DIC’s “Inspector Gadget” on Records

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A Go-Go-Gadget global gaze at the recording career of a character who helped redefine the landscape of broadcast animation.

Bande Originale de la Serie TV
Featuring Apollo (Jacques Cardona)
Saban Records (Polydor) 815 171-1 / Zag Records LC-24761 (12” 33 1/3 RPM LP / Stereo)

Released in 1983 (France). Producers: Haim Saban, Shuki Levy. Running Time: 39 minutes.

VOCALS: “Inspecteur Gadget (Inspector Gadget),” “Le Thème De Sophie (Penny’s Theme); “La Chanson De Fino (Brain The Dog–The Song)” by Haim Saban, Shuki Levy.

INSTRUMENTALS: “Gadget Sur Mars (Gadget On Mars),” “Le Fantôme (Ghost),” “Musée De L’ Art Fou (M.A.D. Art In Museum),” “Gadget Au Japon (Gadget In Japan),” “L’ Usine De Chocolats (Chocolate Factory),” “Rodéo (Rodeo),” “Thème Du Dr. Gang (M.A.D.’s Theme),” “Le Thème De Sophie (Penny’s Theme/Instrumental,” “Héros Dans La Jungle Africaine (Heroes In African Jungle),” “Gadget Chez Les Incas (Gadget With The Incas),” “Fais Gaffe (Look Out),” “Gadget En Difficulté (Gadget In Trouble),” “Désert D’ Arabie (Arabian Desert),” “Gadget Le Sophistiqué (Sophisticated Gadget),” “Thème Du Train (Train Machine),” “Le Royaume (Kingdom),” “La Course De Voiture (Car Race),” “Les Pharaons (Pharaos),” “Thème D’ Ouverture (Opening Theme/ Instrumental)” by Haim Saban, Shuki Levy.

When Inspector Gadget became one of several weekday animated series created for first-run syndication (a tectonic programming shift initiated by Filmation’s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe for every studio to follow, including Disney), it also set a major new animation enterprise into motion. With The Littles on ABC and especially Inspector Gadget, the relatively new DIC Enterprises was on its way to what would be an exhaustive roster of series.

Gadget was DIC’s “Mickey Mouse” as it helped launch a major enterprise. The character was rooted in Get Smart, the Clouseau films, Dynomutt and Road Runner cartoons. Inspector Gadget also brought a look to TV animation that, while not unfamiliar, was still yet to be ubiquitous. The movement was more akin to Rankin/Bass, which also had most of its animation done in Japan since Gadget was produced at Tokyo Movie Shinsha (TMA, which later furnished Disney’s TV animation in its first few years). It also brought Don Adams back in his first lead voice role since Total Television’s Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales premiered twenty years earlier as a Saturday morning series on CBS.

DIC was also unique for its French connection. Its history is complex and convoluted, between corporate buyouts (including Disney) and re-buyouts, and the titans at the top tangling and partnering depending on the circumstances. The main names are Jean Chalopin, who founded DIC as Diffusion, Information Communications in France; Andy Heyward, who moved from Hanna-Barbera to running the U.S. division of DIC; and Haim Saban, who wrote the music for many of the DIC shows with Shuki Levy before (and after) forming his own empire, emblazoned on Los Angeles buildings and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Which circles back to the soundtrack to Inspector Gadget, with an irresistible theme song that has taken on a life of its own. Based on Edvard Grieg’s “Hall of the Mountain King” from his Peer Gynt Suite, the Gadget theme is one of television’s most iconic theme songs and a key reason for the series’ success. Yet despite the tantalizing end credit listing “Soundtrack: Saban Records,” there was no U.S. soundtrack album released in 1983 for the series premiere.

Thanks to eBay and other web services, it is relatively easy to locate and has been reissued a few times since. There have also been countless cover versions of the theme, which first appeared in the U.S. on the Tee Vee Toons “TV’s Greatest Hits” album series.

