Francks asked producers if his daughter, Cree Summer, could audition for Penny, which led to her first acting credit (she has continued to do voice acting and starred in The Cosby Show spinoff, A Different World). In season two, when production moved from Toronto to Los Angeles, Summer was replaced by Holly Berger.

9. CHIEF QUIMBY WAS BRAIN ON ANIMANIACS.

Maurice LaMarche made a living pretending to be Orson Welles, voicing him on The Critic and in the movie Ed Wood. The voice actor who played the Metro City police chief in seasons two and three was also Egon in The Real Ghostbusters cartoon.

10. DR. CLAW’S FACE WAS REVEALED AFTER THE SERIES ENDED.

The writers purposely wrote every episode in a way that would make the audience believe they would finally show Dr. Claw's face, but it never actually happened. Viewers had to wait until 1992, a full six years after the series ended, to see his face—as an action figure. And even then, you had to buy it to see it. Today, thanks to the Internet, you can just click here.

One year later, the same face was utilized for Claw in a Super Nintendo video game for the series. Fans of the series were annoyed at Rupert Everett’s portrayal of Claw in the 1999 live-action movie, because he purposely never wore any sort of mask.

11. INSPECTOR GADGET’S BACKSTORY IS JUST AS RIDICULOUS AND TRAGIC AS YOU WOULD THINK.

Another important aspect of Inspector Gadget that never came up during the show’s original run was how or why he became half-man, half-machine. But an official 1991 trading card answered those questions. Inspector Gadget was an “ordinary police inspector” named John Brown, who fell down a flight of stairs after slipping on a banana peel. When he awoke from an operation, he had “more than 13,000 crime-fighting gadgets attached to his body."

12. SOME PEOPLE BELIEVED THAT DR. CLAW AND INSPECTOR GADGET WERE THE SAME PERSON.

According to one Inspector Gadget theory, Dr. Claw was a human detective who was the victim of an explosion, and as a result presumed dead. Penny recreated her uncle as Inspector Gadget, while her real uncle became Dr. Claw, a still living, but horribly disfigured man. This explained why Penny was never harmed, but after the trading card reveal and the unveiling of Claw’s face, this idea stopped making sense.

13. THE M.A.D. AGENTS ALL HAD NAMES.

Character designer Brian Lemay gave all the M.A.D. henchmen names in order to help him differentiate between his eight creations. This prompted the writers to begin using their names in the scripts, even though their names were never mentioned. Someone once asked Lemay if he made Fred, Dick, Pops, Jarvis, Bruce, Slick, Lenny, and Squirt look Russian because of the Cold War when, in reality, any seemingly Russian attributes were a coincidence.

14. THE M.A.D. AGENT LENNY WAS MODELED AFTER LENNY FROM OF MICE AND MEN.

More specifically, Lenny was modeled after actor Lon Chaney Jr.’s interpretation of the classic character.

15. IT TOOK A VERY LONG TIME TO GET INSPECTOR GADGET JUST RIGHT.

Because it was difficult to break down all of Gadget’s parts, it took the crew 350 drawings before settling on the final design.

16. INSPECTOR GADGET AND HEATHCLIFF LIVED IN THE SAME UNIVERSE.

Since Heathcliff and The Catillac Cats was another DiC produced cartoon, Penny would sometimes watch it, while Heathcliff's Grandpa Nutmeg enjoyed watching Inspector Gadget.

17. IT WAS UNOFFICIALLY REBOOTED 20 YEARS AGO.

Gadget Boy & Heather/Gadget Boy’s Adventures in History was an animated series by DiC, starring a bionic kid detective who acted like Inspector Gadget, and was also voiced by Don Adams.

18. A SEQUEL TO THE INSPECTOR GADGET MOVIE WENT STRAIGHT TO VIDEO.

The 1999 live-action Disney film version of Inspector Gadget, starring Matthew Broderick, actually made more than $134 million worldwide. But it was a critical bomb, even after being cut down from 110 to 78 minutes after a lot of negative feedback during test screenings. In 2003, French Stewart replaced Broderick as the eponymous hero in a straight-to-video sequel.

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Food
Let Alexa Help You Brine a Turkey This Thanksgiving
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There’s a reason most of us only cook turkey once a year: The bird is notoriously easy to overcook. You could rely on gravy and cranberry sauce to salvage your dried-out turkey this Thanksgiving, or you could follow cooking advice from the experts.

Brining a turkey is the best way to guarantee it retains its moisture after hours in the oven. The process is also time-consuming, so do yourself a favor this year and let Alexa be your sous chef.

“Morton Brine Time” is a new skill from the cloud-based home assistant. If you own an Amazon Echo you can download it for free by going online or by asking Alexa to enable it. Once it’s set up, start asking Alexa for brining tips and step-by-step recipes customized to the size of your turkey. Two recipes were developed by Richard Blais, the celebrity chef and restaurateur best known for his Top Chef win and Food Network appearances.

Whether you go for a wet brine (soaking your turkey in water, salt, sugar, and spices) or a dry one (just salt and spices), the process isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. And the knowledge that your bird will come out succulent and juicy will definitely take some stress out of the holiday.

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Big Questions
Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?
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Because it's tradition! But how did this tradition begin?

Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team started in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, wasn't quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934.

Although Richards's new squad was a solid team, they were playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchise, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards's WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL's Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and the Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

This year, the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings.

HOW 'BOUT THEM COWBOYS?


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The Cowboys, too, jumped on the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as an extra little bump for their popularity. When the chance to take the field on Thanksgiving arose in 1966, it might not have been a huge benefit for the Cowboys. Sure, the Lions had filled their stadium for their Thanksgiving games, but that was no assurance that Texans would warm to holiday football so quickly.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, though, was something of a marketing genius; among his other achievements was the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Schramm saw the Thanksgiving Day game as a great way to get the team some national publicity even as it struggled under young head coach Tom Landry. Schramm signed the Cowboys up for the game even though the NFL was worried that the fans might just not show up—the league guaranteed the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. But the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold. Since 1966, the Cowboys have missed having Thanksgiving games only twice.

Dallas will take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.

WHAT'S WITH THE NIGHT GAME?


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In 2006, because 6-plus hours of holiday football was not sufficient, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving lineup. This game is not assigned to a specific franchise—this year, the Washington Redskins will welcome the New York Giants.

Re-running this 2008 article a few days before the games is our Thanksgiving tradition.

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