Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds was a phenomenally popular cartoon created in the early 1980’s by Spanish studio BRB Internacional, although it was actually animated in Japan by Nippon Animation. The show finally hit UK TV screens in 1985, being shown on Children’s BBC where it hooked everybody in. Based on the famous novel The Three Musketeers written by French author Alexandre Dumas in the 19th century, the series followed the adventures of Dogtanian (D’Artagnan from the original story) in his quest to become on of the Muskehounds, the finest swordsmen in the whole of France.
The story was serialised into 26 parts, and once you were hooked you wouldn’t want to miss an episode. For the most part the cartoon was very close to the novel, although for obvious reasons some of the content was toned down a bit for kids, especially D’Artagnan’s somewhat more amorous ways than his canine counterpart.
The most notable difference, which was made for no apparent reason, was the swapping of the names of Porthos and Athos, two of the musketeers. In the novel Athos is the leader and Porthos the muscle of the group, but in the cartoon it is Athos who has gained the pounds, and Porthos who is in charge. A strange decision, but not one that affected the flow of the series at all. Aramis, the romantic, poetry loving, ladies man remained correctly named.
Dogtanian has some companions in his travels, included Pip, the mouse who is brave and loud mouthed much beyond his side, his faithful horse Sandy (unlike the rest of the animal cast being able to speak and act like humans, poor old Sandy was nothing more than a horse) and Planchet, a big brown bear who was Dogtanian’s stable hand. He also meets and falls in love with Juliette, who is the Queen of France’s lady in waiting.
As the story progresses we meet King Louis (who was a bit of an idiot it has to be said) and Queen Anne, and villain of the piece Cardinal Richelieu, who was forever plotting against the king. His henchman included Count Rochefort, Dogtanian’s arch-enemy and initially referred to as “The Black Moustache”, and Widimer, the bungling captain of the Cardinal’s guards. Cardinal Richlieu also had a spy in the form of Milady, a beautiful cat who charmed all the males with her feminine wiles.
Probably the most fondly remembered aspect of Dogtanian was the theme song, which everybody (including Philip Schofield on the Children’s BBC Broom Cupboard) used to sing along with. I defy you not to join in with its catchy tune when you watch it!