Friday, May 29, 2015


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...

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. 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!