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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there's little to worry about in Inspector Gadget, a classic cartoon about a dimwitted bionic detective. Although the plot follows an ongoing tug-of-war between protagonist Gadget and the evil Dr. Claw, nothing about the show is likely to scare most kids. What mishaps do occur are comical in nature, and there's very little sense of danger of any sort. The show also promotes positive messages about safety and responsibility, which the characters relate to the story at its end.
Good for Scavenger Hunts
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What's the Story?
INSPECTOR GADGET is the story of a bumbling, accident-prone detective (voiced by Don Adams) equipped with mechanical appendages and bionic tools who's engaged in an ongoing battle with his nemesis, Dr. Claw (Frank Welker). Gadget's boss, Chief Quimby (Maurice LaMarche), tasks him with protecting innocent citizens from the threats of Dr. Claw's M.A.D. organization, but dimwitted Gadget's naivety keeps him from recognizing Dr. Claw's minions for the threats they really are, and he often falls victim to their sabotage. Fortunately his genius niece Penny (Holly Berger) and her dog Brain (Welker again) tag along on his cases, lending an unseen hand along the way to help Gadget upstage the bad guys.
Is It Any Good?
This classic ‘80s cartoon is a fun change of pace from the violence-ridden hero types that gained popularity in the ‘90s and beyond. The closest thing that Gadget has to a weapon is a snow-blowing finger, and what mishaps do occur (and there are plenty when this goofy protagonist is around) are plenty comical and hard to construe as reality. Even better, it's obvious to everyone except Gadget that the real hero is bright, tech-savvy Penny, who, despite her youth, always manages to save the day with her quick thinking but allows her uncle to bask in the limelight.
Gadget's array of bionic tools and stretchy limbs will capture kids' imaginations, and it's just plain fun to see how he gets out of the many scrapes in which he finds himself. Inspector Gadget is a worry-free option for kids, made even more appealing by the fact that each episode wraps up with a message about safety and responsibility that relates to the story and is directed at the viewers themselves.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about heroes. Which characters in Inspector Gadget could be considered heroes? Is any one person more heroic than another? Who are some of your heroes? What do you admire about them?
Kids: In what ways is Inspector Gadget always prepared for any situation? What kinds of scenarios can you prepare for? What tools or supplies would you need in these cases?
This show's humor is entwined in Gadget's oblivious nature. When is it appropriate to laugh at someone's expense? Is it forgivable in this case because he's a cartoon character? Would it be different if he were a real person? Have you ever been the brunt of a joke? How does it feel?
How do the characters in Inspector Gadget demonstrate courage and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?
- Premiere date: September 12, 1983
- Cast: Don Adams, Frank Welker, Holly Berger
- Network: Syndicated
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Robots
- Character Strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- TV rating: TV-Y
- Last updated: February 16, 2023
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate