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 The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection is Volume 3, continuing with the character’s next 23 theatrical shorts before the The Pink Panther Show premiered on September 6, 1969 on NBC.
The cartoons generate laughs as the Panther continues to be either a chaotic force or on the receiving end of one, depending on the short. In “Put-Put Pink,” he battles inanimate objects in his junkyard. “G.I. Pink” finds the Panther annoying his drill sergeant, a familiar comic tradition. The Little Man is usually his foil, and during this group of shorts, he fluctuates being white and flesh-colored.
The Panther heads to medieval times in “Pink Valiant,” where he deals with an uncooperative horse, rehashing an idea from “Pinto Pink,” and “Pinkcome Tax.” He goes even farther back in “Prehistoric Pink” and “Extinct Pink.” In the latter, the story offers a good variation as the Panther not only fights over a bone with the Little (Cave)Man, but also two dinosaurs, one big and one small. The additional antagonists keep the audience guessing. It also has a groovy score by Doug Goodwin.
Like the previous volumes, the video has received 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The animators’ work really shines as the colors reveal themselves in strong hues. Blacks are inky and whites are bright. The drawings offer fine details evident with the characters. The background art uses a minimalist style to suggest things. These cartoons look very clean, free of dirt and damage.
The audio is available in DTS-HD MA 2.0. The track is predominantly music and effects. Not dialogue but there are the occasional screams, some by Mel Blanc. The jazz soundtracks come through with good fidelity and are well mixed with the other sound elements, many of which are crashes or explosions of some kind. The track exhibits no signs of age or defect.
For the Special Features, there are 14 with commentaries. Returning speakers from the previous volumes are filmmaker Greg Ford (four), historian Jerry Beck (two), cartoon writer Wiliam Hohauser (three), and author Mark Arnold (four). Animator Mike Kazaleh makes his debut on “In the Pink of the Night” and raves about its director, Art Davis.
“Pink Outs” (Theatrical Version) is an unusual short for the series in that it presents 12 vignettes that are quick visual gags. It previously was included on Volume 2 in two forms, one listed as the “(TV Version).” Thankfully, the (Theatrical Version) doesn’t have the annoying laugh track.
Behind the Feline: The Cartoon Phenomenon (11 min): DePatie leads a discussion about the history of the company and creating the famous feline, designed by Hawley Pratt, at director Blake Edwards’ request for the opening credits of The Pink Panther.
The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 3 finds the characters and the production team continuing to deliver a lot of laughs. Kino’s Blu-ray contains a pleasing high-def experience and for those who want to learn more, the extras do a fine job informing viewers about the shorts.