Thursday, 25 December 2014
44 The Pink Panther Show
First watched : Uncertain
This U.S. import first came to our screens in September 1970 in the Saturday tea time slot vacated by Dr Who until the new year.
It had an unusual genesis which took me a long time to work out. The original Pink Panther was a diamond in Blake Edwards' 1964 film of the same name. It had a flaw which revealed itself in the light as resembling a leaping panther. To make the lengthy title sequence more interesting Edwards commissioned the animation company DFE to design a character to pose alongside the credits while Henry Mancini's unmistakable feline theme tune crept alongside. The Oscar-winning sequence made an enormous impact almost overshdowing the film itself. DFE quickly acquired the rights -including the music - to make a TV show featuring the character.
With a memorable title sequence of its own, wherein the Panther and his comedy partner the Inspector, arrive at a theatre in a futuristic race car piloted by a surely under aged driver, the series had a simple format of two self-contained shorts featuring the Panther book ending one featuring the Inspector.
The seriously malnourished Panther was something of a blank canvas having no strong personality. He wasn't particularly brave, strong or intelligent so the stories could really go anywhere within the constraint that he didn't speak ; the action was always played out to Mancini's theme which gave every story a somewhat downbeat feel. As a consequence I preferred the Inspector segment which of course was based on Peter Sellers's bumbling but conceited Clouseau ( oddly enough only a secondary character to David Niven's jewel thief in the original film ) and was much more amusing.
In direct opposition to the way the film franchise went, subsequent series ditched the Inspector in favour of new cartoon segments completely unrelated to the films. I have no memory of these so I'm wondering if the BBC ever purchased them or just stuck to repeating the original ( perhaps out of loyalty to Sellers ?) . Anyone know ?