August 29, 2015


(Syndication, September 12, 1983-February 1, 1986)

DiC Entertainment, Nelvana Limited (season 1), Field Communications, FR3

Don Adams & Luc Durand (French) – Inspector Gadget, Robo Gadget
Gary Owens (1st pilot) & Jesse White (2nd pilot) –Inspector Gadget
Frank Welker – Brain, Dr. Claw, M.A.D. cat, M.A.D. agents, various
Don Francks – Dr. Claw (several episodes), M.A.D. agents, various
Victor Desy – Dr. Claw (as Docteur Gang, French)
Mona Marshall (pilot), Cree Summer (season 1), Holly Berger (season 2) – Penny
Patricia Darnot – Penny (as Sophie, French)
John Stephenson (pilot) & Dan Hennessey (season 1) – Chief Quimby
Maurice LaMarche – Chief Quimby (season 2), Inspector Gadget (fill-in)
Gerard Delmas – Chief Quimby (as Gontier, French)
Townsend Coleman – Corporal Capeman (season 2)

            Inspector Gadget (Don Adams) was a cyborg police inspector whose body is loaded with absolutely anything he would need to bring down the evil organization M.A.D. and its leader, Dr. Claw (Frank Welker & Don Francks). The only problem? Gadget was a bumbling moron whose gadgets would often foul up, if he didn’t do it first, and was oblivious to who or what the real threats were. His brilliant niece, Penny (Cree Summer & Holly Berger), and her equally-smart dog, Brain (Welker), would follow Gadget on his cases and actually be the ones to defeat the sinister plots, or to help get Gadget in place to accidentally do so.

Gadget showing off some gadgets.

            Gadget was created by DiC Entertainment’s former chairman and CEO Andy Heyward with Italian-French cartoonist Bruno Bianchi and DiC founder Jean Chalopin. Heyward had just left Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1981 and was asked to join DiC (then DiC Audiovisuel) and help transform it into an entertainment company by creating a show that would appeal to American audiences. Taking inspiration from Get Smart, The Six Million Dollar Man, and the last show he worked on, Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, Heyward conceived of a cyborg inspector who was oblivious to the fact that everything he did was wrong, and thus DiC had their very first show: Inspector Gadget. Although the reason behind his cybernetic upgrades was never given in the series, a 1991 trading card by Impel revealed it was because he, as John Brown, suffered a near-fatal tumble down the stairs after slipping on a banana peel.

Penny and Brain behind Gadget.

            Brain was so named because of his intelligence was initially the only one bailing Gadget out of trouble. But Heyward was told to add in a little girl character to appeal to the female audience, and that led to the creation of Penny. Gadget underwent hundreds of designs, trying to figure out how to depict the character as well as the functionality of all his gadgetry. Gadget’s basic appearance was based on Heyward and one of the series’ directors, and he was given a trench coat, hat and gloves. Each of Gadget’s fingers had a different function; two served as a portable phone, one as a flashlight, one as a skeleton key, one as a laser, one as a screwdriver, one as a water pistol, one as a pen, and one as a whistle. Gadget’s legs could extend with springs that allowed him to bounce, his arms and neck could telescope, his jacket could inflate, and various other objects could pop out of his hat; typically on a robotic hand. Most of Gadget’s gadgets were activated when he said the phrase “Go, go Gadget [gadget name].” Gadget’s primary mode of transportation, the Gadget mobile, could also transform from a sports car (resembling a Toyota Celica Supra) to a van. Penny wasn’t without a gadget of her own, as she carried around a computer that resembled a book and a wrist communicator. Bain’s collar also served as a communication device.

"I''ll get you next time, Gadget!"

            Each episode featured Gadget’s boss, Chief Quimby (Dan Hennessey & Maurice LaMarche), contacting Gadget on his Top Secret Gadgetphone. Gadget then located the Chief in some kind of disguise where he was handed a written message outlining M.A.D.’s latest caper and Gadget’s assignment to stop it. Borrowing a gag from Mission: Impossible, the message would self-destruct; usually after Gadget obliviously tossed it back to the Chief and walked away assuring him of the mission’s success. Another recurring gag was the fact that it was always teased to the audience that Dr. Claw’s face would finally be revealed to the audience. As it was, only Dr. Claw’s arms and metal-gloved hands were ever visible on screen, be he in his castle base on his large chair or traveling in his M.A.D. Mobile (which could also transform into a jet or a submarine). Usually keeping Dr. Claw company was his cat, M.A.D. Cat (Welker), who usually either received his affection or his ire when one of his plans failed. Dr. Claw was inspired by the character or Ernst Stavro Blofeld from the James Bond series of books and films. Dr. Claw would always declare “I’ll get you next time, Gadget. Next time!”

            The series debuted in 1982 with the pilot episode “Winder Olympics” written by Heyward and Chalopin. It featured a unique opening sequence compared to the rest of the series, not only including different scenes but also featuring Gadget with a mustache as he was originally depicted. Initially, Dynomutt star Gary Owens was tapped for the role of Gadget until he was deemed a poor fit for the character. Owens did contribute one of Gadget’s catchphrases: “wowsers.” Ultimately, Jesse White played the role for the pilot episode, with Mona Marshall playing Penny. The pilot was animated by Telecom Animation Film in Japan and featured the highest budget of the series.

Chief Quimby contacting Gadget in one of his many hiding places.

