When the animated opening credits of the very first live action The Pink Panther film proved to be remarkably popular, United Artists contracted creators David DePatie and Friz Freleng to whip up a few more cartoons, the first of which, Think Pink, took home an Oscar!
The cartoon took off and before The Pink Panther was retired, over a hundred animated shorts were created for theatrical play and even more for television broadcast. While MGM did release the complete collection of theatrical shorts in their boxed set a few years ago, the content on this Holiday themed release is new to DVD and appears here on the format for the first time (though it should be noted that they were issued by MGM on VHS in the early nineties).
Here's a look at the three cartoons contained on this DVD:
A Pink Christmas: Directed by Bill Perez, this Christmas themed television special from 1978 finds everyone's favorite feline is alone and hungry at Christmas time in New York City. While everyone else is shopping and getting ready for the Holidays, the Pink Panther is trying to eat. He takes a job as a store Santa, he shovels snow, and he helps the NYPD catch a wanted criminal but still, he has no dinner! Eventually the Pink Panther learns an important lesson about Christmas and what it means before the cartoon comes to a completely charming conclusion.
The Olym-Pinks: This cartoon from 1980 directed by Friz Freleng finds the Pink Panther taking the train into the mountains of Europe to compete in the Winter Olympics. When he arrives, the Inspector is there, also hoping to compete. Of course, he's not above cheating to make sure that he beats the Panther at every event he can - unfortunately for him, cheaters never prosper and almost immediately his dishonest tactics and poor sportsmanship come back to haunt him.
Pink At First Sight: The last cartoon in the set was directed by Bob Richardson in 1981. The Pink Panther needs a job and so he takes a position delivering singing telegrams - sort of. He plays the song on a hidden cassette player and lip-synchs to the music. At any rate, he starts just Valentine's Day pops up on the calendar and so he soon finds himself quite busy. He also finds himself longing for love, and imagining many of the women that he sings to turning into foxy lady panthers!
While the lack of any real dialogue might confuse kids who are used to cartoon characters who talk, those of us who understand the 'less is more' approach that the producers took with this series should certainly enjoy the three episodes that have been supplied on this release. When you consider that none of the cartoons here appear in The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection boxed set this release becomes important to collector's who may want to add to their set. The animation has aged wonderfully and there's a lot of interesting detail in the backgrounds of the cartoon and the character design is still interesting to look at as well. Of course when you combine all of this with some excellent music and plenty of genuinely funny repetitious humor you wind up with some quality entertainment!
The three cartoons contained in this collection are presented in their original 1.33.1 fullframe aspect ratios and aside from the fact that MGM hasn't bothered to properly flag the content for progressive scan playback (meaning you'll see combing effects) they look pretty good. The colors are appropriately cool and while there is a little bit of grain here and there it's never overpowering and there isn't any heavy print damage. There are no problems at all with compression artifacts and edge enhancement is never overpowering.
MGM has supplied audio in English and Spanish Dolby Digital Mono with optional subtitles provided in English, French and Spanish - though really, there honestly isn't much dialogue here at all. That said, the audio quality is fine. There are no problems with hiss or distortion and the instantly recognizable theme song from Henry Mancini sounds nice and rich. Levels are properly balanced and there's really nothing to complain about here. For older mono mixes, these sound quite good. English closed captioning is also included.
Aside from the menus and episode selection, this release is completely barebones and does not contain a single extra feature.
The flagging issue on the video is unfortunate and it would have been nice to see some supplements of some kind but as far as the content itself is concerned, these three cartoons hold up well. They're stylish, quirky and most important of all they're fun! The Pink Panther: A Pink Christmas comes recommended for kids of all ages.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.