As mentioned in my review of Volume 1, Friz Freleng was an instrumental figure in animation history because of his work on Warner Brothers’ Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes. He and producer David H. DePatie went on to form DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. Kino Lorber Animation has been releasing that company’s work on Blu-ray. The latest title is The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection Volume 2, continuing with the character’s next 20 theatrical shorts.
Depending on the cartoon, the Pink Panther continues to find himself either a chaotic force or on the receiving end of one, both resulting in a lot of laughs. In “Pink-A-Boo,” the Panther deals with, and is outsmarted by, a pesky mouse, bringing to mind Tom & Jerry. “Super Pink” finds the Panther thinking he’s a superhero just by putting on a costume. He repeatedly tries to help an old woman but she always ends up worse for wear in humorous ways.
The Little Man shows up in “Rock A Bye Pinky” and tries to enjoy a camping trip. His dog is added to the mix, creating different opportunities for the story to go rather than simply the Panther antagonizing the Little Man. The dog returns in “Pink Paradise.” The Panther battles another mouse in “Pinknic,” and this one is very hungry because of the lack of food in their snowbound cabin. There’s a great POV gag seen through Panther’s sleepy eyes.
In a great comic tradition, “Pink Panic” finds the Panther running around a haunted house with plenty of good gags. “Pink Poises” is basically a remake of the first Panther cartoon, “Pink Phink,” with the Panther replacing Little Man’s yellow poises with pink ones. “Pinkadilly Circus” is inspired by “Androcles and the Lion” as the Panther becomes beholden to the Little Man after he removes a nail from the Panther’s paw.
Most of the remaining cartoons are variations on two themes: the Panther either causing trouble or being a victim. There are a couple shorts that try something different, including making the Panther’s nose black. “Pink Outs” is a series of 12 vignettes that are quick visual gags. There’s an annoying laugh track and the Panther is now drawn with a black outline instead of pink. When the Pink Panther was given a TV series, portions of this cartoon were cut into bumpers and given narration. Influenced by the era, “Psychedelic Pink” finds the Panther enter a storefront that is a weird Wonderland of nonsense where the only limits to what can happen are the imaginations of the writer and animators.
Like Volume 1, the video has received 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The colors appear in vibrant hues and blacks are inky. There are fine details evident on the characters while the background art makes use of a minimalist style There are occasional marks and spots of discoloration. The latter can be seen in the Panther’s eyes at end of “In the Pink.”
The audio is available in DTS-HD MA 2.0. The track is predominantly music and effects, as dialogue is extremely limited to the “Genie” short and occasional utterances, involving pain, fear, or the whinnying horse from “Pinto Pink.” The jazz soundtracks come through clear and is well mixed with the other sound elements. The track exhibits no signs of wear or defect.
For the Special Features, there are 10 with commentaries. Returning speakers from Volume 1 are filmmaker Greg Ford (2), historian Jerry Beck (2), cartoon writer Wiliam Hohauser (1), and author Mark Arnold (4). Art Leonardi, writer of “Pink Outs” speaks about the cartoon with Beck. From Page to Screen: “In the Pink” (5 min) shows storyboards alongside the finished cartoon as does From Page to Screen: “The Pink Blueprint” (6 min), a cartoon appearing on Volume 1. “Pink Outs” – TV Version (6 min) features new music by Doug Goodwin and narration by Marvin Miller.
As I did with Volume 1, The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 2 is recommend for fans of the character and for these type of comedic shorts. The quality of the Blu-ray presentation and the extras add to the value.