THE COMPLETE DOGTANIAN AND THE THREE
Region 0 [UK] Edition reviewed by Richard Spurr
Claudio Biern Boyd
the voices of: Cam Clarke, Rebecca Forstadt, Eddie Frierson
One for all and all for one,
Muskehounds are always ready,
One for all and all for one,
memories! Growing up in the eighties was great. Serial cartoons were the
thing to watch on Children’s BBC. Dogtanian, Around the World
with Willy Fogg , Ulysses 31 and The Mysterious Cities of
Gold made for gripping viewing for a young boy. It was a toss up
between Dogtanian and Mysterious cities as to which was the
best of this peculiarly eighties genre. Though Mysterious Cities,
for me, wins, Dogtanian comes a very honourable second.
Dogtanian was an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas
pčre’s 1844 novel The Three Musketeers. The series was commissioned
in 1981 by a Spanish company, BRB International, and made by a
Japanese animation company, Nippon International, where it was known as Wan wan san jushi. It was quickly translated into several languages, including
Spanish and English, and sold to various countries. The
English adaptation was first shown on BBC1 in 1985, and then repeated
again a few years later. The serial was also given a screening on ITV a
few years after that.
Told over twenty-six twenty-five minute episodes, it tells the story of
Dogtanian, an impulsive young pup who also happens to be an expert
swordsman. Dogtanian is sent to
Paris to join the famous
Musketeers (though they’re called the Muskehounds in the theme music and
narration, they are always referred to as the Musketeers in dialogue.
Weird!) There he meets up with the Three Musketeers (Athos, Porthos and
Aramis), and gets involved with court intrigue amongst the French Royal
family, and in Cardinal Richelieu‘s evil schemes to destroy the Musketeers
and get more power for himself.
is presented across four DVDs, which seem to be the same as those
previously released separately. (This probably accounts for some of the
differences between the house presentation style from disc to disc, and
the odd way the episodes are split across the disc: the first disc
contains nine episodes, disc two has six, disc three has five and disc
four has six).
bit rate on the first disc is 4.4Mb/sec, although on occasions it peaks at
7Mb/sec. Disc two averages a reasonably high 6.2Mb/sec, with the
occasional dip to around 3Mb/sec. Disc three averages 4.47Mb/sec peaking
at nearly 9Mb/sec, though it occasionally drops below 2Mb/sec as well. The
bit rate software wouldn’t read disc four for some reason.
quality is good for the age of the material, though clearly no restoration
has been carried out. There is evidence of film sparkle and the occasional
scratch but nothing too big or too distracting. In episode five there are
a couple of examples of colour banding, which could have been fixed with
some restoration. (See third screen grab, above). The first of two
examples appear during the opening credits. Since the credits don’t
change from episode to episode there really is no excuse for not simply
editing in the credits from another episode to replace the damaged
section. Colours are good, though could be more vibrant. All in all the
picture quality is perfectly adequate but could have been better with some
restoration work done.
The way the
episodes are presented on the disc is slightly annoying. On the first disc
the episodes are all encoded as one title with the counter not resetting
at the beginning of each episode. The only chapter points come at the
beginning of each episode. Things get slightly better from disc two
onwards. On these discs each episode is encoded as a separate title, so
the counter is not an issue (though for some reason the counter does not
appear to work at all on disc four!) Each episode has only one chapter
point which comes just before the “next episode” trailer shown directly
before the end credits. Fine if you want to see this or jump (almost)
straight to the closing credits but pretty useless other wise! A similar
method was applied to Revelation’s early Tomorrow People discs, and
it was equally confusing there.
Sound is in
its original mono, and is perfectly serviceable throughout. Episode one
has a couple of sound holes (at 10’16” and 21’36”). These only last a
second or so, and only the first actually happens during a piece of
dialogue. The rest of the episodes are unaffected.
are functional and nice on the eye. Disc one has static, silent menus.
Discs three to four have different menus, which include moving elements
with the series theme tune playing over them.
packaging is interesting. Each disc has its own case but they are half the
width of a normal Amaray case. (They’re the same type of case increasingly
favoured in the US, for their multi-disc sets: the Hellboy Director’s
Cut, for example). The cases themselves are rather flimsy. Two normal
cases that hold two discs each would have been better. The four cases are
held together by a wraparound sleeve akin to that used for the UFO
box sets, though in this case the sleeve is made of plastic rather than
cardboard, and so is sturdier.
THE BONUS MATERIAL
budget release the extras are reasonably good. Disc one includes a wealth
of text extras including character profiles, the theme lyrics (including
foreign language versions and their English translation) and a look at the
differences between Dumas’ original novel and this adaptation (including
noting the unfathomable swapping of Athos and Porthos' names!) They are
quite interesting and help to pass five minutes.
also had text-based extras, but these are the same as those on disc one,
just presented in a slightly different manner! Disc three has only one
extra, an episode of the series Arthur and the Square Knights of the
Round Table, presumably included to promote Revelation’s DVD release
of the series. Unfortunately it didn’t work for this viewer. If this
episode is anything to go by then this is a dreadful little series with
little character or style. The animation is not up to much: very
unimaginative and poorly executed (the fight between Lancelot and an
octopus is a particularly bad piece of animation, done as a static shot
with the characters moving in and out of shot). (See images below).
only extra is a repeat of the character profiles seen on disc one.
comes with a double-sided A3 poster, each side showing a collage of images
from the series (or, more accurately, one from this series, and the other
from its sequel). From the design, it looks like these a reproducing
promotional posters for the series. It's a nice addition to the set,
especially for kids of all ages!
with happy memories of the series this set is well worth getting. It’s
very reasonably priced, especially compared to the original RRP of the
individual discs, and the set offers very good value for money. The story
it is based on is a good one and this is an excellent adaptation of it
that has aged well. Your childhood memories are unlikely to be diminished
by reacquainting yourself with this little gem. Now if only someone would
release Mysterious Cities of Gold (or at least version with the
English soundtrack included!) my kids TV DVD collection would be complete!