TV REVIEW: The Musketeers, S1, Ep 1: Friends & Enemies

When it was announced that Merlin was ending, Atlantis was touted as its replacement. That was probably a move to try to keep some of Merlin‘s captive audience while they still could but turns out that it was probably a premature move. They should have waited for The Musketeers. From Primeval‘s Adrian Hodges comes the re-imagined tale of Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel and it looks like BBC finally has a winner on their hands. If fast-paced sword fights and shootouts mixed with humor and drama are your thing, you’ll likely love this show.

The MusketeersThe opening title sequence has a rollicking soundtrack – mixing the traditional fiddles and drums you’d expect with a modern beat and shooting on-location in Prague befits the gritty, old-world setting of 17th century France. It’s on par with Sherlock, the recently departed Ripper Street and the later seasons of Merlin, thanks to director Toby Haynes (Doctor Who, Sherlock). We’re introduced to our Musketeer quartet in a series of short scenes that befit what most people might know of these infamous characters – womanizing Aramis (Santiago Cabrera), level-headed yet secretive Athos (Tom Burke), affable and gallant Porthos – the saddest being that of skillful swordsman D’Artagnan (Luke Pasqualino).

Of course, there can’t be heroes without their more powerful counterparts. We’re introduced to the manipulative Cardinal Richelieu (played by newest Time Lord Peter Capaldi) who narrowly misses his lady friend entwined with Aramis. While not necessarily a baddie, Captain Treville (Hugo Speer) who leads the Musketeers and is advisor to the King, is a brusque figure who does not suffer fools gladly. Rounding out the pack is gullible and indulgent King Louis XIII (Ryan Gage) who doesn’t know what set of advice he should follow – Richelieu’s or Treville’s.

And last but certainly not least, the ladies of the series! One one side, you have Constance Bonacieux (Tamla Kari), a married woman who eventually falls for D’Artagnan’s charm and on the other, Milady de Winter (Maimie McCoy) the The Musketeerswoman who charms to hide her true self. Queen Anne (Alexandra Dowling) doesn’t do much in this episode but there may be more to her than meets the eye. While they haven’t been quite fleshed out (beyond heaving bosoms and tight corsets that is), here’s hoping that Hodges will elaborate and strengthen the female characters where the source material does not.

Overall, The Musketeers is full of testosterone-fueled charm (no complaints from this girl), action-packed fights, romantic entanglements and fantastic performances from Pasqualino, Capaldi & Cabrera.

I’m looking forward to what the rest of the series has in store – weekends just became a whole lot more interesting (and not just because of the eye candy!)

Rating: 4/5

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