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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

A Pink Christmas

Well, hello there, everybody! I hope you're ready to take part in the fourth day of “A POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR”! And, hey, look at's ornament happens to have a pinkish tone to it, don't you think?

In fact...I know that pink isn't really considered to be that much of a Christmas colour, but let's go ahead and make the rest of this particular blog entry pink, shall we? Don't worry...I'll explain why this is the case in a moment.

Now, here's the interesting thing about this blog entry. Even though the bulk of this blog entry will be written in pink text, it's not because I was tickled pink over the idea of choosing this particular topic. In fact, since today happens to be “Whatever Wednesday”, where I let one of the murder suspects in the board game clue choose the topic for me, pink would be an impossible colour, as there is no pink playing piece in the classic game of Clue. I mean, yes, Professor Plum and Miss Scarlet are close to pink, but not exactly pink.

Even more strange? The card I chose was the Mrs. Peacock card! And, Mrs. Peacock is almost the direct opposite colour of pink!

But, here's where the idea to turn this blog pink came from.  If you've been following along with this blog for the past couple of months, then you are well aware that each Clue character represents a theme day for the blog.  For Mrs. Peacock, it means that we're going to be talking about a particular television show.

Now that works out beautifully for me, as there are dozens of hundreds of Christmas specials that have been made over the years...some of which I've talked about and many others that I have not.  

And, as it so happens, once I learned that this week's Wednesday blog entry was going to be television based, I happened to get inspired by another topic that I did earlier in the week.

This past Saturday, I did my blog on "Bluetoes, the Christmas Elf", and I mentioned that I happened to still have the special on an old VHS tape of Christmas specials that I taped off of television circa 1989/1990.  Miraculously, that tape survived...even if the several VCR's my family went through did not.

And funnily enough, if I look at the labels on the VHS tape that I recorded Bluetoes on, I have a list of the various Christmas specials that were on that tape!

Let's see what else I taped on that tape, shall we?  Well, I know that I must have put it on the 2-hour setting, as there aren't very many specials on the tape.  And, I was smart enough to know how to pause the recording while the commercials were playing, so that saved a little bit of space on the tape.  

Firstly, there was the classic CBS special, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", which is always going to be one of my favourites.  I have it on DVD now, so I don't really need to keep the VHS copy now...but I don't want to get rid of it, because of the fact that I can't find Bluetoes on DVD.

After Rudolph came Bluetoes.  And, it's just dawned on me that all the television specials that I have on that VHS tape have colours in their names.  "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer", "Bluetoes, the Christmas Elf"...

...and the third and final special on the tape also had a colour in the title.  And, it happens to be the reason why I have coloured this blog entry entirely in pink!

Yes, we're going to be taking a look at the television special "The Pink Panther in:  A Pink Christmas"!

Now, I have a confession to make.  I have always been a huge fan of the Pink Panther.  When I was a kid in school, one of the things that made going home for lunch all that more special was the fact that CJOH-TV in Ottawa used to play cartoons during the 11:30-1:00 time slot.  Or, at least it USED to before the network decided to have a noon hour newscast.  Now, in most cases, the network would air "The Flintstones", but there was one period for about eighteen months where the network would air classic Pink Panther television shows.  In addition to the Pink Panther, the shows would also air other cartoon shorts within the same family of shows.  For instance, the show would also feature "Inspector Clouseau" episodes (which I admit that I didn't like as much as The Pink Panther), and "The Ant and The Aardvark" (which I LOVED just as much as The Pink Panther!)

It was really the only opportunity that I had to watch the Pink Panther on television.  The original series wrapped up the year before I was born, and those reruns were the only way that I could watch the show.  I mean, yes, they revamped the show in 1993 with Matt Frewer as the voice of the Pink Panther, but for whatever reason, I liked the classic version more.  To me, Matt Frewer will always be either Max Headroom, Trashcan Man, or the guy who turns into a zombie in the "Dawn of the Dead" remake...not the Pink Panther.

And, the cartoon series, the Pink Panther was almost always mute!  And, that's what made the cartoon so charming and wonderful.  Because you had a cartoon character who rarely spoke, the animators really had no choice but to rely on sight gags to get jokes across.  Thankfully, it worked out well.

And, in "The Pink Panther in: A Pink Christmas", those sight gags lead to one hilarious Christmas special that was also very heartwarming as well.  In fact, I'm going to post a link to the special HERE so you can watch along with me.  It'll make the discussion more fun, anyway!

Now, obviously I had to watch this special as a rerun.  The original airdate was on December 7, 1978...a full two and a half years before I was even born.  But I still have the special on VHS, and am now trying to find it on DVD.  But it is such a great show...even if at first, we see that the Pink Panther is a little bit of a brat.

Of course, you can hardly blame him for his erratic behaviour throughout the course of the program.  After all, it is the last couple of days before Christmas Day, and our little pink friend is having not the best time of it all.  He's cold, he's homeless, and he doesn't even have any sort of method for getting food.  He's on the brink of desperation, and all of the men, women, boys, and girls are too wrapped up in their own Christmas celebrations that they fail to notice that the Pink Panther is in dire straits.

