Gadget Boy, the pint-sized version of the bumbling sleuth Inspector Gadget comes off his first series, Gadget Boy (26 x 30 minutes), and slips back in time to begin Gadget Boy’s Adventures in History (26 x 30 minutes). The megalomaniac villain Spidra, who failed to take over the world in Gadget Boy, returns in Adventures in History. This time, she has a time machine and plans to take over the world by changing history. Gadget Boy, his smart and capable nanny Heather (Estelle in the French version), and his morphing robotic dog G9 also time-travel but instead go via the Internet. Gadget Boy continues to foil Spidra’s grasps at power but now his sleuthing is set against historical settings.
DIC Entertainment, USA
Here’s how the partnership began
April 1994 (MIP-TV)
This was the real genesis of the Gadget Boy series. Each MIP, says Clemence de Bodinat, head of youth programming for M6, DIC’s president, Andy Heyward and M6 would meet to discuss possible projects. The senior detective, Inspector Gadget, by this point has been around for a while. It has been a very successful property for DIC that has done very well in France. Gadget Boy seemed like a natural option.
October 1994 (MIPCOM)
Financing for Gadget Boy has been pulled together and the deal is closed. For M6, this is the first co-production deal with an American children’s program producer. M6 and DIC each own 50 percent of the property. M6 is the European distributor. According to Bernard Majani, head of international sales for M6, he felt confident going with Gadget Boy because of the success of Inspector Gadget.
Discussions about the creative begin. The character g’es through several incarnations: In the beginning there was Gadget Girl. But that didn’t work out, and then there was a baby Gadget Boy but that didn’t work either. A walking, talking, six-year-old male Gadget offspring is finally approved.
Winter 1994/95 to Fall 1995
Production begins. Some development had been done by DIC prior to the closing of the deal with M6 to help close the deal. ‘We continued to develop it and refine it and work on designs and work on the bible,’ says Robby London, senior vice president of creative affairs for DIC, ‘up until we actually started production.’
DIC d’es most of the writing though there are French staff who also oversee the script. A lot of creative supervision is shared between DIC and M6. Storyboards and post-production are done in France by France Animation and animation is done in Asia. Production runs very smoothly, and London admits to finding the co-production aspect of the project less of a problem than he had anticipated. ‘I’ve actually been very surprised at the simpatico nature of our two cultures,’ he says. ‘I’d say, more often than not, we’ve been in agreement, so it’s been surprisingly smooth in that respect.’
Gadget Boy airs for the first time. The project is successful and DIC wants to continue to expand the franchise. DIC begins to search for an idea to freshen up the series. ‘We got the idea to make it historical,’ says London, ‘and proposed the idea to M6. They responded well to the idea and agreed, in principle, to make 26 more.’
January to April 1996
Negotiations for Adventures in History begin. Information is exchanged by phone, fax and personal meetings. The writing of the scripts begins.
Evaluating the Partnership . . .
De Bodinat sums it up: ‘It was a very good co-prodution; very positive. It proves that many partners can work together very easily. There may have been some difficulties at the beginning from the U.S. point of view, but I think in the end we really worked very well together.’ And while time differences between L.A. and Paris may have been inconvenient, de Bodinat sees that as the only real negative.