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 Inspector Gadget is a reboot of the '80s cartoon of the same name. Little about the plot has changed since the original; the multigadgeted detective challenges a new evil scheme from would-be world leader Dr. Claw in each episode, never realizing that his niece Penny is the real brains of the operation. Inspector Gadget's many "go, go gadgets" make for a lot of kid-friendly silliness, and parents who watch will especially enjoy how the show gently pokes fun of supervillain tropes through Dr. Claw's outspoken nephew, Talon. Minimal violence (none of which yields injury) and only hints at the attraction between Penny and Talon make for worry-free watching of this entertaining series.
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What's the story?
INSPECTOR GADGET sees the infamous bumbling cyborg detective (voiced by Ivan Sherry) hard at work enjoying his retirement while his longtime nemesis, Dr. Claw (Martin Roach), plots his evil return on the world stage. Flanked by his nephew, Talon (Lyon Smith), and aided by a team of M.A.D. syndicates across the globe, Dr. Claw is determined to get the better of Inspector Gadget once and for all, but Gadget's resourceful niece, Penny (Tara Strong), refuses to let that happen. She and Chief Quimby (Derek McGrath) persuade Gadget to come out of retirement to thwart Dr. Claw's plans to take over the world, but will this savvy team be enough to stop him once again?
Is it any good?
Age has done nothing to lessen this dimwitted detective's incompetence, but that doesn't mean that his adventures are any less comical as a result. No matter how many times Penny and her multitalented canine sidekick, Brain (Scott McCord), save the day from Inspector Gadget's ill-fated efforts to do the same, you still want to root for the perpetually optimistic gumshoe. The good news is that her brilliance and humility make Penny a slick female role model, and the new-fangled gadgets -- including a portal transport -- and CGI animation give the show a modern flair. The bad news is that her oblivious uncle continues to take credit for success that isn't his.
This classic good-vs.-evil struggle is a harmless way to introduce youngsters to the idea of cartoon villains, since Dr. Claw rarely gets the upper hand on the heroes and we never see any more of him than his infamous hand. What's more, the series often uses Talon to poke fun at Dr. Claw's flawed logic that sabotages his own schemes, such as his creating an ignition system with only one key or setting a countdown clock with excessive time. Much of it will go over young kids' heads, but parents who grew up with the original will pick up on the little jab in the ribs to bungling TV villains overall.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Inspector Gadget's many tools. Kids: Which tools look like the most fun to use? What kinds of easy-access tools like these would make your jobs at home or school easier?
Do you think it's difficult for Penny to let her uncle have all the credit for the work she does? Why is it good to be recognized for your accomplishments? Why is good sportsmanship important when you're not the one in the spotlight?
Is it easy to identify every bad guy on this show? Does Dr. Claw influence Talon in a negative way? Kids: Have you ever felt pressured to do something you knew was wrong? How can having a strong self-image help you stand up to peer pressure?
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