I suppose I should also mention that although the special originally aired in the late 1970s, the actual setting of the show takes place much earlier.  I would wager a guess that the special is set around the turn of the twentieth century, given that horse drawn carriages are still present on the streets of the city.  But, I could be mistaken too.

EDITED TO ADD:  In the first song, the choir sings about "Twas the day of the ninety-four Christmas.  And, since the special came out in 1978, I assume this story takes place during the Christmas of 1894!  My goodness, that makes the Pink Panther REALLY old!

Anyway, the Pink Panther is starving, and as I said before, he will do almost anything for food.  Sadly, whenever the Pink Panther has the opportunity to get some food, something almost always goes terribly wrong.

I mean, right off the bat, our Pink Panther's Christmas Eve dinner consists of nothing more than a sugar snap pea.  And, a bird happens to steal it on him!  Of course, one might say that the bird did the big pink cat a favour, as a pea is hardly considered to be the most filling meal on Christmas or any other day of the week!  

And, then there's the fact that even though the Pink Panther has a nice warm coat of pink fur, it's apparently not enough to keep him warm during one of the most frigid days of the year!  Luckily, he happens to find a solution as a man happens to drop one of his packages as he tries to catch a streetcar.  Of course, one might question the ethics of stealing someone else's package...especially on Christmas Eve...but, hey, when times are desperate, cats do desperate things.

Fortunately, it works out to his advantage because it happens to be a Santa Claus costume.  And, as luck would have it, the department store Santa is out sick with the flu.  Ergo, what better way to buy food than to work as a department store Santa!  Surely, nothing could possibly go wrong, could it?

Well, that is until a little girl with a bag full of goodies sits on top of Santa's knee, and our hungry pink friend decides to decapitate her poor little gingerbread man with his teeth.  Naturally, it's very uncouth for a Santa Claus to actually take someone else's snack...especially if the Santa happens to be on the clock.  And as you can see from watching the link that I posted up above, Gingy-gate leads to a whole bunch of mayhem inside the store, including running through a children's choir, causing a disaster inside the fashion department, and ending up with the Pink Panther almost getting sold to a young child thinking that it's a life sized stuffed animal!

(I do hope that lady got her money back!  I don't know how return desks worked in the late 1800s, but if they were run the way they are now, she may be in for a battle!)

It seems as though every single time he tries to get a nice, hot meal, the world is seemingly conspiring against him.  He goes to a soup kitchen to get a free bowl of soup, and the kitchen runs out.  Then when he thinks he found some soup, he drinks it not knowing that it is actually dirty dishwater!

Then someone actually takes pity on him, and offers to buy him food, but when an ambulance drives by, the man turns out to be a doctor, and leaves the Pink Panther with the bill!  Needless to say, no money = no food.  The Pink Panther even decides to go into the world of petty crime, swiping a carrot right off of a little kid's snowman, and attempting to impersonate Yogi Bear by swiping some poor person's "pic-a-nic basket".  Needless to say, our poor impoverished pink pal doesn't make a good criminal.  In fact, he even tried to get himself arrested so that he could be guaranteed a nice hot meal in prison!

In short, the Pink Panther was absolutely desperate.

Towards the end of the special, hope arrives in the form of a police officer's luscious tasty honey glazed doughnut (stereotype alert).  When the cop drops the doughnut and it rolls down the hill, the Pink Panther rushes towards the doughnut with whatever energy he has left inside of him.  

In fact, our pink pal is so desperate and filled with frustration that when a little puppy dog snatches the doughnut away from our pink friend, he snatches the doughnut away from the dog, having had enough of coming so close to food and having it cruelly disappear as quickly as he had it.

But something strange happens.  When the Pink Panther is about to eat his prize doughnut, he turns around and sees one of the saddest looking pooches that ever existed.  I'm telling you, the dog looked about as sad as Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey when his mother sacrificed herself so that he could live!  

And then the Pink Panther's brain cells started rubbing together.  All the dog wanted was something to eat.  In all likelihood, the dog was homeless too, just like him.  The dog probably hadn't had anything to eat all day, just like him.  And, when the Pink Panther grabbed the doughnut away from the dog, the dog felt just as he had, when he couldn't catch a break.

So, the Pink Panther decides to look into his heart and pull out the spirit of Christmas...and he gives half of the doughnut to the puppy, who gobbles it up in delight.  And, really, when you make a brand new friend, isn't that satisfying enough?

Of course, we can't very well leave this special on a sad note.  After all, one cannot survive on one doughnut alone.  And, a very special guest makes sure that both the Pink Panther, and his newly adopted pooch, have a very nice Christmas indeed.

So, that wraps up Day #4 of the advent calendar.  Allow me to remove my rose-coloured goggles now.

But do stay tuned for the fifth day of the calendar.  It's a video blog that will have me performing a standard activity during this time of well as all of the mishaps that I have had over the years performing said activity!

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