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.)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Full-Figure Version of New Series Picture With Gadget, Penny, Quimby, Brain... and Apparently the Gadget Mobile

Low-res, I know, but much better than nothing:

After seeing the first teaser animation for the new series yesterday, did you think that was all the news I had for you at the moment? No sir-E! A few minutes before that discovery, I actually also found the above image... but being short on time (as can happen when you're on vacation), I decided to prioritize the animated footage. But hey, that means today's post can focus on the group picture!

We are of cource looking at a full, or at least fuller, version of the image I posted back on July 11. The version I posted then had better resolution, but was obviously cropped, as shown by Brain's ears popping up in the lower right corner. The current version of the motive is sourced from a PDF press kit from France TV - you'll have to download the PDF to your harddisk to open it - which was released online at Annecy Replay 2014 sometimes in June to sum up the June 11 press conference by France Télévisions at Mifa (The International Animation Film Market) at the Annecy festival. In other words, yes, the same press conference where the animated teaser clip was first screened. Gee, seems I just can't stop talking about that.

But let's talk about the image! Finally, we get to see the full-figure versions of Penny and Chief Quimby, and not least, what I think is the first really representative image of Brain. His color looks much better here than in the photo from the Chronicle Herald article - not as dark, and closer to the original fur. Generally, Brain's design keeps growing on me, though it still leans a bit too much towards a realistic dog. But I'll wait and see how he works in animation.

Penny's high-heeled, red boots look good, I think, matching the color of her skirt and also signaling that she's older than in the original series. Gadget's rocket skates seem fine, with a sense of fun to their design. Chief Quimby is looking a bit slimmer than I expected, but overall good, and I like his wardrobe. Judging by his pose, the Chief seems to be slightly anxious at the sight of Gadget... perhaps in fear of being blown up by an unexpected, top-secret message? (I do hope that Quimby's suffering in the new show WILL be mainly connected to the self-destructing messages, as in the original. I do not need a reprise of the over-destructive relationship between Gadget and Colonel Nozzaire from the Gadgetinis series, which took the violent aspect much too far and made Gadget's unintentional hurting of Nozzaire more frustrating and annoying than anything else.)

I have to make one more remark on Quimby, though: how frikkin' short is he supposed to be? Look at the height difference between him and Gadget, and Penny for that matter. I actually thought he was sitting when I saw the cropped version of this image earlier. In the original show, Quimby was almost as tall as Gadget, coming across as a normal-height adult. The height difference between him and Gadget in the new series seems extreme enough that he could have been a child (though on the other hand, Gadget's legs do seem really long in that picture).

(And needless to say, we're ALL extremely frustrated that DHX's new Gadget design didn't revive
the stylish mustache in this model sheet. Don't keep it in, fans! Voice your anger!)

Again, I'll reserve judgment until I see the new design animated. I'm sure the designers had their reasons to go for such a short and small Quimby, but not quite so sure yet if I agree with them.

And before I forget -- the Gadget Mobile. Yeah, that car probably has to be Gadget's new vehicle, seeing as it's so prominently displayed in the background. To be honest, this is the design I like the least of everything I've seen so far. The car doesn't look nearly as cool or unique to me as the original model, neither the Gadget Van mode nor the Mobile mode. I'd really like to know more about what the new car can do, though... for instance, does it have transformation modes?

Cel setup with the Gadget Van from the episode "Curse of the Pharaoh" 

Original model sheet of the Gadget Mobile. Could the
police car model be hiding inside the new car?

Rounding off, here's a snapshot of France TV's press kit presentation, from double-spread 26 (or page 47) of the PDF. Note that the Inspecteur Gadget series is listed under "Achats", meaning "Purchases". (Many other series in the kit are sorted under 'Development', 'Production' etc.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

First Teaser Footage From DHX's New Inspector Gadget Series ("Inspector Gadget Audition, Take 7")

Yes, really! It's been well over a year since we got our first glimpse of the new Gadget... now we can finally see him in animation! Go to 01:51 in the video below to see the the Inspector himself in the process of, um, auditioning for his new show. (Alternatively, click here to start playing the video from 01:51 on its Vimeo site. Whatever you do, watch it.)

