The Return of Dogtanian
In 1990 The Return of Dogtanian, a sequel to Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds, was released by BRB Internacional and Thames Television. For better or worse, this second series was very different in style to the original.
The most obvious difference is in the drawing and animation of the characters, which looks much more Western compared to the Japanese-produced first series. Plot and dialogue are less complex, with more reliance on physical humour.
The cast supplying the voices has noticeably changed, with Dave Mallow replacing Cam Clarke in the title role. Almost all the old characters are present and there are some new ones: Blancbec, the King's evil twin brother; the sinister Duke of Boujeau, perhaps designed as a replacement for the absent Count Rochefort; and Dogtanian and Juliette's two children.
The second series in no way achieved the same success as its well-loved predecessor, with most fans regarding it as a crude and inferior product. Yet its appearance almost ten years after the original is testimony to the continuing popularity of Dogtanian.
Ten years have passed since the events narrated in Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds. Dogtanian is living on the outskirts of Paris with Juliette, to whom he is married, and their two children Philippe and Fleur. He still has Sandy, now a very old horse. Planchet has left Dogtanian's service and runs a prospering inn.
Athos seems to spend most of his time eating, while Aramis is always surrounded by girls and Porthos has acquired a luxurious house. Pip has taken to wearing a judge's wig. The Muskehounds are still led by Monsieur Treville, though he is clearly advanced in years.
Richelieu is still Cardinal, with Milady and Widimer at his side, although Count Rochefort is absent. And Louis XIII is still on the throne - or is he?
The four Muskehounds are brought together by a mysterious summons. Queen Anne needs their help; her husband the King is acting strangely and she is very worried. Treville is also worried, because Louis has told him that his Musketeers are to be sent away on manoeuvres while the Cardinal's Guards protect the palace in their place.
The Man in the Golden Mask
Meanwhile Pip goes to visit his cousin Pataplot, who lives at a monastery. There he meets a prisoner whose face is hidden by a golden mask. When the mask is taken off, Pip realises that this is the King himself and fetches Dogtanian and his three friends to rescue him.
The King has been captured by his evil twin brother, Blancbec, who has assumed the throne. The Muskehounds soon reinstate Louis, but his twin, aided by the thuggish Count Boujeau, is always looking for his chance to do away with his brother and seize power.
Back on active service Dogtanian realises that the faithful Sandy is no longer as sprightly as he used to be, but cannot bear to part with his old friend. Pip suggests they visit an old magician named Alexi, who lives in the forest. This wise old hound reinvigorates Sandy with a potion.
It turns out to be lucky that Dogtanian has made Alexi's acquaintance, as the King falls gravely ill and the best doctors in France cannot find out what is wrong with him. It is discovered that Louis has been poisoned by Blancbec's men. Alexi is fetched despite Boujeau's attempts to dispose of him and quickly cures the King, but Blancbec is not defeated yet.
The Duke of Bavaria
The King has invited the Duke of Bavaria on a diplomatic visit. Blancbec goes to meet him disguised as the King and insults him so badly that he leaves for home, with disastrous implications for the friendship between the two countries. Dressed as a Muskehound, the real King is smuggled out of Paris, catches up with the Duke and explains the situation. A peace treaty is signed between the two countries.
Throughout these events Cardinal Richelieu, Milady and Widimer are reduced to the role of bemused onlookers. They know something strange is going on - as do their Guards, who frequently witness odd occurrences in the forest around Paris - but cannot tell what.
The King receives two noblemen from Normandy, the Baron de la Tour and the Viscount de la Fontaine, who complain that they are being robbed by a bandit named Pedigreen Hood who then gives the money he has stolen to the peasants. What the nobles do not admit is that they have raised taxes to an impossibly high level and the peasants cannot pay.
Meanwhile Pip receives a visitor of his own - Camembert, a mouse from the same province who reports that the situation there is so bad even a mouse cannot find enough to eat. Dogtanian and the Muskehounds set off at once to investigate. As they ride through a forest they are ambushed by Pedigreen Hood and his band of outlaws, including Friar Bernard, Terry and Little Dog, who have mistaken our heroes for henchmen of the oppressive noblemen. When they realise their mistake they depart as suddenly as they attacked.
The Muskehounds witness the poverty of the locals and the brave actions of the outlaws. Pedigreen's band complain that the King has told the noblemen to raise taxes too high, but the Muskehounds know this is not so and conclude that someone else is behind the tax inflation. They set off for Paris to report on the situation, but run into Widimer and a group of the Cardinal's Guards who have come to get rid of Pedigreen. Dogtanian tries to persuade them not to, but Widimer refuses to listen. He and his men come off worst in a scrap with the outlaws and flee.
