When I was a kid, my favorite cartoon was
Inspector Gadget. Officially, the cartoon was about a trench
coat-wearing detective who investigated supervillain-level crimes committed by a globe-spanning organization
named MAD. Armed with a multitude of gadgets such as
being able to extend his arms and legs, have propellers pop out of his hat so he can fly,
have his shoes turn into skates, and activate a huge variety of gadgets located inside his
outfit, Gadget should be able to stop the bad guys easily. Instead, his total idiocy results in him mistaking
enemies for friends, and ultimately, it’s up to Gadget’s pet dog, whose name is Brain,
and his niece, Penny, to do all the actual work. While Brain was busy distracting Gadget by
dressing up in various disguises and trying to lure him to where he needed to be, or out
of danger, Penny was off doing a real investigation. She was snooping around the bad guys’ lair,
spying on the bad guys, trying to find out what’s really going on with the help of her
computer book and computer watch, and ultimately stopping the bad guys so that Gadget can take
all the credit. She frequently got into dangerous scrapes
and near-death situations, including near drownings, and got captured many times as
well. Since I was more into adventure than action,
and more into story than comedy, that was my favorite part of the cartoon, and why I
watched it as a kid. However, it doesn’t make up the majority of
the cartoon, but more like roughly 1/3 of any individual episode. That meant that despite it being my favorite
cartoon, I was literally watching the cartoon more for the adventure and mystery elements
that made up only a portion of it, while merely putting up with the main star of the show. As much as they were my favorite part of the
cartoon, Penny’s adventures just don’t hold up today. Even though some of the situations she got
into were cool, the stories were simplistic and lame, and I have to say this as well:
Penny has no personality. Penny is more what I would call an “icon”
than a fully-fleshed out character. She has a basic number of simple personality
traits, but isn’t very believable as a person. Penny’s traits are very simple: she is friendly
to everyone, very polite, and… um… that’s kind of it. Here you are young mistress. For imitation pearls, they are very nice. Thank you very much, m’am! These fake pearls may come in handy. The MADmobile! Dr. Claw has arrived! We know nothing about her backstory, why she
lives with her uncle instead of her parents, or even what she does for fun, other than
one episode that briefly indicates she likes a rock musician named – get this – Rick Rocker. Penny, have you ever heard of Rick Rocker? Penny, what’s the matter? Nothing. You said Rick Rocker! ♥ He’s my favorite singer! I have a mission to protect him from MAD. But it’s top secret. Oh, his concert is in town! Take us with you, please Uncle Gadget! Please! Oh please! Well, alright! Let’s skip ahead a few decades, to another
cartoon which features a smart girl who solves mysteries of a sort, and gets into adventures,
and deals with bad guys. Infinity Train. Infinity Train is a cartoon that, at the moment,
currently exists as a 10-episode miniseries. In fact, its creator originally intended it
to be a movie, but it was instead divided into episodes, and it tells a complete story
that’s a bit longer than movie length. While the second season isn’t out yet as I
speak, so far, the cartoon tells a complete story about a girl named Tulip. Unlike Penny, we know things about Tulip. She likes video games, programming, and science. Her friend doesn’t. I thought you game was cool when I played
it. And you know how I feel about video games. You hate them. I hate them. But I like yours. Tulip’s parents are divorced, and she apparently
lives with her mom. When her parents fail at taking her to coding
camp where she can learn how to program games, she decides to leave the house and seek it
herself, only to end up inside a mysterious train where every train car is its own self-contained
world. When a strange number appears on Tulip’s hand,
she ends up with multiple mysteries and goals – what is this train? What is this number? How can she get off the train? Like Penny, Tulip’s companions, which she
encounters early in the story, are an intelligent dog, and a mechanical idiot. Kind of. Inspector Gadget is more of a cyborg rather
than a robot – that is, he’s part human with robotic parts. And One-One, the robot, isn’t really so much
an idiot so much as it sometimes says or does questionable things. Are you my mum? No! So you’ve come to bring me the sweet release
of death? Also no? Are you a toy? Both Tulip and Penny solve mysteries over
the course of their adventures. Penny’s thought processes and methods of discovering
things are rather simple. Uh oh! Dr. Claw wants us back at the base. He’s going to long the missile! Dr. Claw?! Missile base?! Yes, Penny, Dr. Claw. The main villain who appears in literally
every episode of the cartoon is behind this evil plot. Why are you surprised? Tulip’s thought processes are more in-depth,
and we see her actually taking notes at times. Not to mention she has to solve much bigger
and persistent mysteries, that don’t end with “Dr. Claw is behind this” as the answer. While Penny relies on technology and the power
of her computer book to solve mysteries and get facts, Tulip, despite her love of technology
and games, ironically is limited only to her notebook. She doesn’t even have a phone. Then there’s the dangerous adventures they
go on. Like Penny, Tulip gets into dangerous scrapes
at times, and she has her own enemies. Also, unlike Penny, who only gets targeted
by bad guys because she interferes with their business and tries to stop them, Tulip is
actively targeted for reasons that are at first unclear. One of them tries to trick Tulip into getting
trapped in some sort of supernatural video of her memories. The biggest difference of all, though, is
that Tulip has an ACTUAL PERSONALITY. Check out what happens when Penny thinks that
her uncle got killed in an explosion. Oh no! “OH NO!” Amazing. Meanwhile, check out Tulip’s reaction to when
her dog companion is turned into a monster that tries to kill her, and she has to trap
it to protect herself. It’s okay to cry. Wow. This kid has actual emotions. Who would have thought. This also extends to when the two characters
are captured by their enemies. I hope this is comfortable! You’ll never get away with this! I’ve got to deliver this invisibility suit
to Dr. Claw. I’d invite you to come, but you’re all tied
up! You make the worst jokes I ever heard! Lame. Penny, say it like you mean it! Let’s hear what Tulip says when the bad guys
capture her. YOU KILLED MY FRIENDS! Let’s talk about your friends. They didn’t have to be here. Wha- They had a place on the train and you took
them out of it. You brought them here. You put them in danger. They were trying to help me! Hey, some real anger here. Tulip shows real emotion. Or how about when they simply talk to people? A thousand pardons. I was afraid the agents of Mr. Chou would
see you. But who are you? I am the grandson of your uncle’s Hong Kong
contact. Mr. Chou is a very dangerous man. I wanted to make sure you were safe. Gee, thanks! But now I’m afraid Uncle Gadget may need our
help. In that case, we’d better hurry. You’re right. If Dr. Claw and Mr. Chou complete their partnership
of evil, it could mean disaster! Wow, Penny. You sure… have a personality there. I’m sure this is how kids interact, right? I extend to you my greetings. Hi, I’m Tulip. I like… books? Greetings, Tulip the Literate. Let me show you my kingdom. Oh, no- it’s okay, I’m actually in kind of
a rush to find- And so commences- Much better. More natural sounding. It’s interesting to see something new that
happens to be weirdly nostalgic – to me at least – despite being very different from
what it’s reminding me of. Infinity Train is about someone who solves
mysteries and goes on a grand adventure in a magitech train. Inspector Gadget – at least, Penny’s portion
of it – is about someone who snoops around and solves crimes, essentially a simplistic
Nancy Drew with some high tech thrown in. On the surface, they have nothing in common,
and yet, at their heart, they both have a smart kid who uses her brains to push forward,
deal with dangerous threats, and save the day. They just do it in very different ways.

Tulip – the spiritual successor to Penny Gadget?
Tagged on:                             

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *