PINK PANTHER IN “A PINK CHRISTMAS”
Original Air Date: December 7, 1978
It’s Christmas time and the world’s last remaining pink panther can’t catch a goddamned break…
The Pink Panther has a rather fascinating history, in that he was created for, and shares a name, with a property completely unrelated to him as a cartoon character. After Warner Bros. disbanded its theatrical animation, Friz Freleng, the man who created Sylvester the Cat of the Tweety & Sylvester cartoons, teamed up with former WB cartoon executive, David DePatie.
Strangely, DePatie-Freleng Enterprises got by doing commercial work, as well as basically freelancing with WB’s own characters, such as the Xmas Special Bugs Bunny’s Looney Christmas Tales, until director Blake Edwards approached them to concoct an animated title sequence for his upcoming jewel heist comedy starring Peter Sellers.
From the 1963 movie, The Pink Panther
At the time, some called The Pink Panther‘s title sequence, featuring the famous Henry Mancini theme song, better than the actual movie, and the studio fully recognized the potential after the Pink Panther’s very first solo short “The Pink Phink” won an Oscar in 1964.
Pink Panther’s first cartoon, “The Pink Phink“
Stranger still, the Pink Panther shorts continued showing in theaters after they premiered on The Pink Panther Show, starting in 1969 on NBC. Pink Panther’s TV show often added a laugh track not present on the big screen, as well as new shorts featuring The Ant and The Aardvark and even a Clouseau-esque bumbling detective character called The Inspector.
Bizarre opening to 1984’s Pink Panther and Sons
The Pink Panther was so popular, his shorts were a one time packed into a 90-minute block ridiculously titled The Pink Panther Laugh and a Half Hour and a Half Show, and after nine years the show moved to ABC for one season and recieved a handful of new episodes.
For the first time in HD in 2010
After the theatrical cartoons ceased, Pink Panther received three made-for-TV specials (including the one discussed below) and both Marvel and Hanna-Barbera took a stab at producing several Pink Panther series, the last one being the MGM’s Pink Panther and Pals, which airs occasionally on the Boomerang network alongside the older cartoons.
Man, do I have a soft spot for The Pink Panther. His shorts are pretty average and somewhat repetitive, but screw it! I love his design, I love his theme song, hell, I love his insulation!
Unlike all the leeway we’ve taken with Christmas episodes this year, this here’s a boner-fide Xmas special, in that it was produced entirely on its own, away from a TV series, and aired in a primetime slot.
Perhaps you can’t tell when seeing stuff like Darkwing Duck and Rocky and Bullwinkle in picture form, but this generally means enhanced animation and story, as it’s built outside the production mill of a weekly TV series.
Thankfully, Pink Panther gets that here, with a fluidity right between theatrical animation and cheaper TV cartoons.
And it’s a good thing too, because Pink doesn’t speak here, with the exception of a sneeze, which you can plainly tell is an uncredited (and probably unpaid) Mel Blanc.
A shitty place to live
So you know, on the rare occasion that Pink Panther has spoken, it’s been via Rich Little or Max Headroom’s Matt Frewer among others. Let’s keep moving!
Pink Christmas – They weren’t kidding!
And thank The Holy Holidays for the boost in animation quality, because no one speaks here, so a lot more needs to be conveyed by character movement and facial expressions.
Please enjoy this slightly discolored panning shot
To make A Pink Christmas even more “classic,” is based off of a 1906 O. Henry story called “The Cop and The Anthem.” It’s familiar, in that it features a destitute hero trying to find warmth and food during the Holidays…
But I’m not sure if any other cartoons have adapted and/or attributed credit to O. Henry’s story specifically. So either way, kudos to DePatie-Freleng Enterprises for not simply doing yet another It’s A Wonderful Life or A Christmas Carol parody!
I know he’s docile but a panther’s instinct should triumph here
Pink Panther is essentially a hobo trying to stay alive on Christmas, only to be struck down by the cruelty of life every six seconds.