It is of course Blancbec who is responsible for encouraging the noblemen to raise taxes in the hope of inciting rebellion in the province. Now Boujeau arrives with a cunning plan: to hold an archery contest. The elusive Pedigreen, a superb bowman, will be unable to resist entering and walk straight into a trap. (Those familiar with the legend of Robin Hood might recognise this device.)
Sure enough Pedigreen enters the contest, wins and goes up to collect his prize, whereupon he is seized by soldiers. His outlaws leap to his defence and there is a battle in which the Muskehounds help Pedigreen and the Cardinal's Guards join the other side. Pedigreen escapes but Widimer declares the Muskehounds outlaws, and they are forced to flee to Pedigreen's camp.
To lure the outlaws and the Muskehounds out, Boujeau and his private army attack a village. Dogtanian and the others rush to its defence but are heavily outnumbered. Widimer, attracted by the commotion, appears and joins in on Dogtanian's side. Boujeau escapes but the greedy noblemen are captured.
Queen Anne has invited Princess Dalma, a beautiful cousin of the King, to stay. She will be travelling from Italy and Louis asks the Muskehounds to escort her from the border. On the way they ride to the rescue of a woman who has been robbed by a mysterious masked man but fail to catch the thief. They meet with the Princess and ride with her coach to Paris.
There is a ball at the Palace in honour of Dalma's visit to which Dogtanian (accompanied by Juliette) and the other Muskehounds are invited. The Princess complains that her shoes are hurting her and goes into her room to change them, with Athos waiting loyally outside the door. Meanwhile the masked thief enters the ballroom and quietly sets about robbing the guests. Dogtanian has a duel with the intruder but he is incredibly agile and escapes, leaving behind the stolen goods and his calling card, a black rose.
The King sets the Muskehounds the task of finding the elusive villain. Richelieu suspects that the robber is in league with Dogtanian, while Blancbec is interested in acquiring him as an ally. The thief falls for a trap set by the Muskehounds but is rescued by Boujeau, who then offers him a reward if he will dispose of the King. However the thief refuses and escapes. This time it is the Muskehounds who fight off Boujeau's men to save him. Widimer arrives and attacks the Muskehounds, thinking that they are indeed in league with the thief. Both he and Boujeau's men get away in the confusion.
The masked man approaches the Muskehounds and promises to forsake his criminal activities, since they saved him from Boujeau. He takes off his mask and is revealed to be Princess Dalma. She throws a black rose to Athos, and quickly disappears into the darkness.
Kidnap, Rescue and Triumph
Blancbec hires Milady to kidnap Dogtanian's daughter Fleur. She arrives at their house claiming to have a message from Cardinal Richelieu. Juliette asks her to wait until her husband returns. Milady plays with Fleur until the opportunity arises for her to seize the child and carry her off.
When the kidnap is discovered Dogtanian believes the Cardinal is to blame and goes with the other Muskehounds to confront him, getting in a fight with Widimer along the way. The Cardinal protests that he had nothing to do with the kidnapping, and Dogtanian goes after Blancbec instead. Richelieu decides that the time has come to put personal rivalries aside for the sake of France and orders Widimer to help find Fleur.
Blancbec tells Milady to inform Dogtanian that Fleur will die if Dogtanian does not help him overthrow the King, and to cut off one of the little girl's ears to show he is serious. But Milady has grown fond of Fleur and will not be a party to such cruelty. She takes Fleur away, pursued by Boujeau and his men. Just as they catch up the Muskehounds and the Cardinal's Guards arrive and defeat the enemy forces, but Boujeau gets away with Fleur. He finds Blancbec and tells him that all is lost and they must flee.
Dogtanian arrives and Blancbec commands him to throw down his sword or his daughter will be killed. He complies, but Fleur escapes from Boujeau and the two villains escape - only to be caught by the other Muskehounds. Widimer claims the prisoners in the name of the Cardinal. Richelieu sentences Blancbec to be put in the golden mask and confined to prison, so that none may learn the secret of the King's twin brother.
After these adventures Treville announces his resignation. He offers the post to Dogtanian, despite Widimer's best efforts. Dogtanian feels he is unworthy of this honour and it is Richelieu who persuades him to take up the position. Once again the series ends with Dogtanian triumphant, rewarded for his brave actions and surrounded by family and friends.