Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Norwegian Chief Quimby's First Impression of Capeman

Did you know that Chief Quimby's first reaction upon meeting Corporal Capeman in "The Capeman Cometh" was somewhat different in the Norwegian-dubbed version? In the original, English-language version, Quimby exclaims, "Who is that masked marvel?" But in the Norwegian dub, the translators apparently had a much better idea of what he oughta say. So what did he say? Take a look at my latest YouTube video to find out...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Cro and Bronto Return - Now With Intro Sequence and Credits!

Stop the presses, everybody! I've found a complete and uncut episode of that awesome, classic DiC series Crô et Bronto, including its ridiculously rare intro sequence and credits!

*Cough*

What? You're saying you never watched Cro et Bronto before? Cro et Bronto didn't play repeatedly on your cartoon channels as you were growing up? You don't actually know what Cro et Bronto is? Son of a gun! Have YOU ever missed out!

Okay, okay, I'll calm down a little. In truth, Cro et Bronto probably isn't one of the greatest cartoons ever made. But for us Gadget and/or early DiC fans, it's interesting from an historical perspective. This mini-series about the little stone age man Cro and his obsession with catching and eating the naïve, good-natured brontosaurus Bronto was one of the very first animated productions to come out of DiC Audiovisuel. It was produced for the French channel Antenne 2, where it reportedly premiered sometimes in 1980 (more on that "reportedly" later).

Screenshot from the intro sequence. Watch the full episode below.

I'm not sure how much Cro et Bronto was rerun after its initial airing, but it's safe to say it's been nearly impossible to watch in modern times. When I first posted about it in 2012 (right after I found out it existed), not a single clip was available on the web. My second post in 2013 was done because animation site Osibo News had finally shared one episode as part of an article about the DiC history book "Les séries de notre enfance". Annoyingly, though, Osibo's clip was missing the intro and end credits. And that's a big reason why the video I'm showcasing in this third post is by far the best to surface...



Shared by the channel VHS Cartoons back on February 25, this YouTube upload finally lets us see the intro and end credits, as well as hear the opening theme -- a very frenetic and somewhat obnoxious theme, I must add, but it does capture the series' tone. As for the episode itself... well, let's just say that the inspiration from Chuck Jones' Roadrunner cartoons is getting clearer and clearer (and so is the reuse of animation).

Watching the end credits leads me to revise some of the production details I wrote in earlier posts. My info at the time was based on Planete Jeunesse's Cro et Bronto article, which credits Bruno Bianchi and Edouard David as the series' co-directors. However, the only credit screen seen in the above episode tells us that the director is Bernard Deyriès, a long-time DiC employee who would go on to direct series like Ulysses 31, The Mysterious Cities of Gold and The Littles. (Planete Jeunesse does list Deyriès as the "Auteur", meaning the creator; but I can't remember his name being there when I used the site as a source three years ago. I certainly didn't mention him anywhere in my first post.)


Since Planete Jeunesse's info doesn't match up with what we see on screen, let's cross-check with a different source. "Les series de notre enfance", Maroin Eluasti and Nordine Zemrak's excellent DiC history book, has a small entry on Cro et Bronto on page 18 - and I recently took the time to type that entry into Google Translate. While Eluasti and Zemrak do not mention any directors, they state that the series was "conceived by Edouard David, Bruno Bianchi and Bernard Deyries". So I suppose all three should be credited as creators. As for the direction, the above framegrab proves that Bernard Deyries directed at least this episode, if not all of them.

About that, here's an interesting producton tidbit. I wrote earlier that the series consists of 45 episodes lasting for about 1 minute and 20 seconds each. Eluasti and Zemrak confirm the part about 45 short episodes in their book, but adds something I didn't know: "It was a production for Antenne 2 for a duration of 30 minutes in total, but dividable into 45 episodes of 1 minute and 10 seconds each." So it was originally produced as one half-hour of sketches. Now we know.

There's one bit of info in "Les series de notre enfance" that I can't quite make heads or tails of, though. The sentence "Cro et Bronto est la première série animée produite par la DIC quand son bureau s'est déplacé à Paris en 1980", meaning: "Cro and Bronto was the first animated series produced by DIC when the office moved to Paris in 1980." That's interesting... but the above screenshot clearly tells us that the series was produced in 1979. So if DiC got their new Paris offices in 1980, how could Cro et Bronto have been produced there? Maybe "1980" is a typo and DiC got those new offices in 1979...? Hmmm.

Even more confusion surrounds the original production and airing time. In my first post, I wrote that it premiered on Antenne 2 in March of 1980. I obviously got that from Planete Jeunesse, but their section on the premiere date has now been changed to "1er janvier 1980 (?)" At least they admit they're not certain. Planete Jeunesse also states 1978 as the year of production, but the credit screen says 1979. I'll trust 1979 to be the correct year here, especially since I really doubt this series was produced over several years.

Since we're on the topic of corrections... I need to correct myself, too, on a little something that I wrote at the very end of the 2012 post. It's a piece of artwork that seems to be the cover for a record edition of the series' theme song. In fact, that's what I thought it was back then. Looking at it now, though, I'm certain it's just an imaginary mock-up cover. I found it on Mange-disque.tv, a French web site which feature listings and covers for many real soundtrack releases (including Inspector Gadget). That's what had me fooled. But I notice now that the title logo on the fake cover looks nothing like the series' real titles, and the artwork is simply taken from scans of the French comic book adaptation printed in Télé Récré A2. Plus, when you think about it, would a theme song like the one you just heard above really be likely to get its own soundtrack release? Mange-disque even has the cover posted under the headline "Les pochettes improbables", i. e. "the unlikely covers". Guess I should have taken the hint. Anyway, congratulations to "gosseboffe" (who is credited as the cover's "auteur" if you enlarge it) for fooling me way back when.


Enough fact revisions, though. Want some more videos? Believe it or not, the YouTube episode above is actually NOT the only Cro and Bronto clip to surface lately. Back in January, the French web community Les Pays du Manga uploaded two other episodes to RuTube and Dailymotion! These are very low quality and conspicuously missing any intro and credits, but still nice to see. (I'm guessing the titles for these episodes were invented by the uploaders.)



I think this one below may be my favorite of the three "new" episodes. A few gags took me by surprice.



And to make the roundup truly complete, here's the episode that Osibo News shared back in 2013 as well...



Cro and Bronto FTW! Who wants to start the petition for a Blu-ray release??

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

DVD Cover(s) Revealed For Australian "Season 1 Volume 2" of the New TV Series (With Add-On Promotional Images)

A few odd details surround the cover art for the next Australian DVD release from Universal, slated for June 18. Nothing wrong with the motive, but for whatever reason, someone has taken what was already a nice promotional image and replaced Gadget's serious-looking mouth with a smiling one. Even stranger, the cover art is currently circulating online in two different versions. First, there's this (where Gadget's mouth seems seriously misplaced)...


...and then there's this...


...where the mouth is better positioned, but still doesn't look quite natural (I'd say slightly more to the right). This version has other problems, too: it zooms in on the characters more, but the result is that Brain is chopped away, which looks especially odd with one of his arms still visible. Since Gadget's mouth is better placed here, I'm guessing this is the version we'll be seeing on the physical DVD editions... though I much prefer version 1 otherwise.

The number one problem is that the original promo art was created to work as a horizontal image, not a vertical one (as the motive used on Volume 1 was). For comparison, let's look at a few web-released versions of the artwork. This is actually an image I haven't featured in a post earlier (I discovered it many months ago, but it slipped through my fingers because of very little time to update the site), so it's about time, anyway. The below version was found in a DHX distribution catalogue released as a PDF back on September 26, 2014. Click to enlarge:


I think Gadget's non-smiling mouth here looks much better, not just because of the situation - he's on duty and serious about his work - but also for the facial expression as a whole. Is it really that important that all the good guys are smiling on a DVD cover? I'd say the most important thing is to show off their personalities.

A slightly different version was posted on Inspector Gadget's official Facebook page back on December 5, 2014. I like how this one incorporates Dr Claw's new M.A.D. Jet:


Finally, some practical info about the DVD. As I've mentioned once before, the Australian Government's classification lists Volume 2 with a runtime of 130 minutes, so I assume we'll be getting the next six half-hours here, #8 through #13. (Another reason I'm assuming this is that only the first 13 half-hours of season 1 were launched for the initial premiere on Boomerang.) Also, as with Volume 1, I'm assuming a 1080p release on iTunes Australia will pop up concurrently with the physical DVD on June 18. The DVD can currently be pre-ordered from retailers such as Ezy DVDJB Hi-Fi and DVD Warehouse, as well as this, this and this Ebay seller. There's also a possibility for Australian residents to win it for free over at smoothfm.

