Got a great pile of Christmas presents this year – mainly DVDs of classic children’s TV programmes! The French and Japanese versions were made in 1982, and first shown in English in 1986/87 on Children’s BBC, then repeated again in 1990, the Mysterious Cities of Gold was a 39-part series made jointly by NHK/RTL loosely based around Scott O’Dell’s book The King’s Fifth, and charts the adventures of three 11/12-year old based children – Esteban, Zia and Tao, along with their Spanish companions Mendoza, Pedro and Sancho (who mainly seem to be interested in getting rich), around South America looking for the Cities of Gold. It’s amazing how well this series has stood the test of time, and I’ve got to say it was great to be able to watch it again (and only the third time in my life I’ve seen it!). Although the DVD set was released in the early 2000s, it was never released in English at the time and the English dubbed version finally appeared on DVD last year!
The other DVDs were the complete first and second series of Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds. Produced by BRB Internacional SA in Spain in 1981 (so actually predating MCoG by a year), this was a cartoon animation series based on the Alexandre Dumas story The Three Musketeers. 26 episodes were produced for the first series, and the English version was shown on Children’s BBC in 1985. I’ve got to say, I don’t think I ever saw every episode when I was a kid, so it took a little while to get the story this time round, but definitely a children’s TV classic. The second series (‘Return of Dogtanian’) was not shown on the BBC, but shown on ITV in 1990 instead as it was a BRB Internacional/Thames Television co-production. Having never seen the second series the first time round, I was unsure what to expect, although I remember people saying at the time that it wasn’t as good. Having watched the first five episodes, I think I have to agree with that – many of the voices have changed, the characters don’t seem quite as well-drawn, and the theme music (a rearrangement of the original) is frankly horrible. However, I’m beginning to warm to it – so perhaps I’d better watch the rest of the series before I go passing judgment on it. The second series appears to be based on “The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later”, also by Dumas.
Still, I enjoyed watching the first series again, and the second series is growing on me slowly, so I can safely say lots of fun was had watching those! Here’s hoping for Around the World with Willy Fog next Christmas then :)