Still not satisfied with the casting, producers tapped Don Adams for the role of Gadget, further playing up the Get Smart connections, and had him re-record the pilot’s dialogue. Don Francks was brought into replace Welker as Dr. Claw, and played the role for the next 25 episodes before they decided Welker was the better option after all. Francks stayed on to voice various M.A.D. agents, and his portrayal of Dr. Claw survived in several episodes that Welker was unable to re-dub. On a request from Francks, his daughter Cree Summer was auditioned for the role of Penny and won it, making it the first of her many voice acting roles. John Stephenson also voiced Chief Quimby in the pilot, but was replaced by Dan Hennessey.

"Don't worry, it's only a disguise!"

            After the pilot, DiC soon received a letter from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer complaining that Gadget was far too close to their character Inspector Clouseau from the Pink Panther films due to his antics, wardrobe and mustache. As a result, a fourth version of the pilot was made and aired as the series’ first episode “Gadget in Winterland.” It featured a new exchange between Summer’s Penny and Gadget (filled in by Welker) indicating that the mustache was merely a disguise while Gadget was on vacation. It disappeared for the remainder of the series.

Gadget model sheet.

The series was a co-production between France-based DiC and Canadian studio Nelvana, where Peter Sauder served as the head writer for the first season. Chalopin served as creative supervisor while Bianchi was the Supervising Director. The majority of the episodes were animated by Tokyo Movie Shinsha while several were done by Taiwan’s Cuckoo’s Nest Studio (aka Wang Film Productions). Post-production was handled in-house by DiC and Nelvana. Voice recording also took place at Nelvana. Like many other shows in the 80s, each episode ended with a public service announcement tied into elements of the episode with the characters talking to the audience.

Gadget, the album.

Saban Music Group provided the series’ music. Shuki Levy composed the theme song with inspiration from Edvard Grieg’s movement “In the Hall of the Mountain King”. Most of the background music was a variation on the theme. In 1983, Saban Records released an LP in France called Inspector Gadget – Bande Originale de la Serie TV. The album featured many of the scores Levy composed for the series. The record was reproduced in 1986 in English as Inspector Gadget – The Music in Australia through ABC Records and featured five additional tracks. The theme with French lyrics was released as a single in 1983 and 1985, while the episode “The Curse of the Pharaohs” was released as an audio story “La Malediction du roi Touthankarton.”

The first season ran in syndication for a total of 65 episodes in the United States beginning on September 12, 1983. As it was a French co-production, it began airing in France a month behind the American version. As well as featuring a French cast, many of the characters’ names were changed for those broadcasts. Dr. Claw became Docteur Gang (Victor Desy), Penny became Sophie (Patricia Darnot), and Chief Quimby became Gontier (Gerard Delmas). Gadget retained his name was portrayed by Luc Durand. After its initial run, the series was rerun again for the 1984-85 season.

It's not a bomb, it's just Inspector Gadget season 2!

The second season began in the fall of 1985, now airing weekly on Saturday mornings. Numerous changes were made both to the show and behind the scenes. Nelvana was no longer involved with the production of the series, and DiC moved animation to their new Japanese animation facilities which rendered the artwork closer to standard anime. DiC’s employees took over writing duties for the season, and one of them, Jack Hanrahan, had written for Get Smart. Voice recording was handled at DiC’s new headquarters in Los Angeles, necessitating the replacing of all the Canadian-based voice talent with local actors to save on costs. As a result, Holly Berger replaced Summer and Maurice LaMarche replaced Hennessey. LaMarche also occasionally filled in for Adams when needed, being that he was an accomplished impressionist.

Corporal Capeman to the rescue!

Changes were also made to the format of the show. Typically, a new M.A.D. agent would be introduced and appear in three episodes in a row, all sharing the same theme, and would not always be arrested in their last appearance. In the first season, a M.A.D. agent would be introduced, captured, and never seen again. Focus was taken off of Dr. Claw’s schemes and instead was placed on M.A.D.’s attempts to eliminate Gadget for good. Gadget, Penny and Brain moved into a new high-tech house full of its own gadgets, and Penny spent less time involved in Gadget’s capers. In fact, a new sidekick for gadget was introduced: Corporal Capeman (Townsend Coleman). Capeman, though more observant than Gadget, was as equally inept and often believed he had the power to fly. Capeman was a self-proclaimed superhero and often acted like the stereotypical version of one. Another DiC production, Heathcliff and the Cadillac Cats made several cameo appearances throughout the season, as Gadget did on their own show.

Gadget comes to regret coming to the Mario Bros. for repairs.

After the 20-episode second season, the series was put to rest after the declining quality in writing and animation, as well as the numerous changes, led to a drop-off in the ratings. However, it continued to live on and did well in reruns. In 1989, LaMarche gave the character his first live-action portrayal in the episodes “Defective Gadgetry” and “Treasure of the Sierra Brooklyn” of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, also a DiC production, during their live-action bumper segments. until 1992 when the special Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas was released. Airing on December 4th, the special featured Dr. Claw taking over Santa’s workshop in an effort to ruin Christmas. Adams, Welker and LaMarche reprised their roles, but Berger was replaced by Erica Horn as Penny and LaMarche provided Gadget’s singing voice.

Go, go Gadget skis! And skates!

1992 also saw the debut of Inspector Gadget toys. Tiger Toys attempted to break into the action figure market with a line of figures based on the series. The line primarily consisted of Gadget variants, each one sporting a different gadget and accessory and wearing different colored clothing (one even had a purple face). Also featuring the Gadgetmobile, the only character missing from the series was Quimby. The most notable part of the line, however, was the Dr. Claw figure. For the first time, fans got to see the face of Dr. Claw. The primary version of Dr. Claw’s figure came with a facial obstruction on the packaging; forcing the figure to be bought and opened to see it. A rare variant featured standard packaging with Dr. Claw fully visible. In 1993, Galoob released a 12” action figure that featured several of his gadget accessories and featured spring-loaded action. The figure came in two versions, with one being less articulated than the other. Bandai also produced a line of PVC figurines featuring Penny, Brain, Quimby and Gadget utilizing several gadgets, as well as two die-cast transforming vehicles. Two lunchboxes were made by Thermos while Impel printed 6 trading cards as part of the National Safe Kids Campaign. Life Cereal also offered Gadget premiums, including a handheld game and a watch. Milton Bradley produced a board game in 1983, while in 2011, Viper Comics released a preview issue for Free Comic Book Day followed by a graphic novel based on the original series.

Inspector Gadget Advance Mission for Game Boy Advance.

In 1984, Bandai developed an LCD Electronic Inspector Gadget game. The first proper video game was meant to be 1987’s Inspector Gadget and the Circus of Fear by Beam Software for the United Kingdom version of the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum. The game resembled Metro-Cross and was completed before it was ultimately scrapped before it was released. In 1990, Azeroth, Inc. released a PC adventure game called Inspector Gadget: Mission 1 – Global Terror! A Nintendo Entertainment System game was planned by Hudson Soft but quietly cancelled; instead Hudson released a Super NES game in 1993 that offered a glimpse of Dr. Claw’s face. In 2001, UbiSoft released Inspector Gadget: Gadget’s Crazy Maze for the PlayStation and Inspector Gadget: Operation Madkactus for the Game Boy Color. That same year, DreamCatcher Interactive and Magic Pockets released Inspector Gadget: Advance Mission for the Game Boy Advance. In 2003, Light and Shadow Productions produced Inspector Gadget: Mad Robots Invasion for the PlayStation 2 and Inspector Gadget Racing for the Game Boy Advance. In 2010, XMG Studio released a mobile game, Inspector Gadget’s MAD Dash, which featured the original theme and voices from the show. Dr. Claw’s face was once again visible and he was given the name “George.”

Gadget VHS.

Several VHS collections of one or two episodes were released in various languages through DiC, Lorimar’s Kideo Video, Family Home Entertainment and Sterling Entertainment Group’s Animation Station. In 2004, Sterling (as UAV Entertainment) released two single disc collections, Inspector Gadget: The Gadget Files, which featured the first five episodes and Heyward answering fan questions, and Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas with four bonus episodes. General Mills also featured Inspector Gadget and Gadget Boy on one of the DiC DVDs included in their cereals that year. In 2006, Shout! Factory and Sony BMG Music Entertainment released Inspector Gadget: The Original Series containing the first 22 episodes, while Magna Pacific released Inspector Gadget – The Original Series: Box Set 1, 2 and 3 in Australia containing all of season one except for the episode “Quiz Master.” It was also the first known release of the Owens pilot. In 2008, the three box sets were repackaged as Inspector Gadget: 25th Anniversary Collection. In 2009, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released Inspector Gadget: the Go Go Gadget Collection featuring 10 episodes. In 2013, New Video Group released the complete series as the Inspector Gadget Megaset with the movie Inspector Gadget’s Last Case and re-released Christmas, whose disc was also included in some versions of the Megaset New Video also released the complete series in individual sets, breaking up the first season between three volumes.

In 1999, Inspector Gadget made the jump to the big screen when Disney made Inspector Gadget. Originally optioned in 1993 by Universal Pictures, the film was set to have Ivan Reitman produce it with a script by Jeph Loeb and Matthew Weisman. But, production shifted studios after Disney bought out DiC. Written by Kerry Ehrin and Zak Penn and directed by David Kellogg, the film starred Matthew Broderick as the titular hero in what was essentially the first on-screen origin of the seemingly less-inept character and his rival, Sanford Scolex aka Claw (Rupert Everett). Michelle Trachtenberg was Penny and Dabney Coleman was Chief Quimby, while Adams provided the voice of Brain. The film received negative reviews from critics and fans of the show over the numerous liberties the film took with the source material, but regardless it managed to turn a profit with a $134 million box office. The film’s theme song, “I’ll Be Your Everything” by Youngstown sampled the cartoon theme. A direct-to-video sequel, Inspector Gadget 2, followed in 2003 written by Heyward and directed by Alex Zamm. The only actor to return from the first movie was D.L. Hughley as the voice of the Gadgetmobile. French Stewart assumed the Gadget role with Caitlin Wachs as Penny, Mark Mitchell as Chief Quimby and Jeff Bennett as Brain.

To promote the film, a direct-to-video movie called Inspector Gadget: Gadget’s Greatest Gadgets was released by DiC. The movie was essentially a clip show, with “flashbacks” to scenes from the episodes “The Capeman Cometh,” “Prince of the Gypsies” and “Gadget’s Gadgets.” Summer returned to voice Penny during the modern segments, and this movie marked LaMarche’s assumption of the role from Adams for the next few incarnations. Adams did reprise the role for most of the 1995-98 series Gadget Boy and for the 1996 educational series Inspector Gadget’s Field Trip, which featured an animated Gadget over live footage as he took viewers on a tour around the world.

Gadget on Family Guy.

Over the years, the theme song had become heavily sampled, particularly in rap music. In 1985, The Kartoon Krew released “Inspector Gadget” which also included voice samples from the series, and Bad Boys & K-Love sampled the theme for their song “Bad Boys.” Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh used it in their song “The Show” as did Raw Fusion for “Rockin’ to the P.M.” and Lee “Scratch” Perry for “Inspector Gadget”. Beginning In 2006, the Cartoon Network show Robot Chicken featured Gadget in several episodes. The episode “Adoption’s an Option” featured a mash-up of Inspector Gadget with the premise of The Terminator in which Welker and Summer reprised their respective roles, while Joe Hanna played Gadget. Seth Green voiced Chief Quimby, and then Gadget for the episodes “Easter Basket,” “Executed by the State” and “Legion of Super-Gyros,” the latter of which Welker returned as Dr. Claw once again. Green also voiced Dr. Claw in the episode “Chocked on a Bottle Cap.” In 2007, a short film entitled Rainbow Brite: The True Saturday Morning Story featured Gadget played by Trip Ross. In 2013, Gadget appeared on the Family Guy episode “Bigfat” voiced by Seth MacFarlane.

Season 1:
"Winter Olympics" (1982) - Dr. Claw seeks to sabotage the Winter Olympics by replacing the torch with a bomb.

"Gadgets in Winterland" (9/12/83) - Dr. Claw seeks to sabotage the Winter Olympics by replacing the torch with a bomb.

"Monster Lake" (9/13/83) - Gadget searches for a missing scientist in Scotland.

"Down on the Farm" (9/14/83) - M.A.D. uses a farm to hide a missile silo with a payload meant for Metro City.

"Gadget at the Circus" (9/15/83) - The Gadget family's trip to the circus is disrupted by the M.A.D. agents working there.

"The Amazon" (9/16/83) - Dr. Claw kidnaps Professor Von Slickstein in order to have him create an army of Gadget-like robots.

"Health Spa" (9/19/83) - M.A.D. lures Gadget into a trap at a health spa.

"The Boat" (9/20/83) - Gadget has to guard a cruise ship's passengers' jewelry.

"The Haunted Castle" (9/21/83) - Looking for a crime fighters' convention in Transylvania has Gadget accidentally end up at Dr. Claw's castle.

"Race to the Finish" (9/22/83) - Dr. Claw enters a race and has his men sabotage all the other drivers.

"The Ruby" (9/23/83) - Gadget heads to India to retrieve a ruby that Dr. Claw wants to use in a laser.

"A Star is Lost" (9/26/83) - Dr. Claw wants to kidnap Penny's favorite singer Rick Rocker in order to make mind-controlling music.

"All That Glitters" (9/27/83) - Gadget races to find El Dorado before M.A.D.

"Movie Set" (9/28/83) - A M.A.D. movie set films a secret military base with Gadget is distracted by the pretty M.A.D. agent posing as an actress.

"Amusement Park" (9/29/83) - Gadget has to find the bomb hidden in Metro City's amusement park.

"Art Heist" (9/30/83) - M.A.D. raids the Museum of Modern Art in New York to exchange the priceless art with worthless copies.

"Volcano Island" (10/3/83) - Dr. Claw plans to unleash a volcano on a resort island.

"The Invasion" (10/4/83) - M.A.D. agents use alien disguises to go on a crime spree.

"Infiltration" (10/5/83) - Presto Change-O, M.A.D.'s master of disguise, tries to infiltrate a police conference.
"The Pharaoh" (10/6/83) - Gadget has to prevent the theft of a tomb.

"MAD Trap" (10/7/83) - The Rat lures Gadget into a trap with a series of petty crimes.

"Basic Training" (10/10/83) - Gadget has to protect a train full of computer parts whose conductor is an agent of M.A.D.

"Sleeping Gas" (10/11/83) - Dr. Claw plans to use a gas to knock out entire cities.

"Gadget's Replacement" (10/12/83) - A high-tech crime computer replaces Gadget, but nobody knows it's actually under Dr. Claw's control.

"Greenfinger" (10/13/83) - M.A.D. replaces the botanist Gadget is supposed to protect with an agent.

"Gadget Goes West" (10/14/83) - Gadget heads to a western town to stop M.A.D. agent Rattlesnake Bart.

"Launch Time" (10/17/83) - Dr. Claw plans to sabotage a space shuttle launching to make repairs on a satellite.

"Photo Safari" (10/18/83) - Gadget must prevent the creation of a M.A.D. base in the jungle.

"Coo-Coo Clock Caper" (10/19/83) - While searching for stolen gold, Gadet is sabotaged by the Clockmaker to have his gadgets go haywire every hour.

"The Bermuda Triangle" (10/20/83) - Dr. Claw uses the Bermuda Triangle to cover his thefts of oil tankers.

"The Japanese Connection" (10/21/83) - Dr. Claw teams-up with a Japanese crime boss to steal a computer chip.

"Arabian Nights" (10/24/83) - Gadget must guard a sacred sword Dr. Claw plans to steal in order to gain control of Yetzanistan.

"Clear Case" (10/25/83) - M.A.D. agents use invisibility suits to terrorize superstitious miners in South Africa.

"Dutch Treat" (10/26/83) - M.A.D. plans to smuggle diamonds out of the Netherlands in chocolate bars.

"The Great Divide" (10/27/83) - Gadget must find a seismologist to keep his earthquake machine out of Dr. Claw's hands.

"Eye of the Dragon" (10/28/83) - Gadget must retrieve the necklace Dr. Claw plans to use to form an alliance with crime lord Mr. Chow.

"Doubled Agent" (10/31/83) - Gadget is framed for crimes committed by M.A.D.'s Gadget robot.

"Plantform of the Opera" (11/1/83) - M.A.D. tunnels through an opera house to a bank in Rome in order to rob the vault with their metal-melting plant.

"Don't Hold Your Breath" (11/2/83) - Dr. Claw holds three oceanographers hostage in his underwater base.

"Gone Went the Wind" (11/3/83) - Dr. Focus plans to use his Sneezeooka weapon to hit Metro City with a wind storm.

"King Wrong" (11/4/83) - Gadget is assigned to protect an unhappy king whom he resembles.

"Pirate Island" (11/7/83) - Gadget's vacation is cut short with a pirate robs wealthy sailors.

"M.A.D. Academy" (11/8/83) - Gadget mistakes the M.A.D. Academy for the police academy and becomes the final exam.

"No Flies on Us" (11/9/83) - A sick Gadget can't rest when a fly-borne disease developed by M.A.D. is being spread.

"Luck of the Irish" (11/10/83) - Dr. Claw steals Ireland's famous Blarney Stone.

"Prince of the Gypsies" (11/11/83) - Dr. Claw frames gypsies for the theft of Romanovia's Royal Coat of Arms.

"Old Man of the Mountain" (11/14/83) - Dr. Claw tries to steal the magical goat that bestows an entire island's populace with super-strength and eternal youth.

"The Emerald Duck" (11/15/83) - Gadget and Dr. Claw race to find the Emerald Duck stolen by thief Macho Miguel before Dr. Claw can use it to activate a solar weapon.

"Do Unto Udders" (11/16/83) - Dr. Claw sabotages other dairies in order to force Metro City to buy only from M.A.D.'s front company.

"Do You Myth Me?" (11/17/83) - Dr. Claw seeks the formula that turns lead into gold.

"A Bad Altitude" (11/18/83) - Dr. Claw plans to elimiate competition for his mountan resort--literally.

"Funny Money" (11/21/83) - Dr. Claw enlists three counterfeiters to make bogus money for M.A.D.

"Follow That Jet" (11/22/83) - Dr. Claw uses a video game to hypnotize military pilots into joining his own air force.

"Dry Spell" (11/23/83) - M.A.D. causes a drought in Metro City forcing the populous to buy extremely expensive M.A.D. water.

"Smeldorado" (11/24/83) - M.A.D. agents spray the gold reserve with a formula to make the gold stinky and worthless.

“Quimby Exchange” (11/25/83) – Gadget teams up with the ex-M.A.D. agent he was assigned to protect in order to rescue Quimby from Dr. Claw.

“Weather in Tibet” (11/28/83) – Gadget must disable M.A.D.’s weather-controlling machine in Tibert.

“Unhenged” (11/29/83) – M.A.D. druids kidnap a group of solar energy scientists to construct a heat ray weapon out of Stonehenge.

“Snakin’ All Over” (11/30/83) – A M.A.D. agent uses trained snakes to steal the coin collection Gadget guards.

“In Seine” (12/1/83) – A French M.A.D. agent uses a robot to steal from the wealthy.

“Tree Guesses” (12//2/83) – Dr. Claw plans to unleash a wood-destroying chemical on the world’s forests.

“Birds of a Feather” (12/5/83) – A M.A.D. agent uses trained birds to steal a jewel Gadget was guarding.

“So it is Written” (12/6/83) – A North African country believes Gadget is one prophesized to find an ancient treasure, and a M.A.D. agent posing as a journalist plans to let him.

“Fang the Wonder Dog” (12/7/83) – Dr. Claw holds movie star dog Fang for ransom.

“School for Pickpockets” (12/8/83) – A M.A.D. pickpocket tries to steal Gadget’s watch while he’s on vacation.

“Quizz Master” (12/9/83) – Gadget investigates a quiz show that hypnotizes its contestants into committing crimes.

Season 2:
“Magic Gadget” (9/14/85) – The Great Wambini holds a magic show in Metro City and eliminates Gadget in its finale.

“The Great Wambini’s Séance” (9/21/85) – M.A.D. kidnaps all the pets in the city.

“Wambini Predicts” (9/28/85) – Wambini tricks the king of Alpacastan into thinking he can see the future in the hopes of getting his diamond-spitting llama.

“The Capeman Cometh” (10/5/85) – Corporal Capeman helps Gadget fend off a ninja.

“Crashcourse in Crime” (10/12/85) – M.A.D. holds a crime spree to celebrate their anniversary.

“Gadget’s Gadgets” (10/19/85) – Gadget and Capeman go to a fake clinic where M.A.D. plans to remove Gadget’s gadgets.

“Gadget in Minimadness” (10/26/85) – Five Gremlin-like creatures have their sights set on Gadget.

“The Incredible Shrinking Gadget” (11/2/85) – Dr. Dummkopf uses his shrink ray on Gadget.

“Gadget Meets the Grappler” (11/9/85) – Dr. Dummkopf sicks a strong-man on Gadget.

“Ghost Catchers” (11/16/85) – Dr. Spectrum creates fake hauntings to trick rich people into paying him to remove the “ghosts.”

“Busy Signal” (11/23/85) – Dr. Spectrum creates a way to steal riches via telephone lines.

“Bad Dreams Are Made of This” (11/30/85) – Dr. Spectrum’s nightmare machine keeps Metro City’s citizens up all night and unable to function during the day.

“Focus on Gadget” (12/7/85) – Gadget stumbles upon a plot by M.A.D. to take over a space station with a heat ray capable of evaporating Earth’s water.

“Mad in the Moon” (12/14/85) – Dr. Claw plans to carve M.A.D.’s logo on the moon.

“N.S.F. Gadget” (12/21/85) – Dr. Claw uses a satellite to rob bank accounts.

“Tyrannosaurus Gadget” (12/28/85) – A M.A.D. agent plans to bring dinosaurs to the present and to kill Gadget’s ancestors.

“Gadget’s Roma” (1/4/86) – Gadget goes back to ancient Rome to prevent Dr. Claw’s sacking of the city.

“Gadget’s Clean Sweep” (1/11/86) – M.A.D. goes back to 19th-century Londo to steal the crown jewels and eliminate Gadget’s ancestor.

“Gadget Meets the Clan” (1/18/86) – Dr. Claw hires a crime boss to eliminate Gadget.

“Gadget and Old Lace” (1/25/86) – Dr. Claw seeks the advice of his mentor in how to destroy Gadget.

“Gadget and the Red Rose” (2/1/86) – Dr. Claw hires gangster Spuds Malone to take out Gadget.

“Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas” (12/4/92) – Dr. Claw takes over Santa’s workshop and has the elves make defective toys.


(NBC, September 8, 1982-January 30, 1984)

Hanna-Barbera Productions

Howard Morris – Atom Ant (season 1)
Don Messick – Atom Ant (season 2), Precious Pupp, Shag Rugg, Ferocious Flea
John Stephenson – Narrator
Janet Waldo – Granny Sweet
Henry Corden – Paw Rugg
Paul Frees – Claude Hopper
Jean Vander Pyl – Maw Rugg, Floral Rugg

            With the popularity of superheroes back on the rise in the 1960s thanks to Marvel and DC Comics, Hanna-Barbera Productions decided to take their own stab at the genre with a straightforward, yet comedic, superhero of their own: Atom Ant.

Atom Ant at his Ant Hill.

            Atom Ant (Howard Morris & Don Messick) was a super-powered crime-fighting ant. He had super strength, speed, flight and invulnerability. He was also able to pick up distress signals with his antennae. With the police force underfunded and inept (there was only the chief, the deputy chief, and a singular rusted patrol car), they often called on Atom Ant to help save the city from various threats. When not saving the day, Atom Ant often spent his time in his secret countryside anthill headquarters (discreetly marked with a mailbox that read “Atom Ant”). Inside, he had a full laboratory, telephone and a video screen relay, a “Crook Book” full of his enemies, and a gym where he would work out when not reading Atom Ant comics. But, when that call for help came in, he was off with his battle cry: “Up and at’em, Atom Ant!”

Atom Ant character model.

The character and his world debuted in Hanna-Barbera’s first production for NBC: the prime-time special The World of Atom Ant and Secret Squirrel on September 12, 1965. The following month, the special was spun-off into a show called The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show. The show was an hour long, broken up into two parts of three segments each. The first half featured Atom Ant with Precious Pupp and The Hillbilly Bears.

Precious Pupp featured the titular character, a mangy dog (Messick, utilizing vocal effects made famous by his later character Muttley), who lived with his owner, Granny Sweet (Janet Waldo). Precious was anything but, often being a terror around his neighborhood both to those who deserved it (like crooks) and just for the fun of it (like against the postman). A particular favorite was sneaking behind an unsuspecting target and scaring the heck out of them with a series of barks. However, he was always sure to act innocently around Granny. Granny, meanwhile, wasn’t your typical grandma. While she did the things you’d expect like knitting, she would also be off entering in various races and sporting competitions, and her main mode of transportation was a motorcycle.

The Hillbilly Bears was inspired by the rise of rural programming on television, such as The Andy Griffith Show or The Beverly Hillbillies. The segment focused on the Rugg family, who embodied all the stereotypes of the hillbilly by lazing about in their shack, brandishing a gun for almost anything, and even engaging in a regular feud with rival family, the Hoppers. Paw Rugg (Henry Corden) was the mumbling patriarch who only managed to utter a few audible words in a sentence (which grew in frequency as the episodes went on to make him more comprehensible). Maw Rugg (Jean Vander Pyl) was his pipe-smoking wife and often times seemed to be the one in charge. Floral Rugg (also Pyl) was their southern belle of a daughter who was arguably the most refined of the bunch. Shag Rugg (Messick) was the youngest child and a certified troublemaker who idolized his Paw. Interestingly enough, Corden and Pyl would also play husband and wife in Hanna-Barbera’s debut franchise, The Flintstones, after Corden assumed the role of Fred Flintstone in 1977 following the death of Alan Reed.

Granny Sweet and Precious Pupp surfing.

In 1966, Atom Ant and Secret Squirrel were split into their own separate half hours. Both ran a total of two seasons and 26 episodes before reuniting in 1967 for an additional season of reruns. After 1968, Atom Ant was shown in syndication or during episodes of The Banana Splits Adventure Hour. During the show’s run, Hanna-Barbera Records released a record for all three segments: Muscle Magic, Hot Rod Granny and Hillbilly Shindig. Each featured an audio adventure and several songs. The characters also appeared on the slip covers to Golden Cartoons in Song volumes 2, 3 and 4, and the Pupp characters were also featured on the children’s song records Brahms Lullaby and The Lord’s Prayer.

The Ruggs playing their hillbilly instruments.

Messick reprised the role of Atom Ant for Yogi’s Ark Lark and Yogi’s Gang, while he had a guest-appearance in Yogi’s Treasure Hunt and Yo Yogi!. In 1990, he received a video game for the Commodore 64 by Hi-Tech Software called Atom Ant: Up and Atom. Atom Ant appeared as a picture in the “Agent Penny” episode of the Super Secret Secret Squirrel segment of 2 Stupid Dogs and in Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon, and guest-starred in the Harvey Birdman, Attorney At Law  episode “Incredible Hippo” voiced by Maurice LaMarche. Most recently, he cameoed with dozens of other cartoon characters in the 2012 Super Bowl commercial “Everyone” for MetLife. Cartoon Network recycled audio tracks from the series mixed in with bits from the Cold War civil defense film Duck and Cover for a short cartoon in their “Groovies” series. The Simpsons fictional character Radioactive Man also uses a variation of Atom Ant’s catchphrase: “Up and atom.”

Feudin' in the hills.

Granny Sweet guest-starred in the Yo Yogi! Episode “Super Duper Snag” voiced by Kath Soucie. The Ruggs appeared in Yogi’s Ark Lark and Yogi’s Gang while just Paw and Maw appeared in Yogi’s Treasure Hunt. Cartoon Network produced a short film as part of their “Shorites” series called “Miss Understanding,” where Maw took the family on a Jerry Spinger-like show over Paw’s mumbling. Paw appeared as a robot on the “Chubby Cheese” episode of Dexter’s Laboratory, while the whole family guest-starred in the Harvey Birdman episode “Guitar Control.” Paw’s name also appeared in Harvey’s black book in “BabySitter” and Paw appeared by himself in “The Death of Harvey.”

The Atom Ant comic.

Of the three segments, Atom Ant received the most merchandising attention. He was featured as a bubble club by Purex, a tricky trapeze and a push puppet by Kohner, on a King Seeley lunchbox, a jigsaw puzzle by Western Printing, a Whitman punch-out playset and coloring book, a Transogram board game, and in a View-Master slide set with Secret Squirrel. In 1999, Atom Ant was made into a plush doll by the Warner Bros. Studio Store and again in 2000 as part of the series of Hanna-Barbera plush dolls featured as a Dairy Queen premium. He was also part of a Spanish series of connecting toys playing instruments. Funko produced Atom Ant for their Wacky Wobblers, Big Headz Bobble Heads and Funko Force lines. Nodnik featured Atom Ant in a two-pack with Huckleberry Hound and Big Head Company released a collectible figurine. Atom Ant received a single comic book issue published by Gold Key in 1965, which also featured a Bears and Pupp story. In 1995, he was featured in the first issue of Archie ComicsHanna-Barbera Presents and in 1999 in DC Comics’ Cartoon Network Presents #20. In 1966, Pupp was featured in the December 3rd Yogi Bear newspaper strip.

Precious Pupp character model.

In 1982, Guild Home Video released a collection of the series’ episodes on VHS and Betamax in the United Kingdom. In 1987, 10 Atom Ant segments were released by Worldvision Home Video Inc. as part of their Hollywood Nites line. He later received a 1991 release as part of the Hanna-Barbera Golden Collection. Worldvision also released a collection of Pupp segments and six segments of the Bears on a VHS called “Do the Bear” as part of their Kids Kollection. In 2009, the segments “Up and Atom,” “Precious Jewels” and “Woodpecked” were released on DVD in Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1960s Volume 1 and “Atom Ant Meets Karate Ant,” “Bowling Pinned” and “Picnic Panicked” on Volume 2. “The Big Gimmick” and “Do the Bear” were featured in Best of Warner Bros. 25 Cartoon Collection: Hanna-Barbera by Warner Home Video in 2013.

Season 1:
“Up and Atom / Precious Jewels / Detour For Sure” (10/2/65) – Atom Ant is sent to recapture escaped convict Big Fats Dynamo. / Pupp protects Granny’s jewelry from a thief. / The Ruggs fight to keep their house from a highway development.

“Crankenshaft’s Monster / Doggon Dognapper / Woodpecked” (10/9/65) – Doctor Crankenshaft creates a glob that grows as it eats. / Pupp tries to evade a dogcatcher. / The Ruggs are annoyed by a woodpecker.

“Gem-A-Go-Go / Bites and Gripes /Anglers Aweigh” (10/16/65) – Atom Ant has to recover a jewel from Fancy Finger Finnegan. / Pupp is dognapped. / Paw’s fishing for dinner ends up becoming a hassle because of Ol’ Whiskers.

“Ferocious Flea / Queen of the Road / Stranger Than Friction” (10/23/65) – A director uses a Ferocious Flea to rob banks. / Granny and Pupp compete in a car race. / Floral and Shag want to start a business and Charlie McGee sells them his for everything they’ve got.

“Rambling Robot / Crook Out Cook Out / Goldilocks and the Four Bears” (10/30/65) – Junior’s robot goes out of control. / Butterfly hunting leads near-sighted Granny to catch a “baby.” / A movie star happens across the Ruggs’ house and helps herself to the accommodations while they’re out.

“Nobody’s Fool / Next of Kin / Going, Going, Gone Gopher” (11/6/65) – Anastasia Antnic distracts Atom Ant to allow her partners to commit their robbery. / Granny names Pupp as her beneficiary. / Paw has to defend the garden from a gopher.

“Atom Ant Meets Karate Ant / Bowling Pinned / Courtin’ Disaster” (11/13/65) – Criminals send martial artist ant Mr. Muto to take care of Atom Ant. / Pupp helps Granny in a bowling tournament. / The Ruggs and Hoppers call a truce so Floral and Claude can date.

“Fastest Ant in the West / Poodle Pandemonium /Picnic Panicked ” (11/20/65) – A sheriff asks Atom Ant to deal with a varmint in his town. / Pupp and a bulldog compete for the affections of the new poodle in town. / Claude wants Floral’s picnic basket.

“Mistaken Identity / Dog Tracks / Judo Kudos” (11/27/65) – Ferocious Flea frames Atom Ant for his robberies. / Pupp gets a new dog license. / A lost circus bear teaches Paw karate in order to fight his rival.

“How Now Bow Wow / Sub-Marooned / Just Plane Around” (12/4/65) – Ferocious Flea uses Bone Brains to steal an award-winning dog. / A Russian sub decides Granny’s surf board is a secret weapon after watching her moves on it. / Paw ends up being hijacked with a stolen experimental plane.

“Dragon Master / Lady Bugged / War Games” (12/11/65) – Atom Ant is sent back to Arthurian Times and has to rescue a kingdom from a dragon. / A criminal decides to steal Granny’s $50,000 sweepstakes winnings. / The Ruggs’ home becomes the site of a war game.

“The Big Gimmick / Test in the West / Bricker Brats” (12/18/65) – Dr. Von Gimmick battles Atom Ant in his giant robot. / Granny and Pupp visit a Western town where Chief Fliptop is on the warpath. / The youngest in the clans threaten to restart the feud over whose father is the toughest.

“Super Blooper / Bones and Groans / Slap Happy Grandpappy” (12/25/65) – Atom Ant helps an actor become a real super hero. / Brutus wants Pupp’s big bone. / Grandpa Rugg comes for a visit and, unaware the feud is over, wants to shoot some Hoppers.

“Wild, Wild Ants / Butterfly Nut / Pooped Pops” (1/1/66) – Atom Ant prevents the Anthill Mob from committing a picnic raid. / Pupp has to protect money they found from the crooks who want it back. / No rest for a tired Paw as he’s forced to play Robin Hood with Shag.

“Dina-Sore / Precious’ Bone / Leaky Creek” (1/15/66) – A bolt of lightning brings a dinosaur from the museum to life. / Brutus steals Pupp’s bone after he picks it up from the butcher. / Paw discovers the creek ran dry after a beaver built a dam.

“Amusement Park Amazement / The Bird Watcher / My Fair Hillbilly” (1/15/66) – Atom Ant gets Dr. Von Gimmick to build his intended amusement park. / Granny babysits a bird that Pupp has to protect from a cat. / Maw sends Paw to charm school to become refined.

“Bully for Atom Ant / Dog Trained / Rickety-Rockety-Raccoon” (1/22/66) – Atom Ant helps a bullfighter wind the hand of his love. / Granny and Pupp take a camping trip. / Rcikety Racoon steals eggs from the hen house.

“Termighty Mean / Oliver Twisted / Modern Inconvenience” (1/29/66) – Dr. Von Gimmick has Atom Ant go after his super termite. / Granny and Pupp go on an England vacation. / The Ruggs win a sweepstakes and are given every modern convenience for a month.

“Nine Strikes You’re Out / Pup, Skip and Jump / Rabbit Rumble” (2/5/66) – A mad scientist makes eight clones of himself. / A puppy comes to the house on a cold wintery night. / Paw and Shag hunt rabbits for dinner.

“Go West Young Ant / A Grapple for the Teacher / Speckled Heckler” (2/12/66) – Atom Ant joins in a war against rival ant colonies. / To avoid a lawsuit Granny enrolls Pupp in obedience school. / A scientist offers the Ruggs $1,000 if they capture a rare butterfly for him.

Season 2:
“Knight Fight / Pot-Time Work / Whirly Bear” (9/10/66) – Atom Ant heads to the middle ages to save a kingdom from an evil black knight. / While on vacation, Granny and Pupp encounter a cannibal. / The windmill ends up taking Paw on a ride when he tries to fix it.

“Pteraducktyl Soup / A Friend In Need / Saucy Saucers” (9/17/66) – A scientist brings a pteraducktyl to life. / Igor wants Pupp’s brain for Frankenstein’s monster. / Aliens abduct Paw.

“Up in the Air Squares / Ski Sickness / Chipper Chirper” (9/24/66) – Toadstool steals entire buildings using a magnet attached to a chopper. / Granny enters a ski race. / Paw has to retrieve Maw’s canary while keeping her out of trouble.

“Mouse Rouser / Mascot Massacre / Getting’ Paws Goat” (10/1/66) – Atom Ant gets involved in a game of mouse, cat, dog. / Granny wants to get Pupp hired as a mascot for a baseball team. / The neighbor’s goat eats everything in the Ruggs’ garden.

“Killer Diller Gorilla / A.M. Mayhem / Buzzin’ Cuzzins” (10/8/66) – A giant gorilla uses the city as a toy. / Pupp has to keep Granny safe when she starts sleepwalking. / Paw mistakes an escaped circus freak for his cousin Fud.

“Rock-A-Bye Boo-Boo / Girl Whirl / Do the Bear” (10/15/66) – Atom Ant has to keep a village safe from a Roc. / Granny attends a bicycle race without Pupp. / Playing his guitar in the supermarket leads Paw to land a recording contract.