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“One for all and all for one, Muskahounds are always ready” – those of you at a certain age now have a tune in your heard that you will be singing all day. Recently several blasts from the past have been released on DVD including a favourite of mine, Battle of the Planets and since they are relatively inexpensive it is highly enjoyable to re-live some of those childhood memories.

Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds
The Series
Originally written by Alexandre Dumas in around 1844, The Three Musketeers is one of his best known works and was recreated in 1981 in cartoon form. Told from the point of view of a young D'Artagnan or in this case Dogtanian, this is a story of a young man, sorry Dog, who leaves his parents at a young age to deliver a letter to the head of the Kings guard and to become a Musketeer. If you are not familiar with the series then this animated show features animals as the main characters (mainly dogs) instead of people – hence Dogtanian.

Our story opens with Dogtanian starting out his journey to becoming a Musketeer and travelling to Paris to meet Captain Monsieur Treville. However, being attacked and robbed en route by a cavalier with a black moustache, the series finds its first strong plot line – Dogtanian’s quest to seek this thief. A story thick with good versus evil, and once trusted acquaintances stabbing each other in the back. And how could a story about the Three Musketeers be complete without the evil Cardinal Richelieu.

This DVD was a real trip down nostalgia lane. The animation has surprisingly stood up very well over the years even when compared to today’s shoddy efforts from the animated disaster of Pokemon and the like. Of course it is at times repetitive and the characters mouths do not sync with the speech (however that is not surprising since it was not created for an English audience) and yet the colours are still strong (towards the end of the DVD) and it most certainly does not look like it is over twenty years old.

Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds
Video
Presented in 4:3 as you would expect, the colours are a little muted in the first few episodes, however they are exactly as I remember all those years ago and yet in later episodes the colours are a lot brighter. Strange, but then variations are to be expected. There are artefacts present and while they are generally small in size, they are here in quite large numbers. If this was a new film I would be disappointed, however it adds to the feelings of age and almost quaintness of the production.

Audio
Especially during the first episode or two, there were a couple of audio drop outs in which words were missed. These only last a fraction of a second however it is enough to miss a word from the story. Otherwise the two channel audio is adequate for the presentation. It does not grate and the peppy theme song is infuriatingly addictive and will sit happily in the head of all who listen.

Extras
Unbelievably there are extra features available on this disc. First up are the Character Profiles featuring all the major players: Dogtanian, Juliet, Athos, Aramis, Porthos, Richelieu, Milady and Pip.

Card Animation is strange short feature basically showing the characters portraits with some surrounding text too small to read. Rather odd. Languages shows what the Three Musketeers novel was called in various other languages. Awards is a brief list of the accolades the series won. Background is a one page effort of text highlighting the first showing on UK TV and the origins of the show.

Lyrics depicts the lyrics for the theme song in four different languages and also the song “The Return of Dogtanian” to the same tune. D’Artagnan Vs Dogtanian details the faithfulness of the cartoon to the original novel, and points out such differences such as Dumas’ hero’s prolific sexual encounters which were funnily enough, left out of the cartoon. Finally we have a Biography of the original author Alexandre Dumas so that you might find out what other stories this man created.

Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds
Overall
For the price, this is a great bargain however this disc is not complete since it only contains nine episodes. I believe the next disc featuring the next nine episodes is due out in August however I have yet to have this officially confirmed. In the meantime, the same company are releasing The Adventures of Willy Fog on DVD. My childhood lives again!


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