Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Big Gay Longcat reviews Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds

Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds is Puppy's favourite TV programme. It was also Duncan's favourite TV programme when he was 6 years old, although that was a long time ago!

I have mixed feelings about it. It starts off very well, telling the story of The Three Musketeers - which I have seen a very good film version of with Oliver Reed in it - except that all the main characters are played by doggys. In fact all the characters are played by either doggys or other animals.

The main character is Dogtanian, who is only a young doggy but he is brave and fierce and loyal, so he displays all the best qualities of doggys and I think this explains why it is Puppy's favourite.

The secondary characters are also, for the most part, very good. The Three Muskehounds Porthos, Athos and Aramis all have distinctive looks and characterisation, with Aramis being the same breed of doggy as my friend Charlie.

Here we see Charlie preferring sleeps to swashbuckling.

The main antagonists are also excellent, such as mastermind Cardinal Richelieu, his bumbling henchdoggy Captain Widimer, and Count Rochefort, a.k.a. The Black Moustache, whose character develops considerably over the course of the series until he finally sides with Dogtanian in the last episode.

However the best of the baddys is easily Milady, because she is a cat! Milady uses her brains and her charms to outwit the Musketeers, and is only defeated by their strength and prowess at swashbuckling and swordfighting. (There are parallels here with how Tevildo, the legendary Prince of Cats, was chased up a tree by Huan Captain of Dogs.)

At one point Milady uses hypnoeyes on Dogtanian to control him.

There are also some good guest characters, the best of whom is the pirate called the Blue Falcon.

His striking appearance is matched by a distinctive voice, which has a scary effect when he - a master of disguise - first reveals himself.

However it is not all good. About halfway through the series it becomes something of a mouthpiece for mouse propaganda with the introduction of the character Pip Squeak. Pip becomes Dogtanian's sidekick for the remainder of the series, during which he is constantly annoying with a grating, 40-a-day voice and boastful, clownish antics interspersed with either whining about how hungry he is or gluttonously devouring any food available. And he is supposed to be a goody!

Worst of all, he is at no point pounced on and nomed by Milady, even when the opportunity to do so presents itself to her, and is instrumental in her defeat and humiliation towards the end of the series. This is an outrageous slur on the ability of cats everywhere to pounce on and nom mouses and conclusively proves the anti-cat bias of the makers of this series.

If we ignore the presence of Pip Squeak, the series is an excellent one which stands up well today. The theme music is very memorable, although perhaps overlong with its two verses played in full at the start of every one of the 26 parts.

Once the episodes begin they are fast-paced and full of action, making good use of swashbuckling cliches where necessary, even those you maybe wouldn't expect in a series based on The Three Musketeers such as Ghost Ships and Desert Islands - actually these elements both appear in one of the strongest storylines as Dogtanian hunts for the Blue Falcon and Milady takes her opportunity for revenge.

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