“That was my last pea, you dick!”
He’s harassed, stolen from, and kicked around for the entirety of the half-hour special. It’s not until he finds a Santa suit that there’s even a glimmer of hope for this poor asshole.
There’s a better option than nudity
A department store manager brings him in to be one of Santa’s helper…
Although, Pink is still fucking starving, and sadly wastes the opportunity of a solid paycheck by taking a bite out of a little girl’s cookie.
YEAH! Follow those animal instincts, Pink!
Even escaping the department store becomes a humiliating ordeal…
Give him a break – he’s the only one of his kind!
And he’s then mistaken for a stuffed animal and dragged around like child’s plaything
Honestly, it’s an easy mistake for a kid to make
With little diginity left to keep himself together, Pink resorts to less sympathetic measures: Outright Thievery! He rips an icey carrot nose out of a snowman, and the kids call the cops on him…
All this for one rotten, frozen vegetable?!
Which then drives him into the park, where he gets desperate enough to steal birdseed from idiotic pigeons too stupid to migrate.
Another googly-eyed hallucination
Pink then takes a brief reprieve from crime, with a genuinely earnest effort to go legit. He shovels a walk, only to be chased away by a fat human…
A failed transaction
And then hits rock bottom… a homeless shelter, where to find himself last in line during an apparent gruel shortage.
For just 10 cents a day, you could sponsor a discolored panther
And here’s where things get really sad…
Gone Gray! After drinking a shitload of dishwater
Dare I say CLASSICALLY SAD?! Pink sees prisoners dining on Holiday yum, and figures he can get some of that liberal treatment if he can make it INTO JAIL.
A whole turkey? With our tax dollars?!
But much like most of the cast of Full House, the dude can’t even get arrested! It’s not so much society’s fault – that’s not generally where giant cats get locked up.
A panther in prison seems more dangerous for the inmates
Finally he witnesses a jewel heist in action and tries to take the blame. To no avail, the cop is too simple-minded to assume a neon panther is the culprit and makes chase with the real perpetrator.
Hmmm, priceless heirlooms – HEY, A DONUT!
Luckily, the dumbass pig drops his donut in the fracass, and Pink is off on a new mission!
lol, missed a spot, animators
A homeless puppy is shoved aside, but Pink immediately has a change of heart and offers up the plain dohnut to the hapless pup.
We’ll die together!
Having dined on nothing more than a meal of moral superiority, Pink and the pup scamper across a town lit up with Christmas spirit, and make their way back to the park bench Pink calls home.
Not important! I just love this picture
It appears both animals have resigned to their lot in life, accepting nature’s cruelty and the ultra-festive winter gift of dying of exposure… but what’s this?!
We wanted walls and a mattress, but this is cool too!
MAGIC! The small park tree has caught fire with tinsel and Yuletide trimmings! Who on earth is responsible for this Solstice Miracle?
Santa’s raining pixie dust something fierce tonight, and leaves Pink Panther and the puppy with a Holiday feast that should keep both of them alive for another 48 hours or so.
Just a tad in the a department store window during the opening Xmas montage.
“A messiah… Mommy, I want one – GIMME!”
Oh yeah! And this time he didn’t just save Christmas with material goods… he’s saved a couple of lives. Going up to five because I even love all the impostors!
Seriously, the glasses are KEY to any Santa costume
This is a pretty great special, albeit a little slow. However, everything about A Pink Christmas reeks of classic, from its literary source material to its silent, Charlie Chaplin-esque situations. Should you have any affinity whatsoever for The Pink Panther, you should absolutely seek it out.
PRODUCT INFORMATION (Shop Amazon through us – it helps!)
Strangely enough, A Pink Christmas is no available on The Pink Panther Classic Cartoon Collection set, although a helluva a lot of other awesome is. The special is only available on its own stand-alone DVD, along with two other made-for-TV specials made during this period. And if you’d like to see more of Pink Panther’s big screen appearances, you could do a lot worse than The Pink Panther Film Collection!