An example of network restrictions. Image on left is from the theatrical version of Pink-A-Rella (1969); image on right is from the same cartoon but with the scene re-animated for Saturday Morning broadcasts.
Pink Panther Creator Talks About TV Restrictions on Children's Shows
By Jay Sharbutt
AP Television Writer
(Columbus Dispatch 12/4/1978)
LOS ANGELES - For some reason, I thought recently of a wild bit in a Pink Panther cartoon wherein a piano falls on - but doesn't harm - an old lady the Panther tries to help across the street. ["Super Pink" from 1966]
"Yeah," laughed Dave DePatie, "that was in the days before the network restrictions" on such cartoon mayhem.
DePatie, co-creator of the panther with Friz Freleng, just finished the first-ever P.P. special made for prime-time TV. But he doubts there'll be any gripes after ABC airs the show this Thursday.
Called "Pink Panther's Christmas" [actually "A Pink Christmas"] and based on an O. Henry tale, it only concerns efforts by the Panther, broke, frozen and friendless in New York, to get tossed in a warm jail cell Christmas Eve.
It isn't knock about comedy in, say the manner of Tom & Jerry or Roadrunner cartoons, he says, but then "we've never had the real daucous, violent gags. It's more of a sophisticated comedy."
His observation came when a veteran Panther observer asked if those who gripe about cartoon mayhem on Saturday kid shows on TV don't seem bent on outlawing the classic kid-show form known as Punch 'n' Judy.
DePatie, 47, a tall thoughtful man, father of two grown sons and a teenager, said that was a fair characterization: "I think so. That's a pretty good way of putting it, as a matter of fact."
His "Panther," which leaped to fame 14 years ago during opening titles for a film comedy about an Inspector Clouseau, aired Saturday mornings for eight years on NBC. It is on year No. 9 at ABC.
There's been no specific gripes about his series, he says, but pressure has been put on the networks over the past five or six years to generally reduce the slambang comedy of Saturday cartoons.
The pressure mainly was generated by the Boston-based parents' group called Action for Children's Television, he said, and it has led to certain network no-no's in kiddie cartoon matters.
"I think possibly the most important one is physical contact of one character with another," he said. "No more slapping in the face, hitting on the head. 'No one-to-one contact' is the standard way their broadcast standards people put it."
But DePatie, who has two other Saturday kid series on the air, says the restrictions don't crimp his firm cartoon comedy style.
But he does regard as exaggerated the fears of various groups about cartoon mayhem and possible effects of same on of young viewers.
"I think they go back to that Surgeon General's report (about TV violence)," DePatie said. "But I think there's a big difference between realistic violence and comedic violence."