The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 (1964-1966) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Kino Lorber
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (23rd April 2018).
The Show

It’s always interesting to see the longevity given to characters created to be ephemeral, such as the late, great Jim Varney’s Ernest P. Worrell parlaying regional commercials into a character franchise that spawned more films than anyone can remember. When Blake Edwards’ “The Pink Panther” (1963) was released to theaters the opening title sequence was made livelier with the addition of an animated Pink Panther. The eponymous cartoon character proved so popular that creators David H. DePatie and Isadore “Friz” Freleng were given permission by United Artists to create a series. The show was a major hit right out of the gate, with the first episode, “The Pink Phink”, collecting a 1964 Academy Award for Animated Short Film.

The series went on the run until 1978, producing 124 episodes in total. Years later, a new series under the same name was commissioned, this time giving the title character a voice, as performed by Matt Frewer. That series ran from 1993-1996. The Pink Panther has made countless appearances throughout the years, across all types of media, and there is even talk of reviving the character for a live-action/animated hybrid film. Suffice it to say, this cool cat has left an indelible mark on pop culture.

The original cartoon series relies heavily on sight gags, as the dialogue is often non-existent or extremely minimal. The Pink Panther does not speak, though occasionally other characters do have lines. The premise often involves a caper of some sort, with the Pink Panther not exactly the most morally sound character but the most morally sound character of those presented. He is usually annoyed or foiled to a high degree until finally exacting his own retribution. The story and style of the series matured and evolved during its run, and even in this collection of a mere two-year span changes can be seen from one episode to the next.

This collection, spanning 1964-1966, contains the first twenty episodes of Freleng’s series, with the suggestion more volumes are to follow. The included episodes are as follows (synopses sourced from Wikipedia):

- “The Pink Phink” - The Pink Panther sabotages the plans of a housepainter (The Little Man) who wants to paint a house blue. The Pink Panther counters this by painting the house pink.

- “Pink Pajamas” - The Pink Panther sneaks into a house to stay the night and has to hide from its drunk owner.

- “We Give Pink Stamps” - The Pink Panther hides in a department store and spends the night trying to hide from the janitor (The Little Man), while also using many of the products on display at the store.

- “Dial “P” for Pink” - A burglar tries numerous times to crack a safe, in which the Pink Panther is hiding.

- “Sink Pink” - Big-game hunter Tex B'wana (voiced by Paul Frees) uses a "Noah's Ark" plot to catch animals in Africa for his wife Nora, but is having trouble catching a pink panther to complete his haul.

- “Pickled Pink” - A drunk partygoer (voiced by Mel Blanc) takes the Pink Panther home, and tries to hide him from his wife (also voiced by Blanc), who hates him bringing strangers into the house.

- “Pinkfinger” - The Pink Panther decides to become a secret agent with the help of an offscreen narrator (voiced by Paul Frees).

- “Shocking Pink” - The Pink Panther tries to have a quiet afternoon, but is interrupted by an offscreen narrator (voiced by Larry Storch) persuading him to try various do-it-yourself tasks around the house.

- “Pink Ice” - In South Africa, The Pink Panther attempts to recover diamonds stolen from him by Deveraux and Hoskins, two thieving English diamond hunters.

- “The Pink Tail Fly” - After watching late-night TV, the Pink Panther has a late night battle with a mosquito who constantly interrupts his sleep.

- “Pink Panzer” - An offscreen narrator (later revealed to be the devil (voiced by Paul Frees) pits the Pink Panther and his neighbor Harry (also voiced by Frees) against each other over unreturned garden tools.

- “An Ounce of Pink” - The Pink Panther encounters and purchases a talking weight machine (voiced by Larry Storch) who claims to be able to predict the future. However, the Panther quickly holds animosity towards the weight machine after its predictions end up causing him misfortune.

- “Reel Pink” - The Pink Panther goes fishing, but eventually gets sabotaged by one of his own bait worms and then must fight an aggressive crab he accidentally reels in.

- “Bully for Pink” - The Pink Panther becomes a toreador, stealing a magic cloak from Marvelo the magician, which results in an illusion-filled bullfight.

- “Pink Punch” - The Pink Panther introduces his own beverage line, "Pink Punch", but the asterisk above the "I" on his placard turns green. The Panther attempts to get rid of the annoying green asterisk numerous times, but his plans are thwarted by a large green asterisk who is assumed to be the smaller one's parent.

- “Pink Pistons” - The Pink Panther buys a new car and ends up in an unintentional race with Granny Flash, Senior Citizens Drag Champion, who drives a souped-up Model T.

- “Vitamin Pink” - Based on the traditions of tonic-sellers in the Old West, the Pink Panther goes under the alias Dr. Phink and sells Vitamin Pink, and has to capture a bank robber who springs into his crime-committing youth after he takes one too many pills.

- “The Pink Blueprint” - The Pink Panther changes the blueprint designs for a house to his own "pinkprints" and fights with contractor Big Nose to ensure they are built.

- “Pink, Plunk, Plink” - The Pink Panther learns to play the violin, and interrupts a performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony with "The Pink Panther Theme" played on various instruments, much to the anger of the conductor (The Little Man).

- “Smile Pretty, Say Pink” - The Pink Panther sabotages the efforts of a photographer (The Little Man) in Pinkstone National Park after the photographer angrily refuses to donate a dollar to the park.

Video

The 1.33:1 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 encoded image is grainy but mostly consistent in presentation. The picture has a vintage quality to it, looking a bit rough and hosting a modicum of emulsion scratches and dirt/debris. Line work is clean and objects clearly defined but there is a scratchy, roughshod aesthetic that either can’t be removed or is too costly to do so. Colors pop nicely off the screen, with a simple palette of rich primaries and shades to bring the minimal environments and characters to life. Further restorative work could possibly spruce these episodes up to modern expectations but overall this is a sound image with no major complaints.

Audio

Henry Mancini’s timeless theme is brought to repeated life thanks to the English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track. Really, the theme is ubiquitous and nearly constant, forced to pick up the slack left by a lack of dialogue. This is a “problem” corrected in later episodes when some characters are given things to say. Mancini’s theme brings with it feelings of lounging and all things cool and hip, so to hear it drone on over and over isn’t the worst thing in the world. The sound effects hold their own against an endless tide of the theme song, balancing out well despite the wall-to-wall scoring. There are no subtitles.

Extras

The only extras here are multiple audio commentaries, many of which feature the same person behind the microphone. Rather than list out each episode with its corresponding speaker, here is a list of who appears and on which episode:

- Filmmaker Greg Ford comments on the episodes: "The Pink Phink," "Pickled Pink," and "Pink, Plunk, Plink".

- Historian Jerry Beck comments on the episodes: "The Pink Phink," "Dial 'P' for Pink," "Shocking Pink," "The Pink Tail Fly," "Pink Panzer," and "Pink Punch".

- Author Mark Arnold comments on the episodes: "Dial 'P' for Pink," "Pinkfinger," and "The Pink Blueprint".

- Cartoon writer William Hohauser comments on the episodes: "Pink Pajamas".

- Storyman Bob Kurtz comments on the episodes: "Dial 'P' for Pink," "Shocking Pink," "The Pink Tail Fly," and "An Ounce of Pink".

Packaging

Packaged in a standard Blu-ray keep case.

Overall

The Show: B Video: B- Audio: B Extras: C Overall: B-

 


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