For a bit of context, this video is a promo/trailer put together for the press conference of France Televisions at The International Animation Film Market (Mifa), which is the Market section of the famous Annecy animation festival in France. Annecy took place from June 9 to 14 this summer, so that's when the footage got its first exposure. The Vimeo video was uploaded on June 17, so it's actually been out for almost two months without anyone noticing the clip. Sometimes, really big news can be really good at hiding.

I don't have time to say much more right now, but I will say this: I think the visuals look very good for television CGI. The animation is fun. It's appealing. It's even quite elastic. The teaser itself is funny and feels very much in character. And the voice... well, it's definitely a different take than a Don Adams impersonation (in other words, that's not Maurice LaMarche we're hearing), but I actually kinda like it. I don't need a dead-on imitation of Adams as long as the voice has the right charm and personality. Plus, maybe it WAS time for a change, considering that direct impersonations seldom manage to truly live up to the original.

I'm hyped. How about you?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Canadian Actor Derek McGrath Voicing Chief Quimby In The New Gadget Series

We know at last one of the new show's new voice actors.

Derek McGrath, a prolific Canadian actor, voice actor, song writer etc., is the voice of Chief Quimby in the new series. Quoting a July 9 article from My Kawartha:

Mr. McGrath has been acting for almost 50 years - on stage, on the radio, on television and in the movies - and has written more than 100 songs. He has worked with everyone from Jack Lemmon to Billy Ray Cyrus. More recently, he provided a voice over for Mike Crosmaz’s independent zombie film, Walk With Me, and just wrapped up work as Chief Quimby on the reboot of the Inspector Gadget cartoon.

You can read more about McGrath's long and productive career by clicking this link. Here, however, I'd like to focus on (natch) the Gadget-related aspects. First, regarding the production timeline of the new show, the above statement tells us that voice recording has finished - definitely for McGrath in the role of Quimby, and likely for the entire cast. This, in effect, should mean that all the episodes have both been written and voice-recorded by this point. And of course, we already know that the show is well into animation.

But back to Quimby's voice. Personally, I really hope Mr. McGrath can portray Quimby with the same charm and personality that the character had back in season 1 of the original series, as played by another Canadian, Nelvana voice artist Dan Hennessey. (Admittedly, that appeal also had a lot to do with how Quimby was written: I think that in the original season 1, despite his occacional frustrations with Gadget, he was portrayed as a more charming and sympathetic straight man than in any later versions.) I'm not familiar with McGrath's work and have no clear expectations of how he will sound as Quimby... but here's a rather charming video interview from last year which lets us hear his natural voice:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The DiC Exposition (Paris, April 25 - May 4, 2015)

Okay, so I'm not a fan of EVERY DiC series from the 80s by a long shot, but damn, does this look cool nonetheless...

The above poster advertises for an art exposition of classic DiC series set to happen in Paris from April 25 to May 4, 2015. From what I understand, it's being arranged by Maroin Eluasti and Nordine Zemrak, the authors of the comprehensive, French-language DiC history book "Les séries de notre enfance". That book contained a ton of great-looking production art from DiC series of the 80s (DiC's golden age to many, including me) - and judging by this comment from the book's Facebook site, so will "DiC - l'exposition":

Elle aura lieu principalement à Paris du 25 avril 2015 au 4 mai 2015 . il y aura enormément de produits dérivés ainsi que Des cellulos, story board, dessins préparatoires, photos d' époques, journaux, magazines et de très belles surprises

And then Google Translate's English version:

It will take place mainly in Paris from 25 April 2015 to 4 May 2015. there will be a lot of merchandise as well as cels, storyboards, preparatory drawings, photos of the era, newspapers, magazines and beautiful surprises.

Sounds very cool. I wouldn't be surpriced if a lot of the drawings, storyboards, cels etc. which didn't make it into the book will be on magnificent display here. Plus, if the book's focus is anything to go by, I'd expect a LOT of artwork from the early shows such as Ulysses 31, Cities of Gold, Inspector Gadget, The Littles, Heathcliff (as well as selections from the shows of the second half of the 80s, up until the point when Jean Chalopin left the company).

Oh, and did you notice that "Entrée gratuite" near the bottom of the poster? Free entry! This really is sounding better and better.

The authours promise more news on Facebook soon, and are encouraging fans to make suggestions for what they want to see in the exposition. I doubt I'll be updating regularly here about the developments, so if you want day-to-day news, head over to Facebook and follow their site.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Chief Quimby's New Series Design Revealed (And More)!

