A so-called friend of mine was arguing with me the other day that ALL DePatie-Freleng cartoons centered on one character and one character alone (almost) - the Pink Panther and no one else! The Inspector - the funniest of the two headliners in the defunct company - ''did not count'' as he was, after all, nothing but a cartoony version of Peter Sellers and had to be discarded as somewhat ''derivative''...
Ugh - this is definitely another case of mistaken identity on the inspector I.D.ing kind - although he is French and all...
HA! WRONG, O, FRIEND OF MINE! OH-SO-WRONG! The Inspector was a zillion times funnier than his live action counterpart! I don't merely claim it - I can prove that, on numerous occasions, the cartoony Inspector actually more showed a whole lot more comedic flair than his flesh-and-blood counterpart! But that is another story, really... The main gripe and point of discord here was ''were there more characters'' - and the answer to that is "sure there were" yes! They are all forgotten, I guess (even I could only remember the Blue Aardvark -get it, blue to clash with pink?- and faintly recall one of two others...) But I knew there were more! Et les voici... And here they are:
* The Inspector (Theatrical, 1965-1969)
* Roland and Rattfink (Theatrical, 1968-1971)
* The Ant and the Aardvark (Theatrical, 1969-1971)
* Tijuana Toads (Theatrical, 1969-1972)
* The Blue Racer (Theatrical, 1972-1974)
* Hoot Kloot (Theatrical, 1973-1974)
* The Dogfather (Theatrical, 1974-1976)
* Misterjaw (Television, 1976)
* Crazylegs Crane (Television, 1978)
All of these were seen on TV, at one point or another - only, even combined, they had no exposure comparable to the Pink Panther character (hey - it sells insulation so well now! *lol* The Pink Panther has that certain "je ne sais quoi" - I suppose?!? No one would buy anything "endorsed" by any of those obscure characters, with the lone possible exceptiong being, once again, the Inspector! Then again, an elite few brand-new characters created from scratch for the very purpose of a publicity campaign generate some degree of following, so, anything is possible - just not probable, that's all!)
The truth is, though, that these obscure characters rivaled and matched up well with all the other gangs; the Looney Tunes, anything ever offered by Hanna-Barbera, the MGM gang of Tom, Jerry & the other critters - and even the Disney classics!
If no one else ever does it, I'd be interested in bringing back Misterjaw, the Blue Aardvark, that pesky Ant (I never liked Atom Ant...!) and even those Tijuana Toads! The latter were rapatriated at times and alternatively known then as the TEXAS TOADS...! The Dogfather seems like an amusing parody, though of the "one-note" variety it assuredly is... And "Crazylegs Crane" is surely as interesting as, say, Hanna-Barbera rejects (aka the usual gang of idiots) Squiddly Diddly, Peter Potamus, Quick Draw McGraw, Ricochet Rabbit, Secret Squirrel or Magilla Gorilla... no?!? But I digress...
Aardvark was Panther's Daffy Duck; the Inspector, his Yosemite Sam! (In terms of odd unorthodox pairs, we could match them all up as follows: Pink Panther/Blue Aardvark = Yogi Bear/Wally Gator = Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck = Mickey Mouse/Donald Duck = Tom The Cat/ah, Droopy Dog? But enough of that already...!!) Panther frequently made use of substitute beasts of burden though; generic goofs and brutish clods - while Bugs always had Sam or Elmer Fudd on stand-by; that is the only difference, really... (Although I might add that Pink Panther is infinitely more likable than Bugs Bunny and even the inept Mickey Mouse! Likewise, the Inspector was always more sympatico than Yosemite Sam (who was always used as a heel of comical level) as well as any opposition that Mickey ever found -those were always presented as lowlives without scruples or any redeeming value whatsoever; such is the Disney unequivocal, unambiguous way- and toons such as Dastardly & Muttley to name but those two...! On a sidenote here, I always wanted to see who would outwit the rest if Pink Panther, Snagglepuss, Reddy (of Ruff & Reddy fame) and Lippy The Lion matched wits... Who is stronger, for that matter, too: Mighty Mouse, Atom Ant or Misterjaw? But I'm digressing here...)
The Inspector was a good guy trying to do his job; it was even more touching in the cartoon, if you ask me! His cartoony assistant, Sgt. Deux-Deux, was far more believable, strangely enough, than the live action film Asian manservant he had, played to the hilt (and way beyond any ''funnyness'' factor - he was just plain odd!) by Burt Kwouk... Really - forgive me for saying so, Peter Sellers fans - but the master comic was eclipsed in his own role by the cartoony version of his persona! (Certainly wasn't by Alan Arkin; much less Steve Martin! And Roberto Benigni, Ted Wass, Richard Mulligan, Roger Moore (!) and everybody else that TRIED to keep the franchise alive -with Blake Edwards' blessing- were only ''ok'' at best... Gotta applaud the effort -and ambition- though, n'est-ce pas? I think I just did!)
These cartoons had style as well as a true sense of comedic timing -not to mention an unique flavor all their own- and nothing done since (not even Shnookums & Meat, Sealab 2021, Ren & Stimpy, Futurama or Harvey Birdman, Attorney At Law) can even begin to compare to the zany Inspector, in particular... (Oui, oui - call this my nod to France's big holiday today! You know it; I love ze French! Si, si! Mais oui, mais ouiiii...!)
Some bonuses (as long as they are available...!)
''Pinkcome Tax'' time! Courtesy of DePatie-Freleng and Art Davis - 1968
El Inspector - en espanõl!
A peek at the Aardvark - as well as those substitutes I mentioned - but from 1993...
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