THE FULL EXPERIENCE is a new series devoted to bringing you what neither DVD nor Netflix can give — Saturday Morning cartoons as they originally appeared, ads and all. We can’t show you the cartoons for obvious reasons, but we can fill in the blanks. And we’ll start with the earliest FULL EXPERIENCE currently accessible. Conveniently, it’s of a show you can see for free.
The digital subchannel THIS TV was created by MGM to run almost nothing but MGM-owned movies. Since MGM still owns the Pink Panther, they frequently pad films that run short with Panther cartoons at the end. They also run the original Pink Panther Show at 8:30 Eastern, which was the first series to air the flourescent feline’s shorts back in the early 70’s. That’s all well and good. But it’s not the FULL EXPERIENCE….
Somehow, some way, an uncut “recording” of The Pink Panther Show exists from 1972. I say “recording” in quotations because the earliest home video format, Betamax, was not available for purchase until 1975. What I acquired in a disc trade appears to be a video transfer of a reel from a TV station, and with the countdown leader whatchamacallit appearing at the beginning, I have no reason to believe it isn’t.
This is so ancient that it has the NBC “this program is in color” identification at the beginning. Cool!
I don’t have much to say about the show itself, or at least much that’s kind. One unfortunate thing about The Pink Panther Show is that they threw in a laugh track. To me, this makes these unwatchable — it washes out all the subtlety of jokes designed to play without dialogue. Also, it’s annoying. The canned audience literally laughed at a rock being pushed up a hill in “Prehistoric Pink.”
If you’re curious as to what bumpers NBC was using back in ’72, I have news for you: there are none. I thought bumpers had always been a part of children’s television…..as in some kind of law, because they think kids won’t realize where the entertainment ends and the sales pitch begins without them. If there is such a law, it wasn’t in effect then — the show simply goes to one of FIVE different commercial breaks. That’s correct, instead of three, there are five mini-breaks scattered throughout the cartoon.
The first spot is for some mail-order plastic fruit toys, courtesy of Pillsbury, who apparently made powdered fruit drink packages back then. They are, in order of importance: Goofy Grape, Jolly-Olly-Orange, Choo-Choo-Cherry, and Rootin’ Tootin’ Raspberry. The announcer says “you can even race them!” but it looks like that’s all they’re good for.
The 60’s restraunt/gas station hybrid Stuckey’s is next, but they aren’t here to sell food — they’re advertising a cheap board game instead. It’s such a blast, the little girl throws back her head and squeals like a dolphin. Talk about cardboard euphoria! And if you have to eat at Stuckey’s to get it, well, that works out.
There’s a very short vignette about the Pink Panther operating a vaccuum cleaner and sucking up everything; then Ad Break 2 appears, dominated by Nestle.
First comes a Quik promotion, but the Bunny is nowhere to be seen. I like this one, so I’m not gonna spoil anything about it. It’d work today.
The second stars a stop-motion Swede named Hans, inventor of the Triple Decker Bar. This long-extinct product was dark, white and milk chocolate stacked on top of each other. Other than color, there isn’t that much difference between the substances, and I guess no one else thought it was special either. The ad is Woodstock old, with a copyright date of 1969.
Then, Snap gets a Rice Krispies ad entirely to himself. “Without me, Rice Krispies would just crackle and pop!” The other two seem annoyed by this comment, but it’s true.
The Inspector cartoon “Reaux, Reaux, Reaux Your Boat” airs, then comes AD BREAK 4:
We know who Sugar Bear is, but who’s the chick he’s with? I don’t know, but she says “How about givin’ ME some sugar”….and then reaches for the box. Ha ha, I totally thought they were gonna do it.
Sugar Bear and Chick He’s With run afoul of “Blob,” a burly thug who’s setting his trash on fire. “Hey Blob, you’re pollutin’ the air!” SB scolds in the suavest way possible. “I DON’T CARE, BEAR,” Blob retorts. What will Sugar Bear do? I’ll give you a hint on the solution: it involves a giant machine pulled out from offscreen.
Another kind of law I’ve always assumed existed was that you had to say “Part of this complete breakfast!” in every cereal ad, or some guys who look like Blob would show up at your door to break your legs. Why else would they keep saying it?
Sugar Bear is followed by a very Yellow Submarine pitch for Wyler’s Root Beer.
The last ad break is the best of the lot, at least historically.
Cap’n Crunch had a tie-in going with the movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” fresh in theaters. Send in some proof-of-purchase seals and one buck, and Quaker would send back some plastic molds to pour melted chocolate into. Using this laborious and complicated scheme, you can sell your own Wonka bars! Of course, your parents have to pay for the chocolate, resulting in negative profits for them, but you’re a kid so who cares?