Via the French news site our first look at the redesigned Chief Qumby!

...and with this, I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief. You see, for over a year now, a question had been percolating in the back of my mind: would Chief Quimby be part of the new show? I always assumed he would, but then again, none of the synopses or press statements have even mentioned him up to this point. So the above visual certainly feels reassuring. And I think Quimby looks pretty good here, too. It is a bit odd to see him with glasses, and I miss the pipe in his mouth - will he be smoking at all? - but his original facial design seems to lend itself nicely to CGI. In fact, this redesign seems more faithful to the original facial shape than for any of the other characters. If his (season 1) personality is kept, and if the disguises and self-exploding messages are included at the start of every single episode, I think I'll be good!

(And seriously, how could the self-exploding message NOT be included? It's one of the most brilliant running gags ever conceived for a cartoon.)

On a similar note, I love Penny in the new picture above. That previously revealed image looked fine, but... here she just seems much more alive, and truly looks and feels like Penny. (Gadget, meanwhile, looks a bit generic.) Also, what's that thing floating in mid-air that Penny is controlling with her hands? A hologram? Some kind of modern-day replacement for the computer book? Man... by this point, each new image just makes me want to see more.

Now for something that might be a slight disappointment, though. The French article with the picture also contained some fresh information about the new series which - if correct - contradicts some of the previously revealed details. Let's have a look via Google Translate (and my own grammar tweaking)...

"Eh la qui va là ? Inspecteur Gadget ! Eh la ça va pas ? Ouh ouh". [French theme song lyrics.] The unforgettable theme song of "Inspector Gadget" will soon return to echo on France 3. The public broadcaster has pre-purchased from the Canadian production company DHX Media the rights to a new version of the cartoon series about the adventures of the famous inspector who delighted children in the 80s.
In 2015, the bumbling police character, assisted by the young Sophie [Penny] and dog Finot [Brain], will try to capture a new generation of children. For this, the inspector created in 1983 by Bruno Bianchi, Andy Heyward and Jean Chalopin will be revised and updated in 3D. Gadgets coming out of his trenchcoat will themselves also be updated for the twenty-first century. In short, his world will be upgraded but the plot of the series will not be changed. 
This new series of 52 episodes of 11 minutes will be delivered in June 2015 by the Canadian production but it will take a few months to France 3 for the translation, dubbing and production of a less dated theme song. The channel should therefore not broadcast "Inspector Gadget" 2.0 before fall 2015. 

So, okay... IF this new info is accurate, then we have some serious contradictions on our hands. Instead of Boomerang France, as we learned from a Turner press release back in February, the series is now apparently set to air on the public channel France 3. Note also that the planned French premiere time is no longer November 2014, but fall 2015 (!). To be specific, June 2015 is the tentative release time for Canada and fall 2015 for France. Considering the announcements we got half a year ago, I'm really surpriced to hear now that the series will not be ready for a Canadian premiere until the summer of 2015. Seriously, this feels like a major postponement.

And then, the part I feel particularly (potentially) disappointed by: The series will apparently consist of 52 episodes á 11 minutes, rather than 26 episodes á 22 minutes. As you might remember, the show presentation in DHX's distribution catalogue from January was the first source to state that 26 x 22 minutes would be the format for the new series. Back then, I expressed hope that this meant each episode would be 22 minutes long. But if this new French article is accurate -- apparently not. This is not necessarily a contradiction to DHX's distribution catalogue. In many cases, TV shows consisting of 11-minute episodes are still produced in a half-hour format, a 22-minute package containing 2 episodes (making sales and distibution deals easier, I imagine). That seems to be the case here. However, it IS definitely a change from the June 2013 press release, where the format was stated to be 26 x 11 minutes.

I've already written a little here about why I feel sceptical towards an 11-minute format. It's not that the series can't possibly work with this shorter run time - that depends on the execution. But I've kind of been hoping that this new show will be just slightly darker than the original, and have a little more room for character development and plot continuity... and that, to me, seems hard to cram into a mere 11 minutes. I hope the writers are at least given the freedom to do an occacional, full 22 minute episode if the plot requires it (this should be doable as long as the series is produced in a half-hour format anyway). Shows like Phineas and Ferb work well like that.

(Thanks to Nbu for the picture link.)