...oh, and one more thing. I thought it might be interesting to put together a GIF of the two cover versions, showing the differences in composition more clearly. Aside from Gadget's mouth, which of them do you prefer?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Reposting

Just a small update to let you know: My recent blog post on a potential second season of the new TV series temporarily disappeared because I somehow managed to press "Revert to draft" inside Blogger's editor. Really not sure how I did that. Anyway, the post has now been republished and is back in its place.

That's all. As you were.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

New Inspector Gadget Live-Action Movie Being Developed By Lin Pictures and Disney

Absolutely insane news - and NOT necessarily in a good way whatsoever. I came across this through a DeviantArt journal, which links to what seems to be the first article breaking the news, and also one of the very few sources we have at the moment. But it's not April 1, and I don't see why a movie news site with the tagline "Hollywood's Insider Information" should just make this up... so I guess I'll have to report it. Via The Tracking Board, then...

{TB EXCLUSIVE} LIVE-ACTION “INSPECTOR GADGET” REBOOT ON THE WAY FROM “LEGO MOVIE” PRODUCER DAN LIN 
MAY 22, 2015 [4:22 pm]
The iconic cartoon character is getting another live-action film treatment 
Everybody’s favorite bumbling cyborg policeman is making his return to the big screen via Lin Pictures and DisneyDan Lin will produce the INSPECTOR GADGET reboot, which sources confirm will be another live-action interpretation of the beloved cartoon classic. The film is expected to wash away the existence of the 1999 Matthew Broderick outing, as well as the subsequent follow-up with French Stewart. Classic characters Gadget, Penny, and Brain are expected to appear, once again battling their unseen enemy, Doctor Claw. Lin Pictures’ president of production Jonathan Eirich will oversee development alongside Mark Bauch. 
Inspector Gadget intitally ran from 1983 to 1986, but remained in syndication into the late ’90s. The series followed a dimwitted half-robotic policeman who could summon nearly limitless amounts of useful, and often useless, gadgets by saying “Go-Go-Gadget,” and then inserting the name of the item. Though his gadgets almost regularly malfunctioned, Gadget solved capers and crimes with his niece Penny and dog Brain in tow, often thwarting the schemes of the nefarious Doctor Claw and his diabolic agents working for the evil M.A.D. syndicate. 
A live-action adaptation loosely based on the series was released by Disney in 1999, starring Matthew Broderick, Michelle Trachtenberg, and Rupert Everett. The film was generally poorly received, but still led to a straight-to-DVD sequel starring French Stewart as the titular hero. The character returned in an updated CGI-animated series, which just recently premiered in the U.S. on Netflix this past March. 
Lin Pictures most recently produced Warner Bros.’ massive animated hit The Lego Movie. Other credits include the Robert Downey Jr./Jude Law Sherlock Holmes series and the Josh Brolin/Ryan Gosling pulp-crime outing Gangster Squad. Lin is currently in development on an impressive array of high-profile projects, including the third Sherlock Holmes and The Lego Movie sequel and spinoffs. 
(...)
Clark Allen | Associate Editor

I don't know what to say. In fact, right now, I have pretty much nothing to say, except I don't think it's a good sign that Disney is involved with this thing. The only good-sounding part of the press release (if it is a press release - that part feels unclear) is the sentence, "...expected to wash away the existence of the 1999 Matthew Broderick outing, as well as the subsequent follow-up with French Stewart." So much the better, obviously. Both of those movies were trainwrecks, with absolutely no respect for their source material and riddled with terrible writing, direction and acting. But is it really to be expected that the same, big Hollywood corporation - today much bigger, with all the buyouts that has taken place over the past decade - will do a more respectful and (not least) better adaptation this time around?

From what the news piece says, of course, Disney will not be doing it just by themselves this time. Dan Lin of Lin Pictures is set to be the producer, which I'm guessing might mean that his company will be handling most of the actual production, with Disney co-financing and distributing the film. That is at least my theory for the moment. But I can't say Dan Lin as a producer makes me feel more optimistic, either. The Lego Movie was wonderfully fun and entertaining, but that's clearly a testament to the film's directors, not its producers. Plus, several years ago Dan Lin was heavily involved with developing a CG/live-action movie of another cartoon series, Tom and Jerry. That whole concept sounded quite awful... and in the end, thankfully, nothing came of it (although Warner is currenty developing an all-animated feature with the cat and mouse instead).

To that end, we should remind ourselves that this new Inspector Gadget movie is only in the earliest stages of development. Any information given now is subject to change. If you check The Tracking Board's tag list for 'Inspector Gadget', you'll find a link to an "Inspector Gadget (Sales)" site which teases more information about the film; though you have to be a registered member of the site to see it. But it doesn't seem much more info is available yet anyway, judging by the sentence next to the "In Development" thumbnail picture: "Kept under wraps, but pitched as another live-action interpretation of the beloved cartoon classic about the dimwitted cyborg policeman."


Some other sites mentioning the project are also worth noting. AceShowBiz, in addition to a May 23 piece quoting The Tracking Board, lists the film in its movie section with a tentative "2018" as the release year. I don't know if that's an assumption by AceShowBiz or sourced from the "Sales" site behind The Tracking Board's subscription wall. Meanwhile, Sci4Me has a news piece posted on the same day as The Tracking Board's article, but with partly different information. I especially found the following interesting:

While [the 1999 Disney live-action film] spawned a live-action straight-to-DVD sequel starring French Stewart, the two films weren’t as popular as hoped, and the franchise faded away. Recently, an updated CGI series premiered on Netflix, paving the way for a new version to hit the big screen.

And I'm pretty sure that last sentence is true, too. We already know that the reboot series has been doing well in ratings, so this makes sense to me. But it's interesting: very often with franchise reboots of this kind, a big-screen movie paves the way for new animated productions. It happened with Garfield, it happened with Alvin and the Chipmunks. It even happened with Gadget, 16 years ago. The (purely commercial) success of Disney's 1999 film paved the way for a new TV series, Gadget & the Gadgetinis, as well as two direct-to-video animated films.

In this case, however, it's the other way around. A new animated TV series gets made - not because of any live-action movies, but because the original show performs strongly in reruns and instant video; and a 2010 mobile game closely based on it becomes a surprice hit. Teletoon Canada, which already has the 1983 show airing around the clock on their Teletoon Retro network, orders an updated version for their main channel. Following the reboot series' global launch in early 2015, a big-screen movie enters development. The chronology of events is clear... and undoubtedly the clearest sign yet of the new TV series' success, not to mention the lasting success of the 1983 original.

ANYWAY. What matters most of all here is whether the new movie, should it get produced, will be any good. But I think its producers would do well to realize the chronology of events I just described, and realize that the cornerstone of Inspector Gadget's popularity is still, after all these years, the original 1983 series. The two Disney movies are largely forgotten today, and for good reason: they were awful. If the new live-action reboot could manage to actually be a good movie - one which works to capture the spirit and essence of the 1983 series, rather than do everything to steer away from it - Lin Pictures and Disney could have a long-term franchise hit on their hands.

Whether that will happen is impossible to say right now, and I can't say for certain how closely I'll be following this project, either. It will depend on how much it interests me... right now, not too much.

But who knows. That one sentence with "wash away" does provide a tiny glimmer of hope. Plus, there's nothing inherently wrong with the sentence immediately following: "Classic characters Gadget, Penny, and Brain are expected to appear, once again battling their unseen enemy, Doctor Claw." Good so far.

Final question: why do these Hollywood adaptations of cartoon shows always have to be live-action? Why not do an all-animated Inspector Gadget theatrical feature?

Monday, May 18, 2015

DHX Is Strongly Considering a Second Season of their New Inspector Gadget Series

Well, that's just like this site, isn't it? Before I've even gotten around to reviewing the new TV series, I'm announcing news about its second season. But news like this shouldn't be kept waiting, even for a review.

...review? Yeah, about that...

As you probably realize by now, I haven't been quite honest with you guys regarding one thing I've been asked lately. The truth is - I have started watching the new TV series. I'm 11 episodes in at the moment. I've kept quiet about it because I didn't know when I would be able to get a proper review posted, and I wanted to avoid the pressure of feeling late with it. Ironically, the result is now that I feel even more pressure, because readers are obviously (and understandably) wondering what's going on. Part of the delay is my own doing: I've kept building up the news about this reboot for more than three years, and because of that, I admittedly feel an obligation to do the review thoroughly. It becomes, all of a sudden, a lot more work than I had anticipated. All I can say to people who had been hoping to see it out much sooner is, sorry.

But I have a lot of things I want to say about the reboot, and the review I'm talking about is in the works. Meanwhile, if you want the short story of what I think: there are definitely things I don't like about the new series, and the quality of the script writing varies wildly to me. At the same time, though, it does have charm, much of it is fun, and I'm enjoying it enough to keep watching.

Incidentally, it seems a lot of people around the world have been enjoying it. That is certainly being indicated in this transcript of a May 14 "Earnings Call" session with DHX CEO Dana Landry, where Landry answered a number of questions about DHX's financial results for "Q3 2015", or the third quarter of 2015. Near the end of the transcript, this rather interesting exchange appears...

Robert Peters - Credit Suisse 
Hi, thanks for taking my question. Dana, I was just wondering if you could maybe give us an update on how Inspector Gadget has been doing in the U.S. and now that it’s out on Netflix and maybe also the early reception to Twirlywoos just kind of thinking, how we should think about the ratings on those shows and any reason they might have to their merchandising opportunities.  
Dana Landry - Chief Executive Officer 
Yes, thanks for the question Rob, I mean I think on Gadget it’s interesting because our excellent partners on Netflix are notoriously keep their information close to the chestier. So there is anecdotally we feel that they are very, very happy about Gadget. But specifically because we’ve sold Gadget in other areas and the biggest territory of that we have experienced on is in Germany Super RTL the ratings are extremely strong. And a couple of other territories that is launched as well in the linear world, it’s getting tremendous traction. And so the early indications are very positive on Gadget and all of our linear channels are talking about the second season. So that’s very positive.

The transcript is obviously done very rushedly, or maybe automatically, considering the weird spelling and grammar errors (chestier? how about chest?); but the meaning comes across clearly. It sounds like, following strong ratings in several areas, the second season of the new Gadget series is very close to being greenlit.

A potential second season has been hinted at in the media before. Remember the recent tax credit cuts in Nova Scotia that I wrote about on April 14, which saw DHX Halifax indicate that they might move out of the region unless changes were made? One detail I didn't mention from the news reports at the time was a statement by Shaun Smith, DHX director of corporate communications, which appeared in a Chronicle Herald piece on April 10:

Smith said DHX just wrapped up production of the first season of Inspector Gadget, a top animation property that has been picked up as exclusive content by Netflix in the United States. 
But the sharp cutback in the province’s film tax credit has made production of the cartoon’s second season unsustainable in Nova Scotia, he suggested.

Speaking of DHX Halifax, how is the Nova Scotia tax credit situation right now? Time for an update on that. On April 23, following loud protests from the local film industry, the drastic cutback in tax credit was actually revised once more:

Marc Almon, chairman of Screen Nova Scotia, announced the new agreement (...)

"There's still a lot of details to be worked out, but basically the system will be moving to a Nova Scotia all-spend model that we feel will allow for many projects to remain competitive with other jurisdictions in the country." 
That model means the focus is now on the total amount of money spent in Nova Scotia and using the incentives to encourage production in the province, he said. 
The deal will replace the existing tax credit with a 25 per cent incentive on all spending for production in the province, plus up to five per cent more in incentives for work involving rural locations and series.

In other words, a much more favorable deal for local film and television producers in the area. But does that mean DHX Halifax stays in Halifax? According to a May 14 Chronicle Herald report, that part is not yet quite clear:

The company [DHX] didn’t respond to questions from The Chronicle Herald on Thursday — and hasn’t all week — about whether it is planning to remain in Nova Scotia. 
David Regan, an executive vice-president with DHX Media, previously said the company would pull out of Halifax if controversial changes to the provincial film tax credit announced in the April 9 provincial budget were not amended. 
After protests and meetings with industry, the province created a new stream within the digital media tax credit modelled on systems in Ontario and British Columbia to support the local animation industry. 
The changes come into effect July 1 and were welcomed by Halifax animation firm Copernicus Studios Inc. DHX Media, however, has remained silent.

So there's the news. Whether there is a second season of the new Inspector Gadget series, or where it will be produced, is still somewhat up in the air. But judging by Dana Landry's quotes, the reboot certainly seems to have done well enough in ratings for Season 2 to happen.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Canadian Update: Teletoon Premieres Inspector Gadget's Reboot in the Fall of 2015

As shared a few hours ago on Inspector Gadget's official Facebook site...

Attention Canadian Gadget Fans: The brand new series Inspector Gadget will be premiering on TELETOON in the Fall of 2015! Stay tuned for more details.


This marks a change from the tentative June 2015 premiere that animator Scott Baltjes mentioned back in December. The Fall 2015 launch has actually been revealed one other place online - in this April 12 article on Gadget voice actor Ivan Sherry that I previously wrote about here (though I neglected to mention the following then): 

Sherry said the new Inspector Gadget started to air in January in 65 different countries around the world. In March, the show started on Netflix in the United States, and will air on Teletoon in the fall.

Now we have two sources of info, one of them being the show's official Facebook account; so the new Canadian premiere time is clearly legitimate. Stay Teletooned!