Grab your utility wristwatch and cinch up some pigtails, because Inspector Gadget is due for a comeback! Yesterday, Netflix announced that it will be rebooting the beloved 1980s television series with a slick CGI look and some brand new gadgetry.
A first season consisting of 26 episodes will be released in the US this March, bringing the wacky tomfoolery of Gadget, Penny, and Brain to a whole new generation. As the Inspector would say, “Wowsers!” (Extra points if you read that with Don Adams’s voice in mind).
I was a big fan of the original series growing up, and I’m excited that it’s being revived (the horrible 1999 cinematic adaptation notwithstanding). After all, Inspector Gadget was basically a kid-friendly primer on transhumanism dressed up as an espionage comedy, with a super-intelligent dog and unfailingly sensible girl thrown in to level everything out. Talk about a winning formula.
Of course, that’s all without even mentioning the show’s body-altering gadgetry, the true star of the series. Some of the most frequently used devices included the Gadget Copter, the Gadget Skates, and the Gadget Springs, which extended the reach of the Inspector’s head and limbs, revealing him to be thoroughly and disconcertingly cyborgian.
I am also partial to the Gadget Hands, which are just extra hands he kept in his hat, and by extension, the one-off Gadget Hat Doff: a smooth move involving a series of hats within hats emerging from atop the Inspector’s head. There’s also the bizarre episode “Tyrannosaurus Gadget” where the gang go back in time to the age of the dinosaurs and meet caveman doppelgangers of themselves. What’s not to love there?
While it’s fun to reminisce about the harebrained devices housed in Gadget’s body, the more pertinent question is what kinds of newfangled gadgets will the reboot debut? As with Netflix’s reboot of The Magic School Bus last year, there are a few directions I could see the new showrunners heading in that incorporate some of the technological advances that have shaped the 30 years since the show first aired.
Go Go Gadget Telescope!
There was at least one episode of the original run that took place in Earth orbit, and featured Gadget’s space helmet and rocket shoes.
But during the past 30 years, astronomers have probed the earliest reaches of the universe and discovered alien exoplanets. It would be cool to see the gang get a deeper look into space, even if it’s only through a bionic telescope. Because I’m willing to bet if Inspector Gadget glanced around some of our neighboring worlds, there would be M.A.D. agents already crawling all over ‘em.
Go Go Gadget Wearable!
Penny’s “computer book” was an early premonition of the iPad. She used it as a comprehensive search engine, and could even video chat on it. But because Penny and Gadget are usually separated for a big chunk of any episode, the Inspector should have his own online access wherever his misadventures take him. In fact, just make him a more endearing version of a Glasshole and be done with it.
Go Go Gadget Invisibility Cloak!
Several preliminary cloaking devices have been pioneered since the 1980s, and it would be awesome to see—or rather, not see—Gadget decked out in one. If you think this would make his missions way too easy, you have forgotten the extent of the Inspector’s reckless buffoonery. It might give him a temporary advantage, but it’s only a matter of time before he falls through a glass table or lights someone else on fire.
Go Go Gadget Drone!
I don’t really know if I’m kidding about this one or not. It might work for a more dystopian remake of Inspector Gadget, in which the gadgets are portrayed like Doctor Octopus’s appendages in Spider-Man 2 and the Inspector is slowly losing his autonomy to them or something. And maybe Penny is genetically engineered to never hit puberty and Brain is a post-canine robotic companion? Could be a classic ~gritty reboot~.
The show could also have some fun with other new technologies like 3D printing (Go Go Gadget Duplicator!), ion propulsion (Go Go Gadget Perpetual Motion!), or nanotechnology (Go Go Gadget Graphene!). But regardless of the direction the new show takes, it’s good have the Inspector back on duty.
(This message will now self destruct.)