While we like to imagine Don Draper dreaming up the cheese commercials that have caused us to spend the last hour wheezing through laughter-induced stomach pains, Panda is a product of Egypt, not Madison Avenue. As was the case with those cavemen a few years back, all the "it" commercial elements are intact: oddly compelling characters, a killer soundtrack, and a stock yet endlessly amusing sequence of events. In each installment, as Buddy Holly's "True Love Ways" plays, the cuddly mascot confronts someone--a man in a hospital gown, a father and son shopping for groceries, a cook in a restaurant kitchen--with the audacity to "say no" to the company's cheese.
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We won't spoil the inevitable ending, but it suffices to say that this panda, in spite of his perpetually upturned line of a mouth and gentle, blinking eyes, handles rejection very poorly. Think of him as an ursine Gallagher--except threatening, humorless, without a hammer, a striped shirt, or a thing for messing up melons in particular--merely an unwavering mission to ruin the days (and immediate physical surroundings) of any who dare not taste his cheese. And we though the Tillamook ads were good.