The Three Musketeers

I’ve always adored The Three Musketeers.

As a book,

bookan animation (Muskehounds are already ready . . .),

a film (the Disney bratpack version has a special place in my heart, because it’s wonderful). . . and now it’s a TV series.

Of course, I love it.

For me, this is perfect Sunday night viewing. It’s a final hurrah to the weekend, which brings a bit of swashing and buckling and fun to the evening. On the whole it looks fantastic, with some stunning sets (although purists will note that there is insufficient mud on the Parisian streets to be entirely authentic) and some nicely done special effects. The script has moments of sparkle, and so do the performances – and, as with a few BBC series, I think that future episodes will deliver on the promise that the opening episodes have shown.

I know some have been critical of the first episode, with characters not shining through as clearly as they might and the script not being as crisp as it could have been. Fair enough, and each to their own. For me, though, the opening – and the musketeers meeting – is the hardest part of the story to tell. It’s iconic, the characters are loved, and they’re instantly recognisable. We all have expectations, and woe betide *this* Aramis isn’t as good as the one from the Muskehounds that you’ve always loved. I wouldn’t want to tackle that episode first, to launch a brand new series. And their take? Well, (SPOILERS BEGIN) I liked it. We meet D’Artagnan travelling to Paris with his father (!), his father is murdered by a musketeer called Athos (!) and D’Artagnan doesn’t finish his journey determined to become a musketeer, but determined to kill one. Nicely done. Milady (a murderous lady who knows her own mind. I approve) meets our hero, has her wicked way and frames him for murder. I rather like her approach. And rather than treating D’Artagnan’s iconic duels with our heroic musketeer trio as a set piece which must, by tradition, stand apart from the story, it became something more interesting. D’Artagnan is attempting murder; Aramis and Porthos defend Athos – and the larger plot, which has been set up from the beginning of the episode, starts to be revealed. Richielieu, Treville, the musketeers, D’Artagnan, the king and Queen, Constance and Milady all have their places, motives and backstories in place. The three musketeers traditions have been observed – and now the adventuring can begin (SPOILERS END).

I like the touches of originality that’s been brought to the traditional story. I like the fun and the explosions, the swashing and buckling and the energy this retelling has. I like the credit sequence, which I didn’t expect. And above all, I like the swagger the two episodes to date have shown.

Are there flaws? Of course there are. I’m looking forward to episode three all the same.

Love it, hate it, or just bemused by it? Whichever the case, we’ve borrowed this fantastic infographic from twitter, to help out with that tricky new-series who’s-who: