Thursday, December 31, 2015

Netflix Launches Inspector Gadget "New Year's Eve Countdown" Short

End-of-the-year surprice! I have already stated a few times on this site that - contrary to popular belief - Netflix was not involved in any way with the actual production of half-hours #01-26 of the new Inspector Gadget series (i.e. Season 1, which Netflix US confusingly split into two seasons). That remains true... but it seems Netflix did have a more direct hand in a special, 2-minute short which launched on their services three days ago. Entitled "Inspector Gadget - New Year's Eve Countdown", the short is part of an initiative from Netflix to-- well, let's quote Fox6Now for the explanation:

Netflix is bringing back its kid-centric countdowns for parents who want their children out of sight long before they ring in the New Year. 
Netflix claims most parents fool their kids (or try to, anyway) into believing that midnight happens earlier than it actually does on New Year’s. Netflix helps them by offering a streaming three-minute countdown led by characters from kid’s show.

GeekDad's Jonathan H. Liu adds the following personal tip:

Ring in the new year whenever you want, with six different short videos featuring characters from kids’ shows. Each one is about 2 minutes long and ends with the 10-second countdown to the new year. Pull it up on the screen at 8pm, and hustle your toddler off to bed before your game night (at least, that’s how I’m celebrating New Year’s Eve). 
Your options are: Care Bears, Inspector Gadget, Peabody and Sherman, King Julien, Project Mc², and Puffin Rock.

So there it is. A noble effort from Netflix to help parents trick their kids on New Year's Eve. The idea is that parents can start playing one of these countdown shorts for their children at any time they choose - thus making them believe, for instance, that the new year kicks in at 8 PM rather than midnight. Here's the synopsis for the Gadget short via FlixSearch:

Celebrate 2016 on your time! Talon tries to ruin the New Year's party, but Inspector Gadget, Penny and Brain leap into action to save the surprise.

Another thing revealed by FlixSearch fascinates me a bit: The short is available on Netflix not only in the United States, but also in Canada, the UK, Ireland, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Australia and New Zealand. All the while the regular series is still only seen in the US. It seems this New Year's short is targeted not only towards users of the American Netflix, but also toward people who may have watched the new Gadget series on TV channels like Boomerang or Teletoon in the above-mentioned list of countries.

At any rate, what does all this tell us? Firstly, it feels like a pretty solid indicator that the new Inspector Gadget is a hit on Netflix in the States: this short was by all accounts commissioned directly by Netflix, unlike the regular series; and Gadget is one of six kids' shows selected to ring in the new year. Secondly, "New Year's Eve Countdown" is probably the first true "bonus material" to emerge from the reboot. It's not part of the 26 half-hours of the regular TV series in any way, nor a trailer or a teaser. Whether it will be released through other venues than Netflix remains to be seen. It would certainly be nice to see it as a special feature on Universal's Australian DVD and VOD releases (Season 1 Volume 4 is still slated for January 14 next year), but I wouldn't hold my breath. For one thing, it probably depends on how exclusive Netflix's rights are to this specific short -- and my guess is they may be more exclusive than the TV series.

In the meantime, I suppose this is as good an occasion as any to say: HAPPY NEW YEAR! After all, with the help of Gadget, we can start saying it any time we want...

(Screenshot via Geekdad.)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

"New Inspector Gadget, Season 1, Volume 3" Is Now On iTunes Australia in 1080p HD

Quick reminder: Episodes 14-20 of the reboot series are now available on the Australian iTunes in full 1080p HD, as "New Inspector Gadget, Season 1, Vol. 3". As mentioned before, this third volume was released to iTunes on December 14, about 1 1/2 month after the physical DVD release.

Monday, December 14, 2015

NBC Print Ad for Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas (and Noel)

Speaking of Brain disguised as a reindeer, as we were the other day, how about checking out a piece of promotional art for the 1992 special Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas? 'Tis the season after all. Clipped from a vintage TV Guide, this is a combined ad for Gadget and the concurrent Christmas special Noel, as the two of them premiered back-to-back on NBC that year.

(Via RetroNewsNow)

I find this particular promo piece interesting for several reasons. For one thing, it makes the Gadget special look a LOT better and more entertaining than it was. The characters look great, as if we're right back in a 1983 episode; and then there's their seasonal clothing. Penny dressed up as an elf? Santa Gadget? Hell yeah... THIS I wanna see! Of course, the actual special gave us none of what this artwork teases, and the crude animation from Hung Long Animation Company couldn't hold a Christmas candle to the original show.

There is however a specific reason why the above promotional drawing looks so good - it was based directly on a 1983 model sheet. Namely this one...

(For more original-series model sheets, go here.)

I'd like to provide a little more context on the print ad while I'm at it. It appears to have run in a number of TV magazines in 1992. Here it is from two other TV Guide publications:

(From the Toledo-Lima Edition of TV Guide Magazine;
via Vintage Toledo TV.)

The below press kit from NBC - dated November 20, 1992 - was up on Ebay sometime last year. It includes separate artwork and a written press release for both specials. Quite clearly, this is what the TV Guide ad was put together from:

(A small contradictory detail: the headline of NBC's press release says the two specials will premiere on December 4, but the first paragraph says December 3. Just for the record, December 4 is the correct premiere date. For evidence, see this extract from the December 4, 1992 edition of The Cincinnati Enquirer, which tells us that Gadget aired at 8pm and was followed by Noel at 8:30 (search through the OCR text).)

And finally, in case you're wondering: yup, the Gadget artwork does exist in color. Way back in 2006, this full-color promotional cel was sold on Ebay. Gotta say these colors look nice...

Friday, December 11, 2015

Brain's Secret Christmas Mission

Okay, this just amuses me too much not to share.

Over at Instagram, the user Claudia González Iglesias has posted this photo of a reindeer Christmas display in a shopping mall, accompanied by the following caption (via Google Translate): "Kids say they are reindeers... but for me it is the dog in Inspector Gadget with antlers! Is he on a secret mission??"

I do believe Claudia is right here, folks. To the ordinary child, these may look like reindeers, but we seasoned Inspector Gadget fans know better. Brain, I'm sorry, but your cover has been blown...

Friday, December 4, 2015

Two More Bruno Bianchi Drawings

A few months ago, I did a post featuring some latter-day Bruno Bianchi drawings collected off the web. Today, I have two more to add...

The first one - a very nice rendition of Gadget's face - was drawn for none other than Nordine Zemrak, the co-writer of the in-depth DiC history book "Les series de notre enfance". The caption reads, "For Nordine. Best wishes. B. Bianchi". I'm guessing this was done during the period when Nordine and his partner Maroin Eluasti were working on their book. Sourced from Nordine's ink361 page.

The second drawing is also a bit special, primarily because it's the first time I've seen Penny pop up in one of these Bianchi pieces. This was up on Ebay a few weeks ago with the description, "Rare dédicace sur feuille de Bruno Bianchi le créateur de la série mythique inspecteur gadget. Format A4 sur papier dessin type canson. Signé" ("Rare dedication on paper by Bruno Bianchi, the creator of the legendary Inspector Gadget. A4 format, Canson drawing paper. Signed"). As we can see, it has the same year and signature type (B. BiANCHi) as drawing number one in my previous post, suggesting that they were done for the same occasion.

This drawing is very loose, but I love the style on both Penny and Gadget. As with several of the previously seen drawings, Bianchi's linework here has a certain flavor of the classic French-Belgian comic book style, which is fun for me to see. Gadget's character design quite clearly came from that tradition to begin with, and Penny, while rendered simpler than her animated design, is also instantly recognizable.