Celebration of Wickedness Day 10: DR. CLAW #atozchallenge

Published by Christopher Starr on

I’ve seen a lot of cartoons in my day. They generally fall into two camps: the cat-and-mouse, coyote-and-roadrunner variety that tend to devolve into one large pseudo-murder fest that’s good fun for the whole family; and the Duck Tales-Rescue Rangers-Scooby Doo version that tend offer the extended remix plot. In either case, at the end everyone went home or back to their respective caves or Mystery Machines or whatever. But everybody lived to see another day.

This is where Inspector Gadget is different. Or tried to be.

On Inspector Gadget, the villain tried to kill the hero. Repeatedly.

What’s that? You didn’t watch Inspector Gadget? Seriously? First, Gadget had the best theme song in cartoon history, until Duck Tales and Rescue Rangers (and you guys know I’m right). Second, Dr. Claw, Gadget’s only villain, was some combination of Ernst Blofeld and Boris Badinoff—part international spy with nearly limitless resources and a BAD-ASS CAR, part bumbling idiot who is upset by an robotic Inspector Clouseau. And third, he had the cat.

I loved Dr. Claw because he was thoroughly pissed off day in and day out. He HATED Gadget with a passion. And he sincerely TRIED to kill him every single episode. Now, I can’t comment on the efficacy of a criminal mastermind who helms an international crime syndicate but whose schemes are consistently thwarted by a 10-year-old girl and her dog, but his disgust was palpable. He’d watch with chagrin from his chair, only one arm visible, stroking Madcat, cursing at the screen as everything went awry. “I’ll get you next time, Gadget. GADGETTTTT!!” And then zoom off underwater, in the air, whatever in his Awesome-Mobile (it was actually called the MADmobile but it was awesome to me).

I know it’s stupid but Dr. Claw was the first villain that I really dug. I actually rooted for him. He kept getting these awesome schemes kicked to the curb by a Six Million Dollar Man knockoff. It was maddening to me (and to him—he pounded his console week after week with that big-ass metal hand). That’s what worked for me, I guess, I sympathized. I didn’t like Gadget: he was too stupid for me. Penny was a know-it-all; the only one I really dug was the dog, Brain, but he spent his days frustrated that he couldn’t talk and had save this electronic idiot again and again. I was privately hoping he’d win.

As a writer, Dr. Claw made me understand the seductive quality of a good villain: for all the heinous things they do, all the pain they inflict, they have to be likeable somewhere, somehow. They have to have something—a great voice, heavy breathing, a pesky kid with a lightning bolt scar who just gets under your skin—that makes them attractive to the reader. Something more than a maniacal laugh and lofty goals of world domination.

So…tomorrow is J day, J for JAWS. You’ll never go in the water again…


Vonda Norwood (@VondaNorwood) · April 17, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Yea! I totally agree! I hated Inspector Gadget! HATED!!! Annoying as heck and I DID CHEER FOR THIS VILLAIN!!! REALLY!!! I SOOOOOO DID!!!

    Christopher C Starr · April 17, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Never was a fan of Gadget either (did like his theme song though). I liked that Dr. Claw seriously tried to kill him. Seriously. He was just poor at it.

ED Martin · April 29, 2012 at 9:46 am

I felt sorry for Penny, having to constantly rescue her stupid uncle. I like to believe that shortly after they made the last episode, she took her awesome computer book and dog and defected to Claw’s side, where she quickly rose through the ranks and is now in charge of her own nowhere-near-inept personal cybercrime taskforce.

    Christopher C Starr · April 29, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    I like to think Penny secretly became the Baroness from Cobra. That would be a fitting result for her.

Clawfan123 · August 6, 2012 at 5:36 pm

I loved Dr. Claw! hate him in the movie though not really the second one but the first one i do

    Christopher C Starr · August 6, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    I watched the first movie but don’t remember much. I didn’t even know they made a second one. Was an avid fan of to the cartoon if for no other reason than to see if Dr. Claw was actually gonna get Gadget.

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