The Pink Panther Show is a cartoon series produced by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises and aired on NC from 1969 to 1978. Before the creation of the show, the titular Pink Panther character already appeared on several live-action films, although his appearance on those movies is only brief. He was realized as a full-fledged character in 1969 due to his popularity. To know more about the peculiar pink animal, here is an introduction to The Pink Panther Show.
Conceptualization and Production
Because of the Pink Panther character’s among fans of the live-action detective films in the 1960s, DePatie-Freleng Enterprises were given a contract by United Artists, the distributor of the live-action movies, to produce cartoon shorts featuring the character that will be shown in theaters. DePatie-Freleng was able to produce a short in 1964 successfully, and it was titled “The Pink Phink.” In that particular episode, the Pink Panther is seen trying to stop the sinister plan of The Little Man, who intends to trap and catch the panther. The Little Man’s design is based on Friz Freleng’s appearance, as he is supposed to be a parody of the said director. The animated short then won the Academy Award for Animated Short Film in 1964. The Pink Panther shorts continued to be produced until 1979.
Trying to find a way to let TV audiences see the Pink Panther shorts, DePatie-Freleng partnered with NBC to air previously produced short films on their network, and this partnership led to the creation of The Pink Panther Show in 1969. The shorts that were made after 1969 were shown first on TV via NBC, and then subsequently released in theaters by United Artists. Other segments featuring new characters were then created as supplements for the main Pink Panther segment, and some of the most popular segments include Tijuana Toads, The Inspector, Misterjaw, and Hoot Kloot.
The main character of the show is Pink Panther, an anthropomorphic panther who often foils the dastardly plans of The Little Man to capture or get rid of him. In the early shorts, Pink Panther remained as a silent character, although he would usually say one or two lines in some shorts. To convey his emotions or expressions more effectively, DePatie-Freleng decided to ass jazz music that often changes in tone and progression whenever the Pink Panther is reacting to something. The soundtrack of the shorts and its theme song was composed by Henry Mancini, a legendary conductor and composer who won four Academy Awards and twenty Grammy Awards in his career.
When new segments were added in the show, there were also new characters that were introduced. There were dozens of new characters that were made by DePatie-Freleng for The Pink Panther Show, but some of the most popular ones are Sheriff Hoot Kloot, a short-tempered man who always gets in trouble for trying to maintain order in his town; Misterjaw, a great white shark who wears a purple vest and likes to play a prank on unsuspecting characters; and the two Tijuana toads El Toro and Pancho, who always get outsmarted by their prey.
The Inspector, the main protagonist in most of the live-action Pink Panther movies, also appears in his own segment, although he is in his cartoon form. The Inspector is often accompanied by his sidekick, Sergeant Deux-Deux, in most of the episodes for his segment.
The first episode for the Pink Panther Show aired on September 6, 1969, on NBC. The first season of the show then ended on December 19, 1970, after the 32nd episode. This season featured two Pink Panther segments that are sandwiching one The Inspector segment.
The second season premiered on September 11, 1971, but The Inspector segment was replaced by The Ant and the Aardvark. This season was titled “The New Pink Panther Show,” and it featured a new opening and closing sequence for the cartoon, as well as a new theme song title “Pantherly Pride” composed by Doug Goodwin. The New Pink Panther Show ended in 1974 and was replaced by The Pink Panther and Friends, which is the show’s third season. However, for the third season, the second Pink Panther segment for each episode is always a repeat of old shorts. The third season ended in 1976.
The Pink Panther and Friends cartoon was then succeeded by The Pink Panther Laugh and a Half Hour and a Half Show. Instead of having the standard run time of 30 minutes, the season has 90 minutes wherein half of the run time featured a live-action segment starring comedian Lenny Schultz who reads jokes and letters submitted by viewers of the previous episode. The said season also introduced new cartoon segments Tijuana Toads and Misterjaw. Unfortunately, this season of the Pink Panther show was not well-received and was canceled after only one season.
The season titled “Think Pink Panther” then aired in 1977, and the show reverted back to 30-minute episodes. However, the entire fifth season consisted of repeats of previous Pink Panther shorts. The season ended in 1978 and served as the final broadcast of the Pink Panther franchise on NBC.
The All-New Pink Panther Show aired on ABC-TV in 1978 after the contract between DePatie-Freleng and NBC ended in the same year. The new partner company then requested DePatie-Freleng to produce 32 Pink Panther shorts and episodes for a new segment called Crazylegs Crane. This season ended in 1979.
The last season for the Pink Panther show called “Pink Panther Encore” aired in 1979, and it featured 52 episodes of repeats. Despite the end of the show, the Pink Panther character continued to appear in live-action movies, including the 2006 and 2009 reboot films of The Pink Panther starring Steve Martin as Inspector Jacques Clouseau.