“La Chanson De Fino (Brain The Dog–The Song)” – Apollo

The Inspector Gadget LP combines instrumentals from the soundtrack, plus songs about the characters that were also background themes. “Brain the Dog” should be immediately recognizable as it was used often. The vocals are performed by Jacques Cardona, a singer who recorded animation music for Saban and Levy under the name of “Apollo.”

Original TV Soundtrack
Peter Pan Book and Recording #2021 (7” 45 RPM with Book)

Released in 1983. Head Writer: Peter Sauder. Music: Haim Saban, Shuki Levy. Running Time: 10 minutes.

Voices: Don Adams (Inspector Gadget); Cree Summer (Penny); Don Francks (Dr. Claw, M.A.D. Thief #2); Dan Hennessey (Chief Quimby, M.A.D. Agent, M.A.D. Mummy); Greg Duffell (M.A.D. Thief #1).

This is a rare treat from Peter Pan Records and a marvelous and historically significant gift for enthusiasts because it is the only record or cassette taken directly from the series soundtrack. “The Curse of the Pharoah” is episode #18 from the first season, premiering in most cities on October 5, 1983. Since there were never any Tennessee Tuxedo records even though there was an episode where he and Chumley cut a disc of the melodic “Abra-Cadabra-Change-O-Range-O-Ree,” so this is the sole vinyl example of Don Adams’ work in animation.

It is also the debut of an actor who has become one of the greats in voice acting, Cree Summer. Her father, Don Francks, asked if she could read for the part of Penny. In doing so he helped give the world Princess Kida of Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Continent, Cleo of Clifford, the Big Red Dog; Susie Carmichael of Rugrats; Elmyra of Tiny Toon Adventures and hundreds more.

Don Francks was a popular singer and actor in Canada before moving into American television with the ABC action series Jericho and Francis Ford Coppola’s 1968 musical, Finian’s Rainbow [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziNmd7g7__A] with Fred Astaire and Petula Clark. He was in Mister Rogers’ stock company and did countless voiceovers, including the opening for the original Epcot “O Canada!” Circle-Vision 360o film at Walt Disney World in Florida. In the sixties, he recorded a unique version of a 1932 Disney novelty song for one of his Kapp albums, giving the usually peppy ditty a smooth, romantic approach: “What, No Mickey Mouse? What Kind of Party is This?”.

Inspector Gadget: Curse of The Pharoah

The person who posted this shortened the pause between the page changes. Peter Pan Book and Recording sets, for some reason, always had especially long. silent pauses between page turns that completely interrupted the audio, sometimes in the middle of music and songs.

Child Guidance (7” 33 1/3 RPM with Filmstrip)
Music by Haim Saban and Shuki Levy

# 54950 Inspector Gadget: There’s Something in the Air / Song: “What’s a Toy?”
(1985, 7 minutes)

# 54951 Inspector Gadget: The North Pole Plot / Song: “Don’t Talk to Strangers”
(1985, 6 minutes)

Show ‘n Tell devices started in the sixties and by the time these came along, home video was just about to make them obsolete. A record would play on top of the device, which resembled a small TV, and as the disc turned, it made the filmstrip move up and change the images on the screen.

Few Show ‘n Tell records featured original voice casts (Sesame Street was a major exception). Don Adams used to joke that everyone around him started talking with his “William Powell voice” after spending a while with him, but the uncredited actor here sounds as if he put extra effort into capturing other nuances of Adams’ vocal style. And the theme music is included in the background, which is rare for these records.

Inspector Gadget: The North Pole Plot

There was something or other on side two of a Show ‘n Tell record. The early General Electric Disney titles sometimes contained material from Disneyland records, but eventually, it was all either library music licensed from the Thomas Valentino music service, rhymes, educational material, or original songs, like the two creations on these records. They have only a passing connection to the story but do not refer directly to it or the characters.

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